Turkish media is reporting that President Erdoğan has met with a number of Turkish-American influence organizations while visiting New York in September to attend the 77th UN General Assembly. According to the TRTHABER report:
September 18, 2022 Erdogan, who is in New York to attend the 77th General Assembly of the United Nations (UN), held a meeting at Turkevi. In a closed-door meeting, AK Party Deputy Chairman Efkan Ala, AK Party Washington Representative Halil Mutlu, Turkish American National Steering Committee (TASC) Chairman Melih Bektaş, TÜRKEN Foundation President Behram Turan, Cihannüma Association USA President Levent Ali Yıldız, MUSIAD USA President Murat Güzel , Member of the Board of Nil Education and Solidarity Association Mine Anlar, President of the Black Sea Giresun Association of the USA Savaş Şahin, Islamic Society Milli Görüş USA Regional President Nevzat Tuncel, Hasene Foundation President Nedim Sezgin, Turkish American Students Federation President and AK Party USA Youth Branch President İsrafil Demir, TASC Pennsylvania and Delaware Representative Fatih Dursun, Union of International Democrats (UID) New York Representative Hakan Karalok, UID California Representative Ebru Şahin, TASC Chicago Representative Seyit Şahin.
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The Turkish American National Steering Committee (TASC) is strongly tied to Erdoğan; TASC co-chair Gunay Evinch is a principal of Saltzman & Evinch, a law firm retained by Turkey and registered as a foreign agent of Turkey in 2020. In addition, TASC’s former treasurer, Murat Guzel, detailed his US political activities in emails to Erdoğan family members. GIOR has reported that co-chair Melih Bektaş may have Turkish ultranationalist and Islamist sympathies. Attendees Halil Mutlu and İsrafil Demir, AKP Washington Representative and AKP USA Youth Branch President, respectively, previously had leadership roles at TASC. On this same trip to New York, Erdoğan also spoke at a TASC gala.
The other Turkish influence organizations present at the meeting and identified above included:
- The TÜRKEN Foundation (connected to TASC, the board includes President Erdoğan’s daughter, Esra Albayrak
- Cihannüma (an association that has hosted Hamas leaders, including Khaled Meshaal)
- MÜSİAD (a Turkish businessman’s group which has financially supported the AKP party; its USA branch president, Murat Guzel, is TASC’s former treasurer)
- Millî Görüş (a Turkish religious and political movement founded by Necmettin Erbakan, Erdoğan’s political mentor)
- Hasene (a charity that shares the same address and two board members with Islamische Gemeinschaft Millî Görüş, Millî Görüş’s European network)
- The Union of International Democrats (UID), a lobbying group for President Erdoğan and the AKP that emphasizes Turkish values and customs)