August 4, 2021

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Political blackmail returns to the Turkish arena: Leaked recordings of beating opponents

he issue of political blackmail that plagues the political class every few years returns to the Turkish arena, with the member of parliament for the opposition Republican People’s Party, Tioman Sangar, revealing that he had been blackmailed by a photographer attributed to him, and his request to pay a million dollars for not showing the recording, so he was forced to resign Partisanship, amid expectations that the party’s opponents, especially the ruling “Justice and Development”, will exploit this incident to attack the “Republican People.”

Sangar filed a complaint with the Public Prosecution, in which he stated that he was subjected to extortion from unspecified parties, and with the start of the investigations, one person has been arrested so far. Turkish media quoted Sangar as saying that he “fell into the fangs of a gang that said it possessed a video and fabricated charges against him related to corruption cases, moral scandals, and indecent accusations.” Sangar denied his involvement in any scandal, announcing that he would explain to the public opinion the truth of everything that happened after the investigations ended. He added that “he was asked to pay the sum twice, but he refused because he was innocent,” pointing out that the resignation request came from the leadership of the opposition party in Ankara.

The “Justice and Development” will benefit from the Sangar incident as it seeks to regain its popularity

With the Public Prosecution opening an investigation into Sangar’s complaint, and talking about his exposure to extortion, similar events in Turkey came to mind, most notably in 2010 when the President of the Republican People, Deniz Baikal, was exposed to an embarrassing situation by broadcasting a tape recorded of him from inside his bedroom. The registration sparked widespread controversy in the Turkish street, which prompted Baykal to resign from the party leadership, paving the way for the current leader, Kemal Kilcıdarolu, to assume the leadership of the party. The finger of blame was accused in that era against the “service” group of being behind that leak, in order to influence the opposition that lost at the time to the ruling “Justice and Development” party, and to push new leaders to take over the “Republican People”.

This case is considered one of the most prominent incidents of political blackmail on the Turkish arena, because it targeted the Kemalist Party founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Turkish Republic, but this matter also affected other parties. In the period before the general elections that took place in 2011, the National Movement Party was subjected to similar blackmail, by broadcasting a set of video and audio recordings of party leaders to pressure its president, Dawlat Bahçeli, who challenged the blackmail, saying, “Show what you have”, to show more than 20 records, which resulted in more than 10 resignations, including MPs, candidates and the deputy chairperson of the movement. It became clear later that the recordings were made based on a secret decision from the court, to listen to the party members, some of them were edited, and lengthy investigations were carried out to uncover them, and the “service” group was also accused.

Likewise, in the following years, the “Justice and Development” was exposed to the leakage of audio recordings of its leadership and its officials, and the party considered that many of them were fabricated and produced. The leaks included ministers and officials, and even the contents of a meeting of former Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu with the director of intelligence, Hakan Fidan, about Syria and talk about how to start military action in northern Syria, but the ruling party’s front remained coherent and did not witness any splits or resignations.

It became clear that the “Justice and Development” would benefit from the Sangar incident to review the history of the blackmail that was previously occurring, in the context of its endeavor to restore its recently declining popularity, and its search for new allies to compensate for the votes it lost in the last local elections two years ago.

Commenting on this phenomenon, Turkish journalist Ismail Goktan, who is following this file, told Al-Arabi Al-Jadeed, “The custom has taken place in Turkish political history by resorting to political blackmail methods to liquidate political opponents for decades, and the Turkish street is accustomed to this scene.” He added, “The previous policy, before the Justice and Development came to power, was working to hit conservative politicians with harassment issues, in which some politicians were involved in the 1990s.” He pointed out that “the previous situation continued until the arrival of justice and development to power, and with the spread of social media, there was an increase in resorting to methods of extortion.”

The Republican people do not want new issues and tensions raised through the media

Regarding the Sangar case, Joktan saw that it does not distance itself from the political conflict within the “republican people” and the liquidation of opponents, pointing out that “investigations have started with suspects as a result of the complaint that Sangar submitted to the Public Prosecution, and his resignation from his party, which came at the request of the leadership, so the Republican people do not.” He wants new issues and tensions raised by the media, so he tries to avoid a new scandal. ” He believed that despite Sanjar denying the charges against him, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will not miss this opportunity that allows him to attack his opponent, the “Republican People.”

For his part, Turkish journalist Recep Yar said, in an interview with Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, that “the phenomenon of political blackmail is present in many countries, but it is more prevalent in the Turkish scene, because incidents of blackmail are being used by the media as a powerful weapon against political opponents, leaving A direct impact on voter attitudes, and with the spread of social media, resorting to these methods has become easier. He pointed out that “the Republican People’s Party witnessed similar blackmailing operations years ago, the media is still talking until now,” stressing the need to “raise the level of political maturity of the Turkish political parties without exception, whether in the ruling coalition or in the opposition, and the coming days will reveal the truth of the issue.” Rep. Sanga