Omar refuses to support resolution recognizing Armenian genocide

Tuesday’s nonbinding House resolution to recognize the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as genocide passed 405-11.

By World Israel News Staff and AP

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) on Tuesday refused to support a congressional resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide, according to Skystatement.com, a U.S. news outlet. The bill passed 405-11.

The Muslim congresswoman explained her refusal by saying that it was more important first to condemn the preceding “mass slaughter” of “hundreds of millions of indigenous people,” as well as the “transatlantic slave trade,” according to the report.

“Omar, in a statement explaining her vote of ‘present’ on the resolution, also seemingly suggested that the century-old mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks may not have occurred at all,” said the outlet

She asserted that “accountability and recognition of genocide should not be used as a cudgel in a political fight” but should instead “be done based on academic consensus outside the push and pull of geopolitics,” according to the report.

Turkey’s foreign ministry said that it summoned U.S. Ambassador David Satterfield on Wednesday over two resolutions passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Turkish ministry said in a statement that it rejects the nonbinding House resolution to recognize the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as genocide.

In another statement, the ministry said it condemned a bipartisan bill to sanction senior Turkish officials and its army for Turkey’s incursion into northeastern Syria, which passed 403-16.

Both bills, passed Tuesday, were a sign of further deterioration in Turkish-American relations, which have been strained over multiple issues, especially U.S. support for Syrian Kurdish fighters considered terrorists by Ankara.

American lawmakers have been critical of Ankara’s operation against Kurdish forces along the Turkish-Syrian border.

Turkey’s cross-border offensive, which Ankara says is necessary for its national security, began on Oct. 9 after months of Turkish threats and a sudden decision by President Donald Trump to withdraw troops and abandon Kurdish allies against the Islamic State group. Trump’s move was widely criticized by both the Republicans and the Democrats.

Turkey and allied Syrian fighters paused operations with two separate cease-fires brokered by the U.S. and Russia to allow the Kurdish fighters to withdraw 30 kilometers (19 miles) away from the Turkish border.

Ankara said both bills were fashioned for “domestic consumption” in the U.S. and would undermine relations. It said lawmakers critical of Turkey’s Syria offensive would be wrong to take “vengeance” through the Armenian genocide bill.

Turkey disputes the description of mass deportations and killings of Ottoman Armenians in 1915 as genocide and has lobbied against its recognition in the U.S. for years. It has instead called for a joint committee of historians to investigate the events.

“Undoubtedly, this resolution will negatively affect the image of the U.S. before the public opinion of Turkey,” the ministry said.

Israel has walked a tightrope on the issue, feeling a moral sense of responsibility to recognize crimes against humanity, in particular in light of the Nazi Holocaust, but fearful of creating an even greater rift with Turkey amid a bi-national relationship that has seen better times.

The thin line was most evident when Reuven Rivlin, who as an MK supported recognition of the killings of Armenians as genocide, later refused to sign a petition supporting the cause when he was elected president.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s acrimonious relationship with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan led the premier to lash back in September at Erdogan’s criticism of Israeli treatment of Palestinians, by saying: “He who doesn’t stop lying about Israel, slaughters the Kurds in his own country, and denies the terrible slaughter of the Armenian people – shouldn’t preach to Israel. Erdogan, stop lying.”

Though not labeling the “terrible slaughter of the Armenian people” as genocide, Netanyahu was seen as potentially overstepping the bounds of Israeli policy on the issue, perhaps expressing what he really felt despite the official Israeli position.