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.