As a candidate, Barack Obama promised to declare the slaughter of more than a million Armenians in the final years of the Ottoman Empire a genocide but failed to do so as president. President Biden made the same promise on the campaign trail, and sources tell the New York Times and CNN that he plans to keep it. The Times' sources say Biden plans to make the announcement on Saturday, when Armenians worldwide will mark the 106th anniversary of the beginning of a series of massacres and forced marches that killed an estimated 1.5 million Armenians, mostly in what is now Turkey. Measures recognizing the 1915-1923 killings as genocide passed the Senate unanimously and the House by a 405-11 vote in 2019.
If Biden does use the word genocide, it will be certain to anger Turkey, which maintains that the killings were not genocide and estimates the number of deaths at 300,000. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said this week that "if the United States wants to worsen ties, the decision is theirs." Insiders say that while Biden might still change his mind before Saturday's declaration, he has apparently decided that demonstrating America's commitment to human rights is worth potentially damaging ties with Turkey. Dozens of other countries, most of them in Europe, have already declared that what happened was genocide. (Read more Armenian genocide stories.)