The Centre for International Policy (CIP), a US think tank, is reporting that Turkey hired at least eleven US lobby firms in 2020, which made campaign contributions totaling more than USD 500,000 last year. According to a CIP report on Turkey’s lobby in the US:
October 2021 While relations between Ankara and Washington have always been delicate, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent controversial foreign policy decisions and turn towards authoritarianism at home have, arguably, made U.S.-Turkey relations more strained than ever before. Following an attempted 2016 coup in Turkey, Erdogan used the incident to purge his political opponents from the Turkish military and bureaucracy and grant himself vastly expanded powers through presidential rule. Abroad, his unusually assertive Turkish foreign policy—including recent military interventions and support for proxy forces in Syria, Libya, Iraq, and Nagorno-Karabakh—has at times clashed with U.S. interests and Turkey’s other NATO allies. Additionally, specific sources of tension in U.S.-Turkey relations include: Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S‑400 air defense system; the refusal of the U.S. to extradite Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric who Erdogan accuses of masterminding the 2016 coup attempt; and Turkey’s intervention in Syria in opposition to U.S. support for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). While seemingly distinct sources of tension, all of these issues have at least one thing in common: lobbying. Each of these issues that has deeply strained relations between the U.S. and Turkey has been the object of considerable lobbying, public relations, and related attempts at influence by Turkey’s foreign agents in the U.S.
Read the full report here.
Having analyzed every 2020 Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) document filed by organizations registered to work on behalf of Turkish clients, the CIP concludes that Turkey’s agents attempted — and largely failed — to shift US stances on these and other issues. The CIP recorded the following political activities done on behalf of Turkey in the US in 2020:
- 11 organizations were registered under FARA to work on Turkey’s behalf in 2020
- Those organizations reported making 2,319 contacts on behalf of their Turkish clients.
- 568 campaign contributions totaling $526,177 made by those firms and their registered foreign agents.
- 17 elected officials received nearly $37,000 in contributions from firms that had contacted their offices on behalf of Turkish clients.
- 1 Senator received a campaign contribution from a firm that had contacted her office on Turkey’s behalf that same day.
The CIP also notes that its report only covers one part of Turkey’s influence in the US and does not address the impact of NGOs such as the Turkish Heritage Organization or illicit influence operations such as the work Michael Flynn did on Turkey’s behalf.
As of September 2021, there are still ten FARA registrants working on behalf of clients in Turkey.