Monday, February 09, 2009

Turkish union leaders in deep state coup plot

A little late, I just found Alexia Saoulli's (Cyprus) Sunday Mail article on the Turkish trade union leader and three deputies involved in the Turkish deep state plot for a coup.

Union Chair Mustafa Özbek, Deputy Chair Mecit Hızır, Secretary-General Muharrem Aslıyüce and former Secretary-General Süleyman Erdinç were arrested. Saoulli's title, "Turkish Cypriot union head held...", is a little unfair. As her first line says, he is a Turkish trade union leader. He got northern Cypriot citizenship (vatandaşlık) during the presidency of possible Ergenekon agent Rauf Denktaş.

Turkish Metal Work Syndicate(1) and International Metal Workers' Federation(2) Chair Mustafa Özbek has 'property in the occupied areas and close ties to... Rauf Denktash' and, rather surprisingly for a trade union leader, is a multimillionaire with massive stakes (menfaatler) in media and leisure, which include media and business interests in northern Cyprus. A junior union official, Ali Özaltın explained how Özbek made his 'undeserved profits' and identified Özbek as 'one of the main financial sources of the Ergenekon terrorist organization' (in Todays's Zaman's paraphrasing).

Kıbrıs reported Özbek paid all expenses for Turks to go to Cyprus to rally and possibly to vote for the ruling nationalist party during an election. Today's Zaman relayed that his Turkish Metal Work Syndicate funded a nationalist movement, Ergenekon front organisation Türkiyem ("My Turkey"). The two unions he chairs share ownership of the Avrasya Hotel in Kyrenia (as another deep state actor, money-laundering Ömer Lütfü Topal, owned the Jasmine Court Hotel).

Mustafa Özbek owns Eurasia Radio and Television (Avrasya Radyo ve Televizyonu (ART)). Its General Coordinator is... his son, Ahmet Özbek; and its financial coordinator is... his son, Alparslan Özbek. ART was set up in Cyprus to make a 'profit for the union'. According to Ortam, a Turkish Cypriot newspaper whose journalists had been censored on it, ART tries to create a 'climate of terror' in northern Cyprus. Its headquarters were moved to Turkey, but when the police raided ART's offices in Ankara, it restarted broadcasting from Cyprus.

That makes one of Saoulli last observations interesting: '[t]he Turkish Cypriot press... wondered why although Ozbek's properties in Ankara had been searched no one had searched the properties he owned in the north'. Hopefully, it is only a matter of time.
  1. Türk Metal İş Sendikası
  2. Uluslararası Metal İşçiler Federasyonu
Bahceli, S. 2008: "Tremors of Turkey's scandal will be felt in Cyprus". Cyprus Mail, 13th July. Available at:
Saoulli, A. 2009: "Turkish Cypriot union head held in Turkish coup probe". [Cyprus] Sunday Mail, 25th January. Available at:

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