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The USA made an unpleasant holiday gift for Turkey

Ankara has responded to the resolution adopted by the House of Representatives

On Tuesday, October 29, Turkey celebrated Republic Day. And for this holiday, the United States presented Ankara with unpleasant “gifts.” First, the House of Representatives adopted a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide, then the congressmen supported the resolution on imposing anti-Turkish sanctions with an absolute number of votes. What is behind these actions of American lawmakers?

Photo: AP

The resolution on the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire, adopted by the House of Representatives (405 votes in favor, with 11 against, with both Democrats and Republicans voting for it), is advisory in nature, but it can seriously complicate relations between Washington and Ankara, where they react extremely painfully the politicization of tragic historical events related to the period of the First World War.

The reaction of the Turkish side was not slow to manifest. A statement by the Turkish Foreign Ministry said that the adoption of the resolution threatens to damage bilateral relations at “extremely fragile times” for international and regional security: “This resolution, which was obviously prepared and adopted for domestic consumption, is devoid of any historical or legal basis.”

It is worth recalling that back in 2014 at that time, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan expressed condolences to the descendants of the Armenians killed during the First World War by Ottoman soldiers. In his statement, Erdogan described the events of 1915 as “inhumane” and called for dialogue between the Turks and Armenians, proposing the creation of a historical commission to study the circumstances of the killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. At the same time, the head of the Turkish government did not use the concept of “genocide”.

For his part, shortly after his election as US President, Donald Trump in 2017 mentioned the killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as “one of the worst mass crimes in the 20th century”, but he also refrained from using the word “genocide”. His predecessor, Barack Obama, on the eve of the 2008 elections promised to recognize the genocide, but this was not done in the two terms he spent in the White House. Several attempts were not made to launch an appropriate legislative initiative in the American Congress. And it’s understandable why: Washington couldn’t ruin its relations with its traditional ally and most important regional partner.

Now the situation has changed. The alliance between the USA and Turkey, which seemed so strong, gave several cracks. This is Ankara’s purchase of Russian S-400 complexes, and the operation directed primarily against Kurdish troops in the north of Syria, and Erdogan’s discontent with the fact that the States refuse to give him his sworn enemy living in America Fethullah Gulen. So, apparently, those who view the vote in Congress as an instrument of pressure on the obstinate ally are right.

Soon after the genocide vote, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted (403 “for”, 16 “against”) and voted in favor of a resolution on sanctions against Turkey due to its military operation in northern Syria. And this despite the fact that just a week before, Donald Trump ordered that all anti-Turkish restrictive measures introduced on October 14 in response to her operation in Syria be lifted. Then it was stated that the heads of the Turkish Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of Internal Affairs were being withdrawn from the sanctions.

Serious bilateral complications in connection with the sanctions and the resolution on the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire most likely does not mean a fatal collapse of Turkish-American relations. Moreover, the House of Representatives is still not the White House. So the two countries remain NATO allies and strategic partners, albeit suspiciously, without undue sympathy, looking at each other. However, the ongoing cooling between Washington and Ankara may further push Turkey to seek new alliances (at least situational), at least with Russia.

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