ANKARA: Turkish – U.S. Ties Near The Breaking Point

TURKISH – U.S. TIES NEAR THE BREAKING POINT
By Semih Idiz

Turkish Press
Oct 15 2007

MILLIYET- Last week I had the opportunity to sound out the situation
in Washington for three days. Circles close to the administration
and Turkey analysts at leading think-thanks told me that the Bush
administration was taking Ankara’s warnings over the Armenian
resolution very seriously.

The way the administration rushed US Defense Undersecretary and
former US Ambassador to Ankara Eric Edelmen to visit Ankara, along
with Assistant Secretary of State Dan Fried, is proof of that.

But at this point the Bush administration has become a ‘lame duck.’
Democrats who support the Armenian resolution, led by House Speaker
Nancy Pelosi, are carrying out a merciless war of attrition against
the Bush administration.

US experts fault the Bush administration’s failings for the
situation. Supporters of the resolution have been attacking the
administration’s argument that US interests could be damaged.

They claim that Turkey is bluffing, adding that Ankara, well aware of
the importance of its ties with the US, won’t shoot itself in the foot.

Armenia is also pressing ahead with its lobbying efforts. Armenian
Premier Serzh Sargsyan is planning to travel to Washington on
Wednesday.

According to Washington insiders, Sargsyan has two goals:

First, he reportedly wants to counter the Bush administration’s
argument that if Congress passes the resolution, an improving dialogue
between Turkey and Armenia would suffer a setback. He will reportedly
say that brief contacts at certain international platforms do not
constitute dialogue. Secondly, he will argue that Turkey’s claim that
its stance on the events in 1915 is more sincere is ‘artificial.’

Following the murder early this year of Hrant Dink, which ended up
benefiting the Armenian lobby, the suspended jail sentence handed down
last week to his son Arat Dink – just as the committee was considering
the resolution – also helped those who support the resolution.

Pointing to this case as well as our controversial Article 301,
Sargsyan is expected to claim that Ankara’s proposal to establish an
impartial commission of historians is disingenuous.

In summary, Ankara has to prove that it’s not bluffing. Otherwise,
steps which don’t really hurt the US will obviously be used by the
Armenian lobby.

Anyway, in this atmosphere, recent efforts by the US State Department’s
Nicholas Burns to revive strategic ties seem dead. On the contrary,
ties between the two countries are growing more frayed and nearing
the breaking point. We’ll see whether this will be bad or good for
the two countries.

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