GeriGündem Iraq to be more decisive in Turkey-U.S. relations under Barack Obama
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Iraq to be more decisive in Turkey-U.S. relations under Barack Obama

Iraq to be more decisive in Turkey-U.S. relations under Barack Obama
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U.S. president-elect Barack Obama's Iraq policy is likely to be the main issue that would shape the future of Turkish-American relations despite concerns over a problematic period over his stance on the Armenian genocide claims.

Obama has pledged that he would accept as "genocide", the 1915 incidents in which 300,000 Armenians along with at least as many Turks died in civil strife that emerged when Russian-backed Armenians took up arms for independence in eastern Anatolia.


Armenia, with the backing of the diaspora, claims up to 1.5 million of their kin were slaughtered in orchestrated killings in 1915.


While Armenians extended their support to Obama against his rival, Republican contender John McCain, Ankara is concerned that a move to identify the 1915 incidents as "genocide" would create a crisis in the bilateral relations.


However, such a scenario is increasingly unlikely. Obama would not be the first president to use the term of "genocide" to describe the 1915 incidents, but not go as far as to officially accept it.



There are several reasons for that:


First of all if we look at the recent remarks or statements of U.S. government officials, we see that they have been stressing the principle of continuity in Washington after the presidential elections.


They also underline the need for Turkey's support to American policies given the fact that Turkey had secured a seat on the United Nations Security Council.


Secondly, the ties between Turkey and Armenia are improving after Turkish President Abdullah Gul paid a visit to Yerevan, a move welcomed by the international community.


Any decision of the U.S. to accept the Armenian genocide claims would no doubt harm this warmer atmosphere and the Washington administration would hesitate to do that no matter who lives in the White House.


Thirdly, and possibly most importantly, Obama pledged to bring American troops in Iraq home. And the U.S. needs a Turkey with good relations to prevent any chaos that might spark in Iraq and in the wider region.



The main issue therefore shaping the relations between the two allies would be Iraq, not the Armenian claims as many have speculated.


Obama has pledged to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq, outlining a three-step plan for his Iraq policy.


The removal of troops will be responsible and phased and he will press Iraq's leaders to take responsibility for their future and to substantially spend oil revenues on their own reconstruction. He will launch an aggressive diplomatic effort to reach a comprehensive compact on the stability of Iraq and the region, according to his campaign website.


The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq has the risk of increased instability unless managed correctly.


Such move could also hamper Turkey's fight to crackdown on the terror organization, PKK, which is based in northern Iraq.


As a result, for the new president it would not be easy to change U.S. policy on a highly sensitive issue like the Armenian claims, but a change in its Iraq policy would have wider repercussions in Turkey.


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