The impact of midterm elections upon Turkey and the Turkish community
ALİ ÇINARThe impact of U.S. midterm elections is still under discussion. While Democrats are in sorrow and bewilderment, the victorious rejoicing of the Republicans continues in every state. It has also been suggested that with this success, the Republicans will be even more motivated for the year 2016.
The Republicans will be represented in the Senate with 52 seats to the Democrats’ 45, while the former will also hold 243 congressional seats to the Democrats’ 178.
But what do the midterm elections mean for Turkey and the Turkish-American community?
Many sectors in Turkey state that it is a good sign that the Republicans have won a majority in the Senate and Congress. U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner said both during a visit to Turkey and in meetings with representatives of the Turkish-American community that they would not bring the so-called Armenian Genocide bill to the agenda in 2015.
When we look at the Senate, Robert Menendez, the chairman of the American Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, will leave his seat to Senator Bob Corker, who is a friend to Turks, in January. The grade given to Senator Bob Corker in the report card issued by the Armenian umbrella organization ANCA is a C, and he has never previously supported any drafts that were against Turkish interests.
Another point to mention is the issue of the Middle East. One of the most important Republican senators, John McCain, and many of his colleagues have made statements supporting the opinions and strategies of Turkey regarding Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. The Republicans are also stating that they will be applying pressure for a sharper and stronger strategy due to the unclear strategy of President Barack Obama on the subjects of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Syria.
However, I must also say this: It is also being said that the Republicans are closer to Israel and the tension in Turkish-Israeli relations will cause a backlash in Washington.
If we look at the midterm elections from the perspective of the Turkish-American Community, we can see that in many states where interest was very high, campaigning was conducted for candidates that are friends of Turkey.
Indeed, I cannot move on without saying that Turkish lobbying activities have improved in the last five years and that the number of members in the Turkish Caucus Group in the American Congress has increased to 148. Even if this number has fallen to 130 as a result of those who retired after the elections, or failed to win back their seats, endeavors are already underway for this number to be increased to 150 in the 2015 term.
As Turkish-American leaders begin to send letters of congratulations to candidates re-elected to local and federal administrations following the midterm elections, we can say that visits for new members to join the Turkish Friendship group will begin after mid-January.
2015 will be a busy year for Turkish-American relations. Whatever the case may be, Turkey and the U.S. shares common interests in many issues, and it would be wrong to expect that there would be a serious crisis due to the delicate balance with whichever party gains the majority vote.
In this sense, let’s not forget that the Turkish-American community will continue to be in a close relationship with both parties’ representatives and that they will work even more seriously to prevent any unpleasant surprises.
*Ali Çınar is the president of the Turkish-American Leadership Council.