Chidem Inch: Reading, Writing, Calling, Tweeting and Retweeting

The blockade of the Lachin Corridor, the effective siege of Artsakh, by the Azeris is over a month old. There is no sign that things will get better for the Armenians. There are a few sad realities we are dealing with. Beyond some words, no one who is poised to help the Armenians is doing so. We Armenians in Artsakh, Armenia or the Diaspora do not have any option but to surrender more land, rights and freedoms to stop this siege.

In the diaspora, we can advocate. What does that mean?

It means we can write and call our political leaders in whatever countries we live in and try to persuade them to take action that will end this nightmare. It is exactly what I have been doing. Per the ANCA, I have called and written to my representative, my senators, the President, the Vice-President and the Secretary of State beseeching them to do the right thing. I have tweeted and retweeted articles I find with the hopes that the next sharing or retweet will be the one that unleashes the political power of the US or another capable world power. Sadly, this is not much of a game plan.

On January 12, there was a segment on National Public Radio: Condoleezza Rice calls for ‘urgency’ in sending weapons and money to Ukraine. Everything she said in this interview on why the US must support Ukraine could apply to why the US needs to support Armenia and Artsakh.

Yes, it’s a heavy burden, but we are the only power that shares the values and the interest of an international system that protects freedom, that protects the weaker from the stronger and we are not this time being asked to spill American blood to do that. We’re simply being asked to give the Ukrainians the tools. They’re more than willing to make this their fight. To tell them we’ll leave them to the tender mercies of the Russians because we can’t get military equipment to them, because we can’t spend the money to get military equipment to them, I think that would be an abdication of who we are, what we’ve been — and an abdication of the possibility of defending ourselves.

But no one is speaking in such a passionate way about supporting the Armenians. Why? Who influences US policy more? Armenians or Turks/Azeris? What are the consequences to US or global interests if Armenia and Artsakh become Azerbaijan? Sadly, the answers to these questions are not favorable to the Armenians.

We have no military option. We cannot do anything about that in the short term. Furthermore, we are getting no coverage. Do an internet search of the blockade. The overwhelming articles and reports are written by Armenians. There are articles in Time and news reports on CNN and a local Detroit ABC affiliate. Why don’t other news outlets deem this crisis newsworthy? Do the Turks and Azeris have more influence on their news judgment? Is the rest of the world passively telling us to just concede? Sadly, if we ponder these questions, the answers are not favorable to our cause either.

On January 13, the Wall Street Journal published “Biden administration to ask Congress to approve F-16 sale to Turkey.” Let no one try to say that Turkey is inactive behind the scenes helping Azerbaijan. Erdogan has been quoted as wanting to finish Enver Pasha’s mission. This means pan-Turkism, and it also means completing the eradication and Turkification of the remaining Armenians in the region. The Armenians might well have won the 2020 war if Turkey had not supplied drones, mercenaries, reconnaissance and command and control to the Azeris.

In the process of writing to government leaders and tweeting and retweeting articles and postings, we should all be reading what is being written. While most of the writing is by Armenians, there are some excellent examples of non-Armenians shining the light of truth on this matter. A case in point is “Cancel the National Guards’ Azerbaijan Military Partnership” by Michael Rubin, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institutea conservative think tank in DC. After the end of the Cold War, the State Department held a joint training program for State National Guards to solidify our foreign policy. Oklahoma was paired with Azerbaijan. Rubin takes exception to this 20-year partnership by stating:

As Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev pursues a campaign of ethnic cleansing if not genocide against ethnic Armenians, any military partnership with his regime is tone deaf.

In fact, there was a dinner to commemorate this partnership in early December of last year. Rubin went on to say:

Just ten days later, Azerbaijani forces blockaded Nagorno-Karabakh and launched a campaign of starvation against a population Aliyev claims as Azerbaijan’s own. Starvation, genocide, and efforts to eradicate Christianity in the region are not family values.

On January 5, the Los Angeles Times reported on a letter Los Angeles mayor Karen Bass and City Council president Paul Krekorian sent to President Biden.

Bass and Krekorian sent a letter to President Biden on Wednesday condemning the blockade as an “unfolding humanitarian catastrophe” and calling on the US to “clearly demonstrate its commitment to democracy and global stability by coming to the aid of the people of Artsakh.”

On January 13, the Los Angeles Times published an op-ed titled “The cruel blockade against Armenians shows the world order has collapsed” by Salpi Ghazarian, director of Special Projects at the USC Dornsife Institute of Armenian Studies. Ghazarian pointed out the recent military alliance between Russia and Azerbaijan, which clearly explains why the Russian “peacekeepers” in the Lachin Corridor are not helping the Armenians at all. Ghazarian went on to point out:

Instead, Russia has made clear to Armenians that their “Western ways” — democracy and an open, free society — are not only undesirable but punishable. Azerbaijan is pursuing control of the territory without its people, who want a continuation of the democracy they have experienced for nearly 30 years. Speaking of Armenians in Karabakh and Azerbaijan’s insistence that they live under its flag, President Aliyev cynically claimed that “just like all the other citizens of Azerbaijan, their rights and security will be provided.” It would be laughable if it weren’t so chilling. Azerbaijan’s dictator is unaccountable to his people, and his country has a track record of repressing its own citizens.

Another touching piece that I have tweeted and retweeted is “Armenian Christians Face a Humanitarian Crisis” by Jack Baghumian and Lara Setrakian. 

The region remains officially within the borders of Azerbaijan. How to reconcile Azerbaijan’s national sovereignty with the self-determination of Armenians has been an unresolved question since the fall of the Soviet Union. The genocide of Armenians by Turkey in 1915 and subsequent massacres at the hands of Azeris have left a deep fear of ethnic cleansing in the hearts of Armenians.

The saddest piece I read was Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s Christmas and New Year message: “We will bring the Republic of Armenia to a peaceful harbor.” It truly underscored what a dire situation we are in and our few options. We can negotiate with our enemies who hold the upper hand militarily, which means we have a very weak position to negotiate from. Or we can ask other powers to intervene and bring about an equitable peace. Beyond lip service, no one seems to really want to step up in this regard.

So, I will continue to read, write, tweet, call and retweet trying to bring this new Armenian case to the forefront. We should all be doing the same, though it seems like nothing is enough. I believe we are all open to other options.

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Mark Gavoor is Associate Professor of Operations Management in the School of Business and Nonprofit Management at North Park University in Chicago. He is an avid blogger and oud player.

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