After Azerbaijan was dealt a defeat by Armenian forces following the former’s surprise attack on Armenia, it dealt itself another self-inflicted wound by threatening to bomb the Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant in Armenia.

That statement put a severe dent in its media campaign machinery in defense of its aggression against Armenia’s Tavush region.

There is much speculation in global media outlets about the cause of this flare-up at this particular junction. Many analysts believe that the Azerbaijani attack was an initiative to test Armenia’s military treaty with the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) countries, whose signatories are Russia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

However, there are also indications that Azerbaijan is experiencing painful domestic unrest, which has led President Ilham Aliyev to force public discourse toward the enemy outside its borders.

Whatever the reason for the unprovoked attack on July 12, Azerbaijan suffered a setback and a humiliation which it is trying to neutralize through a media war, combined with political actions.

On the Armenian side, this unwelcome war boosted the morale of the people and its armed forces, along the awakening of worldwide diasporan solidarity which was expressed through political demonstrations, media coverage and push for legislative actions.

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The collective movement came to disprove the self-defeating belief that Armenians are not capable of mobilizing and politicizing their worldwide forces.

If the intent of the war planners in Ankara and Baku was to probe the validity of the CSTO, they failed in their attempt, because Armenia did not appeal to Russia nor to the CSTO for help. It retaliated against the aggression through its own armed forces and even managed to improve its strategic position on the line of contact.

On the contrary, Azerbaijan cried uncle and sent a delegation to Ankara for consultations.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, whose name had already made headlines across the world last week when he led Turkish expedition forces into Libya, received Azerbaijani Defense Minister Ramiz Tahirov, who is also the country’s air force chief.

Akar assured the Azerbaijani delegation that “the pain of the Azerbaijani Turk is our pain. We want you to know that any kind of difficulties that you feel there are also felt here very deeply. The blood of our Azerbaijani bothers will not remain unavenged.”

The meaning of that warning is not lost on anyone. However, the international community is aware who owes blood to whom and in what quantity.

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In an article published in Al-Monitor, journalist Amberin Zaman states: “Getting tough with Armenia also plays to [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan’s nationalist base as he seeks to revive his sagging poll numbers amid the country’s worst economic downturn since his Justice and Development Party came to power 18 years ago.”

To the question of whether Turkey will make good on its threats by its military involvement in the conflict, Zaman responds: “The prevailing consensus among analysts is however, that Turkey has no interest in another hot war on its borders.”

Thomas de Waal, a senior fellow at Carnegie Europe and the author of the 2003 book Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan Through Peace and War, one of the most authoritative books on the conflict, told Al-Monitor that Erdogan is “interested in exploiting any situation he can, [he] is more interested in a war of words than a war of guns” and that “Azerbaijan doesn’t really want a war either.”

These predictions may hold true for the short term. Perhaps Azerbaijan sincerely wishes to avoid a full-scale war, particularly after its recent experience. But, Erdogan’s ambitions for a new Turkish-centric empire may not recognize any limits. Many of his acts of aggression toward neighboring countries were once thought to be impossible but Erdogan achieved them and there has been no stopping him.

When war broke out between Armenia and Azerbaijan, most of those in other major capitals called for restraint on both sides. However, after Erdogan publicly lent his support to Azerbaijan, both Moscow and Washington, as fellow members of OSCE, called for negotiations instead. Even Iran, which publicly maintains a neutral stance toward the warring parties, allowed some criticism of Turkey in its state-controlled press. It is in Iran’s interest to have Armenian forces on its border rather than Azeri ones.

When the Karabakh defense forces took control of territories outside Karabakh in 1994, the Armenian-Iranian borders were extended at the expense of the Azerbaijani territory, from where the Israeli spying network operates.

The spontaneous reaction of the diaspora Armenians revealed the potential – whether or not fully used – of Armenians to sensitize or impress world public opinion. That is an untapped resource which needs further cultivation to become a political force.

Kim Kardashian, who has begun to use her incredibly popular social media presence to support social justice in the US, in recent years, has thrown her full support behind Armenian causes. This time around, she informed her 179 million Instagram followers that Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defense is threatening to bomb her father’s ancestral homeland. She further underscored in her message that “Congressional amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act will be voted on next week to ensure that the US does not enable Azerbaijan with military aid that would be used against Armenia and Artsakh.”

