In the first part of this series, the future of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was examined in light of the presence of recently established parties that oppose the policies of the despotic regime. This part will deal with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s attempts to defame his opponents by using what is known as the Pelican group.
Authority does not accept being divided into two, so the Turkish president does not allow anyone to contest his power. If any competitor emerges, Erdogan quickly uses his paid thugs to distort his opponents.
The Turkish president uses an electronic army known as the Pelican group to defame his opponents and fabricate lies about them in order to distort their image before the public opinion. This most prominently happened with two AKP defectors, former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and former Deputy Prime Minister for Economy Ali Babacan, who were described as traitors.
Erdogan has used the Pelican group to question the legitimacy of the recent elections in which the AKP lost the major municipalities such as Istanbul and Ankara, as well as to defend the AKP and refute the accusations against him.
The Pelican group operates under the umbrella of the Istanbul-based Bosphorus Global. A number of websites work for it, including the HDPfacts site, which distorts opponents and targets the pro-Kurdish opposition People’s Democratic Party (HDP), and the Journal of Democracy, which has articles dedicated to praising the AKP, as well as the Daily Sabah newspaper owned by the Turkovaz Media Group, which is run by Serhat Albayrak, the brother of Erdogan’s son-in-law, Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak.
The attacks carried out by the Pelican group are being led by a number of names close to the Turkish president and the ruling party, including Elif Şahin, a member of the AKP administrative council in Istanbul, and Hilal Kaplan, a columnist for the pro-government Daily Sabah newspaper who is seen as a major player in the group next to her husband, Suheyb Ogut, and her brother-in-law, Selman Ogut.
Davutoglu and Babacan founding the Future Party (GP) and the Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA), respectively, to compete with the AKP has made them a target for Erdogan’s wrath. In order to defame them and remove them from his path, the Turkish president has utilized the Pelican group to carry out suspicious activities in order to terminate the political projects of both AKP defectors. This occurred in 2016 during Erdogan’s conflict with Davutoglu, who was consistently attacked by Turkish newspapers, which accused the former prime minister of working for Germany, in an attempt to force him to resign as punishment for his rejection of the constitutional amendments that the Turkish president then succeeded in passing thanks to Binali Yıldırım, Turkey’s last prime minister, which gave Erdogan absolute powers.
The Pelican group’s penetration within the AKP sparked the rejection and discontent of a large segment of the party’s leaders, such as Ankara MP Aydin Unal, who served as Erdogan’s speechwriter from 2007 to 2015. Unal said that the suspicious entity poisoned the party.
Former AKP MP Ayhan Sefer Üstün said that the Pelican group penetrated the AKP as a malignant cancer. He called for the need to terminate this illegal entity, because it has become a means for settling scores, which some figures in the party exploit for personal interests.
Üstün emphasized that a palace on the Bosporus was designated for the group and public resources were put at its disposal. The group then began working for the personal benefit of specific political elements and also started to attack political elements in the AKP that did not like their positions, seeking to exclude them from the party.
Meanwhile, Republican People’s Party (CHP) MP Aykut Erdogdu revealed that the AKP pays a number of elements thousands of lira per month in exchange for insulting the Turkish opposition on social networking sites.
Since the Pelican group has become above the law, the Turkish authorities have even opened an investigation a judge who criticized the group and revealed that its members are interfering with the decisions of judges and changing the course of cases and rulings in favor of the AKP.