President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey lashed out on Wednesday against the recognition and denunciation of the Armenian genocide by American lawmakers, deepening a rift between Turkey and the United States.
“We do not recognize this step, this decision you have taken,” Mr. Erdogan said in a speech in Ankara, at a meeting of lawmakers from his party. “The countries who have stains of genocide, slavery, colonialism in their history have no right to give lessons to Turkey.”
Mr. Erdogan was speaking a day after the House of Representatives designated as a genocide the 1915 killings of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, the precursor to the Republic of Turkey.
The American ambassador to Turkey, David Satterfield, was summoned by the Turkish government to explain the decision, which came on the same day that the House voted to impose harsh sanctions on Turkey over its military assault on the Kurds in northern Syria. Mr. Erdogan’s communications director, Fahrettin Altun, described the sanctions bill as a “direct contradiction to the spirit of a strategic alliance.”
For years, American lawmakers avoided officially describing the Armenian deaths as a genocide, wary of angering Turkey, a NATO ally that has never acknowledged the full extent of the massacres. Mr. Erdogan usually refers only to “deportations” and “events,” which he once said were “reasonable” for the period.
The House’s decision, by a 405-to-11 vote, to reverse its decades-old stance reflects the extent of bipartisan anger at Turkish foreign policy, particularly since Turkish forces began an offensive in northeastern Syria against Kurdish-led forces that had partnered with the United States military in fighting the Islamic State.
Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers were already frustrated with Mr. Erdogan’s government, which is growing closer to Russia and has arrested several American citizens and employees in recent years, including a pastor.
The Turkish administration has in turn grown steadily angrier at American support for Syrian Kurdish fighters whom it regards as a threat to Turkey’s national security. Mr. Erdogan is also furious that the United States refuses to extradite Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric living in Pennsylvania whom the Turkish leader says is behind a failed coup attempt in 2016.
American-Turkish relations have been further strained by the recent indictment in New York of a Turkish state-owned bank that American prosecutors accuse of helping Iran to circumvent United States sanctions. Mr. Erdogan is himself accused in the court documents of involvement in the scheme.
In his speech on Wednesday, Mr. Erdogan suggested that the House vote was a political decision rather than the outcome of a sincerely held belief. “In a sense, it was profiteering,” he said.
The Turkish president also hinted that he was planning an operation targeting the leader of the Syrian Kurdish militia that worked with the United States against the Islamic State, Mazlum Kobani.
“Some countries eliminate terrorists whom they consider as a threat to their national security, wherever they are,” Mr. Erdogan said. “Therefore this means those countries accept that Turkey has the same right. This includes the terrorists they shake hands with and praised.”
Since 2014, Mr. Erdogan has watched with loathing as Mr. Kobani’s militia harnessed the chaos of the Syrian conflict to carve out an autonomous area along the Turkish-Syrian border, under the protection of the United States.
Turkish officials consider the militia a terrorist organization because it is an offshoot of a guerrilla movement that has waged a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state.
The withdrawal of American troops from the border early this month gave Turkey the opportunity to invade Kurdish-held territory in northern Syria. That forced the Kurdish leadership to turn to the Syrian government and its Russian backers for support, and to retreat from the border.
After an agreement between Turkey and Russia, a buffer zone has since been established along the border, patrolled by Turkish, Russian and Syrian government troops.