Monday, December 27, 2010

Who won the latest genocide resolution battle in Washington?

Once more, Washington became a battlefield for Turks and Armenians last week over HR 252, a resolution urging the United States House of Representatives to recognize the World Ward I era killings of Armenians during the final days of the Ottoman Empire as “genocide.”
There are quite a few upshots of this latest face-off. One of the first results was a strong showing of the newly energized and vibrant American-Turkish community which is better organized at this time due to mainly social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter, and as a leader of this vibrant respond, the Turkish Embassy in Washington, which swiftly got its acts together early hours in Friday morning to determine the strategy to encounter the Armenian pressure.
Though one of the Armenian-American leaders that I talked to this week, who wanted to stay an anonymous, disagreed with me on this point and said that this factor had a very little real effect in terms collision of the bill: “On the contrary,” the source said, who has been in this fight for decades, “it was a decision that the State Department, White House and Congressional leadership had taken sometime ago that they cannot push the current Ankara government further to the East and did not want to risk alienating it.”
I had a long conversation with the US Representative from Tennessee’s 9th district, Mr. Steve Cohen over the phone this week as well following the end of the 111th session of the U.S. Congress. The Congressman also made some similar observations about Turkey’s image in the Congress. Cohen, whose grandfather Abraham Hassan or Hassen (spelled differently in different documents) was born in Turkey in 1895, and who proudly calls himself a “descendant of a Turkish family,” stated that this last battle was more difficult for Turkey’s friends in the Congress to encounter, especially because of Turkey’s strained relations with Israel. “In the past, supporters of Israel in the House were meant also supporters of the Turkey cause. Not anymore. Turkey’s NATO membership and solid alliance to the West also used to be a strong argument. Now, in addition to Turkey’s Israel policy, dealing with Iran also raised questions and attributed to debate about Turkey is turning its face from West to East. And this was certainly not helpful either.”
Mr. Lincoln McCurdy, the president of the Turkish Coalition of America, credited Steve Cohen, along with Rules Committee senior ranking member Alcee Hastings (Democrat-Florida), Gerald E. Connoly (Democrat-Virginia) and Bill Delahunt (Democrat-Massacheusetts, who left the Congress) for they were significant voices in energizing the opposition against Democratic leadership not to bring the bill to the floor within the party.
His opposition to the bill was based on practical reasons and Cohen conveyed to me his conversation with General David Petraues, who is in the charge of the U.S. Central Command currently. Petraues described the genocide resolution as “harmful” and “mistaken,” and talked about Turkey’s traditional help to the US troops around the world.
While the US Congress was going to through its last hours and it was unknown to us whether HR 252 was going to be brought to the floor by the Speaker Pelosi, I was at the White House to talk about Turkey-US relations of 2010 with the spokesperson of the White House National Security Council, Mike Hammer. In our conversation, I heard many compliments about Turkey and how much President, personally invested in the relations with it with exception of two matters. (Hammer also said that early Turkey visit was fully President’s idea.) It was worth paying attention on Hammer’s cautionary note over Turkey’s dealing with Iran and strained relations with Israel.
Whether it is about powerful Jewish lobbies or historic bonds between the US and Israel, Israel is still an exceptional ally for the U.S. Even the Netanyahu government, which made everything about the Middle East Process more difficult for the Obama administration, did not diminish the popularity of Israel among Americans and for their administration. Therefore, unless something extraordinary happens to the bond between the two, which was defined as “unbreakable” by Obama at his speech in Cairo, there is little evidence for the U.S. to change its stance when it comes to Israel.
However, if there are still some who imagine that the U.S. administration would break its ties with Turkey just because there are some significant policy differences on these or potential other matters in the future, they also are badly mistaken. As Hammer explained to me in so many different levels and various partnerships that the two carry currently, it became clear to at the end of our talk that the U.S. administration will not retreat to invest and improve the bilateral ties with Turkey.
