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The Landscape Surrounding Michael Flynn’s Enigmatic Client

Ekim Alptekin (Youtube screen grab)

Much has been said about former U.S. Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s enigmatic client, the Dutch Turkish businessman Ekim Alptekin. Last year he paid Flynn $530.000 to do research on, and start a lobby against, the U.S. residing imam Fethullah Gülen, who has been accused by the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Devlopment Party (AKP) of having ordered the attempted takeover in Turkey on July 15 2016.

Also because of his chairmanship of the Turks-American Business Association TAIK it is widely assumed that Alptekin is working for the Turkish government. He denies this himself and says that he does not take orders from Ankara. According to Alptekin the money for Flynn for the research on Gülen didn’t come from the AKP government, but from Ratio, a gas company in Israel. However, Ratio denied any involvement.

Perincek

The enigma Alptekin is surrounded with does not only follow from the inconsistency of his words, but also from contradictions in his affiliations. But let’s begin with his family background.

His father, Sevinc Alptekin, came to the Netherlands in the early eighties, when Ekim was four. During interviews he has been mentioning his parents as teachers and as employees of the Dutch state department. What he never tells journalists is that his father, Sevinc Alptekin, came to the Netherlands as a refugee after the 1980 coup in Turkey. About the ideological affiliation of his parents he keeps silent as well.

Sevinc Alptekin was a member of the party of the Turkish secular nationalist Dogu Perincek,  the Turkish Workers Party (IP), which was renamed into the Fatherland Party (VP) a few years ago. Alptekin’s uncle, the lawyer Sami Alptekin, was a friend of the seven student members of Perincek’s party who were killed by fascist Grey Wolves in 1978; the so-called “Bahcelievler massacre”.

Initially, the IP combined Marxism with the nationalism and secularism based on the ideology of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic. Marxism can hardly be recognized in Perincek’s party nowadays, but nationalism and secularism are still highly valuated here.

In 2008, prosecutors sympathizing with the controversial Turkish imam Fethullah Gülen, ordered Perincek’s arrest on the accusantion of planning a takeover’; the so-called “Ergenekon procedure”. The current Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan was prime minister at the time. He and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) fully supported the prosecution of Perincek. However, Erdogan was still on on good terms with Gülen in these years. It was the time when the AKP and the Gülen movement were closely cooperating.

Wedding

A year before Perincek was arrested, Ekim Alptekin married the journalist Asli Ayndintasbas. The marriage lasted only a year, but the couple had some interesting witnesses. Like Hilmi Güler, the energyminister of the AKP at the time. Güler was the architect of the gold-for-oil deal between Iran and Turkey, during which the Iranian-Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab committed fraud and paid bribes to four AKP ministers. In December 2013 this was revealed by Gülen’s prosecutors, which was the main reason why his conflict with Erdogan intensified and turned into a war. Currently Zarrab stands trial in New york on the accustation of having evaded the boycot against Iran (a subject on itself…).

One of the ministers who was bribed by Zarrab was Erdogan Bayraktar, of the Ministery for Housing. Alptekin had good relations with Bayraktar, which had everything to do with his interests in the Turkish construction sector. 

The other witness at the wedding of Alptekin and Aydintasbas was the AKP parliamentarian Saban Disli. In 2008 he would be central in the first major corruption scandal the AKP was confronted with. Disli received a million dollar from the businessman Mehmet Karasu in exchange for the adaptation of a zoning plan on a green area. Karasu also got involved with  Alptekin’s EA group, as a project adviser.

This year Saban Disli was stripped of his parlimentarian immunity, which most probably has to do with the fact that his brother, former General Major Mehmet Disli, was arrested last year for involvement in the coup attempt of July 15 2016.

Turkish Armed forces

After the failed coup of last year, Gülen’s followers were massively purged from the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK). Under these circumstances Erdogan had to accept that military members of Perincek’s VP reached higher ranks within the forces. Consequently Perincek’s influence within the military grew to a certain extent.

Consequently the TSK received a Russian element, since Perincek is very pro-Russian oriented. He runs the Turkish branche of the Euro-Asian movement, that was founded by the Russian ultranationalist Alexander Dugin. It is widely believed that Dugin has substantial  influence on Russian President Putin. Last year Dugin pleased the AKP when he stated before  a Turkish parliamentary enquiery committee that Gülen masterminded the attempted coup. Earlier, Perinceks people layed the groundwork for Dugin’s appearance in Turkey.

Perincek’s strict secularism implies a major contradiction with Erdogan’s islamism, but they find eachother in anti-Western views and hateful feelings towards Gülen and the PKK. Yet a basis for cooperation was created.

A strange form of cooperation though, because Perincek remains a fierce opponent of Erdogan. Earlier this year it was even suggested that he prepared a coup in Turkey. Only after Erdogan’s initial enthusiasm for U.S. President Donald Trump became tempered, and he had gotten closer to Putin again, such rumors faded away.

Soros

Allready before last year’s coup attempt in Turkey Erdogan had blacklisted the billionair and philantropist George Soros. Up to about five years ago, when the AKP still cooperated with the Gülen movement, Erdogan had no bad feelings about Soros, who he met at the 2003 World Economic Forum in Davos. But after Fethullah Gülen had transformed from an ally to the arch enemy of the AKP, Soros’ association with the imam was enough reason for Erdogan to turn against him as well.

