The co-chair of a Turkish-American influence group has now been appointed as head of Turkish President Erdoğan’s AKP party in the United States. According to the ABDPOST report:
February 25th, 2022: Dr. Halil Mutlu, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s cousin, was appointed head of the AK Party’s representation in the United States. Halil Mutlu, 51, who has been a doctor in the USA for many years, will serve as the first representative of the AK Party in the USA. Only the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) have representative offices in America. A graduate of Selcuk University Faculty of Medicine, Dr. Halil Mutlu also served as TASC co-chairman in the USA. [Translated by Google with edits]
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The Turkish American National Steering Committee (TASC) has announced Mutlu’s departure from the organization, but doesn’t mention that he will become the USA AKP representative, instead saying he will “pursue other endeavors”:
March 1, 2022: TASC accepted the resignation of Co-Chairperson Dr. Halil Mutlu who will pursue other endeavors. Dr. Mutlu exemplified heritage community leadership, successfully leading TASC’s civic engagement, charitable and cultural programs nationwide.
The same announcement also names Israfil Demir as the new TASC co-chair. According to his LinkedIn profile, Demir was the President of Young MÜSİAD USA from 2019–2020. MÜSİAD, in turn, is a Turkish businessman’s group founded in 1990 which aims to create a synthesis of business and conservative Islamic values. It professes not to be a political organization yet has financially supported the AKP party, been supported by President Erdoğan, and MÜSİAD leaders have left their positions to become AKP politicians. As the Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) reported in June 2021, TASC’s vice-chairman of the board, Gokhan Dogan, is the current president of Young MÜSİAD USA.
The Turkish American National Steering Committee (TASC) describes its mission as “to promote and amplify a united Turkish American voice on issues that affect the Turkish American community and United States-Turkish relations.” The Committee is strongly tied to the Turkish government:
- 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.
- TASC’s former treasurer, Murat Guzel, detailed his US political activities in e‑mails to Erdoğan family members. Guzel is also MÜSİAD USA’s current president.
The Turkish Justice and Development Party (Turkish: Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi; AKP) is the current ruling party in Turkey led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The party was founded in 2001 by politicians from Islamist political parties who were banned for violating Turkey’s secular order, proclaiming themselves as practicing “conservative democracy” and rejecting the Islamist label. The party narrowly survived an attempt to close it via the courts for violating Turkey’s secularism laws in connection with its lifting of a ban on headscarves at universities. The AKP subsequently passed constitutional amendments weakening the independence of the military and judiciary. The AKP has close ties with the Global Muslim Brotherhood and operates abroad with representative offices in Europe, notably in Belgium. It has announced its intent to open offices in other western countries as well.