TurkeySeptember 27 2022, 12:08 pm

Turkish-American Influence Group Meets with Congressmen, Plans Cooperation with Turkish Government

Over the past months, a Turk­ish-Amer­i­can influ­ence orga­ni­za­tion has had sev­er­al meet­ings with US Con­gress­men and Turk­ish offi­cials. Turk­ish Amer­i­can Nation­al Steer­ing Com­mit­tee (TASC) meet­ings with Turk­ish offi­cials have also includ­ed dis­cus­sions about future coop­er­a­tion. Recent TASC meet­ings with Con­gress­men included:

  • 11 June: Con­gress­man Tom Suozzi came to an event host­ed by Erol Akyürek, list­ed as TASC’s New York State Representative
  • 20 June: Con­gress­man Jim Langevin met with Melih Bek­taş, TASC’s co-chair, where they dis­cussed Turk­ish-Amer­i­can rela­tions and “train­ing” of the Turk­ish-Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ty liv­ing in Rhode Island.
  • 29 June: Con­gress­man David Cicilline met with Melih Bek­taş, dis­cussing the impor­tance of Turkey in NATO.

Oth­er inter­ac­tions between TASC and cur­rent or pre­vi­ous Turk­ish gov­ern­ment offi­cials includ­ed, most notably, a meet­ing between Melih Bek­taş and Abdul­lah Eren, head of the Turk­ish dias­po­ra gov­ern­ment agency, the Pres­i­den­cy for Turks Abroad and Relat­ed Com­mu­ni­ties (YTB), to dis­cuss future col­lab­o­ra­tion between TASC and the YTB. Melih Bek­taş also recent­ly met with the Min­is­ter of Cul­ture and Tourism, where they also dis­cussed oppor­tu­ni­ties for coop­er­a­tion. TASC addi­tion­al­ly report­ed on two meet­ings with for­mer AKP Prime Min­is­ter Binali Yıldırım, includ­ing a meet­ing where Melih Bek­taş met with Yıldırım personally.

The Pres­i­den­cy for Turks Abroad and Relat­ed Com­mu­ni­ties (Turk­ish: Yurt­dışı Türkler ve Akra­ba Toplu­luk­lar Başkan­lığı; YTB) is a part of the Turk­ish Min­istry of Cul­ture and Tourism. The YTB describes its mis­sion as coor­di­nat­ing activ­i­ties for and strength­en­ing eco­nom­ic, social, and cul­tur­al rela­tions with Turks liv­ing abroad and relat­ed com­mu­ni­ties and man­ag­ing the Türkiye Schol­ar­ship Pro­gram. YTB Pres­i­dent Abdul­lah Eren has called its alum­ni orga­ni­za­tions a “seri­ous instru­ment” in the fight against Fethul­lah Gülen, who Turkey blames for the 2016 coup.

The Turk­ish Amer­i­can Nation­al Steer­ing Com­mit­tee (TASC) is strong­ly tied to Turk­ish Pres­i­dent 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 e‑mails to Erdoğan fam­i­ly mem­bers. GIOR has report­ed that co-chair Melih Bek­taş may have Turk­ish ultra­na­tion­al­ist and Islamist sympathies.


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