EYES ON US CONGRESS
March 3 2010
As if we are watching a rerun of a show… The same stage
(U.S. Congress), the same scenario (the so-called Armenian Genocide
Bill), the same actors (pro-Armenian representatives of the Foreign
Relations Committee) and the same sidekicks (Armenian lobbies and
The most exciting scene of this never-ending soap opera will be
acted today at Rayburn House, where the Foreign Relations Committee
Forty-six members of the committee will discuss House Resolution 252
to decide whether the U.S. administration should adopt the resolution
draft and whether the president of the United States, Barrack Obama,
should openly utter the word "genocide" in a statement he will make
on April 24.
The Armenian side has played its role with success from the beginning.
They have exerted tremendous efforts to pull Armenian-descent
constituents, associations, lobbyists, and representatives to their
turf. They have kept the issue on the agenda until the last minute
on big TV channels.
Turkey has not been so successful. Look, two parliamentary delegations
flew to Washington to convince members of congress otherwise over
the weekend. How could such last-minute travel be effective? Turkey
is trying to be influential by playing the "strategy trump card," as
played before. Recently, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other
officials have warned the U.S. administration and the Congress that if
the bill is approved, Turkish-American relations and the normalization
process between Turkey and Armenia will be seriously harmed.
Turkey, however, has some troubles this time, one of which is that the
Obama administration has not yet exerted sufficient effort to stop it.
Perhaps, this will be done at a later stage, if the Committee approves
it and if the bill goes to the House plenary as in the previous years.
Another trouble is that the protocols signed with Armenia have not
been actualized yet. If relations with Yerevan had been normalized,
the likelihood of rejecting this bill could’ve increased.
Other factors can be added, too: The Jewish lobby has withdrawn support
from Turkey, the number of Democrats in Congress has increased and
people engaged in Armenians are in the administration…
Under these circumstances, if the bill is passed, it wouldn’t be a
surprise although, as the former U.S. Ambassador to Ankara Morton
Abramowitz says, President Obama could make some Democrats reject
the bill at the last minute.
What happens if the bill is passed?
Such a decision, without doubt, will infuriate Turkey. The government
will fiercely react and perhaps will review Turkish-American relations
and agreements signed with Yerevan…
However, in order to follow the latest developments consciously,
we have to consider the following two points: 1) The text to be
approves is a resolution draft, not a bill (as mentioned in some
newspapers). Therefore, the decision is not binding.
That is, Mr. President – and the administration – may not have an
urge to implement it.
2) If the draft resolution is adopted in the Foreign Relations
Committee, this is the first stage of the process because it should be
sent to the Congress afterwards. And it will less likely be adopted
in the House plenary. Therefore, if passed, it could be wrong and
early to evaluate this as the "Congress passed the Genocide Bill."
* Mr. Sami Kohen is a columnist for the daily Milliyet in which this
piece appeared Wednesday. It was translated into English by the Daily