ANCA Presses State Department to Avert War by Challenging Azerbaijan’s Military Escalation
WASHINGTON—The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), amid growing Congressional opposition to Baku’s escalating aggression, is calling directly upon the Obama Administration for U.S. leadership in stopping Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s march toward war.
The ANCA’s Aram Hamparian and Kate Nahapetian, on August 8th, held a frank and open discussion with Ambassador James Warlick, the Department of State’s mediator for Nagorno Karabakh, to press the U.S. government to meaningfully challenge and materially constrain Azerbaijan’s reckless march toward war. During this meeting, the Ambassador was given a letter from ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian, which noted that “President Aliyev’s most recent wave of fatal cross-border attacks against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh has cost dozens of lives and seriously undermined the vital work of the OSCE Minsk Group.”
Hachikian warned that: “All indications are that, unless stopped, this undemocratic and unaccountable dictator will act on his threats to start a full-scale Caucasus war, one that will visit vast death and destruction upon all the peoples of the region, likely leading to a wider and even more dangerous conflict.” He closed by stressing that: “With sufficiently strong American leadership, the Minsk Group can get the peace process back on track, by unequivocally condemning Azerbaijan’s military attacks and then by leading an international campaign to secure Baku acceptance of OSCE proposals, already backed by Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh, to pull-back snipers and add observers.” The full letter is available online.
“We join with Armenian Americans and all those around the world who seek peace in thanking Members of Congress for seeking to restrain President Aliyev’s aggression and reverse Azerbaijan’s march toward war,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. Among the recent Congressional expressions of concern on this topic are the following:
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA): “I am deeply saddened by the recent reports of escalated violence on the Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia border and the deaths of several Armenian and Azeri soldiers. I am taken aback by Azerbaijan’s attacks on Red Cross staff in a border village in Armenia and Baku’s decision to use sniper rifles in this conflict after several years of respecting the decision by both sides to refrain from doing so. It is my sincere hope that Azerbaijan will abstain from further sniper attacks and instead engage in meaningful resolution talks with Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.”
Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI): “I am deeply troubled by the resurgence of fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh and hope Armenia and Azerbaijan can find a resolution to restore peace. I strongly condemn the use of sniper attacks by the Azerbaijani government, which is in direct violation of the cease-fire agreement and international law, and am appalled by reports that Azerbaijan forces attacked a Red Cross envoy. This continued aggression will only bring unrest and risks jeopardizing a cease-fire agreement that was put in place over 20 years ago. As both Presidents Sarkisian and Aliyev prepare to travel to Russia, I hope Azerbaijan will agree to stop these attacks to defuse the escalating violence and prevent the further loss of life.”
Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) [Tweet]: “I’m deeply concerned about incidents of violence against Nagorno-#Karabakh by #Azerbaijan. A long-term solution requires peace & diplomacy.”
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): “For two decades, the people of Nagorno-Karabakh have lived with constant threats and sniper fire from Azerbaijan, which seeks to reassert control over the overwhelmingly Armenian population of the region. Last week, Azeri forces again attacked across the Line of Contact, resulting in casualties on both sides. This latest resort to violence must be condemned in the strongest terms, and America should call upon the Azeri government to withdraw its forces and renounce the use of snipers, especially against civilians, and all American military assistance should be suspended until Azerbaijan does so.”
“Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian and Azeri President Ilham Aliyev plan to meet starting tomorrow, but if their talks are to have any chance of bearing fruit, President Aliyev is going to adopt a sharply different tone from his remarks of late, when he asserted that Azerbaijan had the means to destroy ‘any facility in Nagorno-Karabakh’ and again trumpeted his country’s military prowess.”
“Since breaking free of a regime that encouraged violence and pogroms against its Armenian Christian citizens, the people of Nagorno-Karabakh have sought to build democracy and a market economy at home. Baku has responded with an oil-boom funded military build-up and a campaign of bellicose rhetoric and has so imbued its citizens with blood lust against Armenians, that an Azeri army captain who beheaded a sleeping Armenian colleague during a NATO Partnership for Peace exercise was treated as a hero and promoted to major after his transfer from a Hungarian prison in 2012. Now is the time for the Minsk Group to assert itself in this long-running and increasingly dangerous dispute. The people of Nagorno-Karabakh have the right to determine their own future, free from Azeri threats and violence, and they also have the right to go about their lives without fear of being shot in the back by a sniper.”
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA): “The increased military aggression by Azerbaijan toward Armenians and its use of snipers to shoot at Armenian civilians and even the International Committee of the Red Cross in Armenia must be condemned. These actions by Azerbaijan are violations of international law and a long-standing ceasefire. Against all odds, the Armenian people of Nagorno Karabakh have succeeded in creating a democratic society that upholds peace and justice. They have fought back against attacks to their society and for their very right to exist. The international community must stand with them to stop Azerbaijan’s march toward war.”
Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-CA) [Tweet]: “Saddened by deaths of Armenian & Azeri troops & attacks on RedCross staff. I hope for no further violence & for peace & diplomacy in future.”
The ANCA has organized a #StopAliyev social media campaign that has attracted widespread interest and support.