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House Panel Raises Furor on Armenian Genocide

October 11, 2007 The New York Times By STEVEN LEE MYERS and CARL HULSE

WASHINGTON, Oct. 10 — A House committee voted on Wednesday to condemn the mass killings of Armenians in Turkey in World War I as an act of genocide, rebuffing an intense campaign by the White House and warnings from Turkey’s government that the vote would gravely strain its relations with the United States. The vote by the House Foreign Relations Committee was nonbinding and so largely symbolic, but its consequences could reach far beyond bilateral relations and spill into the war in Iraq. Turkish officials and lawmakers warned that if the resolution was approved by the full House, they would reconsider supporting the American war effort, which includes permission to ship essential supplies through Turkey and northern Iraq. President Bush appeared on the South Lawn of the White House before the vote and implored the House not to take up the issue, only to have a majority of the committee disregard his warning at the end of the day, by a vote of 27 to 21. “We all deeply regret the tragic suffering

” The issue of the Armenian genocide. justice prevailed. and its passage would do great harm to our relations with a key ally in NATO and in the global war on terror. Gephardt. “For if we hope to stop future genocides we need to admit to those horrific acts of the past. Ronald Reagan was the only president publicly to call the killings genocide.of the Armenian people that began in 1915. a similar resolution also won approval by a . Livingston. Backers of the resolution said Congressional action was overdue. “Despite President George Bush twisting arms and making deals. reflecting official American policy. beginning in 1915. a Democrat of California and a sponsor of the resolution. and Richard A. Republican of Louisiana.” The resolution was introduced early in the current session of Congress and has quietly moved forward over the last few weeks. but his successors have avoided the term. who backed a similar resolution when he was in Congress. But it provoked a fierce lobbying fight that pitted the politically influential Armenian-American population against the Turkish government.” Mr. When the issue last arose. the former Democratic House majority leader. has perennially transfixed Congress and bedeviled presidents of both parties. which hired equally influential former lawmakers like Robert L. Bush said in remarks that. in 2000. carefully avoided the use of the word genocide.” said Representative Brad Sherman. “This resolution is not the right response to these historic mass killings.

Turkey had warned of canceling arms deals and withdrawing support for American air forces then patrolling northern Iraq under the auspices of the United Nations. well. There is Democratic support for the resolution in the Senate. the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House. especially the threats to cut off support for the American war in Iraq. Still.House committee. who worked in the Clinton White House when the issue came up in 2000. faced pressure from Democrats — especially colleagues in California. however. appeared divided. seemed to embolden some of the resolution’s supporters. . the Turkish government has made it clear that it would regard House passage alone as a harsh American indictment. too. That time. but it is unlikely to move in the months ahead because of Republican opposition and a shortage of time. Nancy Pelosi. then shame on them. to withdraw the measure before the full House could vote. a Democrat from New York who voted for it. Representative Rahm Emanuel. J. The sharply worded Turkish warnings against the resolution. The new speaker. “If they use this to destabilize our solders in Iraq. The Democratic leadership. but President Clinton then succeeded in persuading a Republican speaker.” said Representative Joseph Crowley. with their large Armenian populations — to revive the resolution again after her party gained control of the House and Senate this year. New Jersey and Michigan. opposes the resolution. Dennis Hastert.

raised the resolution and warned that its passage could harm the war effort in Iraq. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. the senior American officials in Iraq.” a White House spokesman. He said that Mr. senior Bush aides said. as did 30 percent of fuel and virtually all the new armored vehicles designed to withstand mines and bombs. Crocker.In what appeared to be an effort to temper the anger caused by the issue. . Appearing outside the West Wing after that meeting. Bush discussed the issue in the White House on Wednesday with his senior national security aides. Bush was “very disappointed” with the vote. said Wednesday evening. A total of 1. Democrats said they were considering a parallel resolution that would praise Turkey’s close relations with the United States even as the full House prepares to consider a resolution that blames the forerunner of modern Turkey for one of the worst crimes in history. Gates noted that about 70 percent of all air cargo sent to Iraq passed through or came from Turkey. David H. Defense Secretary Robert M. Speaking by secure video from Baghdad. Gen. resulted from the war that ended with the creation of modern Turkey in 1923. Mr. Johndroe. Turks acknowledge that hundreds of thousands of Armenians died but contend that the deaths. Gordon D. “Neither of these resolutions is necessary. along with thousands of others.5 million Armenians were killed beginning in 1915 in a systematic campaign by the fraying Ottoman Empire to drive Armenians out of eastern Turkey.

underscoring the emotions stirred in American politics by a 92-year-old question. said he and Ms. Crocker. Gephardt’s old job as majority leader.” Mr. Bush persuaded him to change his position and vote no. Hoyer of Maryland. said Mr. Mr. “While this is still the right position. referring to the use of the term genocide. But Representative Steny H. and other Turkish officials. a conservative Republican from Indiana who has backed the resolution in the past. Representative Mike Pence. Pence said. Nabi Sensoy.“They believe clearly that access to airfields and to the roads and so on in Turkey would be very much put at risk if this resolution passes and the Turks react as strongly as we believe they will. who now holds Mr. Gates said.” The House Democratic leadership met Wednesday morning with Turkey’s ambassador to Washington.” Mr. As the committee prepared to vote Wednesday. referring to the remarks of General Petraeus and Mr. Turkey severed military ties with France after its Parliament voted in 2006 to make the denial of the Armenian genocide a crime. Ross Wilson. Bush. Pelosi would bring the resolution to the floor before Congress adjourned this year. who argued against moving ahead with a vote. “it is not the right time. . and other officials cajoled lawmakers by phone. the American ambassador to Turkey. He described the decision as gut-wrenching.

” Mr. are not that easy to erase once it hits sensitive spots. something the United States is strongly urging against. The Associated Press reported from the town of Sirnak that Turkish warplanes and helicopters were attacking positions along the southern border with Iraq that are suspected of belonging to Kurdish rebels who have been fighting Turkish forces for years. The Turkish government continued to prepare to request Parliament’s permission for an offensive into Iraq. from the International Strategic Research Institution. support in this struggle.In Turkey. “American officials could think that Turkish people would ultimately forget about the lack of U. Laciner said.S. A policeman was killed and six others were wounded in a bomb attack in the Kurdish city of Diyarbakir in southeastern Turkey on Wednesday. however. Parliamentary approval would bring Turkey the closest it has been since 2003 to a full-scale military offensive into Iraq. Sedat Laciner. the state-run Anatolian News Agency reported. said that the Turkish public felt betrayed by what was perceived as a lack of American support for Turkey in its battle against the Kurds. using words that could apply equally to views about the Armenian genocide.” . a fresh wave of violence raised the specter of a Turkish raid into northern Iraq. “Memories of Turks. with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggesting that a vote could be held after the end of Ramadan.

11.Sebnem Arsu contributed reporting from Istanbul.html?ref=europe .com/2007/10/11/washington/11prex y.2007. NYT.nytimes.10. and Sabrina Tavernise from Baghdad. http://www. House Panel Raises Furor on Armenian Genocide.