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ARAB-US RELATIONS - Oct 14 - Turkey-US Military Ties Under Threat.

Turkey's most senior general General Yashar Buyukanit warns that military ties with the US will be severely damaged if the House of Representatives adopted a resolution labelling the massacre of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide. The warning comes amid signs that relations between Washington and Ankara are starting to unravel. General Yashar Buyukanit told Milliyet newspaper that the US had "shot itself in the foot" in its handling of the Armenian resolution, adopted by a House committee last week, and by failing to clamp down on the PKK Kurdish separatist movement in northern Iraq, which Turkey blames for the killings of at least 30 Turkish soldiers and civilians in the past two weeks. In comments broadcast on Oct 14, Nancy Pelosi, US House speaker, reaffirmed that she intended to take the measure to a vote in the full House after its approval last week by the Foreign Affairs Committee. However, she declined to say whether she would press ahead if the US president Bush, told her that the issue could endanger US troops. "The president hasn't called me on it, so that's hypothetical", she said. The non-binding bill calls on Bush to "accurately characterise the systematic and deliberate annihilation of 1.5m Armenians as genocide". The US and Turkey, which have the two largest armies in Nato, have been close military allies since the 1950s, and military co-operation forms the basis of their diplomatic relations. Diplomats said any weakening of the military dimension to the relationship would have long-term repercussions for political and economic ties. "If this resolution that was passed in the committee also passes in the House, our military ties with the US can never be the same again", Gen Buyukanit said in the interview, which was published yesterday. His comments were the first by Turkey's influential military on the furore sparked by the Armenian genocide resolution and by Ankara's threat to stage an incursion into northern Iraq to crush the PKK. The Turkish parliament is expected this week to approve such an operation, amid growing public and military pressure on the government to address forcefully the terrorism issue.
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Date:Oct 20, 2007
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