How Erdogan disbursed $ 128 billion in gifts and rewards to his party members, reducing Turkey to misery
“Where is the $ 128 billion?” billboards in Istanbul and Ankara, organized by the main Turkish opposition, which has already won elections in the main Turkish cities suffocated by the regime, questioned the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling party AKP.
The move greatly annoyed the sultan. Police removed the posters, using cranes in some cases, according to videos shared online by the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), which vowed to continue exposing Erdogan’s corruption, guilty of reducing the country to misery.
The AKP on Tuesday refused to answer before the Parliament about missing funds. Officially, the sum refers to dollars sold by state banks to support the Turkish lira on the foreign exchange markets. But the bankers calculated $ 128.3 billion, raised from sales between 2019 and 2020, would be employed by the Turkish president to pay gifts and prizes to AKP members, for their efforts to work for him and keep quiet about the crimes committed by his regime.
Despite the profound economic crisis that Turkey is facing – the worst in the last 50 years according to economic experts – Erdogan and his party members have grown enormously rich. They built dream villas and residences, bought properties and luxury goods, drawing uncontrollably from the state coffers, as well as exploiting the resources of the starving Turkish people as they pleased. Unorthodox politics began around the 2019 municipal elections and intensified in 2020, as the pandemic exposed the vulnerability of the lira and Turkey’s dependence on external funding.
Erdogan says the sales helped support the economy but drastically reduced Turkey’s foreign reserve buffer, leaving it more exposed to the crisis, and opposition politicians want to know more about how these funds were used by the AKP party. “Erdogan says you can’t even ask me questions,'” CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu stated on Tuesday, accusing the president of stifling the debate. “Those who lead the country must be accountable to the people”. He added.
The CHP first asked the sales question in February, prompting Erdogan to defend the legacy of his son-in-law, former finance minister Berat Albayrak, who has abandoned politics. Albayrak resigned abruptly in November when Erdogan appointed Naci Agbal as governor of the central bank, who had supported dollar sales through swaps. Agbal was also sacked last month, in part, according to Reuters, because Erdogan was uncomfortable with the bank’s investigation of sales, which last year cut its net foreign exchange reserves by 75%.
Kilicdaroglu said a prosecutor had determined that some posters bearing the outline of the presidential palace were an insult to Erdogan. Insulting the president is a crime in Turkey. The sultan and his party control the judiciary, bribing officials, as well as using force. This allowed him to act with impunity, looting the state revenues without anyone’s control and silencing the opposition through illegal processes and arbitrary arrests.
Erdogan can also count on many Turkish judges affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood. Characters who have been pinned by the president in key positions in the judiciary, an exchange of favours that is turning Turkey back at least 100 years.