International News

Storm In Turkey Over Armenian `Genocide'
by James Dorsey In Istanbul
Posted: Tuesday, September 26, 2000 08:49 pm CST

A POLITICAL storm has erupted in Turkey over moves by the US Congress to recognise Armenian allegations that Ottoman Turks massacred up to 1.5 million of their people in 1915.

Turkish officials and politicians are threatening to retaliate if the Congress passes the proposed pro-Armenian resolution, while Turkish newspapers accuse the United States of betraying its ally. Turkey has consistently denied Armenian assertions of genocide perpetrated by the Ottomans against their people during the First World War. It claims the Armenians who were killed died in fighting with Ottoman troops.

Greek and Armenian lobbies in the US have long been pushing for Congress to recognise injustice against the Armenians, charging that the Turks indiscriminately slaughtered them in the waning days of the Ottoman empire. Their demand now has a reasonable chance of being honoured after a US House of Representatives international relations subcommittee last week voted to acknowledge the alleged massacre.

Turkey says Congress is trying to curry ethnic Armenian favour in an election year. Turkish officials say if Congress adopts the resolution, they could retaliate by cancelling US access to the Incirlik air base in south-eastern Turkey or by excluding US contractors from major defence deals. US warplanes use Incirlik to protect Kurds in northern Iraq and to regularly bomb Iraqi targets.

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