Wednesday, October 10, 2007

ANKARA: Sanctions Against US Won't Affect Congressmen, Expert Warns

Turkish Daily News, Turkey
Oct 9 2007

Egemen Baðýþ's statements that Turkey can cut its logistic support
for American troops stationed in Iraq are not considered very
productive. 'I do not think that it will have an impact on the
congressmen's decision' Faruk Loðoðlu says

Ahead of a crucial vote in the United States Congress, Turkey's
threats on cutting logistic support and strategic cooperation with
the U.S. if the genocide bill is approved, will have no affect on
members of the Congress, experts warn.

"The sanctions related with Iraq can create a sort of excitement
among the Congressmen but I do not think that it will have an impact
on them," said retired Ambassador, Faruk Loðoðlu, now head of the
Ankara-based Eurasia Strategic Studies center (ASAM), whose last
posting was to Washington D.C. Congress' Foreign Affairs Committee is
expected to approve Wednesday a bill which characterizes the incidents
in 1915-1916 in eastern Anatolia as genocide and Speaker Nancy Pelosi,
a known supporter of the Armenian cause, could then decide to bring
it to the House floor for a vote. Many believe that it is very likely
that the bill will be approved if put to a vote in the House.

Turkey has been trying hard to stop the process in Congress, through
an intense diplomatic campaign aimed at the U.S. Administration and
Israel. The messages sent to U.S. officials were that the two long-time
allies' relations could be seriously hurt if the bill is approved.

Cutting off support?

"For example, the Americans depend on Turkey for a large part of their
logistic support in Iraq. We would be obliged to cut this support,"
Egemen Baðýþ, deputy leader of the Justice and Development Party
(AKP) who left for Washington D.C. yesterday to lobby the congressmen,
was quoted by daily Hurriyet.

But Baðýþ softened his words at a press conference he held before his
departure. "Turkey has a lot of options but it is not my responsibility
to evaluate which of them could be used. The daily Hurriyet has
exaggerated the scenarios. But we will be doing everything to stop
the approval of the bill," he said.

Among the mentioned sanctions are closing the Ýncirlik base,
in Turkey's south to the American military to supply its troops
in Iraq and Afghanistan, not allowing the withdrawal of American
troops through Turkish territory, and suspending some of the military
equipment purchases.

Government has to decide

But according to Loðoðlu, threatening the members of Congress with
such sanctions is not likely to work. "In general, I may say that
such threats won't have any influence on the congressmen's decision,"
he said.

"What is important here is the government's will and its purpose.

Is it going to be good or bad? I always think that before applying
such sanctions, they have to be analyzed on scales: Who will be most
hurt by the sanctions? Us or them? They have to be applied if it is
going to be the other party who will be hurt most," he added.

Loðoðlu underlined that the U.S. has many allies in the region and
can use their bases in some other countries. The U.S. has established
military bases in Bulgaria and Romania after Turkey's rejection of
a U.S. request to use Turkish bases and territory.

"Instead we should inform the congressmen about the U.N.'s Convention
on Genocide and Turkey's proposal to Armenia for establishing a
joint commission of historians to analyze the incidents. We may not
convince many of them but we can shake their position a little bit,"
the retired ambassador said.

The recognition of the Armenian genocide in the parliaments of third
countries is one of the most serious problems Turkey is faced with in
the international arena. A dozen or so countries, including Turkey's
allies in NATO, have recognized the events in 1915-1916 as genocide.

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