As millions of people in Turkey face poverty and hunger at heretofore unseen levels, the government continues to spend sky-high amounts on President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s personal security. In the first ten months of 2021 alone, 262,592,000 Turkish Liras were spent on his security, the daily BirGün reported.
Turkey is in the midst of a historic economic crisis. Officially, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK), inflation is at 21.3%, but economists fear it is far, far higher. The lira has lost 55% of its value this year, including 37% in the last 30 days alone. This is largely a result of an unfounded economic policy spearheaded by Erdoğan, who claims that low interest rates will lead to lower inflation and more financial stability. No known economic theory supports this claim.
Poverty in the country is skyrocketing. As the price of goods goes up, Turkish citizens are lining up in bread lines and for discount food around the country. People have even resorted to selling their clothes to buy food.
As the citizens struggle, the Presidential Protection Department has spent 26,200,000 liras monthly on Erdoğan's security. That totals an average of 870,000 liras per day this year.
The cost of the president’s protection now exceeds that of several security bodies linked to the police. The Anti-Cyber Crime Unit, the unit to combat narcotic crimes, the Intelligence Department, the Organized Crime Department, and the Anti-Smuggling department all receive less funding than Erdoğan’s security.
Under President Erdoğan’s government, the Presidential Protection Department, as his security detail is called, receives a broad mandate.
According to the agency, it is responsible for “protection services, especially for the safety and dignity of the president and his family members, as well as their residences, workplaces, and during their movement by any means of transportation. In addition, it is responsible for ensuring the security of all properties belonging to the presidency and all buildings and facilities where the president might be located.”
Despite this, the actual number of guards and vehicles contained in the detail is obfuscated by the government. Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Alpay Antmen brought the question before Turkey’s parliament. He directly asked Vice President Fuat Oktay how many guards protect the president and his residences.
Oktay dismissed the question.
“These matters fall under the scope of the General Security Directorate and are fulfilled with sufficient personnel and equipment so as to not create any security weakness,” Oktay said.
In response to this, Antmen asked that people simply look to the chaos created in any city that Erdoğan visits.
“Helicopters, tanks, and convoys of hundreds of vehicles follow wherever Erdoğan goes,” he said, “You would not encounter this scene in any developed country in the world. Life and traffic are both blocked wherever Erdoğan visits. Sometimes they make citizens wait for hours.”