This association is not unfounded. For example, in 2013 a report on media freedom of the Soros founded Center for American Progress (CAP) was co-financed by Tuskon, the businessmen organization of the Gülen movement in Turkey (which was closed after the coup attempt of July 15).

The AKP and its media have aimed several accusations at Soros. Pro government Turkish newspapers retroactively called him the mastermind behind the protest in 2013 against the demolition of Istanbuls Gezipark. And when the Turkish lira devaluated massively at the end of last year, Erdogan blamed it on Soros.

Recently, Soros was mentioned in a tweet of Melih Gökcek, the AKP mayor of the Turkish capital Ankara. Gökcek claimed that Soros had called members of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), the main opposition party, and sympathisers of the Kurdish PKK to protest against the alleged fraud during the referendum on March 16.

Gökcek added to his tweet that the leader of the Father Land Party, Dogu Perincek, had understood that Soros initiated this protest. Therefore, Perincek did not participate in it, according to Gökcek.

ECFR

Soros is funding the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), that was founded in 2007. Soros is himself a member of this “Pan European” himself, and so is Ekim Alptekin. This strong association with Soros puts his membership of the ECFR in a strange daylight. For after all, as a chairman of TAIK he is closely connected to the AKP, where Soros is despised. Because of this reason it is not any less strang that Erodgan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin is also a member of the ECFR.

Alptekin’s former wife, the Turkish journalist Asli Aydintasbas is a senior policy fellow at the ECFR, while another member worth mentioning in the context of this article is Marietje Schaake. This Dutch Euro parliamentarian was co-founder of Alptekin’s Inovo company, that paid $530.000 to Michael Flynn.

Mabel of Orange

Connections between Soros and Gülen are recognizable in the ECFR as well. One of the presidents – and founders – of this thinktank is Mabel van Oranje, the sister-in-law of the King of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander. She also works for the Open Society Foundations of Soros. (Apart from her the ECFR has an orange tint because of Prince Constantijn, the brother of the king, who is also a member).

In 2003, when a controversy developed around Mabel, because of her contacts with the Dutch mafia boss Klaas Bruinsma, friends linked to Soros funded organizations, such as the International Crisis Group, sent a letter to the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant to support her.

Among those friends was Morton Abramowitz, the former U.S. ambassador to Turkey, who is known as a sympatizer of Gülen. This became obvious in 2008, when the imam was facing difficulties with his green card situation. Abramowitz supported Gülen in this respect with a letter to the U.S. authorities.

Türgen

A country where Gülen and Soros find each other in their pursuit of influence is Albania, a counry of which Ekim Alptekin is honoray consul in Turkey.

Erdogan is urging the Albanian government to distance itself from Gülen. In this respect it is interesting that the U.S. based Turkish charity/education institution Türgen donated more than $ 300,000 to the Albanian community in the U.S.

Türgen is the American branch of two organizations affiliated with the AKP. The first is Türgev of Erdogan’s son Bilal. Türgev received a donation from the aforementioned Iranian Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab, who currently stands trial in New York.

The other Turkish organization within Türgen is Ensar. This AKP affiliated educational institution became infamous with many in Turkey last year after the revelation of a scandal concerning sexual abuse of children on one of its schools.

Türgen is headed by Hilal Mutlu, a cousin of Erdogan. On May 17, when Erdogan’s bodyguards and sympathisers violently attacked protesters in Washington, Mutlu was watching on the sideline.

And to close the circle: in October last year Mutlu spoke with Michael Flynn. During the previous month Flynn had met two Turkish ministers already, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavosulglu and Energy Minister Berat Albayrak, the son-in-law of President Erdogan. This meeting was arranged by Ekim Alptekin and was connected to the assignment he gave to Flynn.

Economy minister
Last month, Recep Ercin, a journalist of the Perincek’s newspaper Aydinlik, came up with some interesting information about Alptekin. According to Ercin, the chairman of TAIK, member of the ECFR and honorary consul of Albania is named as the successor of the current economy minister Nihat Zeybekci. Prior to the referendum of April 16, Alptekin supposedly declared himself available for that post.

That would be the day, if a Turk raised in the Netherlands with a Dutch passport, from an extremely secular environment, who didn’t show any affinity with Islam during interviews whatsoever, would become a minister in a government with a strong Islamic foundation.

But let’s first wait and see what will happen when it comes to the reshuffle of the Turkish government, which is expected anyway. Nevertheless it is interesting that a newspaper which is close to the ideogical background of his family is the source of this rumor.

Russia

There are still many dotts to connect when it comes to Ekim Alptekin. He’s not a complete stranger in Russia either for instance. Like mentioned by Politico and Boulder Weekly his contacts there are going all the way to the Putin’s vicinity. Interesting of course, with respect to Michael Flynn’s Russian Connection, but also because of the developing link between Ankara and Moscow. Recently launched investigations in the U.S. may throw further light on all of this.

However, it is clear by now already that Alptekin has associated himself with an assorted cast of characters. This certainly does not only add to the enigma he’s surrounded with, for it makes it pretty sure that we will hear more about him soon as we.

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