For realpolitik and national security reasons, today’s Turkey is too important an ally to be mistreated by Washington. And we have witnessed this during the most difficult times in 2010 when the U.S. administration was extremilty careful not to criticize Ankara publicly. In addition to all of that, finally, the latest Cablegate revelations, and impending thousands of cables also makes the U.S. government extra cautious in the relations with Turkey, not to anger it with such resolutions.
“The Armenian Genocide bill” of HR 252, at a time when almost all Democratic leadership positions both in the US administration and the House have been occupied by the supporting voices of the bill in the past, had failed this week. And this failure happened also when the U.S. Congress and the Ankara administration are on odds on number of issues that are cited above. 
So was the battle a complete win for the Turkish side and loose for the Armenian side? No it is not.
Even though there is a lesser chance in coming years for another passage of a similar bill in the U.S. Congress, since the new Republican House majority appears to be more in line with the Turkish arguments, the Armenian diaspora still made enough damage to Turkey’s image or brand within a week, which Ankara works hard to polish for sometime.
It is true that the Armenians failed in effort to get the recognition of the genocide bill, though as the same Armenian leader confided in me this week that Armenians believe that “this is not end of the story. 1915 wiped out a nation,” he told me, “and our properties got stolen. This fight will go on with various tracks, whether by blocking an Ambassador to Azerbaijan, pushing for the Genocide bill or following the legal actions until we get the justice.”
One unchanged truth out of the battle, which a considerable part of it was conducted in the cyber world, is that the resolution fight continues to poison the relations between the two communities once or twice measure in every year. And the gap between them appears to be getting wider.Turkey’s Washington Ambassador Namik Tan, who talked to scores of Congressmen and used twitter and other social networking sites to rally the Turkish community against the resolution, during a press conference this week to the Turkish press, stated that he indeed would like to reach out to the Armenian community to talk and engage, instead of a fight.
I also echo Ambassador Tan's wish in this holiday season and applaud this spirit of engagement, and hope that still miracles can happen.
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Guest - Colin Wright
2010-12-27 09:54:00
 This round had little to do with the Armenians. AIPAC was attempting to use the issue as a club to force Turkey into submission. Happily, it didn't work. Mind, I don't think Turkey isn't exactly in the right on the Armenian issue -- but as I say, the issue was merely a means to an end here. 
Guest - pacha
2010-12-26 23:50:27
 @ Truth your comment is an hypocrisy! how can you affirm that europe is cleaning itself from the muslim?? Muslim immgrants are enjoying the same rights as their fellow citizen, they can build mosques without any restrictions! while at the same time, Christians can not build churches in north africa and even in Turkey.. Plus, look at christian fate in countries such as Iraq.. Not to mention saudi arabia, and even syria and Palestine where there are less and less christians people... 
Guest - Khayyami
2010-12-26 23:32:09
 @ dennis, dear dennis, do you know that Turkey does not reconize the armenian genocide while the US, under Clinton presidency acknowledged the mass mudrerer of thousands of native americans and apologized for that? Since Turkey does not want to open its eyes, others countries are forced to do it. Of course Armenians are using that way, but are they to be blamed, knowing what happened to their ancestor. As for the "french genocide in Algeria", you should talk to some algerian people sometimes because they don't even claim such an events ever happened. 
Guest - B. Baronian
2010-12-26 23:20:49
 Turkey will soon fall flat on its face because it is not sincere in its more needs to be said...Inchallah 
Guest - Steve
2010-12-26 20:26:45
 From the editorial: "For realpolitik and national security reasons, today’s Turkey is too important an ally to be mistreated by Washington." . . . This statement is simply the truth and Armenians need to take notice -- there is NOTHING they can offer the USA. @ AZERBAIJAN: Has the notion that America only provides such "threatening" lip service to Turkey IS ONLY to appease the ranting Armenians to extort more money from their "backwards" diaspora to purchase more politicians? America never says publicly what it truly believes. Were you born yesterday? @ ILKER/CYPRUS: Well said! Although Armenians aren't capable of listening, they are too busy wailing about the past -- their cries drown the truth. It simply seems insane to insist that nations that had nothing to do with a civil war the Armenians started and lost, should be resurrected in a field of lies & deceit to enhance their own diabolical self esteem. They should focus on the future and achieve something positive for their people. 
