How to make a conspiracy theory

A delightful little vignette of how news become conspiracy theory. The influential news/gossip/paid character assassination/serious analysis Nezygar Telegram feed ran a tale claiming that MI6 was the ‘curator’ of a new ‘motley but daring anti-Russian alliance of Poland-Ukraine-Azerbaijan-Turkey.’ What’s the basis for this?

  1. That the British company, EDO MBM, provided the technology to Turkey that allowed them to build the Bayraktar TB2 drones that are playing such a visible role in the Azerbaijani war on Armenia.
  2. The chairman of the board of EDO (UK) and a director of the US parent company EDO Corporation is Sir Robert Walmsley, a former Vice Admiral of the Royal Navy and Chief of Procurement at the UK Ministry of Defence.
  3. The drones are built by the company Baykar, whose CEO, Haluk Bayraktar, has been pushing cooperation with Ukraine, and in August was awarded Ukraine’s Order of Merit by Presdident Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
  4. That month, the second prototype of the Bayraktar Akinci armed drone with Ukrainian Ivchenko-Progress AI-450C engines made its first flight.
  5. Somehow, this is all connected with Adnan Tanriverdi, a retired Turkish lieutenant general, and founder of the SADAT Inc. International Defence Consultancy, which is closely linked with Turley’s Erdogan, and for whom ‘working contacts … with the head of MI6 Richard Moore are likely.’
  6. (After all, Moore is a Turkey specialist, who served as UK ambassador to Ankara, 2014-17.)

And lo and behold, the ‘Poland-Ukraine-Azerbaijan-Turkey alliance’ is born – so long as you don’t ask about Poland. A British arms company has former British defence officials on its board – as if any of them don’t. A Turkish arms company wants to make sales, and is willing to try out a Ukrainian engine. The Turkic Azeris are happy to use Turkish drones (and likely Turkish drone pilots) to hit the Armenians. Add in some hand-waving extraneous suppositions (where did Tanriverdi come into this?) and there you are.

Of course, it’s ridiculous and arguably not even worth the time it took me to type it up. But it’s a fascinating case study of the ‘Six Degrees of Kevin Bacan’ way these conspiracy theories are constructed, and the assumptions made about the world in the process.

Let’s see.

  1. I corresponded with former General Igor Rodionov back at the end of the 80s when he was head of the General Staff Academy
  2. At the time Rodionov headed the academy, General Valery Baranov studied there
  3. Baranov went on to lose a leg in the bomb attack that killed Akhmad Kadyrov and thus paved the way for the elevation of Ramzan Kadyrov
  4. Baranov was then hosted and feted by Ramzan in 2018

Oh my goodness, it seems I am a Kadyrovets. Such is the logic of these conspiratorial chains…

Leave a comment


  1. ilanberman

     /  November 7, 2020

    Interesting vignette. My Americanness, however, compels me to let you know that the correct phrase is “six degrees of Kevin Bacon”… as in, the Hollywood actor of Footloose, Animal House and Invisible Man fame. Not quite sure who Kevin Baker is.

    All best, Ilan

    Pardon the brevity. Sent from my iPhone



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