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 multi-year effort by Turkey to ingratiate itself with Native American tribes: tribal students now study in Turkey with full scholarships; Turkish 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 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 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 has accused] 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 in America’s national security interests to have 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?