BY BENJAMIN FEARNOW ,
President Donald Trump said Sunday he will “straighten out” the ongoing South Caucasus fighting in the Nagorno-Karabakh region between Armenia and Azerbaijan, saying the conflict will be “easy” compared to the “peace in the Middle East” he’s already made.
Trump responded to several supporters at a rally in Londonberry, New Hampshire, Sunday afternoon who were holding an Armenian flag and yelling “I love you” as he spoke at the podium. Former Vice President Joe Biden last week accused Trump of being indifferent to the deadly clash and ceding leadership in the region to Moscow. Biden said Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are “coddling” Turkey, and he warned Iran to stay out of the military battles that have caused hundreds of casualties —including civilians—since late September.
Trump highlighted that he’s been nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize, including for his foreign policy efforts involving Israel and the United Arab Emirates. He said he’s taken a hard line in dealing with the Serbia-Kosovo conflict and should be awarded a Nobel for his actions in Syria.
“Armenia. You know Armenia? We’re working on that, you know, we’re working. We did it with Kosovo and Serbia, do you believe I got three nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize, can you believe it?” Trump told several people holding an Armenian flag at the New Hampshire campaign stop.
“Armenia, this relates to Serbia, we had Serbia-Kosovo, we had this deal and I said wait a minute these people are killing themselves, they’ve been killing each other for years and years and decades and we’re dealing with them unrelated,” Trump said.
Trump said he has personally facilitated “peace in the Middle East” and spearheaded changes to Israel-Palestine deals that he claimed sent $750 million each year to Palestinian groups who shout “death to America, death to Israel.” The president told rally-goers that solving the conflict in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh will be “easy” by comparison.
“So now we have Armenia, look at the Armenian, they are incredible people. They are fighting like hell. And you know what we’re going to get something done, thank you, you know the Armenians have had a tough go,” Trump said. “But I saw, in fact I was in yesterday in Ohio and we had a tremendous group of Armenians with the flag and the whole thing. The problems they’ve had, with the death and the fighting, we’re going to get that straightened out. That’s going to be, I call that an easy one. Go back and tell your people. Go back and tell your people, we’ll get that straightened out.”
Under the Collective Security Treaty Organization, Russia is obliged to protect Armenia from attack in the region. But Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps troops have deployed to Jolfa and Khoda Afarin on Iran’s northern border in an ominous response to the Nagorno-Karabakh fighting.
“Inexplicably, the Trump administration has been largely passive and disengaged … even as the region goes up in flames,” Biden stated last week, joining House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff in criticizing Trump for “ignoring” the Caucasus conflict.
The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) tweeted out a video of Trump’s remarks Sunday, urging him to “take action” immediately. Responders were less optimistic, with many accusing U.S. politicians of frequently talking about action but never following through.
Several former NATO officials and Middle East-Europe trade leaders have called on the Trump administration and other Western powers to step in and de-escalate all military action in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
“Georgia’s progress toward Western values and strong support to NATO in Afghanistan bear witness to our investment. Now Georgia is willing to facilitate and be a part of conflict resolution in Nagorno-Karabakh. Western leaders should seriously consider this overture and the value of a trusted regional nation leading efforts to resolve the conflict,” wrote General Philiip Breedlove, retired 4-star general of the U.S. Air Force and former NATO supreme commander in Europe, pleading for intervention.
“You’ll end up in peace in the Middle East for nothing,” Trump said at the New Hampshire rally, highlighting his UAE-Israel trade deal earlier this year. “They should give me a Nobel Prize for what I did in Syria.”
Newsweek reached out to the White House and U.S. State Department for additional remarks Sunday afternoon.