Wilsonian Armenia, Bidenian Armenia or Putinian Armenia? -by- Tazeen Akhtar 

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The strong reaction on US President Biden’s statement on so called “Armenian Genocide” in 1915 from Turkey and Azerbaijan was quite natural and it is with facts and figures that are impossible for neutral observers to ignore. Pakistan has also added to the suggestions given to the US President without mentioning his name.

Mr. Biden not only broke the American presidents’ long-held tradition of refraining from using the term ” Genocide” but also forgot that America itself had declared the Armenians organization as a terrorist outfit in 1980. Most probably , the President of the USA may have underestimated the outcome of what he was uttering in his 24 April 2021 speech at commemoration of the events of 1915.

It was when World War 1 was on and Ottoman Empire (the Caliphate) was facing problems on different fronts. Armenians were exposed at that time behind the conspiracies and treacheries against the Empire . There were casualties certainly but the word “Genocide” needs the factual background and solid references/proofs that can not be contradicted.

The US President has ignored the historical facts in some certain state of mind that can make the situation in Caucasus Region more complicated and affect the NATO partnership in Europe as well. Mr Biden is supposed to recall his own statement on 13 Oct 2020  emphasizing President Trump’s administration that “It must make clear to Armenia that regions surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh cannot be occupied indefinitely and that credible negotiations on a lasting resolution of the conflict must commence immediately once a ceasefire is concluded.”

This is the same Armenia that was not abiding by the ceasefire rules and was bent upon violating it again and again. When you take up 1915 events, you are supposed to see into the events of Armenian terrorism in Turkey and Europe, Assassinations of diplomats , and events of Sep, Oct, Nov 2020, events of Black January of Azerbaijan and Khojaly Massacre as well. US President is expected to give some proper word to these assassinations, terrorism and massacres also.

The USA has tried its utmost in the history to keep away from putting its weight on any of the parties in this conflict. In 1981, then-President Ronald Reagan referred to the “Armenian genocide” in a proclamation on the Holocaust, but others have shied away from using the term since. President Donald Trump did not consider the killings a genocide. Now President Biden declared it ” Genocide” that indicates big shift in US policy towards the region where Russian Federation is the main player. Armenia has become a common factor between the USA and Russia. France, Greece, Cyprus are already supporting Armenians.

This state of affairs can force Turkey and Azerbaijan to muster more support and make more efforts for their security. It means the conflict of two states is engaging not only the whole region but big powers also that will destabilize this already very fragile region with respect to peace and stability.

 

This statement infuriated Turkish and Azerbaijani leadership who took serious notice of the statement and reacted in a very strong but composed manner. Both countries reserve the right to say and do whatever they think is necessary when the USA is siding with one party. It is worth mentioning that Russia facilitated dialogue between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the Sep, Nov 2020 War.

It was only when Azerbaijan was about to liberate all Armenian occupied territories. It was obvious that Russia came to facilitate negotiation only to save Armenia from losing more lands but as  Mr. Biden noted at time, Armenia violated the negotiated ceasefire and targeted the civilian population of Azerbaijan. This clearly illustrates that Armenia has no respect to international laws, commitments with the world community and brings shame for its friends.

In 1920, the Armenians were promised by American President Woodrow Wilson in the Treaty of Sèvres, that they would be given their separate homeland. Armenians named it Wilsonian Armenia in the name of President Woodrow Wilson.

Now time will tell that Mr. Biden is going to toe Mr. Wilson’s legacy or he is marketing some new formula for Bidenian Armenia. By the way, Armenia, a country has already been established and it is still occupying the lands of others illegally. One can see the map and read the history of human rights violations by those who are posing as the victims of human rights violations.  Also, Mr Putin can see what type of Armenia is suitable for Russia. A Putinian Armenia most probably. So, best of luck for Armenians. 

What Biden Said

Mr Biden said: “We remember the lives of all those who died in the Ottoman-era Armenian genocide and recommit ourselves to preventing such an atrocity from ever again occurring.And we remember so that we remain ever-vigilant against the corrosive influence of hate in all its forms. The intention was “not to cast blame but to ensure that what happened is never repeated.”

