WASHINGTON–In a move widely seen as intended to calm Turkish anger over growing strains in its ties with the United States, Senators Robert Byrd (D-WV) and Gordon Smith (R-OR) have introduced legislation which ignores key points of tension in this relationship and offers unconditional praise to Turkey and its leaders, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.
"The resolution introduced by Senators Smith and Byrd neither serves U.S. interests nor advances American values by sugar-coating Turkey’s record or by ignoring serious tensions in the U.S.-Turkey bilateral relationship," said American Hellenic Institute Executive (AHI) Director Nick Laragakis and ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian, in a joint statement issued today. “Any legislation that the Foreign Relations Committee considers on this issue should clearly and prominently address Turkey’s threats to invade and destabilize northern Iraq, its immoral and heavy-handed threats against the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, military occupation of Cyprus, continued airspace violations of Greek-sovereign airspace over the Aegean, blockade of Armenia, mistreatment of the Kurds, and restrictions on the religious freedom of the Ecumenical Patriarch and other Christian leaders."
The ANCA and AHI shared their concerns regarding this legislation today with Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In making the case regarding Turkey’s increasing unreliability, the ANCA also circulated a recent Los Angeles Times opinion piece by Graham Fuller, a former Vice-Chairman of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council, who argued that: "Turkish-American relations have been deteriorating for years, and the root explanation is simple and harsh: Washington’s policies are broadly and fundamentally incompatible with Turkish foreign policy interests in multiple arenas. No amount of diplomat-speak can conceal or change that reality."
Introduced Monday, S.Res.358 begins by asserting that the "United States and Turkey share common ideals and a clear vision for the 21st Century, in which freedom and democracy are the foundation of peace, prosperity and security." It concludes by thanking Prime Minister Erdogan for "continued discussions with officials in the U.S. and Iraq regarding constructive stabilization efforts in northern Iraq." The resolution makes no mention of Turkey’s controversial relations with Hamas, its growing ties with Iran, or its refusal in 2003 to allow U.S. troops to open a northern front in Iraq.
"It simply makes no sense to thank Turkey for ‘constructive stabilization efforts’ in Northern Iraq while it is making cross-border aerial and artillery assaults, amassing troops, and threatening a full-blown invasion that may very well destabilize the region and endanger our troops for years to come," said Hamparian. "Rather than praising Turkey and turning a blind eye to its threats, the Congress should urge the Administration to explore ways to free ourselves from Turkey’s blackmail by quickly putting in place alternate, non-Turkish routes to supply and otherwise support our regional operations."
The complete text of S.Res.358 is provided below.
Senate Resolution 358 Expressing the Importance of Friendship and Cooperation Between the United States and Turkey
Mr. SMITH (for himself and Mr. Byrd) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations:
S. RES. 358
Whereas the United States and Turkey share common ideals and a clear vision for the 21st century, in which freedom and democracy are the foundation of peace, prosperity, and security;
Whereas Turkey is a strong example of a predominantly Muslim country with a true representative democratic government;
Whereas for more than 50 years a strategic partnership has existed between the United States and Turkey, both bilaterally and through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which has been of enormous political, economic, cultural, and strategic benefit to both
Whereas the Government of Turkey has demonstrated its opposition to terrorism throughout the world, and has called for the international community to unite against this threat;
Whereas Turkey maintains an important bilateral relationship with Israel and seeks to play a constructive role in Middle East peace negotiations;
Whereas Operation Enduring Freedom entered its 6th year on October 7th, 2007;
Whereas Turkey commanded the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan twice, from July 2002 to January 2003, and from February 2005 to August 2005;
Whereas Turkey has provided humanitarian and medical assistance in
Afghanistan and in Iraq;
Whereas the Government of Turkey has made its base in Incirlik available for United States missions in Iraq and Afghanistan;
Whereas Secretary of Defense Robert Gates credits United States air bases in Turkey with handling 70 percent of all air cargo deployed into Iraq;
Whereas 95 percent of the Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protective vehicles (MRAPs) deployed into Iraq transit through air bases in Turkey;
Whereas MRAPs protect coalition forces from improvised explosive devices and roadside bombs;
Whereas the people of Turkey have been victims of terrorist attacks by Al-Qaeda on November 15, 2003, and November 20, 2003;
Whereas the United States supports Turkey’s bid for membership in the European Union; and
Whereas the Secretary of State has listed the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which has taken up arms against Turkey since its founding, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in accordance with section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended:
Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the Senate
(1) reiterates its strong support for the strategic alliance between the United States and Turkey;
(2) urges Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey to communicate the continuing support of the Senate and of the people of the United States to the people of Turkey;
(3) condemns the violent attacks conducted by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party over the last 2 decades;
(4) urges Kurdish leaders in Iraq to deny safe harbor for terrorists and to recognize bilateral agreemen’s between Iraq and Turkey for cooperation against terrorism;
(5) encourages the Government of Turkey and the Government of Iraq to continue to work together to end the threat of terrorism; and
(6) thanks Prime Minister Erdogan and the people and Government of Turkey for
(A) assuming command of the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul, Afghanistan from July 2002 to January 2003, and from February 2005 to August 2005;
(B) providing humanitarian and medical assistance in Afghanistan and in Iraq;
(C) their willingness to contribute to international peace, stability, and prosperity, especially in the greater Middle East region; and
(D) their continued discussions with officials in the United States and Iraq regarding constructive stabilization efforts in northern Iraq.