Guest - lynn
2010-12-26 19:01:34
 Armenians - get a life! Now their latest shot is getting Kobe Bryant of the Lakers to not represent Turkish Airlines. 
Guest - dennis
2010-12-26 13:28:00
 Why doesnt turkey file a resolution against the USA for genocide against the Native AmericansI.E WOUNDED KNEE MASACRE or Russia for the genocide against the TARTARS or France in algeria and we could go on and on and on...... 
Guest - Ulku
2010-12-26 12:34:36
 @Truth "The idealogy of cleaning Europe from Muslims is still alive in 21st Century". THAT IS WRONG. Over 4 million Turks only are living in Germany. I do not know why they decided to give up friends families mother tongue etc to move to a foreign country, but it must have been something. And the same pattern can be seen all over Europe. Again, I do not know the reasons for Muslims to go to predominantly Christian Europe, but there has to be a reason why they go there. 
Guest - Paul
2010-12-26 10:41:09
 The U.S. and Germany have excellent bilateral relations. Yet Germany confronted its past and its responsibility for the Holocaust during WWII, which claimed many German lives as well. Germany's honest assessment of its crime made it a stronger nation. The U.S. and Turkey have strong bilateral relations. Yet Turkey continues to deny its past and its responsibility for the Armenian Genocide during the Balkan Wars and WWI, which claimed many Turkish lives as well. Turkey's continuous denial of its crime (which Ataturk himself categorized as "a shameful act") makes it weaker democratically at home and diplomatically abroad, since the U.S. cynically uses the threat of recognition each April to make Turkey dance to its tune. Take that power away from the U.S. and recognize it for what it was-- a systematic effort by the Young Turks to eradicate Armenians (and other indigenous ethnic populations) from the Anatolian heartland. I believe acknowledging it will make Turkey stronger. 
Guest - MARTIN
2010-12-26 03:18:35
 @Arab Neo-Ottomanist your comment is 100% arab hupocrisy. 
Guest - George
2010-12-25 22:49:15
 No matter what the US administration's current front window attitude towards Turkey maybe now, this cannot reflect the true, behind the scene status of things since there have been too many irreversible acts taken by Turkey in the last several years for Turkey to ever be trusted by Americans again. Trust, this fundamental , element for good relations having evaporated, it is only a matter of time that its absence is bound to manifest itself in fundamentall changes in US policy towards Turkey in the years ahead including the Armenian issue when Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman or any other Turkish lobbyist in Congress will be left powerless of influence on the case. In the years ahead, it is only a matter of time for the passage of the Armenian genocide resolution in the US Congress, for America cannot forever be taken for granted by Turkey. 
Guest - Preston bagrationi
2010-12-25 20:52:58
 Look, Armenians are Not naive. We realize the state of affaires of the world superpowers. Of course the US won't recognize the Genocide, do you Turks honestly think that Turkey, a NATO member, situated between the East and the West, will side with Armenia? Come on, be serious. If, on the other hand, Turkey falters, becomes an Islamic state, starts argueing with Israel and the West, then Steve Cohen will become the first to bring the Genocide issue to the house floor. Steve Cohen is no fool. For now, he has to side with Turkey, hoping that the Turkish government will straighten up, but if things go from bad to worse, then Steve Cohen will proclaim to the world that his grandfather grew up with Armenians and had fond memories of. To conclude, the fact of the matter is that, for now, the US needs Turkey, Israel need Turkey etc etc. Wait until they have no need for you, and then ask Steve Cohen how he feels about Turkey. So, give yourselves a pat on the back for a job well done. 
