Sanctions for Barbaric Anarchy

Azeri president Ilham Aliyev visits military in occupied Shushi, November 8, 2021 (Photo: Official website of the President of Azerbaijan)

Our anguish, fueled by the rogue criminal regime of Azerbaijan, continues. It was reported on Monday that Aliyev unleashed another unprovoked attack on the sovereign eastern border of Armenia with at least four fronts from Sevan to the Syunik region. Once again, the dictator to the east initiated a violent temper tantrum of military aggression because Armenia has not agreed to surrender its territory for a corridor in Syunik and will not sign a “peace” treaty that is tantamount to unconditional surrender. His playbook is simple. Demand the illegal, and if unsatisfied, then begin unilateral criminal behavior by murdering Armenian civilians and military. This behavior is despicable yet very predictable. Only a criminal regime would repeat its pattern when there are no repercussions for their aggression. There is no sense of humanity, only a twisted desire to extinguish the Armenians and their sovereignty. In an age noted for “civility” with mutual defense treaties, the United Nations, European-based peace groups, NATO and countless billions spent to preserve peace, atrocities such as this continue on a daily basis. It is an indictment of the inability of our human race to manage our basic human rights just as we have mismanaged the health of the planet. Greed and self-interest seem to govern decision-making at a record level. How else can you explain the embarrassing indifference to the plight of our brethren who desire little more than to live in peace and contribute to our global civilization? There are rumblings of French support and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) meeting to consider Armenia’s request for intervention, but only time will tell if any of these words have substance. I was listening to a sports talk show this morning and the commentator mentioned how very few, if any, athletes or coaches speak the actual truth when asked questions. Sharing the blame and being vague seem to be in vogue.

It becomes a contest of rhetoric. During the countless occasions that Armenia and Artsakh have been attacked in the last 30 plus years, the peacemakers (either the OSCE Minsk Group, other European bodies or currently the Russian government) always urge BOTH sides to set aside violence and return to peaceful practices. They all know that the criminal aggressor in this conflict has always been Azerbaijan, yet the Azeris continue to get a free ride for their behavior. When attempting to resolve a conflict with two parties in good faith, there is a place for parity. Azerbaijan has proven beyond any international standard that they are not trustworthy. Their words are useless and lacking any merit. As long as there are no tangible ramifications to Azeri aggression, it will continue. Why wouldn’t it? Diplomacy needs teeth to succeed. The rhetorical responses when criminal barbarism is the Azeri practice enables the violence.

Azerbaijan has a well-documented history of not honoring any agreement they have made. We can go back to the first Artsakh War and the first ceasefire they pleaded for in 1994. It was Azerbaijan that had broken that first and subsequent ceasefires. They have consistently refused OSCE initiatives to install monitoring equipment at the Line of Contact to identify the source of sniper fire and other border provocations. Armenia has always willingly supported these moves. They have undermined good faith building measures and have blocked access for OSCE members to the Azeri side for agreed upon monitoring. There have been several agreements made over the years in different European cities that were intended to build confidence measures, only to be ignored by the Azeri government and followed with unilateral attacks on civilians. In order to join the United Nations, applicant countries must recognize the sovereignty of other nations. Azerbaijan did this in 1991 and has since launched frequent attacks on the Tavush Marz and currently in the Syunik region. I have witnessed the damage caused on the Tavush border and in the southern regions along Nakhichevan. What are the implications of this horrific behavior?

How many must die before the self-interest argument has a human element?

Resolutions and press statements have no impact. The United States has a provision called Section 907 which stops aid to Azerbaijan if they use it for offensive purposes. It has been consistently waived by the administrations. There is overwhelming evidence to prove their violation of Section 907, yet the United States continues to provide them military support. We tease each other to entice them into our orbit justified by the ominous phrase “self-interest”…all at the expense of the innocent. How many must die before the self-interest argument has a human element? In the mid-1990s, Armenia signed a mutual defense pact with the CSTO, a Russian-led organization of several former Soviet states. The value for Armenia is that Azerbaijan is not a member, and if the sovereign territory of Armenia is attacked, the defense pact nations are obligated to respond. I have not read the treaty, but there must be more loopholes and out clauses than cheap insurance plans, since the CSTO has provided no military support. During the 2020 war, their excuse was that the agreement covers Armenia and not Artsakh. We all know that sections of Armenia proper were attacked during the 44-day war. Tavush, a region of sovereign Armenia, has been attacked countless times, yet the CSTO offers parity comments to both sides. They are not the UN. They are supposed to be a NATO-type defense organization. This week, Armenia, once again, applied to the CSTO for physical support given the ongoing hostilities. We will see if the CSTO honors the agreement or finds another loophole. Meanwhile, there are Russian troops in Armenia at the mutually agreed upon military base near Gyumri. There have been some rumors that the French are willing to send peacekeepers which would be a bold move. The probability is remote since Russia considers this their backyard. Azerbaijan smugly refuses to participate in Artsakh peace talks since it is their view that the 2020 war resolved the issues. The Russian brokered tri-party agreement has been violated countless times by Azerbaijan. In addition to violating the ceasefire, Azerbaijan continues to hold Armenian soldiers captive nearly two years after the agreement. The human rights violations and criminal behaviors are extensive. Azerbaijan stands alone in its view on the status of Artsakh. The United States, France and Russia (along with many other government bodies) have stated clearly that the final status is not resolved. Will their positions translate into any form of action? The Azeris arrogantly attempt to justify their border incursions by stating that until the demarcation/delimitation joint work is complete, the border is fluid. This is arrogant and inaccurate given that the areas under consideration had defined borders for 70 years under Soviet rule. This is a thinly veiled attempt to invade and actually destroy Armenia and Artsakh. The global obsession with oil and gas products has rendered most of the consumers who are  also stakeholders in this process somewhat neutralized. Instead of punishing the aggressors, we engage in this predictable and almost robotic mutual blame policy that only enables rogue dictatorships such as Aliyev’s Azerbaijan to continue their criminal ways.

