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Erdoğan denies ties to defense firm SADAT, sparking factual rebuttal from opposition

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday denied having ties to the SADAT International Defense Consultancy, a company with alleged links to Turkey’s authoritarian leader, prompting opposition figures to rebut his claim with facts that the company’s founder served as his aide while actively working for SADAT and attended high-level Cabinet meetings.

SADAT, Turkey’s first domestic military consultancy firm and a paramilitary organization, was established by Erdoğan’s former aide Adnan Tanrıverdi and 23 retired military officers on Feb. 28, 2012.

According to SADAT’s founding documents, its mission is to make the Islamic world self-sufficient in terms of military power. Retired general Tanrıverdi said SADAT was set up at the request of officials from Erdoğan’s government.

The company became the focus of a heated debate in Turkey after Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said on Friday that it would be the culprit if an incident threatened election security in the 2023 polls.

“SADAT is a paramilitary organization. They used to be Erdoğan’s advisers,” the CHP leader said, adding: “This organization also trains [people] for unconventional warfare, namely sabotage, raids, ambush, destruction, assassination and terror. It is an organization that trains terrorists,” Kılıçdaroğlu told members of the press.

The company has attracted growing scrutiny over US allegations that it trains Syrians who then are deployed to support pro-Turkish forces in war zones such as Libya.

“Even though I have nothing to do with the executives of SADAT, this chairman has the gall to say that it is a putschist organization that we use,” Erdoğan said, addressing members of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

“Previously, fake news about this company had appeared in the media based on statements made by some politicians. For example, in 2018, the chairwoman of a political party, which is still in the CHP [opposition] alliance, claimed in a newspaper that armed training camps were established [by SADAT] in various parts of our country,” he added.

In 2016, following a controversial coup bid, Erdoğan appointed SADAT-founder Tanrıverdi as his advisor.

CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu was quick to refute Erdoğan with a photo showing Tanrıverdi attending a top-level meeting with the president and government ministers.

“Erdoğan, you said, ‘I have nothing to do with SADAT.’ Let me introduce you: The 6th person to your left in the meeting where state secrets were discussed is the founder of SADAT. He is an arms dealer. He wants to establish a new state with İstanbul as its capital and Arabic as its language. Tell us what you heard from this senior advisor of yours and enlighten us,” Kılıçdaroğlu tweeted, referring to Tanrıverdi’s pan-Islamic vision.

“We’re used to him denying his words, but denying his signature is a first! Erdoğan said ‘I have nothing to do’ with Sadat, whose founder he made an advisor to the palace [presidency] with his own signature,” CHP MP Tuncay Özkan tweeted, along with an image of the Official Gazette announcing the appointment.

In June 2021 the AKP and its ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), rejected a parliamentary motion to investigate SADAT’s controversial activities after Turkish mob boss Sedat Peker claimed SADAT had sent weapons to the al-Nusra Front in Syria in 2015.

Peker also alleged that SADAT could possibly carry out assassinations of dissidents living in Turkey and abroad in the near future.

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