Turkey's Erdogan and the illicit recordings

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Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan has condemned as a "treacherous attack" an audio recording that appears to show him talking to his son, Bilal, about hiding large sums of money.

The opposition says he should resign but the prime minister says the recording is a "shameless montage" and he has attacked his political enemies.

What's going on ?

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image captionRecep Tayyip Erdogan and son Bilal

Someone is either recording - or fabricating - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's private phone calls. The anonymous eavesdropper has posted the tapes online. Mr Erdogan has publicly commented on two of these alleged calls.

What were the two alleged calls?

The first call, posted several weeks ago, featured the prime minister talking to a media executive in June 2013. During the conversation, Mr Erdogan instructed the executive to change his channel's coverage of an opposition leader's speech. Mr Erdogan has admitted, without embarrassment, that this first call is genuine.

The second call, posted on 24th February, is said to feature Mr Erdogan speaking to his son, Bilal, in December 2013. Extracts appear to show the Prime Minister ordering his son to get rid of large sums of money during a corruption investigation. Mr Erdogan says that this second call is shamelessly fabricated.

Who is making (or fabricating) the recordings?

The recordings are posted anonymously. At a meeting of Mr Erdogan's ruling AK Party in Ankara on 25 February, Mr Erdogan repeatedly blamed "they" and "them" for posting the recordings, without specifying exactly whom he meant. But in recent months, Mr Erdogan has repeatedly referred to numerous enemies who seek to destroy his government.

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image captionThe Turkish prime minister addressed a party meeting in parliament on 25 February

So who are the prime minister's enemies ?

On December 17th 2013, Turkish prosecutors detained a number of the Prime Minister's close allies on suspicion of corruption. Mr Erdogan responded by accusing prosecutors and police officers of forming a "parallel state" which takes instruction from Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen, who lives in the United States. Mr Gulen's movement denies the charges.

The prime minister has also accused an international "interest rate lobby" of trying to damage Turkey.

image captionFrom exile Fethullah Gulen has emerged as a key figure in Turkish politics

Is Recep Tayyip Erdogan's position under threat ?

Mr Erdogan still dominates his ruling AK Party - a movement which he helped to found. He also appears to retain the support of much of Turkey's working class, which often looks on the country's secular elite with great suspicion. This support allowed the prime minister to survive last year's Gezi Park protests.

image copyrightReuters
image captionAnger at plans to demolish Gezi Park in Istanbul escalated into anti-government protests

A crucial test of Mr Erdogan's position will come at the end of March, when Turkey holds municipal elections. The results of this poll may dictate the prime minister's future. A convincing victory may encourage him to run for the presidency in elections due this summer. Anything less will weaken his position.

image copyrightAFP
image captionProtesters prepare to burn a portrait of Mr Erdogan during a demonstration by students on 25 February

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