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Turkey's Surreptitious Influence Exposed by The Center for International Policy

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

Washington, D.C. - A recent report titled "Turkey's Lobby in the United States" exposing Turkey's undue and surreptitious attempts to influence U.S. policy through Congress, the mainstream media and think tanks was released by The Center for International Policy (CIP), reported the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly). The 30-page report by the CIP, an independent, non-profit center dedicated to realizing a "peaceful, just and sustainable world as the central pursuit of U.S. foreign policy," analyzed Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) documents filed by organizations registered to work on behalf of Turkish clients in 2020, including Greenberg Traurig LLP, Mercury Public Affairs LLC, Venable LLP, Capitol Counsel LLC, and others. Key findings in the report include:

  • 11 organizations were registered under FARA to work on Turkey’s behalf in 2020 (at a cost of over $5 million);

  • Those organizations reported making 2,319 contacts on behalf of their Turkish clients;

  • 568 campaign contributions, totaling $526,177, were 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 their office on Turkey's behalf that same day.

The report emphasizes that the common denominator is lobbying, noting that "Turkey has been the object of considerable lobbying, public relations, and related attempts at influence by Turkey's foreign agents in the U.S." The report further highlights that in addition to Senate and House leaders, key Members of the Senate and House Foreign Relations Committees, Senate and House Armed Services Committees, along with leaders of the Congressional Caucus on Turkey were also contacted. In addition to thousands of "political contacts," the media was contacted 377 times, "specifically The New York Times (83), Bloomberg (52), The Washington Post (37), CNN (35), and The Wall Street Journal (34)," and included "submitting pitches for stories, op-eds, or letters to the editor." Think tanks, along with businesses and business networks, were also courted with 145 contacts between them. The report also highlighted that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's aggressive foreign policy decisions, including recent military interventions and support for proxy terrorists in Syria, Libya, Iraq, and Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as his authoritarian rule in Turkey, have "made U.S.-Turkey relations more strained than ever before" with Greenberg Traurig, Mercury Public Affairs, Venable, and Capitol Counsel ending their contracts after the Armenian American community brought to light Turkey's full-scale support of the war that Azerbaijan launched last Fall against the Armenian people, including the recruitment and use of jihadist mercenaries. In its conclusion, the report made clear that "this analysis is just one part of Turkey's influence in America" and does not, for example, "address the influence of the Turkish Heritage Organization, a non-profit convener that regularly hosts events providing a platform for Turkish officials in the U.S. Nor does it discuss illicit influence operations, such as the work Michael Flynn did on Turkey's behalf." "We commend the Center for International Policy for this timely and thorough report," stated Assembly Congressional Relations Director Mariam Khaloyan. "Anti-democratic regimes freely operating in Washington and undermining U.S. policy to the detriment of the American people must end. Passage of the ENABLERS Act by Congress would be a good first step, along with the OCCRP's continued work unveiling the corruption in Azerbaijan as well as the influence exerted by multinational corporations with vested interests in Turkey and Azerbaijan."

Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.


NR# 2021-101

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