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Turkish Influence Organization Wants Biden To Establish Turkish-US Binational Commission

February 6th, 2021 17:22

Turk­ish media is report­ing that in a let­ter to US Pres­i­dent Biden, a Turk­ish-Amer­i­can busi­ness lob­by­ing group is call­ing for a bina­tion­al com­mis­sion to address prob­lems between the two coun­tries. Accord­ing to the Dai­ly Sabah report:

Decem­ber 21, 2020 Turkey’s old­est busi­ness coun­cil has pro­posed estab­lish­ing a bina­tion­al com­mis­sion that would enable eas­i­er com­mu­ni­ca­tion between Turkey and the U.S., help address prob­lems between the two NATO allies and find ways to coop­er­ate. The pro­pos­al was sent in a let­ter to U.S. Pres­i­dent-elect Joe Biden on Dec. 17 from Turkey‑U.S. Busi­ness Coun­cil (TAIK) Chair­per­son Mehmet Ali Yalçın­dağ and comes a week after the U.S. announced sanc­tions on Turkey over its pur­chase of the Russ­ian S‑400 air mis­sile defense sys­tem. In the let­ter, Yalçın­dağ con­grat­u­lat­ed Biden on his elec­tion as the 46th pres­i­dent of the U.S. and expressed hopes that his admin­is­tra­tion would con­tribute to strength­en­ing ties between Turkey and the U.S.

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The Turkey‑U.S. Busi­ness Coun­cil (TAİK) describes itself as “Turkey’s old­est busi­ness coun­cil. Estab­lished in 1985, TAİK’s mis­sion is to enhance trade and invest­ment rela­tions between Turkey and the Unit­ed States.” A For­eign Agents Reg­is­tra­tion Act (FARA) reg­is­tra­tion doc­u­ment sug­gests that TAIK oper­ates under the aus­pices of the For­eign Eco­nom­ic Rela­tions Board of Turkey (DEIK), indi­rect­ly con­trolled by the Turk­ish Min­istry of Trade, but the fil­ing also ques­tions the sig­nif­i­cance of this relationship.

In any event, mul­ti­ple evi­dence sug­gests that Mehmet Ali Yalçın­dağ, the head of TAIK, has ties to Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Erdoğan:

  • In 2016, Yalçın­dağ resigned as head of a media group after hacked e‑mails were said to have indi­cat­ed that he cor­re­spond­ed with Erdoğan’s son-in-law and showed a will­ing­ness to change his media’s edi­to­r­i­al line to appease the Turk­ish government.
  • In 2018, Erdoğan appoint­ed Yalçın­dağ to the Sci­ence, Tech­nol­o­gy, and Inno­va­tion Pres­i­den­tial Council.
  • In 2019, The New York Times report­ed that Erdoğan had used Yalçın­dağ as an “emis­sary to the Trump Administration.

Fur­ther evi­dence indi­cates a close rela­tion­ship between Yalçın­dağ and for­mer US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. In May 2012, a Trump Orga­ni­za­tion press release iden­ti­fied Yalçın­dağ as a mem­ber of the board of the hold­ing com­pa­ny that devel­oped the Trump Tow­ers Mall in Istan­bul, and in 2018, Turk­ish media report­ed that Yalçın­dağ was elect­ed as the head of TAİK because of his close ties to Don­ald Trump. The New York Times also report­ed that in 2019, Yalçın­dağ engaged in lob­by­ing activ­i­ties far out­side the bounds of trade, includ­ing attend­ing a State Depart­ment meet­ing where he pushed for mul­ti­ple items on the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment agen­da, including:

  • Call­ing for the US to extra­dite Fethul­lah Gülen, who Turkey blames for the 2016 Turk­ish coup
  • Argu­ing for Patri­ot mis­siles to be sold to Turkey
  • Mak­ing a case for a Turk­ish takeover of north­ern Syria
  • Implic­it­ly threat­en­ing that Turkey might move clos­er to Moscow

GIOR has pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed on orga­ni­za­tions close to the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment attempt­ing to influ­ence pol­i­tics in the US. In Octo­ber 2020: