Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Sanctions against US won't affect congressmen, expert warns

Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Turkish Daily News
Egemen Bağış below makes lots of sense. It will be still better if Turkey recognizes the genocide of the Ottoman Armenians, because doing so will increase its stature in the civilized world.
Egemen Bağış's statements that Turkey can cut its logistic support for American troops stationed in Iraq are not considered very productive. 'I do not think that it will have an impact on the congressmen's decision' Faruk Loğoğlu says

Ahead of a crucial vote in the United States Congress, Turkey's threats on cutting logistic support and strategic cooperation with the U.S. if the genocide bill is approved, will have no affect on members of the Congress, experts warn.

“The sanctions related with Iraq can create a sort of excitement among the Congressmen but I do not think that it will have an impact on them,” said retired Ambassador, Faruk Loğoğlu, now head of the Ankara-based Eurasia Strategic Studies center (ASAM), whose last posting was to Washington D.C.

Congress' Foreign Affairs Committee is expected to approve Wednesday a bill which characterizes the incidents in 1915-1916 in eastern Anatolia as genocide and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a known supporter of the Armenian cause, could then decide to bring it to the House floor for a vote. Many believe that it is very likely that the bill will be approved if put to a vote in the House.

Turkey has been trying hard to stop the process in Congress, through an intense diplomatic campaign aimed at the U.S. Administration and Israel. The messages sent to U.S. officials were that the two long-time allies' relations could be seriously hurt if the bill is approved.

Cutting off support?

“For example, the Americans depend on Turkey for a large part of their logistic support in Iraq. We would be obliged to cut this support,” Egemen Bağış, deputy leader of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) who left for Washington D.C. yesterday to lobby the congressmen, was quoted by daily Hürriyet.

But Bağış softened his words at a press conference he held before his departure. “Turkey has a lot of options but it is not my responsibility to evaluate which of them could be used. The daily Hürriyet has exaggerated the scenarios. But we will be doing everything to stop the approval of the bill,” he said.

Among the mentioned sanctions are closing the İncirlik base, in Turkey's south to the American military to supply its troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, not allowing the withdrawal of American troops through Turkish territory, and suspending some of the military equipment purchases.

Government has to decide

But according to Loğoğlu, threatening the members of Congress with such sanctions is not likely to work. “In general, I may say that such threats won't have any influence on the congressmen's decision,” he said.

“What is important here is the government's will and its purpose. Is it going to be good or bad? I always think that before applying such sanctions, they have to be analyzed on scales: Who will be most hurt by the sanctions? Us or them? They have to be applied if it is going to be the other party who will be hurt most,” he added.

Loğoğlu underlined that the U.S. has many allies in the region and can use their bases in some other countries. The U.S. has established military bases in Bulgaria and Romania after Turkey's rejection of a U.S. request to use Turkish bases and territory.

“Instead we should inform the congressmen about the U.N.'s Convention on Genocide and Turkey's proposal to Armenia for establishing a joint commission of historians to analyze the incidents. We may not convince many of them but we can shake their position a little bit,” the retired ambassador said.

The recognition of the Armenian genocide in the parliaments of third countries is one of the most serious problems Turkey is faced with in the international arena. A dozen or so countries, including Turkey's allies in NATO, have recognized the events in 1915-1916 as genocide.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.

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