Astarjian: A Geopolitical Trisomy

A tripartite genetic chromosomal derangement otherwise known as Down Syndrome accurately describes the geopolitical entities at play in the Armenian reality today. Armenia, Turkey, and the Armenian Diaspora, separately and in combination, have occupied the political position of Chromosome 21 in the geopolitical cell forming the Trisomy. Their policies are characterized by ineptitude, incompetence, political impotence, and behavior-character disorder.

This being the reality, neither party is capable of taking a decisive step to establish and propel relationships forward.

Armenia is infested with oligarchs and a corrupt government. Thugs and thieves run the country sucking the blood of hapless people. So far, 20 years since independence, successive governments have not been able to create a middle class that construes the backbone of a viable society, therefore country. The poor have been so paralyzed by the lack of opportunities that they have relinquished hope of destroying the chains that bind them and of freeing themselves from the tyrants. Some 100,000 of them have migrated to their beloved Turkey to change Turkish babies’ diapers in exchange for a piece of bread. Busloads of girls go to Kars to brighten the nightlife of the cabarets in order to support their families. I saw the migrant workers praise Erdogan in a YouTube entry: “Arach Asdvadz, verche Erdogan” (First God, then Erdogan). Erdogan used them for propaganda.

Unlike Israel, where emigration is a trickle despite their war, some 40 percent of Armenians have expressed the wish to emigrate; more than a million already have. This is dangerous and damaging.

The Armenian villager, the foundation of the nation, constituting close to 40 percent of the population, is subjected to benign neglect. Land and means of modern agriculture have been denied them through indifference. They lack irrigation systems, machinery, and scientific horticultural guidance. They are denied healthcare and opportunities for higher education. Their crop is allowed to come to the market only after paying extortion money. They are weak, they are angry, they are helpless, and their patience is running thin.

On the other hand, Yerevan and the other big cities flaunt their wealth. There are the filthy rich who have reached that status through deception, extortion, manipulation, corruption, camaraderie, and working with the international regional mafia. They have exploited the average citizen who does not have equal opportunity to participate in the newly presumed capitalism.

The government is impotent against the vagaries of the international power centers. They are incapable of telling those who dictate their will on Armenia, “Go to Hell!”

It still functions with a serf mentality, not being able to exploit its extensive and powerful diaspora, millions of Kurdish allies, and close to a million Armenians who live in Turkey. They have not been able to exploit the international opposition to the Turkish occupation of Cyprus. They have not been able to nullify the illegally coined 1921 Treaty of Kars. They have not been able to revive the very viable Treaty of Sevres. And they have not been able to isolate the Karabagh issue from the issues of Armeno-Turkish rapprochement. Additionally, they have a true psychological conflict regarding their alliance with Russia, and cooperation with the United States.

For Armenia, the diaspora has limited importance. Native Armenians have welcomed only our NGOs and charity organizations which bring money into the country.


The second chromosome occupying the Trisomy position is Turkey. This country, with all its successive governments, has been and still is obsessed with hegemony. Turanism is not dead, Kemalism is; his veering the ship of the nation towards secularism has failed. Underneath European clothing mandated by his “Sapka Kanunu” (the Hat Law) lay a fiercely fanatic political Muslim; a leopard never changes its spots. And now there is the rise of Islam reminiscent of the Caliphate era of the Ottoman Empire.

The ruling AK Party through its representatives, headed by Abdullah Gul, the president of the country, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister, and Ahmet Davutoglu, the foreign minister, have unequivocally claimed inheritance of their Ottoman ancestry—except for a huge criminal baggage that they carry in relation to the Armenian Genocide of 1915, the major pogroms of Armenians in Adana, the massacres of Assyrians, Nestorians, and the Greeks, the burning of the Christian population of Smyrna by Ataturk forces, the pogroms of Greeks of Istanbul in 1956, the hanging of Arab nationalists of Aleppo by the hands of Jemal Pasha (nicknamed Al-Saffahh, “the executioner” in Arabic), the atrocities against the Arabs of Iraq, Hijaz the Levant, Egypt, and Algeria, to name a few. They deny all that, or at best rationalize their criminal conduct.

Erdogan and his government are frank in their convictions. Now they are the champions of the Arab world because they oppose Israel. Neither Israel, nor its powerful Washington surrogates can tolerate the new situation. Veering Turkey away from the Islamic world is a delusion.

Internally, the Kurds of Turkish Kurdistan are up in arms, despite occasional maneuverings to the contrary. Successive Turkish governments have not been able to solve the “Kurdish issue,” which could be brought to a conclusion by acknowledging their ethnicity. Instead, they have now adopted a new policy inherent in the rules of colonialism: divide and conquer. They are trying to coalesce with three million strong Zaza Kurds to fight their kin, ignoring the fact that in the early 1930’s, Ataturk waged genocide against them in Dersim. That memory is fresh in the minds of all Kurds.

Turkey is divided into more than two factions. The Grey Wolves, wearing Ataturk shirts, claim to be secular and propel Turanism, which stretches to the steppes of Central Asia. They are on Erdogan’s column. Then there’s the Milli Halk Partisi (MHP), who are Muslims except when it comes to drinking and participating in European style nightlife in the Hilton and Swissotel of Istanbul; then, they are secularists and inheritors of Ataturk’s legacy.

They hate the AK Party and its leaders. They have the generals on their side. The party’s perennial leader Deniz Baykal was recently put to shame in public for engaging in an inappropriate liaison with his secretary. He saved his neck by resigning. Baykal-like conduct is not new on the Turkish political stage; in 1961 the military coup sent then-prime minister of Turkey Adnan Menderes to the gallows. For good measure, the generals defamed him by rumoring that they had found a woman’s panties in his office safe. Now Izmir Airport is named after him.

