Turkey reacted angrily to the Oct. 10 vote by the House Foreign Relations Committee approving a measure that condemns the mass killings of Armenians in Turkey during World War I as an act of genocide. Said President Abdullah Gul in a statement to the Anatolian News Agency: “Unfortunately, some politicians in the United States have once more dismissed calls for common sense, and made an attempt to sacrifice big issues for minor domestic political games. This is not a type of attitude that works to the benefit of, and suits, representatives of a great power like the Unites States of America. This unacceptable decision of the committee, like similar ones in the past, has no validity and is not worthy of the respect of the Turkish people.” Turkey has recalled its ambassador in Washington for consultations on the issue. (NYT, Oct. 12) The White House lobbied heavily against the measure, arguing with refreshing blatancy that historical memory should take a back seat to realpolitik. From an AFP account, Oct. 10:
“Certainly we are disappointed in the vote that occurred yesterday,” said Scott Stanzel, a spokesman for US President George W. Bush, speaking about the vote in the House Committee of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday.
“We understand the feelings that poeple have about the tragic suffering of the Armenian people, and the president, as we’ve noted, has recognized that through presidential messages,” he said.
But Stanzel added that the US leader is concerned that the vote could strain relations with key ally Turkey, which has taken umbrage at the congressional move.
“Turkey is playing a critical role in the war on terror and this action is problematic for everything we’re trying to do in the Middle East and would cause great harm to our efforts,” Stanzel said.
Unfortunately, it seems elements of the Turkish “left” are falling squarely on the wrong side on this question. More from the Times account:
The House decision prompted reaction on the streets of Turkey’s capital, Ankara, where the youth branch of the extreme leftist Workers’ Party laid a black wreath at the entrance to the United States Embassy and spray-painted the Turkish flag onto an Embassy wall. The group held Turkish flags, posters of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, and banners reading, “Armenian genocide is an imperialistic lie,” the Anatolian News Agency reported. The protesters called for the closing of the Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey, which American troops use to supply the military in central Iraq. “The U.S. once more showed that it is not our strategic ally but an enemy,” the Workers’ Party branch said in a statement.
“Extreme leftist”? How heartwarming to see them united with the Bush administration! Gee thanks a lot, guys.
Under other circumstances, we would welcome this outburst of rejection of American consumer culture. But unfortunately the emphasis here is on “under other circumstances.”