ANKARA, Turkey – Turkey, which is a key supply route to U.S. troops in Iraq, recalled its ambassador to Washington on Thursday and warned of serious repercussions if Congress labels the killing of Armenians by Turks a century ago as genocide.
Ordered after a House committee endorsed the genocide measure, the summons of the ambassador for consultations was a further sign of the deteriorating relations between two longtime allies and the potential for new turmoil in an already troubled region.
Egeman Bagis, an aide to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, told Turkish media that Turkey – a conduit for many of the supplies shipped to American bases in Iraq and Afghanistan – might have to “cut logistical support to the U.S.”
Analysts also have speculated the resolution could make Turkey more inclined to send troops into northern Iraq to hunt Turkish Kurd rebels, a move opposed by the U.S. because it would disrupt one of the few relatively stable and peaceful Iraqi areas.
“There are steps that we will take,” Turkey’s prime minister told reporters, without elaboration. It also wasn’t clear if he meant his government would act immediately or wait to see what happens to the resolution in Congress.
He declined to answer questions about whether Turkey might shut down Incirlik air base in southern Turkey, a major cargo hub for U.S. and allied military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Turkey’s Mediterranean port of Iskenderun is also used to ferry goods to American troops.
“You don’t talk about such things, you just do them,” Erdogan said.
The measure before Congress is just a nonbinding resolution without the force of law, but the debate has incensed Turkey’s government.
But while the threat of repercussions against the U.S. is appealing for many Turks, the country’s leaders know such a move could hurt Turkey’s standing as a reliable ally of the West and its ambitions to be a mediator on the international stage.