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Armenia should not be rewarded for violating international law and committing a crime against humanity.

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The influential Armenian lobby in the United States want Joe Biden’s officials to punish Azerbaijan for winning back its own land (photo: Michael Brown/KHTS News)

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It was recently reported that Congressman Mike Garcia together with a group of other congressmen and senators wrote to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, calling for the illegal Armenian entity known as Artsakh to have self-determination in the Nagorno-Karabakh region in violation of the peace agreement that was recently negotiated under the auspices of Russia. It also calls upon the United States to withhold aid from Azerbaijan, while giving more aid to Armenia. 

The timing of such a proposal to be made during the same month as Khojaly Genocide Day is a moral outrage for the Azerbaijani people, especially given that Armenia is reportedly deploying its forces in Azerbaijani territory in violation of the recently signed peace agreement

Although Armenians also have an ancient attachment to the land, it is a historic injustice to deny the fact that the Armenians for the most part of history were a minority that lived amongst other peoples, who made up a majority in Nagorno-Karabakh. 

According to Mexican-American author Raul Conteras, two hundred years ago, only 8% of the Nagorno-Karabakh region was Armenian and 90% of the population was Azerbaijani. However, he stressed that following the Treaty of Turkmenchay and the Russian-Ottoman Treaty of Adrianople, 30,000 Armenians settled in Nagorno-Karabakh, an area that historically belonged to the Azerbaijani Khanate states in antiquity and more recently, various Turkic empires. Under Stalin, the trend continued, as Nagorno-Karabakh was set up as an Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan, for Stalin traditionally resettled nations so that dissent could be minimized. 

Around this period, 100,000 Azerbaijanis were transported out of Armenia, although no Armenians were transported out of the Nagorno-Karabakh region. 

Nevertheless, despite the population transfers that took place under Russian/Soviet rule, no less than four UN Security Council Resolutions—882, 853, 874, and 884— recognize that the Nagorno-Karabakh region belongs to Azerbaijan and called upon Armenia to unconditionally withdraw from the area, which they illegally occupied for 29 years.    

During the First Karabakh War, Armenia ethnically cleansed 800,000 Azerbaijanis from their homes in an area that amounted to 20% of Azerbaijan’s territory. This ethnic cleansing culminated in the Khojaly genocide.

During the Khojaly genocide, 613 innocent Azerbaijani men, women and children were murdered for the crime of being Azerbaijani. Rabbi Israel Barouk, writing in Khojaly: A Crime Against Humanity, proclaimed: “Of those who perished, 56 people were killed with particular cruelty: burning alive, scalping, beheading, gouging out of the eyes and the bayoneting of pregnant women in the abdomen.” According to him, an additional 1,275 Azerbaijanis were taken hostage, of whom many were raped and tortured in the cruelest manner.  Armenia also destroyed 67 mosques, 48 tombs, 192 religious shrines and 128 ancient Albanian temples in the Nagorno-Karabakh region around the same period, which is reminiscent of what ISIS did to Palmyra and other historic treasures.  

In a recent webinar hosted by the American Sephardi Federation and the Muslim American Leadership Alliance, Muslim American activist Zeynab Khan proclaimed: “We have an obligation for communities to bridge together to protect different communities, languages, and cultures. Every year, Azerbaijanis solemnly remember the Khojaly massacre, which occurred on February 26, 1992. The Khojaly genocide profoundly impacted the lives of over 600,000 internally displaced people, forced to flee Karabakh for sanctuary in Baku. Khojaly remains a deep wound for Azerbaijanis.”

Jason Guberman, who heads the American Sephardi Federation, concurred, noting that many Azerbaijanis are still traumatized by what happened in Khojaly, the ghost town Agdam and other areas of Nagorno-Karabakh during the First Karabakh War and afterwards but still cherish religious tolerance, multiculturalism and pluralism as a way of life: “Despite this tragic loss, we want to work together to overcome oppression and build bridges with Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and all people in memory of these people.  We are of different religions and find unity in the fact that the perpetrators sought to deny what happened and destroy till this day.” 

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Indeed, Azerbaijan today is a strategic ally of the United States, who has assisted America in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kosovo, with over a third of nonlethal military equipment that travels to American soldiers in Afghanistan reaching them via Baku.  Azerbaijan also takes part in NATO’s Partnership for Peace Program. In 2008, the late Senator Richard Lugar described Azerbaijan as “America’s sole friend in the Caucasus basin.” Azerbaijan is also a strategic ally of the State of Israel, one of America’s closest allies in the Middle East. 

In contrast, traditionally, Armenia has been closer to Russia and the Islamic Republic of Iran, who chants “death to America” at every available opportunity and attacks American targets in the Persian Gulf. 

Considering these facts, if the US were to withhold aid from Azerbaijan and support Artsakh self-determination in violation of the recent peace agreement, it would be detrimental to America’s interests, as it sends a negative message to America’s Muslim allies in a critical region that serves as a crossroads between East and West. It would also be inhumane, as it would reward Armenia for violating international law and committing a crime against humanity. 

Therefore, I urge the Biden administration, instead of trying to undermine the peace process started by Russia by harming Azerbaijan, encourage Armenian-Azerbaijani reconciliation, so that any peace deal will last. This is more constructive than trying to harm one of the parties to the conflict, who has been a faithful US ally to date. 

Rachel Avraham is a political analyst working at the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research, Public Relations and Human Rights.  She is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings at the American, Israeli and Arab Media.”  

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We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

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