Strains Over U.S House Vote on Turkey Could spell Trouble for U.S Turkish Relations

In Foreign Affairs, History, politics on October 14, 2007 by Editor Z

In the U.S House of Representatives this week, members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, voted 27-21 to approve legislation that would condemn the killing of as many as 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Turks during World War I as “genocide”, despite opposition and pleas by the Bush Administration and threats by the Turkish government to strain already fragile diplomatic relations with the U.S if the resolution passes. This comes at a crucial time as Turkey is contemplating using military forces to target Kurdish rebels in Iraq.

This coming week the legislation will appear before the broader House for a vote by the broader House, with the support of Democratic leaders Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland), as well as House Foreign Affairs Committee member Tom Lantos (D- California).

The Bush Administration though has urged Congress to shelf the resolution, stating that it could do immense harm to relations with one of the scarce Arab allies of the United States within the Middle East if past.

Turkey currently provides the U.S access to its airbases to deliver supplies to U.S Soldiers in neighboring Iraq just south of Turkey, as well as U.S and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

In addition Turkey is contemplating launching a military attack against Kurdish forces in Norther Iraq, in the wake of attacks by and fears of rebels pushing for Southern Turkey to become an autonomous state joined with Northern Iraq to become a Kurdish nation. Earlier this month 13 Turkish soldiers were killed when a band of Kurdish fighters slipped into Turkey.

Turkey reacted to the vote, by recalling its Ambassador to the U.S on Friday, a sign of the tension that the vote may have caused.

But this has not been the first time that a resolution condemning the slaughter of Armenians nearly a century ago has arisen. Past Secretaries of state and Diplomats warn against bringing the issue you up and in 2000 the Clinton Administration also opposed a similar resolution. Armenian-American organizations however have been exerting pressure on many legislators though to pass such an amendment.

Sources: Brienbart, Time magazine,Washington Post

MY TAKE: This will probably never be said by me ever again so get ready, I think the administration is right. With a tense situation between the Turks and the Kurds right now and even possible Military action by Turkey against the Kurds a topic of discussion and with Turkey one of the very few Arab allies in the Middle East, now is no time for symbolic resolutions such as this.

Is it the morally right thing to do? Yes. But right now the U.S is in low standing around the globe thanks to the calamities, corruption, and idiocy of this administration and if this goes through, this amendment could even further damage the U.S standing in the world and further destabilize an already chaotic situation in Iraq and across the Middle East.

Sure our allies aren’t always perfect and yes some of their past deeds should be condemned. But neither are we perfect. We have had a great many chapters in our own past such as the relocation and killing of Native Americans or slavery that are immoral and we haven’t fessed up to those so why should we be blasting the rest of the world for its mistakes that happened over ninety years ago. we need to prioritize and not further repel other countries and this is what that resolution, which is opposed not only by Condelezza Rice, but a number of past Secretaries of State, would do. This is a resolution that never should have been voted on by a committee or brought before the House, but if it is those in the House should vote against it, not because they condone the killing of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks nearly a century ago, but because we shouldn’t be scolding and turning away people when now more then ever we need them by our side to solve the crises of this century that we now find ourselves in.


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