Turkey’s lobbying power in Washington diminished, experts say

The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee recently passed a resolution commemorating the Armenian genocide, clearing the way for the resolution to be voted on in the Senate, a sign of Turkey’s diminished lobbying power in the US capital.

A senior diplomat and expert on Turkish-American relations told Sunday’s Zaman that, if the resolution comes to the Senate floor, it will be adopted, “without a doubt.”

“Turkey has no weight in Washington. Not anymore,” said the diplomat, who asked not to be named. The diplomat also added that only five Republican Party members of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations had voted against the resolution. Of the 18-member committee, 12 voted for the resolution and one abstained during the voting on April 10. The resolution had been introduced to the committee by Democratic Senator Robert Menendez from New Jersey one week before its adoption.

It will be the decision of Senate majority leader Harry Reid to take the resolution onto the Senate’s agenda. In the past the US administration had interfered at the last minute by sending a letter from the White House and the US State Department to members of Congress and senators saying that passing a resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide would damage the Turkish-US relationship and harm US interests in the region.

Another expert who follows Turkish-American relations closely agreed that Turkey has lost its weight in Washington. Talking to Sunday’s Zaman, the expert, who wished to remain anonymous, pointed out that the resolution in the Senate committee had passed rather quickly when compared with past Armenian resolutions. Secondly, the expert emphasized the Turkish government’s relatively muted reaction to the resolution, with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu saying he did not think Obama would allow such a resolution to harm Turkish-American relations.

The resolution was not on the US Senate’s agenda on the last working day before the Easter recess, on Friday. The Senate will reconvene on April 28.

“It would be a mistake to think that after April 24 there is no risk of this resolution coming to the Senate floor,” the same expert warned.

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