Hours after challenging Turkish President Recep Erdogan over the treatment of Syrian Kurds, Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) blocked a resolution that would have formally recognized the Armenian genocide.
Graham argued that the Senate should not “sugarcoat history or try to rewrite it,” and said that he was objecting to the resolution, which was proposed by Robert Menendez (D., N.J.), “not because of the past but because of the future.”
“I just met with President Erdogan and President Trump about the problems we face in Syria by the military incursion by Turkey. I do hope that Turkey and Armenia can come together and deal with this problem,” Graham said on the Senate floor.
Last month, the House voted to pass the resolution 405-11 in the wake of escalating tensions in U.S.-Turkey relations over the handling of Turkey’s invasion of northeast Syria. Representative Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) made headlines for refusing to vote, saying at the time that “accountability and recognition of genocide should not be used as a cudgel in a political fight.” A day later, news broke that Omar had taken campaign donations from a group with ties to Erdogan.
Eleven House Republicans also opposed the resolution. Representative Mark Meadows (R., N.C.), in explaining his “nay” vote, acknowledged the reality of “the genocide of Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks, and others at the hands of the Ottoman Empire,” but he went on to argue that formally recognizing this historical episode might jeopardize American troops.
“Because of potential retaliation that could endanger our allies and troops in the immediate future, it was troubling to see this vote come as the U.S. just worked out an agreement for a ceasefire and safe zone in Syria,” Meadows said. Meadows also voted for a bill imposing sanctions on Turkey in response to their incursion into northeastern Syrian the same day as the Armenian-genocide resolution.