22.03.2023 Author: Valery Kulikov

What Kind of Hackers will the USA Use in the Turkish Elections?


Everyone is now aware of the fact that the United States aggressively meddles in practically all political movements and elections that take place in different nations. In fact, the US publicly touts its “successes” in this area, making no secret of the fact.

It is sufficient to read Scott Shane’s article in the New York Times, which states openly that since their inception, American intelligence services have routinely carried out covert operations interfering in foreign elections, and that these operations have long served as the foundation of Washington’s foreign policy. This New York Times article discusses, among other things, CIA involvement in the overthrow of unpopular leaders, assassination of many politicians, and support for reactionary regimes in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.  Additionally, dozens of official organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are involved, in addition to the CIA, the US Department of State and numerous American intelligence agencies. Various media reports detail more than a hundred instances of US meddling in the sovereign affairs of more than 60 countries over the last 70 years. For example, Dov Levin of Carnegie-Mellon University (Pennsylvania) identified more than 80 instances of covert US interference in other countries’ elections in the second half of the previous century alone, citing the 2016 Russian Duma elections as one example.

When Donald Trump took office as President of the United States, he also mentioned such illegal US policies, emphasizing that such criminal activity at the state level must be stopped. Of course, these words of Donald Trump are of particular importance, because they were probably said after he had seen all the secret files that were shown to him.

One of the White House’s top priorities today is to depose incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AK Party). In particular, as reported by the Turkish publication Haber7, John Bolton, former national security adviser to Donald Trump, called for “interference in the presidential election in Turkey” on social media in January. The United States intends to interfere in the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey, scheduled for mid-May, in order to make sure that the outcomes exclusively reflect Washington’s political judgment rather than a democratic choice made by the nation’s citizens, as it did in the previous poll.

The United States is attempting to impose strict control over the populace and destabilize Turkey in order to remove Erdoğan and his party. To this goal, the Western media has been actively promoting anti-Turkish pieces that strongly criticize the policies of the AK Party and the Turkish leader, especially in recent months.

The White House is still considering the possibility of forcibly removing Ankara’s government, though. This, in particular, is confirmed by the discussion in a recent publication of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) of possible options for interfering in the upcoming Turkish elections.

According to the Turkish newspaperAydınlık, Doğu Perinçek, Chairman of the Turkish Patriotic Party, allegedly said that the USA intended to instigate a “bloodbath” in Turkey during the country’s general elections The Turkish MP reminded readers that Foreign Policy, which he dubbed “a semi-official instrument of the US Department of State,” had earlier published an article entitled “There will be a bloodbath in Turkey during these elections.”

Yet, many experts believe that the USA will actively pursue its objectives in Turkey and would undoubtedly employ hackers. And one is reminded, unintentionally, of the close cooperation between the US and Israel in various covert operations, including cyberspace. Such operations have recently been particularly well publicized with the example of joint operations against Iran. However, we must not forget that Turkey is also part of Washington’s assignment to Israel to “monitor the regional situation.”

Israel is “famous” for its hackers, who make a living by hacking and conducting “special operations.” Thus, one of the most mysterious, according to Kaspersky Lab researcher Brian Bartholomew, is Candiru, which does not even have a public outlet. However, it is known that this particular Tel Aviv company sells cyberweapons to a number of governments, particularly Uzbekistan, and hacks information space in various countries for a number of “customers” of various countries’ intelligence services. The Candiru hackers’ program to monitor certain “clients” of interest was employed, among other things, in the process of attacking Uzbek human rights campaigners and the nation’s independent media, according to information provided by Bartholomew to Western media in 2019.

Another Israeli hacker group, Team Jorge, based in the small Israeli town of Modi’in, was recently discovered during a journalistic investigation. More than 30 elections have been rigged by the group around the world. It was discovered that the hackers used computer attacks, sabotage, and disinformation bots on social media to carry out their schemes.

This is how hackers spread fake news about candidates in Nigeria before the presidential election in February 2023, and in Kenya before the election in the summer of 2022, misinformation about politicians flooded TikTok.

Major General Amos Yadlin, former head of the IDF Military Intelligence, boasted in March 2010 that the Jewish state, as the world leader in cyber warfare, has unlimited capacity to paralyze any enemy infrastructure. The invisible work of thousands of Israeli cyber warriors, honed in IDF military intelligence and communications units is recognized not just in the United States.

So there are many potential opportunities for Israel to participate in Washington’s “electoral plans” in Turkey. Concerning hackers’ ability to influence political processes and elections, it is important to remember that their activities can extend far beyond the dissemination of false or targeted information against specific politicians in social networks and media space. Hackers can change the unofficial voting results that the public and media receive because, in this digital age, parts of many countries’ electoral infrastructure are vulnerable to cyberattacks. Hackers can sway voters’ ability to cast ballots or tamper with unofficial vote totals through cyberattacks. Experts from the US Department of Homeland Security claim that depending on the technology and procedures utilized at polling sites, hacking threats might differ from country to country and disrupt the voting process in different ways.

Thus, Washington won’t just be allowed to utilize its hackers in Turkey’s forthcoming election.

Valery Kulikov, political expert, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.

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