As Joe Biden is about to hold his first meeting as president with Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan on Monday, there is a growing consensus among Erdogan-watchers that the strongman president’s hand has been weakened by a fugitive mob boss.
In a bizarre drama that has captivated Turkey for two months, Sedat Peker — who is wanted on charges he heads a criminal gang — has been broadcasting from Dubai (he claims) and leveling spectacular charges against Erdogan’s closest advisors and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
In seven videos, Peker has exposed nepostism and self-enrichment among "Team Erdogan" and elaborated on charges of drug running, rape, bribery, and even murder among the ruling elite.
In the last few weeks, Peker — who strangely calls Erdogan "Abi" (older brother) — has been hinting he would address the president himself in a future video. This was clearly a hint at some bombshell revelation about the man at the top.
But last week, the "celebrity mobster" announced he was postponing the video in which he would directly address Erdogan to avoid jeopardizing the agenda at the Biden-Erdogan summit.
Peker and his hints about Erdogan, however, are likely to have a major impact on the much-anticipated meeting.
"At the NATO summit in Brussels, there will be one question on Biden’s mind, as well as that of all the leaders that have shaken hands with President Erdogan," wrote Cansu Camlibel, editor of the much-read Turkish opposition newspaper Duvar English. "Could his political career end before 2023 [when Erdogan is up for reelection]?"
The items on the agenda between the two presidents are considered highly important by both Washington and Ankara. They range from Turkish contributions to NATO — among whose members it has the second-largest army — and the housing of millions of Syrian refugees, to the criminal prosecution and Erdogan’s longstanding demand that the U.S. return his arch-enemy and cleric Gulan for trial in Turkey.
Since Biden became president in January, the relationship between the two leaders has not started off a high note. The U.S. president took his time making a telephone call to Erdogan and when he did last month, Biden informed him he would sign a resolution condemning the Armenian genocide of a century ago — a highly controversial issue among Turks and something Erdogan has called "the lie."
The meeting with Erdogan is the only one-on-one session Biden has scheduled with any world leader in Brussels.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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