Secret wiretap reveals Erdoğan government’s clandestine links to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood

Turkish President Erdogan flashes Rabia sign he borrowed from Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood protest rallies in Cairo.

Abdullah Bozkurt

 

The government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan grew frustrated with the Muslim Brotherhood when protests lost their strength in the aftermath of the ouster of Mohamed Morsi in Egypt, secret documents have revealed.

According to a classified wiretap that recorded the private conversations of Erdoğan aide İbrahim Kalın and pro-government businessman Abdullah Tivnikli, Kalın lamented the fact that the Brotherhood’s protests were winding down in Egypt. Kalın was deputy undersecretary of the Office of the Prime Ministry  and chief foreign policy adviser to Erdoğan at the time. He currently works at Erdoğan’s palace as spokesperson and special advisor.

 

İbrahim Kalın

 

“[The] Brotherhood’s latest rallies have lost momentum,” he told Tivnikli, who asked how things in Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood were going. “How long they can keep these [demonstrations] up, I’m not really sure,” Kalın added. Tivnikli, a long-time ally of Erdoğan who ran a company called Eksim Investment Holding until his death in November 2018, sounded worried that Hamas could be the next casualty after the Brotherhood in Egypt. “Sure, they [the US and its European and Gulf allies] are weakening Hamas quite a bit now,” Kalın responded.

 

 

Sections of the wiretap transcripts that covered Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood.

 

 

 

 

The wiretap was authorized by an Istanbul court on August 29, 2013 as Turkish prosecutors had been investigating dozens of people including government officials on allegations of running an organized crime syndicate. The recorded conversation took place on September 1, 2013 and was included in the criminal case file against Kalın, Tivnikli and many others.

In the phone conversation Kalın also predicted that things would get worse if some factions of Hamas were to resort to arms and assured Tivnikli that the government was trying to resolve the deadlock (between the military and the Brotherhood) in Egypt. Asked whether Turkey had lost its influence in Egypt, Erdoğan’s advisor said they still had leverage over the Muslim Brotherhood, which was refusing to cooperate with the Americans or the Europeans to find a resolution to the deadlock. Tivnikli suggested that the matter be handled under the guise of shoring up democracy in Egypt rather than openly supporting the Muslim Brotherhood. Kalin said there were deeper issues at play in Egypt and did not want to talk about them on the phone.

 

Six-page readout of the phone conversation between Erdoğan aide İbrahim Kalın and businessman Abdullah Tivnikli:

Kalin_wiretap1

 

Both Tivnikli and Kalın were suspects in an organized crime network that was involved in fraud, forgery and abuse of power in fixing government contracts, tenders and public property sales. Kalin was acting as an illegal lobbyist for Tivnikli in the Turkish capital, resolving problems in energy deals the businessman pursued. In exchange, Tivnikli covered the education expenses of Kalın’s daughter. The investigation was made public on December 25, 2013, but Erdoğan stepped in and hushed up the probe before it went to trial.

In total 41 people, including Erdoğan’s son Bilal and Saudi businessmen Yasin al-Qadi, Mustafa Latif Topbaş, Cengiz Aktürk, Osama Qutb, Muaz Kadıoğlu, Orhan Kemal Kalyoncu, Ömer Faruk Kalyoncu, Avni Çelik and İbrahim Çeçen, were named as suspects in the major corruption case.

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