By Harut Sassounian
Every time that the Armenian Genocide is mentioned anywhere in the world, Turkish officials protest hysterically like children caught with the hand in the cookie jar!
The Turkish leaders’ psychotic behavior could be explained by their guilty conscience, despite public protestations of innocence, knowing full well that their ancestors did indeed commit one of the most heinous crimes in the annals of history -- genocide!
Last week, the world witnessed yet another manifestation of Turkish temper tantrums when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, despite heavy-handed pressure from the Ankara regime and its highly compensated lobbying firms, adopted Resolution 410 on the Armenian Genocide with a 12 to 5 vote. This is the first time in a quarter century that this body has approved such a Resolution.
Even though the Turkish government is amid all sorts of turmoil at home and abroad, officials in Ankara made the Senate Genocide Resolution their top priority. For a few days, Prime Minister Erdogan set aside his despotic moves against facebook, YouTube, and Twitter to hide his and several ministers’ multi-million dollar money laundering and bribery schemes. He also ignored revelations of secretly taped conversations during which Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and other high ranking officials were plotting to orchestrate attacks on Turkey from across the border, which would then be used as a pretext to attack Syria in support of jihadist terrorists who are unsuccessfully battling the Assad regime.
The Turkish diatribe against the Senate action included Davutoglu’s warning that “Turkey would not remain silent” if the Armenian Genocide Resolution goes from Committee to the full Senate. The Turkish Foreign Ministry issued an even harsher reaction, accusing the Committee of “exceeding its authority and responsibility.” Davutoglu rushed to call Secretary of State John Kerry urging him to prevent passage of the Resolution.
Also getting into the act was Parliament Speaker Cemil Cicek, calling the Armenian issue a “burden” in American-Turkish relations. A commentator for the widely circulated Hurriyet newspaper noted that the Genocide Resolution would raise the blood pressure in Ankara! Former Turkish Ambassador Omer Engin Lutem chimed in acknowledging that Turkey is “forced to expand a great deal of effort in order to prevent the passing of such Resolutions,” not to mention the millions of dollars spent on lobbying firms each year!
Pro-Erdogan newspapers even resorted to publishing falsehoods about the Genocide Resolution by claiming that the measure is no longer valid since it was not adopted by the full Senate before April 24 or that the Resolution was meaningless because House Speaker John Boehner announced in Ankara that he would not allow the House version to come to the floor. Of course, both these claims are false, as the House and Senate versions are not part of a joint Resolution and can be adopted separately by either chamber later in the year.
Armenian-American voters should do everything possible to prevent the re-election of Cong. Boehner in November. Similarly, the Armenian community should oppose those Senators who shamefully voted against this Resolution, even after Sen. Menendez removed several clauses to accommodate the opponents. The five Republican Senators who voted against are: John Barrasso (WY), Bob Corker (TN), Jeff Flake (AZ), Ron Johnson (WI), and James Risch (ID). On the other hand, Armenian-Americans should strongly support the 12 Senators who voted in favor of the Armenian Genocide Resolution: Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Edward Markey (D-MA), John McCain (R-AZ), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Tom Udall (D-NM).
One of the unexpected consequences of the Resolution was the deepening rift between two formidable forces in Turkey -- Prime Minister Erdogan and the influential Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen. Erdogan accused Gulen supporters of siding with “the Armenian lobby” by contributing close to $10,000 to Sen. Menendez’s campaign. The Turkic American Alliance (TAA) refuted Erdogan’s accusations, stating that the group has “always expressed its displeasure to Menendez over resolutions that upset Turks and Azerbaijanis.” TAA officials promised to sue Turkish journalists for claiming that their organization supported the Armenian Resolution.
A final thought: contrary to public impression, the primary objective of introducing Armenian Genocide resolutions is not to attain genocide recognition which has already been accomplished several times: US government’s official report to the World Court in 1951, Pres. Reagan’s 1981 Proclamation, and House Resolutions in 1975 and 1984. These Resolutions simply serve as a convenient tool to keep the Armenian Genocide a burning issue and focus media attention on the Armenian Cause. Furthermore, the Resolutions routinely create total panic in Ankara due to Turkish officials’ hysterical reaction. The Turkish government also wastes tens of millions of dollars each year to counter Resolutions which merely express the “sense of Congress.”
Armenian efforts to pass such Resolutions are a form of retribution against successive Turkish governments for not coming to terms with the skeletons in their closet.