Der SpiegelDer Spiegel

Waiting in the wings: Drone maker Bayraktar seen as possible Erdoğan successor

By Şebnem Arsu; Maximilian Popp

25 Apr 2023 · 6 min read

Editor's Note

Der Spiegel explores Selçuk Bayraktar's rising political influence as the co-owner of Turkey's largest arms exporter, Baykar, and potential successor to President Erdoğan.

It's a few days after the February 6 earthquakes, and Selçuk Bayraktar is standing in front of a pile of rubble in the middle of the disaster area. He looks worn out and sad. More than 50,000 people died in the disaster, and hundreds of thousands lost their homes. In the video Bayraktar posts on Twitter, he promises to build 1,000 new homes and 2,000 housing containers for the victims.

Bayraktar isn't actually an emergency worker. He's not even a member of the Turkish government. He's a co-owner of the Turkish defense company Baykar. He and his brother Haluk have made a name for themselves around the world as drone builders. The company's remote controlled aircraft gained a kind of cult status in Ukraine because they helped the country's military repel the Russian invasion at the beginning of the war. A Ukrainian soldier even dedicated a pop song to them, and the Kyiv Zoo christened a baby lemur Baykar.

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