By Avak Antorian, Toronto, 21 October 2020
While the recent Armenian hostility towards Israel is rooted in Tel Aviv’s decision to act as the arsenal of Azerbaijan in the latter’s invasion of Armenia and Artsakh, Israel’s attack on Armenians is at least two-pronged. The second prong is the anti-Armenian information war waged by Israel and its agents. Yesterday, two of these deplorable people (public affairs consultant Stuart Epstein and [take a deep breath] human rights attorney-national security/geopolitical analyst-vice-president of a media and security consultancy one Irina Tsukerman) published an article (“Pro-Western Azerbaijan Deserves American Support”) in Newsweek magazine (Oct. 20, 2020). We parse the anti-Armenian tract.
One of us is a human rights attorney stridently opposed to Turkish foreign policy in the Eastern Mediterranean and elsewhere; the other is a public affairs consultant who strongly believes Turkey is a key pillar in America’s ongoing efforts to roll back the Iranian regime’s aggressive behavior.
Parse: The human rights attorney is “stridently opposed to Turkish foreign policy in the Eastern Mediterranean” because it threatens Israel’s interests and not because of Turkey’s naked imperialism. No matter what’s written, every word is eventually intended to promote Israeli interests.
However, we unite in our support of Sunni-majority Turkey’s Shi’a ally, Azerbaijan, an unabashedly pro-Western country, as it is unfairly smeared in certain political, diplomatic and media circles for having the audacity to defend itself in the latest round of bloody fighting with its neighbor, Armenia.
Parse: The “unabashedly pro-Western country” is friendly with Russia and buys a great deal of its weapons from Russia.
Who are the “political, diplomatic and media circles” which have “unfairly smeared Azerbaijan in the war started by Azerbaijan? Anyone following the global media knows that very few media outlets have been pro-Armenian. As a matter of fact, they all start their report by pointing out that Artsakh belongs to Azerbaijan and that Armenians are separatists and rebels. And which diplomatic and political circles defended the Armenians other than France, Greece, and Greek Cyprus. There are 190 states at the UN.
Both nations reside in the South Caucasus region, which borders Iran, and had declared their independence from the imploding Soviet Union in 1991. The Soviets had a policy of instigating and backing sectarian tensions, and a Kremlin-backed Armenian invasion of Azerbaijan immediately followed, resulting in the capture of some 20 percent of the latter’s territory (the Karabakh region and seven adjacent territories) and ethnic cleansing of the region. Nearly one million Azeris became internally displaced persons. The Khojaly massacre in February 1992, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Azeri civilians, is all but forgotten, as is the historic context for the conflict we have witnessed ever since.
Parse: The Russians were not pro-Armenian in the 1991 war. Kremlin alternated its support depending on its self-interest. The pair repeats the lie that Armenians occupy 20 percent of Azeri territory. The 20 percent is inflated. Since Artsakh is part of Armenia, it can’t be calculated as part of the 20 percent. Thus, the occupied area is less than 10 percent. Armenians are holding it as buffer because an Azeri occupation of the buffer zone would render Artsakh vulnerable. It’s not worth discussing the battle of Khojaly which Azeri and Zionist hyper agitprop have inflated to massacre …and even to genocide. Inflation doesn’t apply just to economics.
The conflict has flared up numerous times since 1992. But the most recent round of fighting, which began in July and intensified three weeks ago, has been considerably more deadly, and has included efforts to disable a strategically vital oil pipeline that runs from the Azeri capital of Baku through Georgia and into Turkey, the repeated shelling of Azerbaijan’s second largest city, as well as reported importing of Syrian civil war combatants by both sides.
Parse: The paragraph is replete with misdirection and falsehood. Note they don’t mention that the July fighting was started by the Azeris and continued the omission by not mentioning that the current war started by Azerbaijan. Third falsehood: Armenians have made no effort to disable a strategically vital oil pipeline. Fourth lie: While there are thousands of Syrian mercenary terrorists fighting on the side of the Azeris, there are no Syrian Armenians fighting on the Armenian side. The allegation is a fabrication intended to mitigate Azeri hiring of mercenary terrorists.
In promoting a cessation of hostilities, the United States must prioritize its interests in stopping additional civilian deaths and protecting the major energy and transport corridor emanating from the Caspian Sea toward the West. Similarly, Washington must resist the urge to recite talking points that inaccurately—and dangerously—paint the fighting as some sort of religious war between Christian Armenia and brutal Muslim invaders.
Parse: There’s a lot of double talk and obfuscation here. The last sentence is called “fishing”. Armenians have always considered the conflict one of legal ownership of Artsakh. The two writers are injecting religion into their tirade to put Christians on the defensive…Beware: if you support Armenia you must be Islamophobic. It’s intended to mislead Muslims into believing the war is about religion and thus support Azerbaijan.
While the overwhelming majority of Azeri citizens are Muslim, Azerbaijan, with a population of barely 10 million, is a secular society in which no major religious faiths face discrimination.
Parse: Azeris are enlightened, sophisticated, western, liberated, tolerant, God’s gift to humanity. A nation (not just the corrupt government) which hailed a cowardly axe murderer is being peddled as an enlightened country. Freedom House regularly gives a “Z” rating to Azerbaijan regarding tolerance, freedom, democracy, and the rule of law. After all, it’s a dictatorship.
Pope Francis visited Baku in October 2016 and declared: “The Catholic Church, even though it has a small presence in the country, is truly present in the civic and social life of Azerbaijan; it participates in its joys and shares the challenges of confronting its difficulties. …I am, moreover, particularly pleased with the cordial relations enjoyed by the Catholic, Muslim, Orthodox and Jewish communities. It is my hope that the signs of friendship and cooperation may continue to increase. These good relations assume great significance for peaceful coexistence and for peace in the world, and they demonstrate that among the followers of different religious confessions cordial relations, respect and cooperation for the good of all are possible.”
