by Marc J. Fink
Islamists Select a New Target, and a "See No Evil"
House Bill May Facilitate the Effort.
Turkey's Ambassador to the U.S., Namik Tan (arrow), hosts Native American tribal leaders at Turkey's Embassy in Washington. At right is Oklahoma Congressman Tom Cole (member of the Chickasaw Nation tribe) who introduced a "Trojan Horse" bill that would give Turkey unfettered access to Native American tribal lands. At left is Turkey's long-time chief lobbyist in America, Lincoln McCurdy, head of the Turkish Coalition of America. More photos documenting Turkey's intense cultivation of ties with Native American tribes are at the end of this article.
Recently, Native American Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK, member of the Chickasaw Nation) introduced H.R. 2362, the Indian Trade and Investment Demonstration Project. The bill singles out Turkish-owned companies for exclusive investment preferences and special rights in Native American tribal area projects.
Congressman Cole freely admitted the following on the House floor:
There's no question that I was approached by the Turkish American Coalition [properly the Turkish Coalition of America], who have a deep interest in Turkey and American Indians."Deep interest" indeed. The bill was the culmination of a curious multi-year effort by Turkey to ingratiate itself with Native American tribes: tribal students now study in Turkey with full scholarships; Turkish high officials regularly appear at Native American economic summits; and dozens of tribal leaders have gone to Turkey on lavish all-expense paid trips.
Why the intense interest in business and cultural ties with Native American tribes only now, when Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamist Justice and Development party (AKP) have taken Turkey down a path of aggressive and dangerous Islamism?
Evidence from Uzbekistan points to a possible nefarious motive: Infiltration and Islamization. The government of Uzbekistan is claiming that private Turkish business interests in the Central Asian country have been acting as a front for banned Islamist extremists. According to Agence France-Presse:
[The Uzbek government is] accusing Turkish companies of creating a shadow economy, using double accounting and propagating nationalistic and extremist ideology. ... Long wary of the influence of Islamic fundamentalism ... secular authorities appear to be linking Turkish private business to the activities of the Nurcus, an Islamic group that is banned in the country. [Nurcus is also banned in Russia].Is it really in America's national security interests to have thousands of Turkish contractors and their families flooding into America's heartland and settling in semi-autonomous zones out of the reach of American authorities? Especially if their intent is to form intimate business and social ties with a long-aggrieved minority group?
The bill could come up for a vote again, at any time.
In the original version of H.R. 2362, the stated purpose was to "encourage increased levels of commerce and economic investment [with Native American tribes] by private entities incorporated in or emanating from the Republic of Turkey." It allowed for select Native American tribes to lease land held in trust by the United States for "a project or activity … in furtherance of a commercial partnership involving one or more private entities incorporated in or emanating from the Republic of Turkey."
When the bill came up for a vote, its backers were forced to offer an amended version. The phrase "or other World Trade Organization (WTO) member nations" was placed after "Republic of Turkey" in the passages above.
The amended version still maintains that Congress "finds that the public and private sectors in the Republic of Turkey have demonstrated a unique interest in bolstering cultural, political, and economic relationships with Indian tribes and tribal members;" and that removing "barriers" and encouraging a "more robust relationship" between "Turkish and Indian tribal communities" is "in the interest" of "the United States-Turkey relationship." [Emphasis added].
These "interests" are not defined.
The bill, in both its forms, severely limits federal oversight of the investment projects, and does not even require the Department of the Interior to approve the leases. The term of the leases could stretch 75 years, effectively tying the hands of future Administrations.
Presidents would come and go. But Turkey would have a semi-permanent foothold in America's heartland.
In the past, special considerations by the U.S. for Turkey were well-deserved. Hill staffers grew accustomed to doing favors for a secular, pro-Western Ankara that was a key strategic ally to Washington and its allies in the region.
But all that changed with the ascension of Erdogan's AKP party in 2002. Turkey has been lost to the Islamists, with alarming consequences for the West. A small sampling of recent events:
- Turkey refused to allow U.S. troops to reach Iraq via Turkish territory in 2003.
- Turkey refused to back UN sanctions on Iran, meant to halt its nuclear weapons program.
- Prime Minister Erdogan has said "Iran is our friend," and "I do not think that Hamas is a terrorist organization."
- Erdogan invited the Iranian-backed Iraqi Shiite warload Muqtada al-Sadr to Turkey for "political discussions." Sadr, whose militia is believed to be responsible for the deaths of countless American soldiers in Iraq, stopped in Iran on his way to Turkey.
- The Turkish government supported a flotilla of ships that violently attempted to break Israel's blockade of Gaza, ruled by the terrorist group Hamas. Israel's blockade was declared legal by the United Nations.
