By Vicken Tossounian, Beirut, 7 January 2022
Nations whose sons and daughters band together in the face of calamitous challenges survive, especially when enemies reach their doors and threaten their existence.
In the first millennium BC, the state of Urartu was founded around Lake Van and in the province of Ayrarat. The main reason that historians recall its glory was its competence to thwart the threat to the Armenian people from the south, the state of Assyria. Four tribes, the Armens, the Hayasa, the Nayiri, and the Khurri Mitans, united to form a powerful state that founded Erebuni, Tospa or Van, Khalti, Arin Berd and laid the foundation for the first Armenian political entity after the third millennium Aratta. It was this state that later destroyed the bloodthirsty Assyria with the Medes and the Babylonians.
In the sixth century BC the Yervanduni, then in the second century the Artashesians founded two powerful states. During the reign of Artashesian king Tigran the Great Armenia reached the peak of its power. Its boundaries extended to the Levant and Palestine. It was the appearance of the Romans that put an end to this vast state. After the advent of Rome and its competitor Parthian Persia, a catastrophe began in Armenia that harmed the future of all our royal families. There were Roman and Parthian factions. This tension between the two weakened the foundations of the Armenian state. This rift caused the two divisions of Armenia in 387 and 428. The latter was the harbinger of the end of the Arshakunyats kingdom and Armenia lost its independence when it went adrift of the virtue of making a unified national decision.
The same phenomenon happened when Byzantium and Sassanid Persia competed each other from the 5th century and on. There were Byzantine and Persian oriented ministerial families. Between these two directions, Armenia lost its independence until the Arabs reached Armenia in the seventh century. In the absence of the Sassanid state, Armenia was able to find common ground with the Arab caliphate, and the Bagratids established their state in 885. It opened a bright page in the history of the Armenian people and did a great job until in 1045 the short-sighted emperors of Byzantium, instead of strengthening their neighboring Armenia, caused its collapse. This wrong-headed policy cost Byzantium very dearly in the future. Seljuks and other Turkish tribes began to settle on Armenian soil and ultimately, they destroyed Byzantium in 1453.
Armenian princes moved to Cilicia and established their state in 1080, which later became a kingdom. The kings belonged to the Rubinian and Hetumian families and were patriotic and far-sighted. The presence of the Crusaders and the Latin influence in Cilicia caused great damage to that state. Latin-loving vs patriotic parties divided the Armenian Society of Cilicia and began to erode the foundations of that powerful state. Local Islam, the Mamluks, the Ayyoubis, saw a threat in the crusaders. The cooperation of the Armenians with the Crusaders was not received well by the Islamic powers. During the Lusinian reign in Cilicia, the kingdom paid a high price and in 1375 it was destroyed by the Mamluks.
All of these stories teach us a great lesson. When we had brave and far-sighted kings, we had unity and a prosperous homeland. Otherwise we had disagreement and collapse.
In the 18th century, the meliks of Syunik , Artsakh and the Catholicos of Gandzasar were far-sighted. They carried out a national liberation program through Israel Ori, which began by turning to Russia and seeing in it the only salvation for the Armenian people. The David Peg liberation movement was the first step in 1720s. One hundred years later, with joint and continuous activity, in 1828, the Russians turned the Arax River into a border between Russian Armenia and Persia. It was Russian Armenia that became the nucleus of the first Armenian state in the 20th century.
During the pre-genocide period, Armenians were also divided into two factions. The Hunchakians did not trust the Union and Progress party and saw them as dangerous elements, while the ARF cooperated with them. We say this not as a rebuke, but to show how divisions and foreign influences were destructive elements for the Armenian people. When we deviated from our national orientation and became an instrument in the hands of a foreigner, we lost our land.
Unfortunately, the 20th century became a period of conflict in the Diaspora between two opposing visions specially during the Cold War period. The first was around which patriotic parties were grouped, for which the homeland was sacred, whoever ruled there. The second direction, which was backed by the West, divided the Armenian people between those who supported Soviet Armenia and those who were against. They persecuted the followers of the first group, divided the Church. That division continues to this day, unfortunately. We say all this to highlight the notion that unity helps develop a correct national ideology; whereas its absence leads to weakening of the body politic of the nation.
Looking at the current regretful odyssey of Armenia, it’s neglectful to ignore the damage caused by a group of faceless and colourless Soros followers and the clan that wants to return to the former rotten system of power. Both have created an atmosphere of immense discord which threatens normal function of institutions and more importantly the very existence of the Armenian state. It is up to the Armenian people to find truly patriotic leaders whose orientation is the supremacy of the nation’s interests and goals. That includes the demand to return the lands of Western Armenia to the rightful and just owner, the Armenian people. It is time to wake up and choose sincere, patriotic people as leaders and not statesmen who serve foreign interests.