WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) supports bipartisan legislation proposed by United States Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) to sanction Turkey for invading northern Syria and attacking civilian areas with Turkish warplanes, just days after the United States withdrew its troops from the Syrian border with Turkey.
The Graham-Van Hollen Turkey Sanctions Bill puts restrictions on U.S. assets of Turkey’s President, Vice President, Minister of National Defense, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Treasury and Finance, Minister of Trade, and Minister of Energy and Natural Resources. The bill also sanctions military transactions with Turkey and the Turkish energy sector, prohibits U.S. military assistance, and implements visa restrictions upon Turkish authorities intending to travel to the United States.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s attack on northern Syria directly targets the Kurdish population and ethnic minorities in the region, including Armenians, Assyrians, Yazidis, and other vulnerable minority groups. The Syrian Democratic Forces, which is a coalition of Kurdish, Arab, Assyrian, Armenian, Syrian Turkoman, and Chechen militias, led by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), said: “They are all in threat of being ethnically cleansed, and this in turn will not lead to any political solutions.”
“The Armenian Assembly of America joins the legitimate concerns raised and is thoroughly committed to reversing President Donald Trump’s decision to leave America’s Kurdish allies and other ethnic minorities, including Armenians and Assyrians, in precarious conditions in northern Syria. Turkey’s attack against innocent civilians is all too familiar. Erdogan stated earlier this year that he believed the deportations that led to the 1915 Armenian Genocide to be ‘reasonable.’ He also considers the Republic of Turkey to be a continuation of the Ottoman Empire, which implemented the Armenian Genocide. Turkish authorities have never acknowledged their ancestors’ role in the Armenian Genocide, as the Germans have done, and are pursuing the same goals of land grabbing and ethnic cleansing in Syria,” Armenian Assembly of America Co-Chairs Anthony Barsamian and Van Krikorian said.
“We applaud this important bipartisan legislation proposed by Senators Graham and Van Hollen. Turkey is not acting as an ally of the United States. It has continued the genocidal policies of the Ottoman Empire and has been openly supporting ISIS. It is about time that the American government recognizes that Turkey is an unreliable ally,” the Armenian Assembly Co-Chairs added.
During his presidential campaign, President Trump called out Turkey for conducting business with ISIS. President Trump stated that the Turkish government “looks like they’re on the side of ISIS more or less based on the oil.”
“We witnessed Erdogan’s readiness to work with ISIS in 2014 when Turkey allowed ISIS militants to easily cross the Turkish-Syrian border and attack the Armenian village of Kessab in the Latakia region of Syria – all done with Turkey’s support. Turkey has no business in Syria, and is causing even more innocent Syrian citizens to flee for their lives. Armenia has welcomed more than 20,000 Syrian refugees, and continues to be a safe haven in the region. Just last week, the world’s largest Yazidi temple opened in Armenia, founded by refugees escaping violence in Syria. Armenia needs the United States’ support to continue helping these minority populations in northern Syria, especially the Christians who survived the Armenian Genocide at the beginning of the 20th century, and are themselves experiencing the same type of ethnic cleansing today from Turkey and ISIS,” Armenian Assembly Co-Chairs Barsamian and Krikorian concluded.
Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.