Washington briefing: Pro-Turkey member of Congress resigns to deal with Middle East peace

by Emil Sanamyan

Published: Saturday October 17, 2009

Rep. Wexler during July 2008 book signing. Yelena Osipova / Armenian Reporter

Washington - Rep. Robert Wexler (D.-Fla.), a key supporter of Turkey in Congress, said he will resign his seat in January, a year before completing his seventh term in the House of Representatives.

Mr. Wexler, who is also known as a strong advocate of Israel, said in an October 14 statement that he will instead become president of the little-known Center for Middle East Peace. The center was founded by Slim-Fast diet foods magnate S. Daniel Abraham in 1989.

During last year's presidential campaign, Mr. Wexler was an early and active supporter of Barack Obama's campaign. Commentators have speculated he may play a role in the administration's efforts to address the Arab-Israeli conflict or that his resignation may be financially motivated. Mr. Wexler denied he would take a lobbying job.

A senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Mr. Wexler is the founding co-chair of the Turkey Caucus in 2001 (which counted 94 members as of last month), has made at least eight trips to Turkey, and takes pride in close relationships he developed with leaders in Ankara.

"My wife jokes I could run for Prime Minister of Turkey," he wrote in his book Fire-breathing Liberal, published last year. His resignation statement made no mention of Turkey, however.

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