Editorial

Under fire, Armenia stands alone

Armenian soldiers sit in a truck during fighting with Azerbaijan's forces in Nagorno-Karabakh.(Press office of Armenian Defense Ministry PAN Photo via AP)

Azeri President Ilham Aliyev has declared with no ambiguity that there will be no cease-fire talks in Moscow as long as Armenians insist that Nagorno-Karapakh, which they refer to as Artsakh, is part of their territory. His intransigence toward a cessation of hostilities, despite planned talks in Moscow Friday, makes it amply clear that the bloodshed won’t stop until Armenians in the area have either been driven out or massacred – again.

As international calls for a cease-fire fall on deaf ears, Turkey keeps sending hordes of radical fighters from around the Middle East to the front to fight Armenian soldiers, who are getting little or no support. The simple fact is that without leverage getting anyone to budge and come to your aid is a pipe dream, and the world’s reluctance to step in and stop the bloodshed in Nagorno-Karapakh is ample evidence of that reality.

For 16 days now violence in the area has been raging, with the death toll mounting on both sides as a helpless world looks on. Hundreds have been killed, more have been injured and refugees continue to flow out of the conflict area.

The European Union’s hands are tied for several reasons, chief among them Turkish blackmail and intimidation. EU member states are unable to act due to pressure from Germany, which has some 5 million Muslims living within its borders who have yet to be integrated into the German society. They also happen to be under Ankara’s control, and Germany is neither able nor willing to oppose this ever-present Turkish intimidation.

Furthermore, Turkey continues to use the millions of refugees, displaced people and asylum-seekers from war-torn Syria, Iraq and others squatting within its own borders as a tool to blackmail the EU into capitulating on this and other issues by threatening to allow them entry into Europe, an outcome most EU states are loathe to accept.

And then there’s the situation regarding Crimea. Just as Nagorno-Karapakh’s population is predominantly Armenian, Crimea is populated mostly by Russians. Having objected to the Crimeans’ 2014 decision to split from Ukraine, the EU now finds itself in a quandary, unable to intervene for fear of appearing as hypocrites.

As for the United States, it is beyond the realm of possibility for it to take any steps against a NATO ally that happens to be hosting a strategic American military base, a state of affairs that for decades has impeded any serious attempt to recognize the Armenian Genocide.

Meanwhile, Russia, notwithstanding the fantasies of some, is unlikely to step in because despite its grievances, it finds in Turkey an ally equally perturbed by the US hegemony over geopolitics. In fact, Moscow has had no qualms about selling anti air-missile systems to Ankara and weapons to Azerbaijan.

With most opposition all but muzzled, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confidently continues his strategy of fomenting violence across the region in order to lift his own popularity at home, where he is facing an economic collapse and with the specter of preacher Fethullah Gülen hanging over his head.

That strategy, namely Turkey’s involvement in conflicts across the region in a bid to appear the victim of aggression, has been thwarted by the EU as Ankara was challenging European Union member states and meddling with the bloc’s interests. To compensate, Erdogan opted to further inflame what was already a tinderbox, as evidenced by the recent hostile rhetoric between the leaderships of Azerbaijan and Armenia at the 75th UN General Assembly on Sept. 27, mere days before the violence erupted.

The violence, however, is by no means only between the Armenians and the Azeris. Rather, hundreds if not thousands of Islamist radical fighters have been dispatched from Syria, Libya and Pakistan by Turkey for pay to help the “Azeris” cleanse the territory of Armenians, who had inhabited the Nagorno-Karapakh area as far back as the seventh century B.C. Meanwhile, Turkey and Israel have been both been reported as having sent military aid and weapons to the front. Ankara, of course, denies any such deployments despite ample evidence that corroborates the flow of Syrian fighters to the front.

In other words, countries with combined populations of over 320 million are taking on Armenians whose country’s own population numbers less than 3 million. It looks like the making of yet another genocide right before the eyes of the world, and no one is doing anything except issuing mild criticism and feeble calls for a cease-fire.

Why would they? Armenia is a small country with nothing to offer. There are no energy reserves in the country, its foreign trade is negligible and it has no industry to speak of and, unlike Lebanon which at least has access to the rest of the world by sea and any political agreement would soon see foreign aid arriving on its shores, the country is landlocked surrounded by enemies and with no way in or out.

Leverage, it appears, requires more than art, literature, craftsmanship and a culture that dates back millennia. Even with what in any other context would be described as terrorists at the gates, Armenia stands alone simply because it has no strategic value.

 

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