Sponsors of genocide res. fear failure, ask leader to delay vote

International Herald Tribune

House sponsors of Armenian genocide resolution fear failure and ask
leader to delay vote

The Associated Press

Thursday, October 25, 2007

WASHINGTON: U.S. lawmakers sponsoring a resolution that would label as
genocide the mass killings near the end of World War I of Armenians by
Ottoman Turks have asked the leader of the House to delay a vote on
the measure because they feared it would fail.

Support for the resolution deteriorated this month, after Turkey
recalled its U.S. ambassador in protest and several lawmakers said
they feared it would cripple U.S.-Turkey relations.

"We believe that a large majority of our colleagues want to support a
resolution recognizing the genocide on the House floor and they will
do so, provided the timing is more favorable," the lawmakers told the
House leader, Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a letter on Wednesday.

The letter was signed by four primary sponsors, all Democrats.

The group said they would continue to work with leadership "to plan
for consideration sometime later this year, or in 2008."

The resolution had inflamed U.S. tensions with Turkey, which says the
death toll has been inflated and was the result of civil unrest, not
genocide. A member of NATO, Turkey is considered a rare Muslim ally to
the United States in its war on terrorism. A U.S.-run air base there
has facilitated the flow of most cargo to American troops fighting in
Iraq and Afghanistan.

The nonbinding measure, approved this month by the House Foreign
Affairs Committee, also came at a sensitive time. In recent weeks, the
U.S. has called for Turkey’s restraint in dealing with attacks by
Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq.

The House resolution "would really damage our relations with a
Democratic ally who is playing an extremely important strategic role
in supporting our troops," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told a
House panel on Thursday.

Turkey denies the deaths of as many as 1.5 million Armenians
constituted genocide. It says the toll has been inflated, and those
killed were victims of civil war and unrest as the Ottoman Empire fell
into disarray. Many genocide scholars consider the Armenians’ deaths
the first genocide of the 20th century.

Other critics include many Democrats, including Rep. John Murtha, who
chairs the subcommittee on military spending. Last week, Murtha, a
Democrat, said leadership had miscalculated support for the resolution
and predicted it would fail easily.

On Thursday, Schiff agreed the votes were not there.

"I think the Turkish lobby has regrettably earned their money," he
said in an interview. "I think they were successful in a campaign that
was persuasion and coercion. Unfortunately it was aided and abetted by
our own State Department."

Schiff, who has many Armenian-Americans in his California district,
said it is hard to say when he will try again.

"We want to make sure that when the measure is brought to the floor
we’re confident the votes are there," he said. "I think the worse
thing would be that you take it up and you’re not successful, and
Turkey argues that it’s a denial of the genocide."

A spokesman for Pelosi said the speaker "respects the judgment" of the

Republican Leader John Boehner, who opposes the resolution, called the
debate a "debacle" by Democratic leaders.

"This entire situation calls their judgment into question," Boehner said.

Source: NA-GEN-US-Armenian-Genocide.php