Fraport (Frankfurt/FRA) and IC Ibrahim Cecen Yatirim Holding (IC Holding) provided Turkey’s then PM and current president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with a $1bn bribe to win a tender held in 2007 for the operating rights of Antalya Airport, Ali Yesildag, a close associate of Erdogan, said on May 5 in a video revelation.
Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the main challenger to Erdogan in the upcoming May 14 elections, as well as Meral Aksener, Kilicdaroglu’s opposition coalition ally and chair of the Iyi Party, referred to Yesildag’s allegations during their latest election rallies.
The story, which concerns many characters and criminal activities they are said to have been involved in over around half a century, is a long one. But the throwing of thievery and other criminal allegations at Erdogan is nothing new.
The big question is whether these latest revelations will have any impact on the election results. The answer is no.
bne IntelliNews’ assessment is that in the first round of presidential voting, Erdogan cannot attract a vote share higher than a figure in the 30%s, while Kilicdaroglu will make it into the 60%s.
Erdogan’s remaining voters are those who are direct or indirect beneficiaries of the Erdogan regime and their families, relatives or associates. Nothing will change their mind at this point but the opposition coalition, the broadest ever seen in Turkey, does not need their votes in any case.
The next big question, in fact probably the biggest question of all, is whether Erdogan would tolerate the taste of defeat and accept the loss of the presidency. This publication has been focusing on three options: one, Erdogan, even at this late stage, finds a reason to postpone the elections, two, he declares a “victory” that flies in the face of the numbers but—for want of transparent data—cannot be verified, or three, he flees abroad (Yesildag’s videos could be taken as a forewarning of what Erdogan will face when he loses his post).
On May 7, hundreds of youngsters, carrying flags of the Nationalist Movement Party (the MHP, Erdogan's junior coalition partner) and Huda-Par (the “Free Cause Party”, another junior ruling coalition partner of Erdogan and the legal arm of a terrorist organisation known as the Kurdish Hezbollah or Hezbollah in Turkey), attacked an election rally in Erzurum in the east of the country with hails of stones. The attack occurred as Ekrem Imamoglu, Istanbul’s mayor and one of the coalition figures who will serve as a vice president in the event of a Kilicdaroglu win, was addressing the crowd.
The incident could be a sign that the Erdogan regime is getting ready for the nuclear option, namely the declaration of a fake victory and the imposition of it by force.
In the next two weeks, nothing about events in Turkey should surprise the observer.
When it comes to Ali Yesildag’s allegations, we can commence with the airport.
In 2007, Fraport took over Antalya airport, serving Turkey’s top tourist destinations on its Mediterranean coast, with IC Holding. In 2018, Turkey’s TAV (TAVHL) replaced IC in the consortium.
The airport is currently operated by a special purpose vehicle (SPV) formed by TAV and Fraport. The concession contract began in 2009. It was to last until end-2024. However, it was extended to end-2026 due to a consideration of the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
In 2021, TAV and Fraport won the concession tender to operate Antalya Airport for 25 years from January 1, 2027 to December 31, 2051.
Fraport TAV Antalya Yatirim, a new 51-49 JV formed by Fraport (Frankfurt/FRA) and TAV (TAVHL), will take over the airport at end-2026. The JV obtained a €1.9bn financing package for the deal from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the World Bank Group's International Finance Corporation (IFC) and 13 commercial banks.
Fraport, launched in 1924, is controlled by the State of Hesse, Stadtwerke Frankfurt am Main Holding GmbH (owned by the City of Frankfurt) and Deutsche Lufthansa AG (Frankfurt/LHA).
TAV, launched in 1997, is currently controlled by Groupe ADP (Paris/ADP).
IC Holding is owned by Ibrahim Cecen, a businessman close to Erdogan.
Ali Yesildag’s video was released on a YouTube channel operated by Cevheri Guven, a fugitive Gulenist. So far, Yesildag has released a total of three videos.
The second video included revelations on thievery in Turkey’s agricultural ministry, while the third one suggested the illegal seizure of a land plot in Istanbul.
Ali Yesildag is a brother of Hasan Yesildag.
The trend of Erdogan associates releasing YouTube revelations was started by Sedat “The Botox” Peker, a fugitive one-time mafia boss in Turkey who turned YouTuber and Twitter influencer as he spilled the beans on the Erdogan administration.
Peker is currently suffering a digital isolation in the UAE, a country Erdogan in the past year has been repairing relations with. He promised to release videos about Erdogan prior to the elections. However, his lawyer lately reiterated that he stands no chance of doing so at the moment.
In videos that he released prior to the currently prevailing isolation, Peker also provided information on the connection between the clandestine anti-communist Operation Gladio, once run by the West, and known in Turkey as “Counter-Guerrilla”, and Erdogan in relation to Hasan Yesildag.
Hasan Yesildag was an instrument of the Gladio apparatus in the 1970s. He is accused of participating in the murder of Metin Yuksel on February 23, 1979.
Yuksel was the leader of Akincilar, an organisation of Islamist youngsters, at the time when Erdogan was head of the youth branch of the National Salvation Party (MSP), an Islamist party, in Istanbul.
Yuksel was pro-Iran. After the success of the Islamist revolution in Iran (January 7 – February 11, 1979), all Islamists in Turkey were leaning towards Iran despite the deep sectarian divisions between the Shia in Iran and the Sunnis in Turkey.
The murder of Yuksel eliminated a promising pro-Iran leader, but opened the road to Erdogan.
Mustafa Hos and Soner Yalcin give detailed accounts of the murder of Yuksel in their books, respectively entitled “Big Boss” and “Kayip Sicil/Lost register file”. Additionally, journalists Can Dundar and Erk Acarer recently published a detailed case study on Hasan Yesildag. It also includes the other Yesildag brothers (there are four in total), among other Erdogan associates.
Recently, another person, named Muhammed Yakut, has been releasing his own YouTube videos on corruption among Erdogan’s ministers.
Ali Yesildag’s cooperation with Gulenists is new information, revealed with the release of videos on Guven’s YouTube channel.
Fethullah Gulen, who is not a “self-exiled preacher in the US” but the leader of an arm of Gladio, was among the stakeholders of Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), when the AKP, a political party, but some prefer to call it an international gang, was launched in 2001.
The Gulenists in the judiciary and police played a key role in overthrowing the ruling regime that existed in Turkey back then under military tutelage. The constitutional referendum that was held in 2010 could be taken as the official end of the tutelage regime.
Starting from 2009, Erdogan started showing signs of the hubris syndrome. With the December 17–25 corruption investigations launched in 2013 by Gulenist operatives in the judiciary and police, Erdogan and the Gulenists went into open warfare. Erdogan won by utilising the failed coup attempt in July 2016.
The Gulenists are ailed by an obsessive belief that they can have an impact on the outcome of elections with revelations of thievery. For instance, they were rather too hopeful that the December 17–25 operation would impact the results of the local elections in March 2014.
One wiretap detail that emerged from this operation concerns then PM Erdogan calling his son Bilal at 08:02 on December 17, 2013 to tell him to “zero the banknotes” kept at the homes of Erdogan family members, with Bilal then calling his father at 11:17 to tell him: “Daddy. Me, Hasan Abi, my brother [Burak Erdogan], Berat [Albayrak], my uncle [Mustafa Erdogan], we are thinking of some things.”
The “Hasan Abi” in question is Hasan Yesildag.
But this story, as mentioned, is rather long and its impact on the vote will be negligible. Let’s not make it any longer. For now, we have already spent enough time on Ali Yesildag’s videos.