She added, “I stand with my fellow Armenians.”

No less supportive was another celebrity, Cher, who commented in her Twitter feed on a post about Azerbaijani threats to strike Armenia’s nuclear power plant. They have been killing Armenians since before I went there. We turn a blind eye. They have oil.”

Unfortunately, the Armenians did not have the same success with another noted Armenian, media giant Margarita Simonian, head of the Russian RT network, and one of the closest confidants of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

A person so close to the center of power had to be won over at any price. Instead, the social networks were full of rude and crude insults, to the point of aggravating her into an ugly reaction on her television channel. Admitting to be a part of the Armenian nation, she criticized those close to the ruling elite for their unsavory behavior and anti-Russian rhetoric. There are very few levelheaded people who do not believe that such a powerful resource should have been handled with kid gloves. Yet the barrage of insults continues, costing us a valuable asset.

Another heartening event was the reaction of Moscow Armenians to the war of apricots. The apricot is Armenia’s national fruit. It is in our art, history and gastronomy. It is practically a symbol of national pride, and known in Latin as prunus armenicus.

The apricot is one of the major exports of Armenia to Russia. Following the Tavush war, when the Armenian trucks arrived on July 16, Moscow’s Food City Market for distribution, they were not allowed to be unloaded. It is believed that the market is partially owned by an ethnic Azeri.

To add insult to injury, Azerbaijani youth bought a few pallets of apricots and began to stomp on them publicly. The news raced through Moscow and nearby cities. The Armenian-owned Tashir market welcomed the trucks as Armenians waited in line to buy the apricots for their own consumption and to donate to Russian charities. Then a festival ensured in front of the Armenian supermarket, on a Moscow street close to the Kremlin.

Russian Armenians, who number more than two million, have seldom shown organized political activity. If in this way they upheld the honor of apricots, Moscow Armenians can rally around an abstract idea or political cause, and we will have grassroots power on Russia’s political spectrum.

Protest rallies took place throughout Europe during which Armenian youth clashed with Azerbaijani demonstrators in front of Azerbaijani embassies in London and Washington.

Along with public demonstrations, legislative action also took place, particularly in the US Congress.

When legislators, governors or mayors are approached, these politicians have a way of resorting to political expediency by issuing generic statements.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s statement, however, broke from that anodyne mode. Perhaps the clout of a million-plus Armenians had weighed in so that he came up with a straightforward position, stating: “We stand with the Armenian community against violence. Azerbaijan must end its provocative and dangerous threats to strike Armenia’s civilian nuclear power plant and must admit international monitors.”

Also active were Armenian advocacy groups seeking political action. The Armenian Assembly of America and the Armenian National Committee of America in Washington spearheaded the campaign to support an amendment by the Armenian Caucus in Congress to bring focus to Azerbaijani human rights violations. The amendment was included as part of a bloc package of over 100 amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act, requiring a report regarding Internally Displaced People in Ukraine. Georgia, Moldova and Azerbaijan, since 1991, ignoring atrocities in Baku and Sumgait, which resulted in mass deportations of some 300,000 Armenians. A statement released by the Armenians Assembly reads: “Given Azerbaijan’s $3 billion Laundromat scheme to white wash its human rights record, as well as continue attacks against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh, we commend Representative [Frank] Pallone for this timely amendment.”

As the threat of hot war looms over Armenia, the war of words continues in the news media and corridors of power in major capitals.

Turkey’s Pan-Turanic plans do not offer any hope for peace in the region. Azerbaijan is also dragged into adventures it can ill handle by its elder, reckless brother to play its part in mischief.

The retaliation against Baku’s aggression has angered both “brothers” to plan new attacks on Armenia. It is reported that Aliyev has dispatched Gen. Kerem Mustafayov, commander of forces in Nakhichevan, to Ankara for consultations, while Turkey has begun recruiting jihadists in Afrin, Syria, for renewed attacks on Armenia.

War is there for the long haul and it behooves Armenian soldiers on the front line to guard our historic homeland vigilantly, in lockstep with the youth around the world to win the war of words.

 

 

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