Turkish media is reporting that a Maryland congressman has thanked two groups close to the Turkish government for providing coronavirus-related medical equipment. According to the Anadolu Agency report:
September 1, 2020 Ankara The US-based Turkish American National Steering Committee (TASC) said US Congressional Record recognized the contribution of the committee and Turkey in fight against coronavirus. “US Congressional Record recognizes TASC and Republic of Turkey in fight against COVID-19 in Maryland and the United States,” the TASC tweeted late Monday. “@RepDavidTrone @StateMaryland We Turkish Americans stands with American people. Be Negative on COVID, Stay Positive on Life,” the commitee added. Trone addressed the House of Representatives to express his gratitude for the “generosity” of Turkish Americans and their “gracious” support to Marylanders, according to the record issued on Friday. “… I rise today to recognize the Turkish American National Steering Committee (TASC), which is lead by Potomac resident Gunay Evinch, and the Turkish Exporters Assembly, which is lead by Mr. Ismail Gulle, for their humanitarianism and generosity in donating critical personal protective equipment (PPE) to the State of Maryland,” he said.
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The Turkish Exporters Assembly is a semi-public agency founded by the Turkish Council of Ministers in 1993. It describes itself as an “the only umbrella organization of Turkish exports, representing more than 95,000 exporters with 27 sectors, 61 Exporters Association.” Its Chairman, İsmail Gülle, is also a Vice President of the Turkish Foreign Economic Relations Board (Turkish: Dış Ekonomik İlişkiler Kurulu, DEİK), which is controlled by the Ministry of Economy.
The Turkish American National Steering Committee’s (TASC) is strongly connected to Turkish President Erdoğan:
- Gunay Evinch, TASC’s co-chair, is a principal of Saltzman & Evinch, the law firm retained by Turkey and engaged in the legal defense of Erdoğan’s bodyguards who were accused of assaulting protestors during Erdoğan’s May 2017 visit to Washington DC.
- TASC’s other co-chair, Halil Mutlu, is President Erdoğan’s cousin and is the former chairman of the Turken Foundation, where Erdoğan’s daughter Esra Albayrak is on the board of directors.
- TASC board member and former treasurer Murat Guzel detailed his engagement in US political activities in e‑mails to Erdoğan family members.
- TASC also has hosted events in the US where President Erdoğan has spoken.
- In September 2019, TASC hosted an event where president Erdoğan spoke alongside and met with a number of USMB leaders.
- TASC also participated in the 15th Annual MAS-ICNA Convention in 2016 along with one of Erdoğan’s daughters, Turkish public broadcaster TRT, as well as other Turkish organizations and agencies.
- TASC co-sponsored a rally against President Donald Trump’s 2017 declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel along with several US Muslim Brotherhood groups.
Turkey is likely using its coronavirus aid in order to gain influence in the US. The Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Watch published a post about a conference call where a US Muslim Brotherhood umbrella organization, the Turkish ambassador to the US, and a TASC representative watched a pre-recorded Eid greeting from Erdoğan. The head of the organization thanked and praised Erdoğan and Turkey for sending medical aid to the US during the coronavirus crisis and later did so again when meeting with Erdoğan at the Turkish president complex.