Parse: Quoting the Pope signals desperation by the scribblers. When was the last time any Pope said anything negative about any country?
There are sizable, vibrant communities of Ashkenazi, Georgian and Mountain Jews, as well; indeed, the first Jewish settlement inside the country dates back to the 7th century C.E. Repeated efforts by the Iranian regime to the south to foment anti-Semitic hate inside the country, including attempted terror attacks on Jewish and Israeli targets, have failed. Intra-communal relations remain rock solid.
Parse: Ah, we finally come to the crux of the article—the reason the pair put together their biased brains and wrote the anti-Armenian tract. You see, Azeris are good people because they are friendly with Israel (There is no talk of billions of dollars Azerbaijan has spent on buying Israel armaments). Since the Azeris are good people, support them in the war that they didn’t start.
And while in 2020, it may seem trendy to come out in favor of establishing diplomatic relations with Israel, Azerbaijan forged ties with the Jewish state almost immediately after it declared independence. Cooperation has never flagged, including on military matters, even as Turkey’s relations with Israel turned mostly icy in recent years. The volume of trade and cultural exchanges has expanded. The relationship between the two nations is warm and fully engaged, rather than limited to merely defense cooperation.
Parse: “Trade and cultural exchanges has expanded…” Did the Ganja Philharmonic Orchestra play all ten Mahler symphonies in Israel? Did the internationally-famous Baku Global Dramatic Society perform at Israel’s Habima Theatre? No, no, no. The exchange is about buying Azeri oil and selling demonic drones, etc. to Azerbaijan. A few years ago, oversized Baby Aliyev said he had spent about $ 5 billion buying weapons (from Israel). They are the weapons which are killing Armenians now. And as if selling arms to the belligerent dictator was not enough, Israel continues to supply—almost daily—more weapons to Aliyev. These days, Israel is not the land of milk and honey but of bullets and drones.
No wonder Iran, the largest Shi’a country in the world but with ethnic Azeris comprising of up to 30 percent of its population, feels threatened by a tolerant Azerbaijan’s continued geopolitical success and therefore supports Armenia.
Parse: Here’s the unsubtle line of incompetent persuasion: America is anti Iran. Armenia is friendly with Iran. Therefore Armenia is America’s enemy. Of course, no mention that in the east and the west Israel’s friends (Azerbaijan and Turkey) have blockaded Armenia while in the north Georgia is a vassal of Turkey leaving Iran as Armenia’s only outlet to the world. But for the honor of joining America’s blockade of Iran, Armenia should commit suicide.
Moreover, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline delivers 40 percent of Israeli’s oil, but is also an important route of hydrocarbon delivery to Europe and a crucial counter to Russia’s and Iran’s supplies. The Trump administration’s crippling sanctions on Nord Stream 2 have created additional economic challenges for Moscow; accordingly, Baku is a direct economic competitor. Additionally, Azerbaijan is a major gas producer and is one of the most energy self-sufficient states in the world. It is no wonder that Russia also backs Armenia against Azerbaijan, which presents a challenge to the Kremlin’s primacy in Europe.
Parsing: Support Azerbaijan because Israel needs Azeri oil.
Support Azerbaijan because it’s a rival of Russia in energy exports.
Support Azerbaijan because Russia backs Armenia.
Not only must Baku resist pressure from Moscow and Tehran, but it has to play a delicate balancing act between its pro-Western orientation and maintaining its relationship with Ankara. Those who believe that Azerbaijan is simply Turkey’s proxy are mistaken. Although President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has offered additional military hardware and technical assistance to his Turkish cousins during the latest events, Azerbaijan, with its vastly improved standing military and sophisticated and effective weapons, needs no foreign legions—nor does it need imported Syrian jihadists. While Turkey’s political support is an important booster in international circles, ultimately Azerbaijan is dedicated to an independent political line, which has not shifted despite Erdogan’s heated words and information campaign.
Parse: Here the mendacious pair is competing who can grow a nose longer and faster than Pinocchio. Even Azeri urchins know Aliev is Erdogan’s gofer. The pair with typical chutzpah want the reader to believe Aliev has refused Turkish weapons. Yes and the sun rises in the west in Tel Aviv.
It is neither in Washington’s interest to change this situation, nor to alienate Baku from the West, nor to ironically make it wholly dependent on Turkey by treating the two very distinct countries as indistinguishable. This simplistic understanding of the complexities of the South Caucasus only plays in the hands of the anti-Western hegemons who seek to divide the Western and Middle Eastern partners over these issues and promote chaos where strategically vital alliances fall into disrepair, thanks to effective disinformation and manipulation of the zeitgeist at the expense of more important geopolitical matters.
Parse: They call Turkey and Azerbaijan “two very distinct countries.” They might get an argument on that from Erdogan and Aliev. More than once, the Turkic Twins have described their countries as “two states, one nation.” But who are you going to believe? The Zionist shills or the Turkic leaders? “Anti-Western hegemons who seek to divide the Western and Middle Eastern partners…” Epstein and Tsukerman are worried. The shifting geopolitical scene might have adverse effect on Israel. And who is spreading “effective disinformation and manipulation of the zeitgeist …” other than Tel Aviv and its mignons?
Whatever one’s views are on Turkey’s trajectory, pro or con, America must have Azerbaijan’s back.
Parse: Two transparent and repulsive agents of Israel who masquerade as Americans with the interests of America in mind although only a fool would not see they are agents of Tel Aviv. Their article isn’t about Armenia, Azerbaijan, or Turkey. It’s about Israel and justifying Israel’s criminal actions in the Turkbeijan attack on Armenia and Artsakh. They are soldiers of Zion.