Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Chairman Menendez Fail to Question the Nominee for U.S. Ambassador to Turkey about Terrorism

David Boyajian, October 28, 2021
Armenian Americans for Human Rights (AAHR) 

Several times this year, the U.S. State Department and Treasury Department have cited Turkey as a financial base for ISIS and al-Qaeda.

Turkey has long sponsored ISIS and other international terrorist organizations.  No serious analyst disputes this.

Turkey has armed, financed, and deployed terrorists in such locations as Syria, Libya, and Azerbaijan.

On September 28, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) and Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) quizzed President Biden’s nominee to be ambassador to Turkey, former U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ).  

The SFRC —and particularly Sen. Menendez —shocked observers by failing to ask Flake even a single question about Turkey’s sponsorship of terrorism.  

Since 2014, veteran State Department advisor Dr. David L. Phillips, Director of Columbia University’s Program on Peace-building and Rights, has thoroughly documentedTurkey’s backing of ISIS and other terrorist groups.

This year he wrote that if a “non-NATO country behaved like Turkey, it would warrant designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism,” like Iran and North Korea.

In 2014, Vice President Joe Biden told his Harvard University audience that Turkey and others had been giving “hundreds of millions of dollars [and] tons of weapons” to al-Qaeda, al-Nusra, and ISIS.

According to Turkey’s counterterrorism chief from 2010-2013, Ahmet S. Yayla, “Turkey was a central hub for … over 50,000 ISIS foreign fighters, and the main source of ISIS logistical materials [including] IEDs, making Turkey and ISIS practically allies.”

The United Nations, the European Union Parliament, and others have documented Turkey and Azerbaijan’s deployment of terrorists and terrorist mercenaries against the Armenian region of Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabagh last year.

In a July 21 SFRC hearing, Chairman Menendez asked Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland about “Turkey facilitating the transfer of fighters from Syria to Azerbaijan” in 2020. Nuland sneered that she would discuss it only “in another setting.”

Sen. Menendez has never revealed whether he subsequently met Nuland “in another setting” and, if so, what resulted.  Chairman Menendez’s lack of transparency is unacceptable.

AAHR concludes that the SFRC, Chairman Menendez, and ranking member Senator James E. Risch (R-ID) are engaged in covering up Turkey’s (and probably other countries’) terrorist activities.

The Senate, unfortunately, confirmed Mr. Flake on October 26 as ambassador to Turkey.

Turkey is, in effect, a State Sponsor of Terrorism.

For the SFRC and Chairman Menendez, therefore, to have not asked Flake even a single question about terrorism is an abdication of their duties and a betrayal of the American people, especially our courageous men and women in uniform.

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