Mohamed Minshawi-Washington

A former senior Pentagon official told Al-Jazeera on the direction of his country's relationship with Turkey after the House of Representatives adopted Tuesday anti-Turkish legislation by a majority approaching unanimity, the first concerning the recognition of the so-called Armenian genocide, and the second imposes sanctions on Ankara for its military operation in northern Syria.

In a landmark move, the House of Representatives passed a resolution recognizing Armenian genocide by a large majority of 405 members to 11 others. The resolution reaffirms US recognition of the Armenian genocide by the Ottoman army, the first time such a vote has arrived in Congress. Previous attempts failed.

By a vote of 403 to 16, the council passed another resolution imposing sanctions on Turkey for the `` Peace Spring '' operation in northern Syria.The sanctions include Turkey's defense and finance ministers and financial institutions that deal with the Turkish military.The sanctions have extended the US arms embargo on Turkey.

"The behavior of Turkish President Recep Erdogan in recent years has led many in Washington to ask whether Turkey is an ally of America," said the former US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"The Turkish army's recent large-scale offensive in northern Syria against the US-allied Kurdish militias, which fought alongside US soldiers, has increased Turkey's negative perception of all US circles, military, legislative, diplomatic or media," the official said.

"Even when Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974, the Pentagon could defend the importance and strategy of relations with Turkey, but today it is very difficult to do so," the former military official said.

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Previous tremors
Relations between Ankara and Washington were shaken by the Turkish military operation in northeastern Syria in order to establish a safe area, and several years earlier Turkey accused the United States of being soft and encouraging the failed military coup against President Erdogan in July 2016.

The case of the arrest of US pastor Andrew Branson in Turkey, which was later released after extensive US sanctions against Ankara, has had important political repercussions on the US home, especially among evangelical supporters of President Donald Trump, a sect of Christians in America.

The former Pentagon official pointed out that Congressional efforts to pass laws condemning Turkey and describe what happened to the Armenians a hundred years ago as a massacre and ethnic cleansing is not new. These efforts began in 1984, but successive US administrations and intelligence services and the Pentagon always pressed the legislators, and succeeded in Stop all previous attempts, "but today it is difficult to do so given the record of the Turkish president."

The former official pointed out that Washington, and Congress in particular, remember well the incident of the escorts of the Turkish president and his bodyguards beat Turkish, Kurdish and American protesters in front of the residence of the Turkish ambassador in the heart of the embassies in Washington, in front of the eyes of the media.

The Pentagon official pointed out that the position of the US House of Representatives on the imposition of sanctions on Turkey "expected and ineffective so far, but the approaching number of voters in favor of the Armenian genocide legislation to consensus is what should worry and annoy Ankara officials."

The White House may intervene to persuade Republican leader Mitch McConnell not to take any action on the two resolutions, freeze them to preserve relations between the two countries, and to avoid having Trump veto power, according to the former US official. .

The legislation passed by the House of Representatives binds the Trump administration only if approved by the Senate, but passing it by this majority in the House of Representatives carries a very negative political message to Turkey.

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Change the compass
Concerning US fears that Ankara would change its alliances and move towards Russia and Iran, the former US official played down what is said about that alternative, saying that Washington's offer to Turkey cannot be compensated by Russia or Iran.``Don't forget that there is a NATO partnership, '' he said. NATO) and extensive military cooperation since the end of World War II. "

According to the same spokesman, what Turkey can do in rare cases is to buy some Russian weapons, as happened with the S-400 air defense system a few months ago, but otherwise Russia and Iran can not provide Turkey to the United States.

On the other hand, attributed Mason University "George Aftandlian" in a statement to the island Net motives of the House of Representatives to Turkey to "the anger of lawmakers about the repressive policies of President Erdogan, the invasion of northeast Syria, which resulted in the deaths of many of Washington's Kurdish allies, in addition to the displacement of tens of thousands of Civilians from their homes. "

Osam Yasseltas, a professor of political science at Texas A&M University, described the House decision on Armenians as a "further blow to Turkish-American relations," noting that he was optimistic that NATO membership, which brings Turkey and America together, would overcome differences and crises. Become pessimistic today.

He said that there is a public opinion against President Erdogan inside the United States, which is countered by an anti-American and Trump public opinion among the Turkish people.

"I cannot imagine that the Senate would take a similar step at this time," said Yasiltas. "But the idea of ​​freezing Turkey's membership in NATO because of the purchase of weapons from Russia in the Senate makes every possibility."

According to the political science professor, the current state of US-Turkish relations expresses primarily a "leadership crisis on both sides, not the basis of the two-state relations."