Ekim Alptekin, a Turkish lobbying client of retired Gen. Michael Flynn, made an appearance at a conference on Monday and lambasted the US government’s policies towards Turkey, including its provision of arms to a Kurdish militia in Syria and its “tolerance” of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen living within its borders, according to a Tuesday report in The Daily Caller.
The annual event, held at Trump International Hotel, was co-hosted by the American Turkish Council (ATC) and the Turkey-U.S. Business Council (TAIK), of which Alptekin, reportedly the subject of a federal grand jury subpoena, is the chairman.
“Today, the United States has chosen the YPG [People’s Protection Units], a Marxist terrorist group, over a NATO ally to help defend the very values the YPG opposes,” said Alptekin, in reference to a recent US decision to supply arms to the Kurdish militia, which it considers its most reliable partner in its fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria, over the objections of Turkey, which views the YPG as an affiliate of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party.
Alptekin also called on the US government to “stop tolerating” Turkish Islamic scholar Gülen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999 and who has been accused by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) of masterminding a coup attempt in Turkey last July.
Gülen and the movement he inspired have strongly denied any involvement in the putsch.
“If the United States is sincere, then it needs to stop tolerating Fethullah Gülen’s presence in the United States. It needs to stop accepting it, stop excusing it, and stop ignoring it,” Alptekin seethed during his address at the conference, according to The Daily Caller.
Alptekin and his Netherlands-registered sole proprietorship, Inovo BV, with suspected ties to the Turkish government, signed a contract last August with the Flynn Intel Group to conduct research and make “criminal referrals,” presumably about Gülen in order to help secure his extradition, which the US has so far resisted.
Flynn was part of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign at the time and received payments totaling $530,000 from Inovo over the course of three months for services performed. The contract was canceled and Flynn Intel Group disbanded when the former general was put forward as national security adviser after Trump’s Nov. 8 election victory.
Flynn retroactively filed in March under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, after he was fired by the Trump administration, for performing lobbying work that might give the “appearance” of benefitting the government of Turkey.