US Republican Senator Lindsay Graham has blocked the resolution on the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, which was adopted on October 29 by the US House of Representatives.
405 congressmen of the House of Representatives recognized the massacres of Armenians at the beginning of the last century in the Ottoman Empire as genocide, only 11 congressmen spoke out against the resolution.
Moreover, the resolution was supported by both Democrats and members of the US Republican Party.
• Reaction to US House recognition of Armenian genocide in Armenia, Turkey, world
The document was supposed to go through the Senate, where, were it to be approved, the resolution should have been signed by the president.
However, Republican Lindsay Graham, considered one of Donald Trump’s closest associates, blocked the adoption of the resolution.
The Armenian Genocide referee to the massacre in Ottoman Turkey in 1915. Before that, about two and a half million Armenians lived on the territory of the Ottoman Empire. As a result of the killings and mass deportation, more than half of them died.
The tragic events in the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of the last century have been recognised as genocide and condemned by influential international organizations, including the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, the World Council of Churches. Among the countries that recognized the Armenian Genocide, Canada, Argentina, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Russia, Belgium, France, Poland, Slovakia, the Netherlands, Uruguay, Greece, Cyprus, the Vatican, Germany, Lebanon and 48 US states.
Turkey categorically does not accept such a formulation of the events of those years.
Until now, US presidents, including Donald Trump, in their official speeches, speaking about the events of 1915, have not used the word “genocide”.
49 out of 50 US states officially recognized the Armenian Genocide, but at the federal level, the process has always slowed down at some point
Graham’s explanations and the Senate reaction
Senator Lindsay Graham, who heads the Senate Legal Committee, explained that he blocked the resolution immediately after meeting with Turkish President Erdogan at the White House. According to him, he slowed down the resolution “not because of the past, but because of the future,”
“I just met with Erdogan and President Trump and talked about the problems that we face in Syria due to the military invasion of Turkey. I hope that Turkey and Armenia can solve this problem together.”
Graham added that senators “should neither sugarcoat nor rewrite history.”
Senator Robert Menendez, a senior Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee, answered Graham:
“Are you so scared of Turkey? Which of us is a superpower? I’m thinking that in the end Turkey doesn’t determine what decisions the US Senate should take. ”
These statements were made after a meeting between Trump and Erdogan on November 13 at the White House. During the briefing, the Turkish president called the resolution adopted on October 29 “offensive to the Turkish people.”
What’s happening and why – expert opinion
Political scientist Suren Sargsyan believes that various factors influenced the blocking of the resolution. One of them is a desired improvement of US-Turkish relations:
“After the Trump-Erdogan meeting, relations between Turkey and the United States can go a completely different way. Rapprochement may occur during this year, as the meeting was warm.
“This means that in many issues, approaches will change. Relations will develop as relations between two strategic partners. In the near future, we will probably see an improvement in their relationship.”
At the same time, he emphasized that the global anti-Turkish sentiment has not yet passed:
“There are still open questions for the American public and political circles. These are the issues of the Russian air defense systems that Turkey has acquired. This is a big problem for the United States and for NATO partners.”
As for Graham’s decision itself, according to the political scientist, the senator “made it clear that if the resolution is passed, the United States will have problems in Syria and Turkey will not help the United States.”
The political scientist says that even now there is an opportunity to carry out the resolution further:
“The leader of the Republicans in the Senate has the right to remove the veto from the resolution. But this requires great political will and strong support from senators. Then the resolution will have a chance. But it will take a lot of time.”
Suren Sargsyan says that now the Armenian lobby has a difficult task – to ensure that Graham removes the veto:
“If he is against the resolution, he can simply vote against it, and not block the resolution in the Senate. He will follow this path if he receives strong support from other senators.”
Why the House of Representatives earlier adopted the resolution
The US Congress has lingered for years over the recognition of the Armenian massacre because of fears of deterioration in relations with Turkey’s NATO ally.
• Armenia: how genocide went from taboo to national rallying point
• Bundestag used the word “genocide”
The accelerated consideration of the resolution was caused by the deterioration of US relations with Turkey. The situation was influenced by several factors:
• Turkey’s military operation against the Syrian Kurds, who were key allies of the Americans in the fight against ISIS. And all this happened after Donald Trump suddenly announced his withdrawal from Syria.
• Turkey’s decision to buy Russian S-400 air defense systems [anti-aircraft missile system designed to destroy air attack weapons], despite US discontent.
Moreover, its supporters did not hide the geopolitical context of the adoption of the resolution.
On the day the Turkish operation in Syria began, Congressman Ted Lew, who represents the district where many Armenians live, wrote on Twitter that now is the time for the United States to recognize the Armenian genocide.
• Dutch parliament recognizes 1915 killings of Armenians as genocide despite opposition from government
Moreover, immediately after the vote on the genocide, the deputies of the House of Representatives, again overwhelmingly, supported a bill urging Trump to impose sanctions against Turkey.
The bill proposed sanctions against senior Turkish officials, including the Minister of Defense, to block the assets of Turkish officials and impose sanctions against Turkish banks.