November 5, 2010, Today's Zaman - The Washington-based Turkish Coalition of America (TCA) has urged the Senate to immediately approve US President Barack Obama's nominees for ambassador to Turkey and Azerbaijan, Francis Ricciardone and Matthew Bryza, claiming the vacant posts in both countries pose a risk to US interests.
In an article published Tuesday in The Hill, TCA President G. Lincoln McCurdy called on the Senate to approve the ambassador-designates, Ricciardone and Bryza, whose confirmation was put on hold earlier this summer, defining the two countries as significant US partners in a wide range of issues.
“Turkey is a significant political and economic actor that has played a crucial role in the Middle East, the Caucasus, Central Asia and Europe in the last decade. The country is a valuable ally to the US and NATO in maintaining peace and stability as we deal with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, aggressive rhetoric from Iran, and the omnipresent threat of international terrorism,” said the head of the TCA, which defines itself as an educational charitable organization working to educate the US public about Turkish-Americans and Turkey and to promote the interests of Turkish-Americans.
Republican Senator Sam Brownback put the confirmation of Ricciardone on hold in August, claiming that he would be too soft in dealing with the Turkish government at a time when the current Turkish government is strengthening ties with the Iranian regime and distancing itself from Israel, in contrast to American interests in the region. The US ambassadorial position in Ankara has been empty since July of this year.
“When Congress returns for the lame duck session in November, the Senate must resolve this impasse,” McCurdy said, adding that this absence comes at a particularly unfortunate time as the US deals with pressing issues that affect not only the US-Turkey partnership, but also regional peace and stability. “Leaving this position unfilled is sending the wrong message to Turkey,” he noted.
It is not yet clear if Brownback will release his hold on the nomination when he comes back from recess after November's mid-term elections.
Victory for US Armenian group
Meanwhile, the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), which is believed to play a key role in lobbying Senators to place the ambassadors' confirmation on hold, said in a press release following the US mid-term elections on Nov. 2 that over 90 percent of the congressional candidates backed by the organization prevailed in the elections.
“We join with Armenian-Americans from across the country in congratulating the winners of these elections from both parties, and look forward to working constructively with the new members and leaders of Congress,” ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian said, adding that ANCA is especially proud of its community's pivotal role in the outcome of several key races -- including Mark Kirk's victory in Illinois, Barbara Boxer's win in California, Harry Reid's triumph in Nevada, and Mike Grimm's defeat of Representative Michael McMahon.
On the House side, ANCA said, the organization endorsed 158 candidates in 31 states. “Of this total, 152 were incumbents, of which, only nine were reported to have lost their re-election bids, with two races still pending. Each of the six non-incumbents endorsed and backed by the ANCA won their elections,” ANCA stated.
Meanwhile, the Turkish Coalition USA Political Action Committee (TC-USA PAC) announced that two Turkish-Americans out of five candidates the committee endorsed won in their constituencies. Jay Karahan was re-elected as presiding judge of Harris County Criminal Court-at-Law No. 8 in Texas, and John Alpay was elected as a governing board member of the Capistrano Unified School Board.
In addition, Democrat Rep. Michael McMahon, known for his pro-Turkey stance, lost his bid for re-election from New York City to the US House of Representatives to Michael Grimm, who was heavily supported by the Armenian lobby and ANCA.