United States: House of Representatives Recognizes "Armenian Genocide"

The vote is unpublished. On Tuesday, October 29, the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly recognized the "Armenian Genocide". A vote guaranteed to anger Turkey. This is the first time that such a resolution was put to a plenary vote of one of the congressional chambers in Washington.

Calling for "commemorate the Armenian Genocide", "to reject attempts (…) to associate the US Government with the denial of the Armenian Genocide" and to educate on these facts, this non-binding text was adopted by 405 votes out of 435, with a rare union between Democrats and Republicans, and eleven votes against. The result of the vote was welcomed by applause in the hemicycle.

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Nearly 1.5 million Armenians killed

The Armenian Genocide is recognized by thirty countries and the community of historians. According to estimates, between 1.2 million and 1.5 million Armenians were killed during the First World War by troops of the Ottoman Empire, then allied to Germany and Austria-Hungary. But Turkey refuses the use of the term "genocide", evoking reciprocal massacres in the midst of civil war and famine that have left hundreds of thousands dead on both sides.

In April 2017, shortly after his arrival at the White House, Donald Trump called the Armenian massacre in 1915 "one of the worst mass atrocities of the twentieth century", while avoiding to use the term "genocide". Ankara then expressed its anger over Turkey, denouncing the "misinformation" and "bad definitions" of the US president. Before being elected in 2008, his predecessor, Barack Obama, promised to recognize genocide, a term he never used as president.

Read also Armenian Genocide: April 24th will become National Day of Remembrance

Strong turbulence

This vote comes as the relations between the United States and Turkey, allied within NATO, have just crossed a new zone of strong turbulence. President Trump left the field open to a Turkish offensive in Syria against Kurdish fighters, allied to Washington as well, by withdrawing US forces from the north of the country in early October.

This decision sparked an uproar within the American political class, even in the Republican camp of the tenant of the White House, whose elected officials threatened to impose sanctions "infernal" on Turkey and its leaders. In the face of pressure, the US government itself announced more modest punitive measures before lifting them in favor of a ceasefire negotiated with Ankara.

In the wake of the vote on the Armenian genocide, the House of Representatives also adopted almost unanimously Tuesday a text providing for sanctions against Turkish officials in connection with the offensive in Syria. But it still needs to be approved by the Senate to become effective.

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