Turks and Azeris Are in Frenzy Following Democrats' Victory
by Harut Sassounian
The neo-cons in control of the White House finally lost many of their partners in the U.S. Congress. This means that they can no longer call all the shots and will have to compromise their extreme positions on both foreign and domestic policy.
The Armenian American community, indeed the Armenian Diaspora, along with the American public and the rest of the world, are elated by this change in power, as they have suffered enough at the hands of the neo-cons in the past six years.
The Armenian appetite was whetted ever since Cong. Nancy Pelosi (Dem-CA) issued a statement to this writer right before the November 7 elections saying: "I have supported legislation ... that would properly acknowledge the Armenian genocide. It is imperative that the United States recognize this atrocity and move to renew our commitment to eliminate genocide whenever and wherever it exists.
This effort enjoys strong bipartisan support in the House, and I will continue to support these efforts in the 110th Congress," Pelosi said. This is the first time a member of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues is slated to become the Speaker of the House, ousting Cong. Dennis Hastert (Rep.-Illinois) who has been dead set on blocking the Armenian Genocide resolution pending in the House in various permutations over the past six years. Of course, there are no guaranties in politics. Armenians have been disappointed many times before when pledges made in the heat of a campaign have evaporated under pressure from cold realities of the political world.
There are many twists and turns to overcome before the expected passage of a congressional resolution on the Armenian Genocide. The resolution has to be submitted to the House International Relations Committee all over again. Should it make it through that committee, it is expected that the Speaker Pelosi will bring it to the House floor for a vote, in which case it would pass with the overwhelming majority of the votes. Given many previous disappointments, it may be wise for Armenian Americans and Armenians worldwide to approach this issue with some caution, particularly since the eventual passage of this resolution would add nothing new to the Armenian Cause. As I have mentioned on many occasions before, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed a similar resolution on the Armenian Genocide both in 1975 and 1984. Furthermore, Pres. Ronald Reagan issued a Presidential Proclamation back in 1981 make a reference to the Armenian Genocide.
The only merit to its passage would be the fact that it would settle scores with Speaker Hastert and Pres. Bush who had promised to recognize the Armenian Genocide before being elected to his first term in office. Another possible benefit would be to drive Turkish and Azeri leaders out of their minds, as they have been in an absolute frenzy ever since Cong. Pelosi made her pledge on the Armenian Genocide resolution. There have been dozens of articles in the Turkish and Azeri press lamenting the fact that pro-Armenian members of Congress have been elected to leadership positions in various committees. Since the Democrats control both Houses of Congress, they will be the committee chairmen and set the agenda. As such, they would have the power to hold special hearings on many neo-con shenanigans, from the war in Iraq to accusations of Turkish circles bribing Speaker Hastert.
The other major success on November 7 was the re-election of Sen. Robert Menendez (Dem.-N.J.) who won in a very tight race. The Armenian voters in that State played a key role in his victory by campaigning and voting for him in large numbers. The State Dept. would have loved to see him defeated in order to release the hold he had placed on Richard Hoagland, the Ambassador Designate for Armenia. Finally, the overwhelming majority of the House Armenian Caucus members were reelected, including the two co-chairs, Cong. Frank Pallone (Dem.-N.J.) and Joe Knollenberg (Rep.-Michigan). Armenian lobbying groups should continue their admirable effort to increase the number of Armenian Caucus members to 218 -- the majority of House members.