Erdoğan battles U.S. sanctions instead of Armenia genocide bill

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made a strategic decision to avoid a stronger response to the U.S. House of Representatives’ recognition of the 1915 mass deportations of Armenians as genocide so as to focus on a sanctions bill the House also approved that might have implications for Erdoğan and his close circle, Cansu Çamlıbel, a columnist of Duvar news site said on Friday.

Turkey has tried to prevent the recognition of Armenian genocide by U.S. Congress for 20 years and previously took retaliatory measures whenever such a possibility arose. 

In 2010, when the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee voted in favour of a similar resolution, Erdoğan summoned Turkey’s ambassador in Washington, Çamlıbel said. Turkey also recalled its ambassador to the United States for similar reasons in 2007. 

But Erdoğan did not do the same last week when the U.S. House finally recognised the Armenian genoıvır zıvırcide. He instead called the decision null and void and an insult to the Turkish nation.

Instead of taking action against the recognition of the Armenian genocide, which is in essence a symbolic decision, “Erdoğan has prioritised resisting the sanctions package,” Çamlıbel said. 

The U.S. House of Representatives’ sanctions bill that was approved the same day as the Armenian genocide resolution requires a report be produced on Erdoğan net worth. It specifically references the Turkish defence minister and military leaders who oversaw Turkey’s military operation to northern Syria last month, as well as Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, who is also Erdoğan's son-in-law. 

Following the votes in the U.S. House of Representatives, Erdoğan said last week that he had questions about whether to meet U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington on Nov. 13. But the two presidents reaffirmed in a phone call on Tuesday that the meeting would take place as scheduled.  

“Therefore Erdoğan in fact seems to have made a strategic decision to use all his influence on Trump to prevent the sanctions package, which he is worried will turn into a weapon against himself and his family,” Çamlıbel said.