As long as human rights are concerned, Mr Biden is supposed to look into the violations suffered by Turkish and Azerbaijani people at the hands of Armenians. The US President astonished the world by calling it Genocide because even Russia , the biggest sympathiser of the Aremenians, has not taken that extreme position so far.

The USA once stood with Ukraine against Russia but its role could not be seen except lip service there. Resultantly , Ukraine is disappointed from US side. What practical ,the USA can do here when Russia and the stakeholder countries have already reached their own solutions? Therefore, keeping away will be in the best interest of the USA and this region.

Turkey’s Position

The deaths of Armenians in eastern Anatolia took place when some sided with invading Russians and revolted against Ottoman forces. A subsequent relocation of Armenians resulted in numerous casualties. Biden’s statement lacks any scholarly or legal basis and is not supported by evidence. Turkey objects to the presentation of these incidents as “genocide,” describing them as a tragedy in which both sides suffered casualties. In 2014, then-Prime Minister Erdoğan expressed condolences to the descendants of Armenians who lost their lives in the events of 1915.

Reaction from Turkey

President Erdogan denouncing Mr Biden’s statement as groundless said that it is not only harmful for bilateral relations but it has also caused a deep wound into the ties of NATO allies as well. Turkish foreign ministry  summoned the US ambassador to convey Ankara’s “strong reaction”.Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Turkey “entirely rejects” the US decision.We will not take lessons from anyone in our history.Turkish Foreign Ministry rejected the assertion as “It was made under the pressure of radical Armenian circles and anti-Turkey groups. “

Reaction from Azerbaijan

President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan termed the US President’s remarks as unacceptable and a historic mistake. The US president’s remarks would “seriously damage cooperation in the region. President Ilham had a phone call with President Erdogan and both leaders condemned the move of Mr Biden. Azerbaijan has made it clear that Baku will always stand with Ankara.

Armenia ; Bewilderment 

On 24 April, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan  tweeted : “The US has once again demonstrated its unwavering commitment to protecting human rights and universal values.”

 (This was said by who? who is unacceptable to his own people and whose people themselves have a world record in violations of human rights and universal values of neighborhood, respect for other religions, respect for women, elderly people and children)

Interestingly the next day he  had to resign but will stay until new parliamentary elections are held on June 20. Armenians are in a bewilderment since when they have faced defeat and had to vacate the territories that they occupied illegally. Everyday there are big protests against the government, opposition parties and people are on road calls from top army officers to resign over defeat in  war  Azerbaijan. People of Armenia burning the flags of Turkey and Azerbaijan only to satisfy their egoistic anxiety created by their defeat.

More than 3,600 Armenian soldiers were killed in the 44-day war with Azerbaijan before he signed a Russia-brokered truce accord on Nov. 10 to halt the fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh. The agreement required Armenian forces to withdraw from three Azerbaijani regions that is the real painful factor for Armenia and its sympathizers that engage the countries not to solve the problems but maintain the status quo only. This time they had to see the other phenomenon. Azerbaijan took back the lands of Azerbaijan thwarting the Armenian aggression.

People of Armenia are so frustrated already and the statement of the US President is equal to further fueling their fury instigating them to more hateful acts against Turkey and Azerbaijan. This will certainly jeopardise the peace in this region.

Armenian Terrorism Against Turkey

The Armenian Secret Army for Liberation of Armenia  was a Marxist  militant organization whose stated goal was “to compel the Turkish Government to acknowledge publicly its responsibility for the Armenian Genocide in 1915, pay reparations, and cede territory for an Armenian homeland.”

It operated from 1975 to the 1990. It was described as a terrorist organization by some sources and armed organization by others. On October 22, 1975, Turkish Ambassador in Austria, Danis Tunaligil was assassinated by three members of ASALA.

Two days later, the Turkish Ambassador in France, Ismail Erez and his chauffeur were killed. Both ASALA and JCAG claimed responsibility. It was listed as a terrorist organization by the United States in the 1980. The terrorist org named  ASALA. Its attacks and assassinations resulted in the deaths of 46 people and 299 injured. The organization has also claimed responsibility for more than 50 bomb attacks.

