Oct 30, 2019

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.

Why it matters: American ally Turkey, which has long denied that a genocide occurred against the Armenians, warned U.S.-Turkish relations could be damaged by the actions of the House.

  • The sanctions vote was a rebuke for President Trump, who announced last Wednesday that they would be lifted after the Turkish government had agreed to a permanent ceasefire following an offensive against the United States' Kurdish allies.
  • The New York Times notes that House Republicans "broke from President Trump en masse for a second time this month to condemn his foreign policy in Syria" by backing the sanctions.

What they're saying: The Turkish government issued a statement calling on the U.S. administration " to take necessary steps to prevent the further deterioration of our relations" soon after the draft sanctions bill passed 403 to 16.

  • Turkish authorities issued another scathing statement after the House passed the Armenian genocide bill 405-11.
  • "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," it said.

The big picture: Per the BBC, Turkey disputes the accounts of 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.

  • "Armenians say 1.5 million died," the BBC notes. "The Republic of Turkey estimates the total to be 300,000. According to the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS), the death toll was 'more than a million'."

Go deeper: U.S. envoy: Evidence of war crimes in Syria during Turkish offensive

Go deeper

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.

Go deeperArrowOct 30, 2019

Trump confirms Turkey's Erdoğan will visit White House next week

Photo: Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images

President Trump tweeted on Wednesday that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erodğan has accepted his invitation to visit the White House on Nov. 13.

"Just had a very good call with President Erdogan of Turkey. He informed me that they have captured numerous ISIS fighters that were reported to have escaped during the conflict – including a wife and sister of terrorist killer al Baghdadi. Also talked about their Border with Syria, the eradication of terrorism, the ending of hostilities with the Kurds, and many other topics. Look forward to seeing President Erdogan next Wednesday, November 13th at the White House!"
Go deeperArrowNov 6, 2019

Deadly car bomb blasts bus terminal in Syrian town held by Turkey

Turkey said at least eight people were killed and more than 20 wounded during a car bomb attack on Nov. 10. Photo: Zein Al Rifai/AFP/Getty Images

At least 10 people have died after a car bomb exploded on Saturday in the northern Syrian town Al-Bab, per a post from the official Twitter account of the Turkish Defense Ministry.

Why it matters: The community has been held by Turkey-backed opposition fighters since 2016, AP reports. Violent attacks have increased following Turkey's offensive into northern Syria in October.

Go deeperArrowNov 16, 2019