If Turkey intensifies its military campaign against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, observers will point a finger of blame at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her support of a resolution accusing the Turks of “genocide.”
Pelosi said Sunday that she'd bring to a vote the resolution condemning the mass killings of Armenians in Turkey nearly a century ago as genocide, despite warnings that the action could damage U.S.-Turkey relations.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee passed the non-binding resolution last week.
About 1.5 million Armenians were killed, beginning in 1915, as the Ottoman Empire crumbled. The Turkish government objects to the word “genocide” and insists that while hundreds of thousands of Armenians died, they died as a result of war.
Opponents of the resolution, including President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, argue that the measure jeopardizes relations with an important ally at a time when Turkey’s cooperation in Iraq and Afghanistan is vital.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul has called the resolution “unacceptable.”
Pelosi’s push for the measure comes as Turkey has reportedly already launched limited strikes against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, and has even forged a military alliance with Iran to combat the rebels, who have carried out guerilla operations inside Turkey and Iran.
Turkey and Iran attacked rebel forces in Iran and Iraq beginning in August, a rebel commander told Newsmax correspondent Kenneth R. Timmerman.
Turkish and Iranian artillery have shelled civilian villages inside Iraq, the commander added.
The military operations make the timing of the “genocide” resolution especially unfortunate, threatening not only a wider war against the Kurds, but also a cutoff of American access to the strategic Incirlik airbase crucial to U.S. operations in Iraq.
When a similar resolution reached the House in October 2000, then Speaker Dennis Hastert withdraw it minutes before a scheduled vote, after President Bill Clinton warned it would harm ties with Turkey.
The French National Assembly voted a year ago to make it a crime to deny that the Armenian killings were genocide. Turkey responded by suspending military ties with France.
Turkish President Gul blames the Democrats’ support of the genocide resolution on “petty games of domestic politics.”
And Newsmax pundit David Limbaugh writes: “In the unlikely event that the Democrats’ motive isn’t to undercut our mission in Iraq, it might as well be – and they ought to be held accountable just as sternly as if it were.
“To the extent the resolution imperils American troops, it is egregiously reckless and indefensible at all levels.”
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