The principal goal of ASALA was to establish a United Armenia (or “Greater Armenia”) that would include the six vilayets of the Ottoman Empire (Western Armenia) and Soviet Armenia. The group sought to claim the area (called Wilsonian Armenia) that was promised to the Armenians by American President Woodrow Wilson in the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres. Now time will tell that Mr. Biden is going to toe Mr. Wilson’s legacy

The group received considerable clandestine support from the Armenian diaspora in Europe and in the United States. Suffering from internal schisms, the group was relatively inactive in the 1990s, although in 1991 it claimed an unsuccessful attack on the Turkish ambassador to Hungary. ASALA made another attack  in Brussels in 1997, where a group of militants claiming to be ASALA bombed the Turkish Embassy in the city.

 Genocides of Azerbaijanis

The Khojaly massacre was the mass murder of more than 200 and possibly as high as 1,000 ethnic Azerbaijani civilians by Armenian armed forces and 366th CIS regiment in the town of Khojaly on 26 February 1992.  The event became the largest single massacre throughout the entire Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Black January, also known as Black Saturday or the January Massacre, was a violent crackdown on the civilian population of Baku on 19–20 January 1990, as part of a state of emergency during the dissolution of the Soviet Union. According to official estimates of Azerbaijan 147 civilians were killed, 800 people were injured and five people went missing.

In the latest War, Armenians not only hit civilian populations and infrastructure of Azerbaijan but destroyed Islamic culture in the territories that they were sure to leave. They nearly decimated Azerbaijani town of Shusha and its famed Mamayi Mosque, which was transformed into an Armenian church, its commemorative Islamic plaque erased and replaced with an Armenian cross.

Or the ancient Azerbaijani city of Agdam, once a thriving home to 50,000 Azerbaijanis, totally obliterated by Armenian troops to the extent that it is now called the “Hiroshima of the Caucasus” or “Ghost Town”. After Agdam’s occupation and obliteration, the city’s only surviving building was its Juma Mosque, which was intentionally converted into a barn for pigs and cows.

The plundering, desecration and destruction of Azerbaijani cultural heritage in Armenia and the occupied Karabakh region includes 4,500 historical, religious and cultural monuments. Perhaps most horrendous is that the majority of this “cultural genocide” occurred after armed hostilities ended with a 1994 ceasefire agreement.

Turkish Proposal of Joint Commission 

Ankara has proposed the creation of a joint commission of historians from Turkey and Armenia as well as international experts to tackle the issue. This proposal deserves attention and implementation by all parties that are, directly or indirectly, involved in this issue. This is the only way to deal with a dispute amicably and wisely. Raising the hand of your ally even if he has lost will not work rather worsen the situation more that can ignite the fire again.

Pakistan’s Stance

Pakistan has called to refrain from one sided political statements on historical events like 1915 related to Armenia. Spokesperson said: “We have taken note of statements made by some governments on the events of 1915.We believe that one-sided approaches and political categorization of historical events could undermine trust and lead to polarization between nations. We note with appreciation Turkey’s constructive approach on the subject including its proposal for a Joint History Commission to ascertain the facts, allowing all to move forward.US President Joe Biden  marked the deportation and killing of Armenians during the Ottoman Empire as “genocide” in 1915 that has been rejected by Turkey and Azerbaijan.”

Pakistan better understands the position of Turkey and Azerbaijan regarding Armenia because Pakistan has also faced identical challenges throughout the history. India has illegally occupied the state of Jammu and Kashmir. India has been crushing the voice for freedom for 7 decades. More than 90 thousand Kashmiris have been martyred by Indian military. India is behind the terrorist activities in Balochistan especially and the rest of the country in general. India’s serving naval officer arrested in Balochistan admitted his involvement in terrorism in Pakistan.

But the same reactions from big powers are seen in South Asia as well. Pakistan expects that so-called Super Powers claiming to be the masters of human rights would act accordingly against India but here India is the apple of the eye like Armenia is there. That siding with the accused is not justice and injustice can never bring peace and if peace is disturbed , everyone is affected.

(The writer is editor of a newspaper and international magazine in Islamabad. He can be reached at tazeen303@gmail.com)

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