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Cocaine video scandal offers blow to Turkey’s ruling get together



The scandal enveloping Turkey’s Justice and Improvement Social gathering (AKP) authorities over a leaked video displaying one in every of its members snorting what seems to be cocaine reveals no indicators of abating, with the opposition casting the affair as proof of the corruption and ethical rot pervading the Islamists’ ranks after almost 20 years in energy.

Throughout a stormy session in parliament on March 31, opposition lawmakers continued to assail the AKP over the video. Ozgur Ozel, a lawmaker for the primary opposition Republican Individuals’s Social gathering, mentioned, “These pictures, these movies … unveil the trail to which the Justice and Improvement Social gathering has strayed, the decay and the degeneracy wherein it finds itself.”

The controversy facilities on Kursat Ayvatoglu, the 28-year-old son of a working-class household who was employed on the AKP headquarters in Ankara and had apparently gathered sufficient wealth to personal two luxurious automobiles on a $300 monthly wage. He was secretly filmed, presumably by a fellow passenger, inside his luxurious SUV as he did a line on its gearbox. The video started circulating on-line final week, simply because the AKP was holding its annual get together congress.

Images displaying Ayvatoglu sipping a cocktail in an infinity pool, hugging a blonde in a leopard print bodysuit and putting chips at a on line casino surfaced as effectively. Ayvatoglu initially protested his innocence, claiming that he’d been inhaling powdered sugar, not cocaine.

However there was worse. Pictures of Ayvatoglu posing alongside Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Inside Minister Suleyman Soylu started circulating. Coinciding with Erdogan’s contemporary drive to agency up his pious base amid a wilting financial system and equally droopy ballot numbers, it was greater than the federal government might bear. Ayvatoglu was detained on March 26 and fired from his job on the AKP, the place he reportedly served as an adviser to AKP vice-chairman Hamza Dag. Dag denied any working relationship with Ayvatoglu, though a slew of visuals signifies in any other case. Soylu advised the opposition day by day Sozcu that he didn’t know the person in any respect and he was one in every of many individuals who requested to be photographed with him at AKP headquarters.

Ayvatoglu was freed then rearrested following an outcry. He’s at present beneath home arrest. Three others who had been within the car throughout the cocaine get together are being investigated as effectively, Soylu mentioned.

Predictably, the affair has triggered a wave of handwringing amongst pro-AKP scribes. Some pointed fingers on the opposition. May Ayvatoglu be a Malicious program who infiltrated the AKP so as to blacken its identify? Veteran Islamist columnist Abdurrahman Dilipak wasn’t shopping for any of it. “In case you cowl up the Ayvatoglu affair, you can be turning a blind eye to the street resulting in catastrophe in your personal youngsters. The day will come when that monster will strike you too,” he warned by way of Twitter.

“Comply with the cash and you’ll unravel the net of connections. In case you observe that path, [it] will lead you to the satan’s lair. That place is near you,” he added in a thinly veiled jab at alleged corruption with the AKP.

The cocaine scandal is on no account a primary. The AKP has survived far worse, most notably the corruption probe launched in 2013 implicating Erdogan and his internal circle in a billion-dollar Iran oil for gold sanctions-busting scheme. Police raids revealed shoeboxes full of tens of millions of {dollars} and money-counting machines. Secretly taped audio recordings of a male voice allegedly belonging to Erdogan instructing his youthful son to cover additional tens of millions did little to harm his scores. The law enforcement officials who launched the investigation had been jailed. The investigation was buried.

Islam Ozkan, a conservative mental who writes for the impartial on-line information outlet Duvar, famous that authorities graft didn’t begin with the AKP. The succession of weak and ineffectual coalition governments that preceded it had been steeped in corruption, paving the best way for the AKP’s rise. The distinction right this moment is that the financial pie is far larger and the AKP’s had all of it to itself since 2002.

In personal conversations, a lot of Ozkan’s AKP contacts, be they within the authorities or parliament, rail in opposition to the ethical backsliding. “However they’d by no means dare to so in public for concern of reprisal or shedding their jobs and the accompanying perks,” he advised Al-Monitor. As for the AKP’s pious base, they proceed to shut ranks across the get together because of the deepening chasm between secularists and non secular conservatives that’s zealously inspired by Erdogan.

Even after 20 years in energy, he’s managed to persuade his base that their religion and life-style stay beneath risk.

A weakening Turkish lira, coupled with mounting joblessness and inflation, nonetheless, is starting to boost questions amid even essentially the most loyal AKP disciples. The intuition to solid a blind eye to AKP indiscretions could also be weakening as mirrored among the many swelling numbers of undecided voters throughout the AKP in current opinion polls.

But if the opposition believes they’ll money in on the Ayvatoglu affair, they must assume twice, Soylu hinted within the Sozcu interview. “Due to my job I possess loads of personal data [about people’s lives]. I solely really feel sorry for the [opposition] members of parliament who [tweet] about [the Ayvatoglu] matter. God forfend, what if such a state of affairs emerges for their very own family members?” he mentioned.


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