Guest - J2
2010-12-25 18:33:46
 Mr. Tanir, you might be right to talk of the Turkish-American community as "newly energized and vibrant American-Turkish community which is better organized" but you also have to remember that no matter how well-educated and organized the Turkish community is in the States, or elsewhere, they will be defending a lie, a falsehood and will be will be basing their arguments on fiction and propaganda. Given this reality they will be on the losing side always. You cannot defend a lie no matter how eloquent you are. 
2010-12-25 16:32:56
 The British goverments position on this issue should provide Guidance tomembers of congress. "Nethier this goverment nor previous British Goverments have judged that the Evidance is Sufficiently Unequivocal to persaude us that these events should be categorised as Genocid As defined by the 1948 UN convention on Genocide.A Convention which is in any event,Not retropective in application,The British Goverment belives that the focus should be on ensuring a progressive approach to improve the chances for reconcilliation between Armenia and Turkish people and to achieve a peacefull and secure future foreveryone living in the region. 
2010-12-25 16:19:26
 To the ladies and gentleman of the forum i would like to quoat the father of the Turkish nation K.M.Ataturk. "I Look to the world with an open Heart full of pure feelings and frendship" "unless the life of the nation faces peril WAR is a crime" "You the mother who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears,Your sons are now living in our bossom and are in peace.Having lost their lives on thus land.they have become our sons as well." "Those heros that shed their blood and lost their lives at Gallipoli battles you are now lying in the soil of a frendly nation,Therefore rest in peace.There is no differance between Johnies and mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in thus country of ours" A Merry Christmas and a peacefull new year to all.ilker 
Guest - Truth
2010-12-25 16:09:17
 How come only the Christian Societies under the Ottoman Empire are the victims but never the Muslims? How many millions of Muslims were killed or forced out during the collapse of Ottoman Empire in Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece or former Yugoslavia? After living inside the same borders for hundreds of years (way longer than US history) how come there is no Muslim population and Ottoman structures left in the Balkans? Where are those people? Many were slaughtered, the remaining were forced to relocate to Anatolia in late 1800 and early 1900s. The idealogy of cleaning Europe from Muslims is still alive in 21st Century...just look at Bosnia. If it is time to talk about Armenian Genocide, maybe it is time to talk about the Whole Truth! Collapse of an Empire was bloody enough and full of sorrow...why dig it futher?!? Especially only for one side! Not fair! 
Guest - Murat
2010-12-25 15:21:46
 Would it not be great if Armeinans in USA engaged the Turkish community there? I mean constructively. This is not a matter that concerns governments or states, is that not obvious? 
2010-12-25 12:10:20
 @İLHAN TANIR cool...i think it's a little bit thought-provoking question.Everything you say may be true.I've no way of judging that.But the US has several times threatened Turkey by bringing the armenian claims of genocide in its unofficial congressional agenda.The will continue to pursue its policy across the world and in the middle east as well in accordance with its national interests.So today The administartion is attachin great importance to Turkey as its close ally in the middle east.but it's important to remember that a state's interests are not eternal.I'm sorry to say it but you don't need to be a rocket scientist to see that the armenian diaspora across the world has already won over Turkey when it comes to the spread of their claims of genocide.The armenian project has gained victory of recognition in Russia,France,Italy,Canada and other 20 nations as well as UN and EU.So Mr Tanir your question is somehow out of place since the armenian diaspora is already called a victor. 
Guest - Arab Neo-Ottomanist
2010-12-25 10:23:43

 This matter is very simple. As long as the US military (Americas most powerful lobbying group according to General David Patreus) has vested interests inside of Turkey, no House Resolution will be passed in favor of recognizing the Armenian Genocide. While I am very sympathetic to Turkey and I am proud to have roots in the Ottoman Empire, I dont know what my opinion is about the Armenian Genocide considering so many Turks died. How am I supposed to say the killings of Armenians is a genocide but the killings of Turks is not. It is unfair to say that. Either both killings are a genocide or both killings are a unfortunate casaultie of war. Also, many Armenian knew very well that when they started taking apart the Ottoman Empire like the trader Arabs did, there is a real price to pay for the kind of thing. So they do at least bear that responsibiliy.