WASHINGTON, DC – The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) continues to press the Obama Administration for straight answers about Turkey’s role in a March 21st cross-border attack by extremists that depopulated the historically Armenian town of Kessab, Syria.
In an exchange of letters with the Department of State, ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian has stressed that Armenian Americans remain “very troubled by the Administration’s continued reluctance to provide a simple answer to a straightforward question: ‘Is it the considered judgment of the U.S. government that the Republic of Turkey aided, abetted, facilitated, or otherwise played a role in the March 21st attack on Kessab?'”
The ANCA’s May 15th letter, addressed to Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, noted that: “As Americans, citizens of a nation bound to Turkey by our NATO treaty obligations, we deserve to know if this U.S. ally has conspired with extremists – officially designated by our government as terrorists – in a cross-border attack against a peaceful population. If our government’s investigation has found that Turkey played no role in this attack, the Administration should make this view known, challenging widespread media accounts of Ankara’s complicity. If, however, our government’s investigation has confirmed a Turkish role, the Administration should forcefully and publicly confront Turkey for conspiring with an al Qaeda-linked group to drive thousands of civilians from their homes. In either case, we ask the Administration to cooperate with all relevant Congressional investigations.” Congressman Brad Sherman has played a pivotal role in ensuring that Members of Congress have been briefed by Administration officials concerning the attack on Kessab.
In a May 2nd State Department letter to the ANCA, which came in response to an ANCA meeting with Administration officials following the March attack, Assistant Secretary Nuland commented indirectly about Turkey, noting that: “We have reminded Turkey of its responsibilities for protecting civilian populations along the border and for ensuring that armed groups are not able to use Turkish territory for actions against civilians.” Despite extensive evidence of Ankara’s facilitation of this assault, Assistant Secretary Nuland passed along the Turkish government’s denial, without any critical commentary: “Turkish authorities have stated that they had no involvement in the displacement of the population of Kessab and did not allow armed groups to cross the border into Syria.” In this letter, Assistant Secretary Nuland underscored the U.S. government’s position regarding “the importance of ensuring that Armenian Christians can continue to live and flourish in the land of their ancestors, and we understand that the situation in Kessab is particularly fraught.”