Turkey has recalled its ambassador to the United States as tension between the two countries continues to escalate. A US congressional committee’s branding of the killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in the First World War as genocide has caused widespread anger in Turkey. Ankara rejects historians’ claims that one and a half million Armenians were massacred, and says many Muslim Turks also perished as the Ottoman Empire collapsed.
The resolution adopted by the Foreign Affairs Committee will be debated by Congress next month. Turkey says bi-lateral ties and military co-operation will be harmed if the measure is passed.
It has also infuriated the White House. President Bush had attempted to block the motion, and State Department spokesman Tom Casey said the motion must be defeated: “And the basic message, the one I expect the Secretary to convey in her calls to Turkish authorities, as well as the regret the administration has over the passage of this resolution by the committee, are our continued opposition to it and our commitment to work with Congress on this to see that the full House in fact votes to defeat this resolution”.
The row is undermining US influence over Turkey just as Ankara is debating military raids against Kurdish rebels inside Iraq. Washington has warned against cross-border action, fearing it will further de-stabilise Iraq, and possibly the wider region.