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Senate recognizes Armenian genocide over objections of Trump and Turkish government

Friday, 13 December, 2019, 13:35
Senate recognizes Armenian genocide over objections of Trump and Turkish government

In a stinging rebuke to Turkey, the Senate on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide – marking a shift in U.S. policy despite repeated objections from the Trump administration.

The Senate's action is historic, and it will almost certainly exacerbate U.S.-Turkey tensions. The genocide measure officially recognizes the systematic killing of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923.

President Donald Trump has cultivated a close relationship with Turkey's leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan – hosting Erdogan at the White House in November despite Turkey's recent invasion of Syria. Until Thursday, Trump's GOP allies in the Senate had repeatedly blocked the genocide measure.

For years, Turkey had successfully deployed an army of high-priced lobbyists to stop the measure. Ankara spent more than $6 million to press its agenda in Washington in 2018, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, a campaign finance watchdog group.
But that effort collapsed on Thursday when Menendez pressed for its adoption and no senator objected.

The New Jersey Democrat broke down in tears after the measure sailed through, after he began recounting the horrors of the genocide.

"The killing was done with axes, cleavers, shovels and pitchforks. It was like a slaughterhouse," Menendez said, quoting a priest who documented the atrocities at the time. "Infants were dashed on rocks before the eyes of their mothers."
A White House spokesman did not respond to a request for comment Thursday, nor did a spokesperson for Turkey's embassy in Washington.