- Erdogan halted trade with Israel and threatened to invade Cyprus after an American-based company partnered with Israel to begin gas exploration in Cypriot territorial waters, which is adjacent to Israeli gas fields. Turkey then initiated military exercises aimed at threatening both Israel and Cyprus.
- Erdogan defended Sudanese President Bashir, who faced worldwide condemnation for the genocide in Darfur. Erdogan's rationale: "A Muslim can never commit genocide. It's not possible."
- According to Middle East expert Barry Rubin, the "AKP has repressed opposition in Turkey, arrested hundreds of critics, bought up 40 percent of the media, and installed its people in the bureaucracy." Very recently, 326 military officers were convicted of conspiracy to overthrow Erdogan's Islamist government.
The Turkish and Native American peoples are beginning to come together under their own momentum to develop broader and deeper economic and cultural ties.But the "momentum" is coming from only one direction: Turkey, through the TCA. Indeed, according to the Indian Country Today Media Network:
- In November 2010, the TCA organized and led the first Native American Business Cooperation Trip to Turkey, attracting 20 leaders from 17 Native American tribes. The tribal leaders met with Turkish high officials, including Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. "The meeting in Turkey marked the tribal leaders' first significant overseas trade meeting," reported the Associated Press.
- In March 2011, the TCA engineered the appearance of the Turkish Deputy Minister for Foreign Trade at the Reservation Economic Summit (RES) and American Indian Business Trade Fair in Las Vegas. The Turkish Minister was the "first foreign government official to ever deliver remarks" in the event's history.
- In February 2012, the Turkish Deputy Economy Minister and the Turkish Ambassador to Washington joined the TCA at the RES.
- Since 2008, the TCA has offered scholarships to Native American students interested in studying abroad in Turkey. The TCA also co-sponsored two Native American conferences at a Turkish university.
But the TCA has already invested millions in cultivating ties with Native American tribes. According to its 2010 IRS Form 990, the TCA incurred $1,037,496 of "expenses" for "sponsorship of educational travel for congressional members and staff as well as Native American leaders." And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
The next time this bill comes up for a vote – or any other bill that gives Turkey special investment considerations – Congress should be aware that Ankara is no longer the pro-Western state of yesterday. And Congress should be alert to possible nefarious motives of the Islamists cementing their power in Turkey.
Marc J. Fink is Director of Islamist Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum.
Turkey State Minister and AKP party member Zafer Caglayan (red tie) welcomes Native American tribal leaders to Turkey during their 2010 Native American Business Cooperation Trip. To Minister Caglayan's left is Turkey's long-time chief American lobbyist Lincoln McCurdy, who heads the TCA.
A reception worthy of a head of state: A Native American tribal leader, followed by a Turkish army officer, leads a delegation of Native American tribal leaders on a visit to the mausoleum of the founder of modern Turkey during the 2010 Native American Business Cooperation Trip to Turkey. Turkey's long-time chief American lobbyist, and TCA head, Lincoln McCurdy follows behind the army officer.
Turkey Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (at right, seen here meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) took the time to personally meet with Native American tribal leaders in Turkey during their 2010 Native American Business Cooperation Trip – a sign of the importance the very highest officials in Turkey view Native American infiltration.
An Extraordinary Celebration: Turkey's Embassy in Washington hosts Native American Tribal leaders to celebrate an early committee-level victory for H.R. 2362, which would give Turkey exclusive investment preferences and special rights in Native American tribal lands. ANCA—Facebook.
An Extraordinary Celebration II: Turkey's Embassy in Washington hosts Native American Tribal leaders to celebrate an early committee-level victory for H.R. 2362, which would give Turkey exclusive investment preferences and special rights in Native American tribal lands. ANCA—Facebook.
Turkey State Minister and AKP party member Zafer Caglayan (red tie) welcomes a Native American tribal leader to Turkey during the 2010 Native American Business Cooperation Trip.
Group photo of Native American Tribal leaders in Turkey during the 2010 Native American Business Cooperation Trip. At center-left is Turkey State Minister and AKP party member Zafer Caglayan (red tie). To his left is Turkey's long-time chief American lobbyist, and TCA head, Lincoln McCurdy.
Native American leaders (with Turkey's long-time chief American lobbyist, and TCA head, Lincoln McCurdy at right), kick off the opening of a TCA sponsored exhibition at Instanbul's Yıldız Palace featuring a rare collection of 19th-century portraits of Native American tribes in Turkey's possession. The Native American leaders were in Turkey for a TCA sponsored educational conference at an Istanbul university.
Portraits from an exhibition at Instanbul's Yıldız Palace featuring a rare collection of 19th-century portraits of Native American tribes in Turkey's possession. Native American leaders were in Turkey for a TCA sponsored educational conference at an Istanbul university.
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.