Turks Shocked as Close to Majority In Congress Cosponsors Genocide Bill
by Harut Sassounian June, 2007
The news last week, that the number of cosponsors of the congressional Armenian Genocide resolution reached 200, sent shudders throughout the Turkish world. The Turkish government and its compliant mass media would probably get even more hysterical in the coming days as the number of House members supporting the resolution will reach for the first time the magical number of 218 -- the majority of the House of Representatives.
In an article titled, "Risk rising for genocide bill's passage in U.S.
Congress," published in the June 22 issue of the Turkish Daily News, journalist Umit Enginsoy wrote: "The chances" of the approval of the Armenian Genocide resolution "are rising dangerously after pro-Armenian groups secured the backing of 200 lawmakers in the 435-member chamber of Congress. This is a record figure ever obtained by the Armenians and is rapidly approaching 218. Turkish efforts to prevent the bill's passage first in the [Foreign Affairs] committee and then on the House floor have so far been successful but the number of the measure's backers is increasing in a threatening way and it may only be a matter of weeks before the Armenians manage to obtain the majority figure of 218, analysts said."
Enginsoy then proceeded to present an accurate estimation of the prospects for the approval of the resolution as follows: "The figure of 218 lawmakers supporting the genocide measure's passage will mean a psychological threshold.
If or when the Armenians reach that number, [Speaker] Pelosi herself will likely be compelled to obey the will of the majority and bring the resolution to a floor vote, analysts said. At this pace, the resolution may reach the House floor agenda any time after early September, when Congress returns to work after summer recess. Turkish officials and their lobbyists are nowworking to prevent other lawmakers from backing the genocide bill and urging some House members to withdraw their signatures from the list of supporters. But so far such efforts could not stop the Armenians reaching the 200 figure."
Enginsoy's article would have been even more alarming had he known that on the day his report was published, nine additional Congressmen would cosponsor the resolution, bringing the total number of its supporters to 209 -- just nine short of the required 218. Of course, "the analysts" that Enginsoy consulted had grossly misjudged the rapid increase of the bill's backers, when he reported that it would take several weeks for the number of cosponsors to reach 218. It now appears that the magic threshold would be reached within a matter of days, not weeks!
In sharp contrast to Erginsoy's straightforward reporting, prominent Turkish commentator Mehmet Ali Birand tried to deceive his readers rather than urging them face up to the truth of the Armenian Genocide.
In an article titled, "Armenians work, we sleep," published in the June 21 issue of the Turkish Daily News, Birand blamed Turkish officials for doing nothing to block the congressional resolution. He wrote: "I have repeated this theme for years. I have even used harsher words to make it more effective. But not a word. Nobody cares. We are in such ignorance that we knowingly lie to ourselves. I refer to the sleepwalking state of Turkey in the face of the activities of the Armenian lobby. Turkey is in a haze. There is neither any activity nor a change of policy except for persuasion talks with the House members. As Turkey continues to sleepwalk, Armenians make it more decisive. Turkey's reputation is being besmirched. We can continue settling for trying to convince.
Once it is too late, we should not knock on the White House door in vain. We should not try to shut down the Incirlik Air Base and cut off relations. We should quit threatening Washington, as it will do no good. We should get ready for what is to come in September."
In an attempt to look at the future, Birand observed: "What will happen if [the resolution] does become a law? The decision by the U.S. House of Representatives will serve as a precedent. It will encourage the parliaments of other countries. The number of parliaments accepting genocide claims will increase.
Then it will be time to pressure the governments. And we can keep on sleeping."
Birand is flat wrong in accusing Turkish leaders of sleepwalking. On the contrary, Ankara officials have done everything in their power to block the Armenian Genocide bill -- paying millions of dollars to hire powerful American lobbying firms; dispatching delegations of parliamentarians and high-ranking political and military leaders to Washington; and threatening to undermine the American war effort in Iraq by blocking access to military bases in Turkey and canceling multi-billion dollar arms purchases from the United States.
A more honest analyst would have urged Turkish leaders to refrain from lying and acknowledge the fact of the Armenian Genocide. By taking such a step, Turkey would save itself much embarrassment, avoid wasting millions of dollars on lobbying and acquire political mileage and respectability in the international community.