For the third time, Senate Republicans have blocked a resolution recognizing and condemning the Armenian genocide. This time it was Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) who did the honors.

Cramer (R-N.D.) said he supports the bill, but doesn’t “think this is the right time” for it to be passed, citing diplomatic tensions between Turkey and the United States. He said he was acting on a request of the White House.

A resolution regarding the recognition of the century-old Armenian genocide was introduced by Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar in October and passed with only 11 “no” votes. Since then, it has been sent to the Senate three times, only to be stonewalled by the Republicans.

Rep. Lindsey Graham, who earlier blocked the resolution, also cited a request of the Trump administration.

While the official recognition of the Armenian genocide by the U.S. government would be symbolic in nature, to call it controversial within Turkey would be an understatement. The Armenian genocide refers to the systematic expulsion and extermination of individuals of Armenian ethnicity living in the Ottoman Empire beginning in 1915. Estimates say at least 1.5 million people were victims of this purge over two years.

Even though the Ottoman Empire has since dissolved, modern Turkish leadership has since been adamantly against recognition of the mass atrocities committed by its predecessor a century ago.

Congressional Republicans’ hesitation to approve of a resolution recognizing these crimes is largely based on a desire to avoid antagonizing the Turkish government and, in particular, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Relations between the United States and Turkey have been flagging in recent times, especially when the U.S. reduces its military’s role in Syria.

Earlier this year, President Trump ordered the withdrawal of U.S. troops from northern Syria, near the Turkish border, which precipitated a swift military incursion of Turkish troops into the area.

Trump's critics said this sudden removal of forces was a betrayal of local, largely Kurdish, militias which had allied with the U.S. military in their joint fight against the Islamic State group.

The latest lobbying in the Senate to avoid embarrassing the Turkish government emphasizes the Trump administration's desire to be in good standing with Erdogan. In October, Trump sent a letter directly to Erdogan, following the announcement of troop withdrawal from northern Syria, in which he asked the Turkish president to not “be a fool.”

US President Donald Trump met with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday and said he was too busy to watch the impeachment hearings US President Donald Trump met with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday and said he was too busy to watch the impeachment hearings Photo: AFP / JIM WATSON