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Daily News Analysis

Turks gripped by ‘Erdogan tapes’ drama

Crescent International

Whether fake or genuine, the 'Erdogan tapes'--a series of alleged phone conversations between Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan and his son Bilal--have gripped Turks in a frenzy of excitement. The tapes in which Erdogan tells his son to hide a billion euros, have gone viral. Erodgan is calling foul while the opposition parties are calling for his head. It will be interesting to see how this latest round of "revelations" play out.


Thursday February 27, 2014, 22:59 EST

For several days now, Turks have been glued to their television sets talking about the ‘Erdogan tapes.’ The ‘tapes’ drama erupted in the evening on February 24 when five alleged telephone conservations of Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan with his son Bilal appeared on YouTube. They instantly went viral and there was hardly anyone in Turkey who was not aware of or talking about them. They are being shown on television screens in restaurants, on ferries plying the Bosphorus and outside some metro stations.

Before the end of day on February 24, more than a million people had listened to them on YouTube, breaking all previous records in Turkey. According to the YouTube recordings, the conversations are said to have taken place on December 17 and 18. In a series of telephone calls, Erdogan is purportedly telling his son to take the one billion euros out of the house and hide the money somewhere else.

The conversations are allegedly linked to the corruption scandal in which the sons of several ministers and leading businessmen have been implicated. Erdogan and his supporters say this is a plot by Fethullah Gulen and his followers that have infiltrated the police and the judiciary and are trying to undermine the government.

Gulen lives in Philadelphia and has close connections with the zionists and the CIA. Graham Fuller, a retired CIA analyst signed his application for US green card after Gulen arrived in the US in 1999 under a deal struck with the Turkish military. Whether the telephone conversations are genuine or fake, they have dealt a blow to Erdogan's credibility, already shaken by the graft probe that erupted in December.

There are five of them circulating on YouTube. The first one is dated 8:02 a.m., Dec. 17. It starts with Erdogan in Ankara calling his son in Istanbul to inform him about the graft probe that had just got under way. He asks his son Bilal who had still not woken up to hide the money.

Here is how the conversation went:

Erdogan: Are you home, son?

Bilal: Yes, father.

Erdogan: Now! This morning [they] made an operation. [Businessman] Ali Agaoglu, [Iranian businessman] Reza Zerrab, [former minister] Erdogan [Bayraktar]'s son, [former minister] Zafer [Caglayan]'s son, [parliament member] Muammer [Guler]'s son, etc. … All their houses are being searched now.

Bilal: Say again, father.

Erdogan: I'm saying that Muammer's son, Zafer's son, Erdogan's son, Ali Agaoglu, Reza Zerrab, etc. — they are searching the houses of 18 people under a big corruption operation thing.

Bilal: Yes.

Erdogan: OK? Now, what I say is, you must move out everything that you have in the house. OK?

Bilal: Dad, could that be done? There is your money in the safe.

Erdogan: That's what I mean.

Other alleged conversations related to Erdogan instructing his son to move the money out of the house. The implication is that their house could also be raided by the police as were houses of several ministers and businessmen involved in the alleged corruption.

Erdogan and his supporters have called the tapes fake and said they were doctored. Their argument is that Erdogan’s conversations are encrypted so these could not be genuine.

As far as opposition parties are concerned, they have pounced on the tapes and have pronounced the end of legitimacy of Erdogan and his government.

Both the main opposition party, Republican Peoples Party (CHP) and nationalist-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) — held emergency meetings to plan their strategy. Not surprisingly, the CHP declared the end of Erdogan’s legitimacy and his government.

The following day (February 25), Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the CHP, addressed his party members in the parliament building and played the tape in its entirety on a giant TV screen behind the rostrum.

Kilicdaroglu referred to Erdogan as a thief. He said: “A thief cannot occupy the prime minister’s chair” and that he no longer recognizes Erdogan as Turkey's leader.

Many observers are calling this a fatal blow to Erdogan’s hold on from which they say he is unlikely to survive. It will be interesting to see how this drama plays out.


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