The House voted resoundingly Tuesday to recognize the Ottoman empire’s genocide against Armenians more than a century ago, against intense protests from the Turkish government.
The resolution states it is U.S. policy to officially recognize the genocide, in which 1.5 million Armenians were killed between 1915 and 1923.
A similar vote has not been held since 1984, thanks in large part to Ankara’s heavy lobbying campaign in the U.S. Turkey, a member of NATO, has long disputed the use of the term “genocide” to describe the deaths of Armenians.
The Turkish government has paid millions to U.S. lobbyists to prevent passage of a genocide resolution. Former Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt, a Democrat, and former Georgia Rep. Bob Livingston, a Republican, are two of Ankara’s most prominent lobbyists on the issue. (RELATED: Turkey Launches Military Strike In Syria)
Recent tensions between the U.S. and Turkey, both members of NATO, helped pave the way for Tuesday’s vote. Democrats scheduled the vote after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered military strikes in Syria earlier in October against Kurdish forces who have fought with the U.S. against the Islamic State.
The Turkish government considers Syria’s Kurds to be terrorists.
“I think some of us are a little bit annoyed with Turkey, and we want them to know how much annoyed we are,” New York Rep. Eliot Engel, the Democratic chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, told NPR.
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