Like him or not, General Flynn is not Turkey's lobbyist

Published 16.11.2016 23:07

The pro-Turkish tone Mike Flynn uses in his article does not necessarily mean Ankara will encourage or fund such an anti-Islamist stance

America has elected Donald Trump as its 45th president, but for many, that's not the story. For some, the article published on the Hill by Trump's top advisor, retired Gen. Mike Flynn, on election day was the real scandal. People still keep asking, is Gen. Flynn a lobbyist for the Turkish government?

I wish he were. I'm not just saying that because I like what he said about Fetullah Gülen, the Pennsylvania-based cult leader, or the People›s Protection Units (YPG), the PKK's Syrian arm, but because he is the vice chairman of Trump's transition team and such a strong pro-Turkish force would be beneficial for both sides.

However, the stories published by the Daily Caller and Politico claiming he was hired by a Turkish government-tied company are not entirely true. There are two basic problems with this suggestion. First, the media treats the company that hired the Flynn Intel Group as a pro-Turkish government entity. Secondly, people believe the Turkish government encouraged or funded such an anti-Islamist article.

Ekim Alptekin, the chairman of the Turkish-American Business Council (TAİK) who hired Flynn through his Dutch company Inovo BV in the Netherlands, is hardly a Justice and Development Party (AK Party) supporter. In contrast to the reporting about him, last year he ran a campaign within TAİK for the chairmanship, and he won the position in the elections. The Turkish government didn't assign him. TAİK's former chairmen were mostly secularists who had combative relations with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Currently, the majority of TAİK's members are not government lovers either. Alptekin naturally has become a member of the Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEİK), over which the Turkish government has partial control because TAİK, like any other bilateral business council, operates under the auspices of DEİK.

My understanding is that his efforts to enhance Turkish-American trade by working with both governments, as any other businessmen in the world would do, don't tie him to the Turkish state.

The Daily Caller said his company Inovo BV is an obscure company, which he vehemently denies. «My company has been operating since 2005, and I have no business partnership or relationship with the Turkish government," Alptekin said in a statement. He also says he is known for his special interest in lobbying in the U.S. Congress since he has worked there for a while. Alptekin has not won even a single Turkish government contract.

Another thing proving that this article was not funded by the Turkish government is the content. Some people were quick to claim, «The article was pretty much written by Tayyip Erdoğan.» Seriously?

Flynn claims in his article that the legendary Egyptian Islamist ideologue Seyed Qutub and Hasan al-Bana, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, provided the inspiration for terrorist groups, such as al-Qaida. Flynn also said, "To professionals in the intelligence community, the stamp of terror is all over Mullah Gülen's statements in the tradition of Qutub and al-Bana."

Obviously, these are the sorts of charges any Turkish official or President Erdoğan would oppose. Erdoğan personally praised Qutub and his brother in 2014 in a televised speech. He also may be the only European leader who vehemently condemned the Egyptian coup against Muslim Brotherhood member and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

The story is much simpler than it has been presented. Alptekin, a businessman who has interests in Turkish-American trade and bilateral relations, hired a firm that has ties with the Trump campaign to lobby for its private interests, nothing more.

Everyone knows that you can't change a former senior American commander's opinions by hiring his firm with a $100,000 contract. But as I said at the beginning, Turkey is still the sexiest story in town.

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