HYETERT – Dr Ben Freeman, director of Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative at Center for International Policy, recently published a report on Turkey’s lobbying efforts in the United States. The report is a “detailed look in the relationship between Ankara and Washington, and what has made made U.S.-Turkey relations more strained than ever before.”
Here are key takeaways from the report
While relations between Ankara and Washington have always been delicate, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent controversial foreign policy decisions and turn towards authoritarianism at home have, arguably, made U.S.-Turkey relations more strained than ever before.
Following an attempted 2016 coup in Turkey, Erdogan used the incident to purge his political opponents from the Turkish military and bureaucracy and grant himself vastly expanded powers through presidential rule. Abroad, his unusually assertive Turkish foreign policy—including recent military interventions and support for proxy forces in Syria, Libya, Iraq, and Nagorno-Karabakh—has at times clashed with U.S. interests and Turkey’s other NATO allies.
Additionally, specific sources of tension in U.S.-Turkey relations include: Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense system; the refusal of the U.S. to extradite Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric who Erdogan accuses of masterminding the 2016 coup attempt; and Turkey’s intervention in Syria in opposition to U.S. support for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
While seemingly distinct sources of tension, all of these issues have at least one thing in common: lobbying. Each of these issues that has deeply strained relations between the U.S. and 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 remainder of this report is the story of how Turkey’s agents attempted—and largely failed—to shift U.S. stances on these and other issues. To tell this story, we at the Foreign
Influence Transparency Initiative (FITI) analyzed every Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) document filed by organizations registered to work on behalf of Turkish clients in 2020. From these documents, we recorded every single “political activity” done for those clients, every campaign contribution mentioned in these FARA filings, every piece of “informational material” distributed on Turkey’s behalf, and every dollar these organizations reported receiving from their Turkish clients.
11 organizations were registered under FARA to work on Turkey’s behalf in 2020;
Those organizations reported making 2,319 contacts on behalf of their Turkish clients;
568 campaign contributions, totaling $526,177 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 her office on Turkey’s behalf that same day. “
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About the Center for International Policy
The Center for International Policy (CIP) is an independent nonprofit center for research, public education, and advocacy on U.S. foreign policy. CIP works to make a peaceful, just, and sustainable world the central pursuit of U.S. foreign policy. CIP was founded in 1975 in the wake of the Vietnam War by former diplomats and peace activists who sought to reorient U.S. foreign policy to advance international cooperation as the primary vehicle for solving global challenges and promoting human rights. Today, we bring diverse voices to bear on key foreign policy decisions and make the evidence-based case for why and how the United States must redefine the concept of national security in the 21st century.
About the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative Program
While investigations into Russian influence in the 2016 election regularly garner front-page headlines, there is a half-billion-dollar foreign influence industry working to shape U.S. foreign policy every single day that remains largely unknown to the public. The Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative is working to change that anonymity through transparency promotion, investigative research, and public education.
This report would not have been possible without the help and support of a number of CIP staff. Young Hyun (Lily) Joo, Leila Riazi, and Brian Steiner collected much of the data in this report. Brian, additionally, helped with data analysis and background research. Will Smith assisted mightily with background research and drafted much of the introduction. Lauren Billet, Taylor Giorno, Bill Hartung, Sky Berry-Weiss, and Lauren Woods provided valuable edits and revisions to the report. Camille Soliva, Anneka Claudio, and Delaney Zambrano helped to format the report. Finally, this report was made possible by the support of the Open Society Foundations and the Arca Foundation. “