BY MARSHALL MOUSHIGIAN
Chances are good that you awoke this morning to the unpleasant sound of an alarm clock. Chances are certain that you did not wake to the unpleasant sound of Azerbaijani artillery shells crashing through your roof. But if you are Armenian living along Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan or in the yet-to-be-recognized Republic of Artsakh (formerly Nagorno Karabagh), you did suffer such a rude awakening.
To understand today and tomorrow, we must understand yesterday. Artsakh is a region that traces its Armenian roots to the fourth century AD. When Armenia and Azerbaijan were independent, from 1918 to 1920, Azerbaijan recognized Artsakh as part of Armenia. However, when the Soviet Union subsumed these two countries, Joseph Stalin, then the Commissar of Nationalities, gave Artsakh and her Armenians to Azerbaijan. Time and again the Armenians of Artsakh petitioned Moscow, unsuccessfully, for reunification with Armenia.
The Christian Armenians of Artsakh were second-class citizens of Soviet Azerbaijan. Tensions came to a head in 1988 with a near-unanimous vote for reunification. This enraged the Muslim Azeris and they pounced on the Armenians living in the Azeri cities of Baku and Sumgait. Armenians who weren’t killed were driven out. Full-scale war ensued and, given the ethnic bonds between Azeris and Turks, it was obvious that what was happening to the Armenians of 1988 was the same tragedy that befell the Armenians of 1915 — genocide. The war ended in 1994 with the Azeri army vanquished, and sovereignty for the Artsakh Armenian
Since 1994 Azerbaijan has, without provocation, violated the cease-fire with Artsakh hundreds of times, frequently targeting civilians. Although an uneasy peace has held, July has witnessed renewed and intensified violence by Azerbaijan. Now the guns are fixed on Armenia proper. Armenian soldiers and civilians alike are subjected to torture; Azeris use their own as human shields.
To make matters worse, Turkish strongman President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently threatened to eliminate the “remnants of the sword,” i.e. those who survived previous Turkish slaughters and genocide. Last week he told his compatriots that he would continue what their grandfathers had begun — genocide.
We are well into the 21st century and Armenians are again facing genocide from Turkey, this time with Azerbaijan’s help. A quarter century has passed since the cease-fire and Armenians of Artsakh, who earned their right for self-determination, are still awaiting international recognition.
As much as Azerbaijan and Turkey are to blame for this mess, a lazy and enabling press must accept its share of responsibility for spreading misinformation. Rarely do we learn that oil-rich Azerbaijan is the persistent aggressor. Armenians seeking justice for crimes committed against them are portrayed as troublemakers. Legislators at the state and federal level, lacking intelligence and ethics, have not helped.
What is happening now is what I warned of in the Fresno Bee in 2001 and again in 2012, that the longer the world waits to recognize Artsakh’s independence, the worse matters will get. Azerbaijan has used billions in oil revenue and illegally channeled U.S. aid dollars to strengthen its military, including the use of Israeli-supplied suicide drones. Azerbaijan is actively engaged in state-sponsored xenophobia, portraying all Armenians as monstrous enemies, even including Armeno-phobia in pre-school curriculum. Just last week Armenians in Los Angeles, Boston and Philadelphia were attacked, and the Armenian school in San Francisco was vandalized — all by Azeris who have been emboldened by a disinterested and misinformed world.
Read more here: https://www.fresnobee.com/opinion/readers-opinion/article244616232.html#storylink=cpy
The longer the world waits to confront two of the world’s most belligerent and oppressive regimes, the more they thumb their noses at decency and humanity. The West has coddled and caved to Turkey and Azerbaijan to the point that these two brutal dictatorships consistently act with impunity toward those who demand civility. The constant appeasement of Turkey and its bastard child Azerbaijan must end now, before Armenia itself comes to an end. Artsakh, and indeed Armenia, will not be another Czechoslovakia.
Armenians have faced an existential threat from Turkey for over a century, and from Azerbaijan since the early 1990s. The threat is real; Armenians worldwide, including this writer, are on high alert. Armenians simply want to live peacefully with our neighbors, on our land. Artsakh is not a conflict, it is a country — and so is Azerbaijan. The sooner the latter starts acting like the former, the sooner we can all wake to a peaceful morning.