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Wrong Time for Armenian Genocide Bill

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Demonstrating a predictable lack of strategic foresight, the U.S. Congress plans to renew its obsession with the Armenian genocide tomorrow, when the House Committee on Foreign Affairs will hold its mark-up session for the Armenian Genocide resolution. In 2007, the resolution -- which "[calls] upon the president to ensure that the foreign policy of the United States reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning . . . the Armenian Genocide" -- passed out of committee but never reached a vote on the House floor, following a strong pushback effort from the Bush administration. The supporters of this year's iteration hope the Obama White House will prove less resistant to its foreign policy being held hostage to Congress's parochial interests.

While there is little doubt outside of Turkey that genocide was perpetrated against the Armenians in the 1910s, the resolution threatens to undermine U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and South Caucasus at exactly the wrong time. Turkey and Armenia are currently in the midst of a slow-going rapprochement, an effort broadly opposed by the Armenian diaspora in the U.S., but supported by the Obama administration. Meanwhile, Washington needs Ankara onside with regards to Iran, especially as the U.S. pushes for a new sanctions resolution in the U.N. Security Council, where Turkey holds a non-permanent seat. The Armenian Genocide resolution would scuttle both efforts. ...

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