Over the past decade, at the same time that Turkey has become increasingly aggressive and demanding in its relationship with the U.S. government, it has steadily distanced itself from its traditional Cold War-era role as a reliable partner in advancing our regional and security priorities.
Turkey blocked a northern Coalition front against Iraq
In 2003, Turkey blocked a northern front against Iraq, a refusal that, according to the Department of Defense, contributed significantly to the strength of the current insurgency and the persistence of ongoing sectarian violence.
Turkey invaded northern Iraq
Earlier this year, in the face of vocal U.S. opposition, Turkey repeatedly invaded the Kurdish regions of northern Iraq, destabilizing the only relatively stable part of the country.
Turkey promotes regional instability
Turkey’s continued military occupation of Cyprus (a European Union member), illegal blockade of Armenia (the only closed border in Europe), and hostile policies toward the Kurds foster tensions and contribute to regional instability, all to the detriment of U.S. interests.
The deterioration of Turkish-American relations
Graham Fuller, an expert on Turkey who served as vice chairman of the Central Intelligence Agency’s National Intelligence Council, wrote in the Los Angeles Times (October 19, 2007) that:
“Turkish-American relations have been deteriorating for years, and the root explanation is simple and harsh: Washington's policies are broadly and fundamentally incompatible with Turkish foreign policy interests in multiple arenas. No amount of diplomat-speak can conceal or change that reality.”
An Unreasonable Request
As Americans, we should never allow other countries – even our allies – to exercise a veto our principled and unconditional stand against all instances of genocide.
Turkey, which outlaws even the mention of the Armenian Genocide by its own citizens, is today seeking to export this undemocratic restriction on free speech to the United States.
Using threats and intimidation against the U.S. and our forces in the field, the Turkish government has effectively imposed a “gag-rule” on our condemnation and commemoration of this crime against humanity. At the same time, back home, Turkey is cracking down on even the discussion of this vital human rights issue, as these examples demonstrate:
Article 301 and other provisions of the newly adopted Turkish criminal code establish prison terms of up to 3 years for even the mention of the Armenian Genocide.
The prosecution, official intimidation, and brutal assassination in January 2007 of journalist Hrant Dink stand as evidence of Turkey’s escalating attacks on those who speak honestly about the Armenian Genocide.
The prosecution of Orhan Pamuk – a Nobel Prize-winning author – demonstrates Turkey’s efforts to silence even its most prominent citizens who speak about the Armenian Genocide.
Turkey’s Minister of Education, as a formal state policy, has required that schoolchildren be taught to deny the Armenian Genocide.