Because of rising tensions between the United States and Turkey, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other congressional supporters of the Armenian Genocide Resolution were forced to delay its progress again last Thursday.
Turkey denies responsibility for the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915, and they refuse to recognize the resolution or support the United States’ choice to recognize it.
The Turkish government is growing impatient with the United States’ priorities when it comes to dealing with them, and some say passing the resolution at this time would not be in the best interest of the United States because Turkey is a close ally, and in general, supports the United States in its dealings with Iraq.
Good relations are considered important because the United States military uses bases and other resources in Turkey for fighting the war in Iraq as well as other parts of the Middle East.
“It’s not particularly surprising that the resolution has gone away, because it was such a potential fireball,” says Matthew Baum, associate professor of political science and communication studies at University of California Los Angeles
“To say we have our hands full with the current circumstances over in Iraq is an epic understatement,” says Baum.
The Armenian people have been fighting to have the resolution passed for almost a century now, and when it passed through the foreign affairs committee weeks ago, they were hopeful and optimistic.
“Bush has stated himself that it happened,” said Abraham Abraamyan, a current member of the Armenian Studies Program here at CSUN.
“America’s the biggest superpower in the world, and we’ve waited over ninety years to have it come this far,” Abraamyan continued.
The Bush administration pressured Democrats – who mostly supported the resolution – to back down, saying it simply wasn’t the right time to deal with the matter.
“If the Democrats think it will help them to gain seats in Congress by passing the bill they’re sure to be persistent,” said Baum. “But at the end of the day, the Democratic leadership is not oblivious to the potential consequences of not cooperating with the Bush administration.”
Turkey is pressuring the U.S. to use their influence in Iraq for Turkey’s best interests, with their main concern right now being the control of Kurdish rebels.
The Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, occupies a region in both northeastern Iraq, and southeastern Turkey.
The independent terrorist organization remains fairly civil in the Iraqi territory it occupies, but the majority of their members reside in Turkey, where they are extremely hostile, and have killed close to one hundred Turks since the beginning of 2007, including over a dozen in the last couple of weeks.
“There’s no government in Iraq and at this point, I don’t see the current Iraqi government having much control over the PKK,” said Edgar Kaskia, a political science professor at University of California Irvine.
“The United States doesn’t have to worry about securing the area where Kurds are at, because they do a pretty good job themselves,” Kaskia said.
Critics of the United States’ choice to hold off on the resolution still understand that desperate times really do call for desperate measures, especially when we’re a country at war.
“Remember, everyone is acting on their own self interest,” said Tom Garrett, a political science graduate from UCLA.
“In reality there really was a genocide, but if we still want to keep having wars in the Middle East, and we still want favors from Turkey, we will decide what’s in our best interest and then do the best we can,” Garrett said.
Garrett said that it’s OK to take back the resolution for now, but if the United States doesn’t recognize it soon, it may be criticized by other nations for “not being honest with themselves.”
As a result of the decision to postpone the vote for the resolution, Turkey will agree – for now – to back off and remain peaceful with the PKK, as well as the United States. But the United States walks a fine line on the border of Iraq and Turkey.
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