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The New Arab Staff

US President Biden 'to officially recognise Armenian genocide'

Previous presidents have refrained from formerly recognising the genocide [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 March, 2021

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Joe Biden will reportedly be the first US president to officially denote the actions of the former Ottoman Empire in the First World War as genocide.
Joe Biden will officially "recognise the Armenian genocide", according to sources who spoke to Ian Bremmer for US-based outlet GZero Media, making him the first US president to do so.

White House sources told Bremmer that Biden will recognise the actions in 1915 of the former Ottoman Empire against the Armenian population in Turkey as genocide, following up on a campaign promise.

Previous US presidents have used the word "genocide" to describe the killings, but have stopped short of officially recognising the horrific events as one.

Starting in 1915, millions of Armenians were sent on forced death marches into the Syrian desert. Between 800,000 and 1.2 million Armenians died due to starvation, exhaustion, or in massacres committed by armed groups. To this day, the modern Turkish state refuses to recognise what happened as genocide. 

"As I've heard from the White House, that President Biden is going to recognise the 1915 killing of Armenians under the Ottomans' rule as a genocide," said political scientists Bremmer.

"Biden promised during his campaign that he would make the move if elected," he added.

According to Bremmer, Biden's choices for top positions is a clear indicator of his intentions. 

"And with Tony Blinken now as secretary of state, human rights is clearly much higher on Biden's foreign policy agenda than it was under Obama, or obviously than it was under Trump," he wrote.

A similar promise was made by former president Barack Obama, but according to Ben Rhodes, former deputy national security adviser in the Obama administration, the climate at the time did not allow for such a declaration.  

"Turkey was vital to some issue that we were dealing with," Rhodes told the podcast 'Pod Save the World' in 2018.

Also speaking to the podcast at the time, Samantha Power, Obama's ambassador to the United Nations, expressed deep regret. 

"I'm sorry that we disappointed so many Armenian Americans," she said. 

In October 2019, a resolution in the House of Representatives passed in favour of recognising the genocide, but was later blocked by Donald Trump's administration.

Read more: How the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict could spiral into a proxy war

Last week, a bipartisan coalition of US lawmakers, led by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez, wrote to Biden urging him to recognise the killings as genocide. 

"Administrations of both parties have been silent on the truth of the Armenian Genocide. We urge you to break this pattern of complicity by officially recognising that the Armenian Genocide was a genocide," they wrote in the letter.

Relations between Biden and Turkish president Erdogan have become increasingly strained lately.

Following Biden's comments that he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin to be a "killer", Erdogan said that it was unacceptable for Biden to talk about "his friend" in such a manner. 

According to Bremmer, Biden and Erdogan have yet to speak on the phone, "despite repeated requests".

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