Disinformation, Near and Far

Earlier today (Sunday, November 8), a friend called asking me if I’d heard the news that Shushi had fallen to the Turkic invaders. I was stunned and saddened, since I’d been in the mountains for the preceding day and a half and hadn’t heard.

But something didn’t seem right. I visited the Facebook page of the Armenian Unified Info Center, which is a gold mine of current and factual data. It turned out the news was fake. The enemy had released two videos showing what were presented as the mosque and fortress of Shushi under their control. Our side debunked the videos by juxtaposing pictures of the real and fake structures and pointing out the differences.

Yet the Turkish newspaper “Daily Sabah” triumphantly reported Aliyev’s announcement: “‘The adhan voice will be heard in Shusha after 28 years’…referring to Muslims’ call to prayer which is recited from minarets during daily prayer times.” Interestingly and laughably, the map they published with Turkified place names contradicts their report! It shows that Shushi and its immediate vicinity are under the enemy’s control, yet it is surrounded by territory under Artsakh’s control. That’s a highly unlikely state of affairs.

This is not the first time they have done things like this. They are waging a cyber war in addition to a hot war. Remember that just days after the invasion commenced, they attacked and took down the Asbarez website. They also set up a seemingly very legitimate website (since taken down) purporting to be the Hayasdan All Armenian Fund’s, possibly leading some unsuspecting donors to send their money into the wrong hands. We must be very careful not to be saddened or sidetracked from the work that so many of our compatriots worldwide are doing by this type of disinformation activity.  

I’m not familiar with how these things are done in the virtual universe. I can only hope that those among us who have the right competences are doing the same to our enemies, but more effectively. It’s psychological warfare, and it’s important.

But this disinformation is not limited to Turks and pup-Turks (Azerbaijanis). It happens all the time and is often very subtle, much like the campaign, reported by US intelligence agencies, waged by Russia to impact the 2016 US presidential election by sowing discord and suspicion.  

Tragically, outgoing President Trump is engaged in a disinformation campaign, too. Since his massive ego cannot tolerate the notion of losing to the man he described as “Sleepy Joe,” Trump is damaging the political fabric of the country he claimed to “make great again”! He is sowing doubt about the legitimacy of an orderly and proper election.

These examples show why we have to be alert.

Remember Goebbel’s admonition: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” This is the trap set by our enemy that we must avoid.

Please be alert, attentive to detail and cautious while remaining intensely motivated in whatever you are doing to support our heroic compatriots on Artsakh’s front lines so that the specter of a second Genocide remains just that, a specter.

Garen Yegparian

Garen Yegparian

Asbarez Columnist
Garen Yegparian is a fat, bald guy who has too much to say and do for his own good. So, you know he loves mouthing off weekly about anything he damn well pleases to write about that he can remotely tie in to things Armenian. He's got a checkered past: principal of an Armenian school, project manager on a housing development, ANC-WR Executive Director, AYF Field worker (again on the left coast), Operations Director for a telecom startup, and a City of LA employee most recently (in three different departments so far). Plus, he's got delusions of breaking into electoral politics, meanwhile participating in other aspects of it and making sure to stay in trouble. His is a weekly column that appears originally in Asbarez, but has been republished to the Armenian Weekly for many years.
Garen Yegparian

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  1. But what about this?
    and this

    Both come from Armenian media. We need the truth, and it seems very sad. All this time we were told that the attacks were “repelled”, “thwarted”, “neutralized” and so on. But the enemy has control over the South, and keeps advancing, just search for the maps showed by the MoD days ago. The same applies to Shushi, “all attacks repelled and the enemy retreating”, should we have to believe this too?
    Where are the retaliations and the counter attacks promised so far? Please, don’t get me wrong, I am not criticizing our soldiers, I believe in their bravery and heroism. But I think all we need to know the truth.

    • Arayik Harutyunyan, acknowledged Tuesday that “had the hostilities continued at the same pace, we would have lost all of Artsakh within days.”
      Pashinyan said in a series of video statements on his Facebook page that it was “extremely painful for me personally and for our people,” calling the situation a “catastrophe.” On Wednesday, he said he signed the agreement to avoid “a full collapse” of the region and deaths of thousands of troops.

  2. I am not Armenian, but I am following this conflict.
    Whenever I try to get information from the internet about it, the overwhelming majority of articles, youtube videos, commentaries are clearly azerbaijani and turkish propaganda depicting Armenians as aggressors and war crime perpetretors.
    In this information war, Armenians are simply not fighting.
    No one has to convince ME who the aggressor is and who is using cluster and phosphorus bombs against civilian targets,(I know that Azerbaijan and Turkey are doing it) but if I were a lambda citizen who would just like to know more and browse the internet for it, I’d definitely think that Azerbaijan is the victim, and that is fighting a righteous defensive war against the evil Armenian aggressors.
    Sure, one is usually cautious enough not to trust the very first source of information he gets, but when you get the same story from dozen of different sources, no matter how false they are, you start believing them.

    • Everything you said there, Marino, is absolutely correct, and too often ignored. I’ve seen the same thing, for a very long time. Both Azerbaijan and Turkey pour a lot of money into lobby industries, to spam information sources with their deliberate lies and falsehoods. One problem is that Armenia itself is too poor to make use of similar lobby firms; and; you’re right that Armenians (in general) have failed to take on the Internet. Azerbaijan’s Khojaly (Xojaly) accusation has been thoroughly debunked, but the slanderous lies about it are carpet-bombing the Internet. Now, the Armenian Stronghold has lost the war, largely because Armenians failed to mobilize adequate sympathy from worldwide governments. Even Russia backstabbed Armenia, because they failed to intervene militarily.

  3. Wrong, Lawrence. Armenians were working very closely with mainstream media. The problem did not rest with the Armenians. MSM has been willfully ignorant, tone deaf and invested in publishing fake news. I think deep down you know why.

  4. Dutch warfare research group Oryx, which documents visually confirmed losses on both sides, Armenia lost 200 tanks (destroyed: 122, damaged: 5, captured: 73), 53 armored fighting vehicles (destroyed: 24, captured: 29), and 507 trucks, vehicles and jeeps (destroyed: 244, damaged: 8, captured: 255), while Azerbaijan lost 32 tanks (destroyed: 20, damaged: 8, abandoned: 1, captured: 2, captured but later lost: 1), 13 armored fighting vehicles (damaged: 1, abandoned: 4, captured: 8), 30 trucks, vehicles and jeeps (destroyed: 16, damaged: 6, abandoned: 6, captured: 2), as well 11 old An-2 aircraft, used as unmanned bait in order for Armenia to reveal the location of air defense systems.
    Oryx only counts destroyed vehicles and equipment of which photo or videographic evidence is available, and therefore, the actual number of equipment destroyed is higher.

    Garen, you may wish to add the 11 No’s Anton AN-2 aircraft to your list.

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