House Democrats Call For ‘Urgent Review Of Our Relations With Turkey’ After ‘Confrontation’ With Israel

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"House Democrats Call For ‘Urgent Review Of Our Relations With Turkey’ After ‘Confrontation’ With Israel"

Rep. Engel, a Democratic leader of Congressional anti-Turkish campaign

A bipartisan group of senators sent a letter to President Obama in September asking him to “mount a diplomatic offensive” against Turkey in the aftermath of souring Israeli-Turkish relations last summer. Now House Democrats are throwing their weight behind the anti-Turkey campaign. A round-up of weekly news from Americans for Peace Now highlights two Democratic-led efforts to re-evaluate the U.S. relationship with Turkey, long since a close U.S. ally and partner in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

The first is a letter from seven congressional Democrats to Obama calling for an “an urgent review of our relations with Turkey”:

It is our hope that an intensified and frank dialogue with Turkey can convince Ankara to deescalate some of its rhetoric and roll-back its increasingly destabilizing policies. However, if that cannot be achieved, we look forward to working with your Administration to review the changed environment and develop an approach which better suits the situation.

Spearheaded by Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and signed by Democratic Reps. Howard Berman (CA), Nita Lowey (NY), Shelley Berkley (NV), Brad Sherman (CA), Steve Israel (NY), and Adam Schiff (CA), the letter — in language reminiscent of Islamophobic attempts to portray Turkey as in the U.S.’s “enemy camp” — decries Turkish “confrontation with our closest friends and allies.”

Following up on the letter, Engel and Berkeley introduced legislation that would block a proposed $111 million sale of helicopters and support equipment to Turkey. A release from Engel’s office helpfully explains that during a 15-day notification period, Congress can try to pass legislation blocking arms sales. “The resolution introduced by Berkley and Engel would prohibit this sale,” the release said.

The lawmakers justified the block with the same rhetoric as the letter. “The U.S. should be busy raising these very serious concerns with Turkey, rather than selling arms to them,” they said in the release.

After a hyperventilating neoconservative proclaimed last week that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was an “enemy” of the U.S., Foreign Policy’s Dan Drezner pointed out that Turkey bankrolled the U.S.-supported Libyan revolution and is “now creating an enclave for the Free Syrian Army.” He didn’t mention that Turkey also recently agreed to host a radar for a U.S. missile defense system designed as a bulwark against Iran (which criticized the move). Drezner went on:

Erdogan has clearly made life difficult for another ally — Israel. On the other hand, lots of America’s allies make life difficult for other American allies (see: Gibraltar).

Turkey’s relations with Israel went south after unheeded Turkish complaints about the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip, and collapsed completely after nine Turks and an American were killed by Israeli forces on a humanitarian flotilla to the besieged Palestinian territory.

“If other countries disagree with Israel,” asks Drezner to conclude his post, “does that mean… that they no longer qualify as either friend or ally? Are there any other of America’s friends that fall into this super-special status? I really want to know.”

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