Chris Lange, FISM News
While much of the world is laser-focused on the Israel-Hamas war and, perhaps to a lesser extent, the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, another troubling development is taking shape on the southeastern outskirts of Europe.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned U.S. officials this week that the Muslim nation of Azerbaijan is preparing to invade Armenia, as reported by Time.com. Blinken said that an invasion could take place in a matter of weeks and warned that it may be just the beginning of Azerbaijan’s regional ambitions.
The Zangezur corridor, a tract of land that forms Armenia’s border with Iran, is being closely watched. Another action by Azerbaijani forces carries the risk of escalating a wider conflict in the Southern Caucasus, an area of vital strategic interest to Iran, Russia, and Turkey, as reported by Politico. Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, is an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Last month, Azerbaijan declared victory following a swift offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh, resulting in the displacement of more than 100,000 ethnic Armenians. Nagorno-Karabakh is home to one of the world’s oldest indigenous Christian populations, according to a Washington Examiner report.
Meanwhile, France is stepping up defensive support for Armenia with sales of air defense systems and other weapons amid growing concern of an impending attack.
The mountainous region of Nagorno-Karabakh is the subject of a longstanding territorial dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan dating back to when both countries gained independence in the 1980s after the fall of the Soviet Union. The dispute led to a six-year war from 1988 to 1994 and resulted in 30,000 casualties and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people. France is home to Europe’s largest Armenian diaspora community, according to Politico.
Azerbaijan has long been accused of carrying out an ethnic cleansing campaign against Armenian Christians. The contested region of Nagorno-Karabakh has struggled significantly under a longstanding military blockade by Azerbaijan which has left 120,000 ethnic Armenians without access to vital necessities, including water.
In December 2022, Azerbaijan deliberately blocked the Lachin corridor that serves as the only route linking the breakaway region to the rest of the world, according to NRB, an international association of Christian communicators. The flow of humanitarian aid to Nagorno-Karabakh was halted in July.
“This project of ethnic/religious cleansing has not come out of the blue. It represents the latest wave of a centuries-long genocide process,” said Dr. John Eibner, president of Christian Solidarity International, a Christian human rights organization promoting religious liberty and human dignity. “Will we turn a blind eye to the destruction of yet another Christian community at the hands of an aggressive Islamic power? Or will we stand in spiritual, material, and political solidarity with this persecuted part of the Body of Christ?”
BIDEN CALLED OUT FOR ‘DOUBLE STANDARD’
Armenian Americans were overjoyed in May 2021 when President Joe Biden formally recognized the Armenian Genocide. But weeks later, Biden notified Congress of his decision to extend a 907 waiver allowing U.S. military assistance for Azerbaijan, with the caveat that it should not be used against Albanians. For the Armenian-American community, this was a slap in the face.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken sent a notification to Congress at the time that the assistance would in no way “undermine or hamper ongoing efforts to negotiate a peaceful settlement between Armenia and Azerbaijan or be used for offensive purposes against Armenia,” according to reporting by The Hill.
Armenian National Committee of America Executive Director Aram Hamparian said in a statement responding to the waiver extension, “American recognition of the Armenian Genocide comes with responsibilities, among them not arming or abetting Azerbaijan’s drive to complete this crime.”
Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy on Wednesday slammed the Biden administration for arming Armenia’s oppressors in a post to X.
“I am sickened that for 20 years, our foreign policy establishment has allowed the dictatorship of Azerbaijan access to *U.S. weapons* which are now being used to kill Armenian Christians,” he wrote. “Now we’re hearing that the ethnic cleansing of Artsakh wasn’t enough & that Azerbaijan won’t stop until they’ve bisected Armenia and opened the Zangezur corridor to Turkey.”
I am sickened that for 20 years, our foreign policy establishment has allowed the dictatorship of Azerbaijan access to *U.S. weapons* which are now being used to kill Armenian Christians. Now we’re hearing that the ethnic cleansing of Artsakh wasn’t enough & that Azerbaijan won’t… pic.twitter.com/1qS1z2YizW
— Vivek Ramaswamy (@VivekGRamaswamy) October 26, 2023
Michael Rubin, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, accused Biden of “rewarding” Hamas terrorists in Gaza with $100 million in humanitarian aid while ignoring the genocide of Christians in Armenia.
“In effect, Biden shows a double standard: He rewards terrorists and turns his back on its victims,” Rubin wrote. “As a result, one of the world’s oldest indigenous communities was destroyed.”
Ruben said that instead of receiving any form of “meaningful assistance,” all that Armenia got from Biden “was a letter promising his ‘strong support’ amid Armenian ‘mourning’ and a brief photo-op by Samantha Power, the USAID administrator who now will channel tens of millions of dollars to Hamas.”
Rubin added that “Christians, proponents of democracy, and victims of terrorism should be outraged.”