As we bury our heroes and mourn their loss, there are some clear actions that can be taken. We have all spent considerable time criticizing ourselves and defining our internal  challenges. This matter cannot be resolved without some initiatives by those who consider this region to be in their self-interests. If the United States is serious about peace, then Section 907 must be implemented and all aid to Azerbaijan suspended. Additional economic sanctions should be implemented to motivate them to stop their aggression. Russia must honor the CSTO treaty and prevent this senseless violence. They succeeded in temporarily isolating the West to become the peacekeepers but now have that additional responsibility. Europe talks a great deal about peace and civility. They also insist on a number of reforms from Armenia in their cooperative agreements. They must also sanction Azerbaijan economically to back up the rhetoric of building sustainable peaceful relationships. Israel has embarrassed itself with its shameful economic and military alliance with Azerbaijan. The use of Azeris for Iranian intel is complicated, but the military aid that has killed Armenians is a red flag. Backdoor diplomatic channels should be used in the West to dissuade Israel from selling deadly technology to Azerbaijan. We should never waiver on correcting this problem. The biggest obstacle to these actions is the fossil fuel drug that Azerbaijan provides. Suppliers need consumers for their success. Russia competes with Azerbaijan from a market perspective. Reducing dependency on rogue foreign sources is a contribution to the planet and humanity. Azerbaijan continues to have a thorny relationship with Iran. The Azeri relationship with Israel is problematic for Iran. The Azeris occasionally attempt to stir the nationalistic feeling of the “northwest Azerbaijan” section of Iran in a groundless attempt to link the two regions. The attacks this week in Syunik are targeting Kapan where Iran just opened a consulate in a clear gesture of support to Armenia in an area that Azerbaijan has desires. Iran has stated to both Turkey and Azerbaijan that any territorial or border disruption in the area common with Iran is unacceptable. Armenia needs to exploit this issue. Azerbaijan, like its cousin Turkey, has been causing trouble in the region without any ramifications. That needs to end. We keep hoping that the tolerance of the stakeholders will wear thin with the Azeris’ abusive history. Perhaps that day is arriving if some or all of these steps are taken. This is no time for the diaspora to be reserved. The ANCA and the Armenian Assembly have continued their advocacy work with an appeal to the community on Section 907. Make your voice heard. Stand with our brethren. In the long history of our people, this is not the time to rest or back away. Life is full of choices based on what we determine is important. I pray that the survival of our Armenia and the success of its self-defense effort is high on your priorities.

Stepan Piligian

Stepan Piligian

Columnist
Stepan was raised in the Armenian community of Indian Orchard, MA at the St. Gregory Parish. A former member of the AYF Central Executive and the Eastern Prelacy Executive Council, he also served many years as a delegate to the Eastern Diocesan Assembly. Currently , he serves as a member of the board and executive committee of the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR). He also serves on the board of the Armenian Heritage Foundation. Stepan is a retired executive in the computer storage industry and resides in the Boston area with his wife Susan. He has spent many years as a volunteer teacher of Armenian history and contemporary issues to the young generation and adults at schools, camps and churches. His interests include the Armenian diaspora, Armenia, sports and reading.
Stepan Piligian

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3 Comments

  1. Khrimian Hayrig’s words are as true today as they were 150 years ago. There is no alternative to Armenians defending themselves. The failure of Armenia society in Armenia and Diaspora to create a defensible Armenia is painful to watch as it unfolds in front of our eyes. I thought naively that the 1915 genocide taught Armenians a painful lesson about national survival but apparently not. I hope and pray that Armenians get through this current crisis and then resolve to build a New Armenia, and not go back to business as usual. Armenia should seriously consider the nuclear option for defense. Russia, US, France, India, Iran, CSTO, UN , International Court etc are all potential allies that are failing Armenia in its time of need.

    • CSTO is all made of Turkic tribes and supports Azerbaijan, including Lukashenko and indirectly Putin, who befriended Erdoghan lately for his misery.

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