AND IN OTHER NEWS: Ukraine, Karabakh & Armenia

Trying to follow Armenia-related Twitter the past few weeks has been like trying to drink from a firehose. The sheer number of news alerts, controversies, and disinformation being spread is wildly unmanageable. This is in large part because of the ongoing war on Ukraine, which Azerbaijan has seized upon as a convenient way to attempt to gain the world’s sympathy, or at least settle old scores while everyone is again focused on just one issue, forgetting that under cover of the Ukraine war, tyrants can – and in Azerbaijan’s case do – continue to rain violence on innocent civilians.

It seems every day we are treated to at least one false story attempting to implicate Armenia as helping Russia in the war on Ukraine while simultaneously attempting to direct attention away from President Aliyev signing an alliance with Russia just before the war began. With so many eager to consume the latest on Ukraine, fake stories about Armenia are circulated without question, including by “blue check” accounts who apparently know little to nothing about the Caucasus region. The examples are too numerous to mention, but the effect they are having is best summed up by this tweet:

To catch you up, the gas supply to the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh was cut off for a week, briefly restored, and then cut right back off, leaving them freezing for most of this unseasonably cold March. Groups such as Freedom House have specifically called out President Aliyev of Azerbaijan for this abuse against the populace, which is no doubt aimed at making life unlivable in the region so that the Armenian population is forced to leave:

While the Aliyev regime has gone as far as to blame the Armenians for cutting off their own gas, human rights watchers such as the Helsinki Commission have not been fooled:

Outrageously, in response to Human Rights Watch’s condemnation of the gas crisis caused by Azerbaijan, one of Aliyev’s chief lobbyists, Brenda Shaffer paid adviser to the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan, abused the principle of territorial integrity to imply Azerbaijan has the right to cut the gas and freeze Armenians living in Karabakh. While this line of thinking has long been used by Azerbaijan to justify doing whatever it wants, it has now apparently become normalized and echoed by Western analysts.

Unfortunately, many “Ukraine watchers” have bought and even adopted the vilification-by-rumor of Armenians as legitimate. Even the government of Ukraine doesn’t seem to be immune. Most troubling, the official Twitter account of the Ukrainian parliament gave the “thumbs up” sign to news that Azerbaijan took its freezing-out of Armenians to the next level with an attack on the Armenian village of Parukh. As typically happens in these cases, Armenians flooded the tweet with proper context and the Parliament deleted it. Yet Aleksey Danilov, secretary of the Security Council of Ukraine, also expressed his satisfaction with Azerbaijan’s attack on Parukh.

The biggest issue with Twitter disinformation, certainly not unique to Armenia-related stories, is how “viral” a post can go despite being completely baseless. The news originated from what has been described as a “Turkish source” Haber Global, which in fact is an Azerbaijani news outlet which operates in Turkey. Even though a Turkish source on Armenia often should be taken with a grain of salt, what we’re seeing here is worse; it is essentially the laundering of Azerbaijani propaganda under the guise of “Turkish reporting”. The Armenian Ministry of Defense was quick to refute the news…

The ‘from garbage pail-to-congressional tweet’ pipeline continues, with even Congressman Adam Kinzinger firing out a tweet, which some quick acting Armenians got him to take down after calling into his office to inform them about the disinformation. Newly-returned from Ukraine journalist Neil Hauer set the record straight, while the Armenian National Security Council issued a warning that such disinformation is Azerbaijan’s attempt to create the grounds on which to attack Armenians in Karabakh:

This alarm from Armenian government is substantiated by statements coming out of Azerbaijani in recent days, which have taken on a character of blatantly endorsing ethnic cleansing:

Perhaps the most astounding thing about the current moment Armenia finds itself in is that, with Russia-US relations as bad as they are, they agree that what Azerbaijan is doing in the region of Karabakh around Parukh is awful and must be stopped. This conjunction undermines Azerbaijan’s contention that Armenia and the Russian Peacekeepers in Karabakh represent another front of the Ukraine war which must be opened:

The US Senate Foreign Relations is also paying attention:

Despite the overwhelming degree of Ukraine coverage in the news, Armenia has come up in other ways recently as well. The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed on Aliyev’s campaign of cultural heritage destruction, another front in his propaganda and military wars.

Last year, we reported on the outflowing of affection Turkish figures lavished upon the memory of genocidal leader Talaat Pasha on the 100th anniversary of his assassination. This year, news of the anniversary was featured on the front page of Wikipedia, a site which received hundreds of millions of views a day. This airing of the true story and context on such a platform is important, as it is often co-opted by the same Azerbaijani and Turkish propaganda machines portraying Talaat as an innocent Turk

In Irvine, California just south of Los Angeles, a furor broke out as it was revealed that Mayor Farrah Khan has enjoyed close relations with preternaturally racist genocide denier Ergun Kirlikovali, even appointing him to a mayoral commission. A video surfaced in which she seems to make a joke at Armenians’ expense alongside Kirlikovali, which at first she responded to as having been “doctored” by her opponents. Clearly that excuse wasn’t sufficient, especially when the extent of her ties to Kirlikovali and his long record of abhorrently hateful statements against Armenians gained further attention, so a much more conciliatory statement was released asking for Armenians to help her in learning more and building trust together, making clear she recognizes the genocide. Stay tuned to this story, as Armenians demand Kirlikovali be dismissed from his post and oh yes, Khan is up for re-election this year.

While there hasn’t been much good news at home in Armenia or internationally lately, we’ll take what little respite we can get. First, read about the New York Times’s 10 Wines to Know Better, which includes Armenia’s continually up-and-coming wines.

Then relax as you peruse Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries collection of beautiful Armenian manuscripts, which are being digitized to facilitate their preservation and wider study:

leave a reply