Some two weeks ago, the MHP organized a Muslim Namaz (Prayers) in the abandoned Armenian Sourp Asdvadzadzin (Virgin Mary) Church in Ani, just to claim deed over stolen 10th-century Armenian property. Cynics say, now that they have prayed to God in a Christian church, they are considered to be de facto converts to Christianity. MHP people would rather die.

Relationships between the deposed, retired, and still active generals continue.Kangaroo courts and restrictive laws still prevail in the country, which in and by itself is a huge subject to write about.

Turkey, in its dishonesty, is selling snake oil to our State Department. They have led our people into believing that they would facilitate the flow of Azeri oil to the Mediterranean, convince Iran to halt its nuclear program, influence the Islamic world to be friendly with the U.S., and bring the former Soviet republics and the Central Asian Islamic nations into the fold of Pax Americana.

All this, and its inability to implement the ill-fated Armenian-Turkish protocols prevented Turkey from taking the first step forward.


The third chromosome of the Trisomy is the Armenian Diaspora. This is a real anomaly with its paradoxical features that initiate and contribute to its survival and endurance—yet also to its demise as a nation. It spans the globe like an empire without an army and without strategy. At best, it functions within the political and legal restrictions allocated to it by different governments in different countries. Exceptions are the United States, France, and Britain, which treat us like their own, but put other obstacles in front of us, blocking progress. To these countries, oil is more valuable than blood.

There was no diaspora before 1915. There were Armenians who had come to America to pursue a better life. They changed from Garabed to Garry, at Ellis Island, in order to be accepted by the WASP society. Almost a century later, that identity conflict, and sometimes identity crisis, still persists in the Arab countries, Africa, or America where they live. There is a dual set of norms, and a dual set of allegiances.

The genocide of 1915, claiming the lives of 1.5 million Armenians, has done something else; it has transformed a nation of artisans, farmers, and villagers into a most educated, sophisticated, and prosperous giant. It took a genocide to advance a nation from Point A to Point B. It is a shame, but it is true. One can only imagine what our people would have been like if we continued to live under Ottoman rule.

The genocide recognition issue, and Turkey’s adamant denial of its criminal past, has done something else: It has united the Armenian Diaspora. I dare say that it is the only issue that unites us as a nation, which is a sad commentary on our national affairs.

Under prevailing circumstances, one wishes that genocide recognition remains on the front burner as a lumper, until we put our political house in order. As it stands now, Armenian political parties are inept in doing the nation’s work. Whatever they do has to be within the framework drawn for us by others. There is a tremendous shortage of leadership.

Those who are on stage are busy doing municipal work, rather than political work in earnest. Those who point out the work we do in Congress as political, forget to realize that our work is delineated for us by others.

As if a state, the diaspora is engaged in building schools, churches, clubs, old peoples’ homes, and the rest, affirming that we are here to stay forever, and rendering the goal of return to our homeland a delusion. In this arena, they are doing a very good job and contributing largely to reaffirm their Armenian identity and culture; however they would not be able to stop the White Genocide, or the Grey Genocide, to which we are subjected every moment.

Unlike Jews, who created the state of Israel to escape global persecution, we do not have to do that; we are comfortable where we are, except in Turkey. There is a negligible number of diasporans who would rather live in Armenia, but this does not happen because Armenia does not facilitate implementation of the idea, and diasporans are resistant to renewed uprooting for en-masse immigration.

With this Trisomy in operation, we have to start repairing the deficits. We have to move away from the Chromosome 21 position, and we have to repair our teeth, in the first instance in conjunction with other needed repairs.

One thing, however, is crystal clear and does not need repair—the conviction that when the chips are down, and Karabagh or Yerevan is in danger, the diaspora with all its might, and with all its ARF fedayees and Monte Melkonians, will be there to teach the enemy a lesson.

Dr. Henry Astarjian

Dr. Henry Astarjian

Dr. Henry Astarjian was born in Kirkuk, Iraq. In 1958, he graduated from the Royal College of Medicine and went on to serve as an army medical officer in Iraqi Kurdistan. He continued his medical education in Scotland and England. In 1966, he emigrated to the U.S. In 1992, he served as a New Hampshire delegate to the Republication National Convention in Houston, Texas. For three years Astarjian addressed the Kurdish Parliament in Exile in Brussels, defending Armenian rights to Western Armenia. For three consecutive years, he addressed the American Kurds in California and Maryland. He is the author of The Struggle for Kirkuk, published by Preager and Preager International Securities.
Dr. Henry Astarjian

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  1. Mr. Astarjian says, ” It took a genocide to advance a nation from Point A to Point B. It is a shame, but it is true. One can only imagine what our people would have been like if we continued to live under Ottoman rule.”
    This statement is a bit over the top and reflects a very shallow perspective on history. I have heard the same thing said about the merits of American slavery and its ‘progressive’ results. One should be more careful and serious in these matters.

  2. I would rather have seen Armenians, as villagers and artisans, remian on the lands rather than spread across the world as doctors, lawyers and other professionals. The author speaks about “advancement from Point A to B” but what is the practical benefit is millions in the diaspora no longer contribute to the building of Armenian national statehood? We, the descendants of Genocide survivors, have been deprived of the possibility of participating in the nation’s historical development on our ancestral lands. I agree that an inegligible number will ever seriously ponder packing up their bags and reintegrating themselves in the only functioning Armenian society which, sadly, is in terrible shape in the RA. The alternative is assimilation. Maybe this is our historical destiny?

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