In a bizarre move against basic human rights, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar abstained from a vote in the House to recognize the Armenian genocide.
On Tuesday, the House of Representatives approved two bills against Turkey. The first is a symbolic resolution recognizing the 1.5 million Armenians killed between 1915-1923 during the reign of the Ottoman Empire which passed 405-11. The second bill imposes sanctions against the NATO ally after Turkey’s latest offensive in Syria. Omar was the only Democrat to vote against the measure, which passed by a 403-16 margin.
Omar gave a bizarre justification to the media for her votes that read:
Omar’s office has sent this statement to CNN explaining her present vote: pic.twitter.com/Gpj198jx0p
— Haley Byrd (@byrdinator) October 29, 2019
However, her position on that front has been inconsistent elsewhere, which leads people to suspect that her dissenting vote has more to do with her allegiance to Turkey and its Islamist leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Ilhan Omar’s failure to vote for the Armenian Genocide recognition resolution has everything to do with her respect for Erdogan and his regime’s close ties with her native Somalia. See my article from March to make sense of it: https://t.co/aWBOifNukZ
— Jordan Schachtel (@JordanSchachtel) October 30, 2019
Omar’s relationship to Turkey has an interesting history. While still an assemblywoman before her run for Congress, Omar met privately with Turkish president Erdogan. Just last month, one of Erdogan’s closest allies met with Ilhan Omar and donated money to her campaign.
Erdogan has been vocal about his ambitions to leading a caliphate with Turkey as its center.
Ahead of the vote, Omar published an op-ed in The Washington Post condemning the use of sanctions altogether to motivate countries to change. Omar wrote, “too often, sanction regimes are ill considered, incoherent and counterproductive.” She then argued that sanctions just harm civilians “without making a dent in a country’s behavior.”
One could be tempted to take Congresswoman Ilhan Omar at face value if it weren’t for the fact that Omar is one of the most vocal supporters of the boycott, divest, sanction (BDS) movement against Israel.
Ilhan Omar’s vote refusing to recognize the Armenian genocide received pushback, including from Turkish NBA Star Enes Kanter.
Kanter and his family are victims of Erdogan’s campaign against Kanter’s family and an assassination plot aimed at the outspoken Boston Celtics player. Kanter’s provoked Erdogan by openly calling out human rights abuses and a climate of fear and authoritarian control that extends beyond Turkey’s borders.
What an absolute disappointment and shame that the only democrat who did NOT support the Turkish bill aiming to stop the killing of innocent people is @IlhanMN who seems like on #DictatorErdogan ‘s payroll working for his interests, but not for the American people and democracy!
— Enes Kanter (@EnesKanter) October 30, 2019
A constituent in Ilhan Omar’s district, veteran journalist Dalia Al-Aqidi also slammed Omar’s vote.
It was a massacre and a great human rights’ violation. Political goals? When it comes to a documented ethnic cleansing crime, it is a CRIME not to take a firm stance against it. What if we change the name from Turkey to Israel, would your reaction be the same? Just asking. https://t.co/za5Y8En0Vo
— Dalia al-Aqidi (@Dalia30) October 30, 2019
An Armenian American, who identified herself only as Rose, expressed betrayal and pity over Ilhan Omar when she heard the Somali American Congresswoman and refugee of war refused to recognize the horrific brutality inflicted upon another persecuted people.
“I felt angry, and I also felt sorry for her. Weren’t her people facing genocide too? I wonder what happened to her. I don’t think she’s assimilated. Just because you lived in another country doesn’t mean you have been exposed to different people and different ideas.”