Turkey summons US envoy over Armenian genocide vote

People demonstrate outside the US embassy, on December 13, 2019 in Ankara, one day after US congress formally recognized the 1915-1917 murder of up to 1.5 million Armenians as genocide. (AFP)
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Updated 13 December 2019

Turkey summons US envoy over Armenian genocide vote

  • Armenia claims 1.5 million died in the killings
  • US is now in line with 30 other countries in recognizing Armenia’s claim of genocide

ISTANBUL: Turkey summoned the US ambassador on Friday after the US Senate voted to recognize the 1915 killings of Armenians as genocide.

Deputy foreign minister Sedat Onal delivered the government’s reaction to envoy David Satterfield, said the foreign ministry, after Turkish officials warned that the vote endangered relations.

American senators followed the House of Representatives in voting to recognize the killings of Armenians during the First World War as genocide, for which the Ottoman Empire — the forerunner of modern-day Turkey — bore responsibility.

Armenia claims 1.5 million died in the killings. Turkey says the number of deaths was far lower and Turks also died, blaming the killings on the First World War.

The US is now in line with 30 other countries in recognizing Armenia’s claim of genocide.

A US embassy spokesman in Ankara however told AFP that the Senate vote had not changed the administration’s position, pointing out that US President Donald Trump had stopped short of calling the killings genocide earlier this year.

The Congress resolution had been blocked several times by allies of Trump, who has sought a close relationship with NATO ally Turkey and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

During a meeting in Washington last month, Trump said he was a “big fan” of Erdogan despite opposition from many in the Congress to the red-carpet welcome.


Successor to slain Iran general faces same fate if he kills Americans: US envoy

Updated 23 January 2020

Successor to slain Iran general faces same fate if he kills Americans: US envoy

  • Washington blamed Soleimani for masterminding attacks by Iran-aligned militias against US forces in the region
  • Ghaani promised to “continue in this luminous path” taken by Soleimani and said the goal was to drive US forces out of the region

DUBAI: The US special representative for Iran said the successor to Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a US drone strike, would suffer the same fate if he followed a similar path of killing Americans, Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported.

Washington blamed Soleimani for masterminding attacks by Iran-aligned militias against US forces in the region. US President Donald Trump ordered the Jan. 3 drone strike in Iraq after a build up of tension over Iran’s nuclear program.

Iran responded to the killing of Soleimani, who was charged with expanding Tehran’s influence across the Middle East, by launching missile strikes on US targets in Iraq, although no US soldiers were killed.

After Soleimani’s death, Tehran swiftly appointed Esmail Ghaani as the new head of the Quds Force, an elite unit in the Revolutionary Guards that handles actions abroad. The new commander pledged to pursue Soleimani’s course.

“If (Esmail) Ghaani follows the same path of killing Americans then he will meet the same fate,” Brian Hook told the Arabic-language daily Asharq Al-Awsat.

He said in the interview in Davos that US President Donald Trump had long made it clear “that any attack on Americans or American interests would be met with a decisive response.”

“This isn’t a new threat. The president has always said that he will always respond decisively to protect American interests,” Hook said. “I think the Iranian regime understands now that they cannot attack America and get away with it.”

After his appointment, Ghaani promised to “continue in this luminous path” taken by Soleimani and said the goal was to drive US forces out of the region, which has long been Iran’s stated policy.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran have steadily increased since Trump withdrew from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers in 2018 and imposed tough news sanctions that have hammered the Iranian economy.

This month’s military flare-up began in December when rockets fired at US bases in Iraq killed a US contractor. Washington blamed pro-Iran militia and launched air strikes that killed at least 25 fighters. After the militia surrounded the US embassy in Baghdad for two days, Trump ordered the drone strike on Soleimani.