Oct 30, 2019

Ilhan Omar criticized for "present" vote on Armenian genocide resolution

Rep. Ilhan Omar at a press conference. Photo: Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

Armenian advocacy groups were irked that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) was one of three members who voted "present" on a resolution that passed in the House on Tuesday, formally commemorating the 1915 Armenian mass killings as genocide, NBC News reports.

The big picture: The resolution, which received a 405-11 vote, represents a "forceful rebuke" by Congress against the Turkish government after the nation attacked the Kurds along the Turkish-Syrian border this month.

  • Van Krikorian, co-chair of the Armenian Assembly of America, said, Omar's "votes and actions ... do not represent the best of American or Muslim values. Innocent people were and are being slaughtered, and there is a universal need to defend the victims of genocide and ethnic cleansing, not to stand with or defer to the murderers."

Background: Turkey disputes what happened to the Armenians, who were killed "or died from starvation or disease" after being deported from eastern Anatolia to areas including the Syrian desert in 1915–16.

Turkish authorities issued a statement after the House the resolution, stating:

  • "The U.S. Administration and politicians as well as the American people are best placed to consider the damages this resolution seeking to disrupt Turkey-U.S. ties does and will inflict upon the U.S. interests at an extremely fragile time in terms of the international and regional security."

In a statement, Omar responded to the outcry, saying: "I believe accountability for human rights violations—especially ethnic cleansing and genocide is paramount. But accountability and recognition of genocide should not be used as cudgel in a political fight. It should be done based on academic consensus outside the push and pull of geopolitics."

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House backs sanctions on Turkey and recognizes Armenian genocide

Photos of Armenian intellectuals (L-R) Krikor Zohrab, Ruben Sevak, Daniel Varoujan, Komitas and Siamanto, who were among those arrested by Ottoman forces in 1915, at the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial, in Yerevan, Armenia'. Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty Images

The House voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to recognize the mass killing of Armenians by Turkish nationalists during World War I as "genocide," hours after advancing a bill to impose sanctions on Turkey — which swiftly condemned the action.

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Scoop: White House directed block of Armenian genocide resolution

Erdoğan listens to translators as he meets with Trump and senators in the Oval Office, Nov. 13. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Many were perplexed and outraged when, right after clashing with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a heated Oval Office meeting on Nov. 13, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham hurried back to the Senate floor and did something that likely delighted Erdoğan. Graham blocked a resolution that would have formally recognized Turkey's genocide of the Armenian people.

Behind the scenes: Graham had just scolded Erdoğan over his invasion of Syria and attacks on the Kurds, according to sources in the room.

Go deeperArrowNov 24, 2019

House votes to formalize Trump impeachment inquiry procedures

Photos: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images; Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images; Alex Wong/Getty Images

The House passed a resolution Thursday to formalize the procedures in President Trump's impeachment inquiry in a 232-196 vote that fell largely along party lines.

Why it matters: Trump and his allies have previously argued that the lack of a full House vote was against longstanding precedent — and used that reasoning to be uncooperative with Democrats' investigation.

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