They say history repeats itself. Indeed this is true as there are many examples that pit Davids against Goliaths. The best known example is the ancient story from the Old Testament. From our own history one remembers the epic battle of Haig against the tyrannical Bel. But why do people find themselves in suicidal engagements when rational thought tells them they will be at the receiving end?
Obviously there are other forces in action here prompting the Davids of this world resorting to resistance and even self sacrifice against bullies, aggressors, colonisers and against all those suppressing the right of people to live in their own countries with dignity and safety protecting their families and generations to come. After all both David and Bel are the victors of these epic battles.
The recent war in Nagorno-Garapagh which the Armenians call Artsakh, is an ancient, millennia old piece of real estate upon which ethnic Armenians have lived and experienced history for centuries. The recent war in that region of south Caucasus is the one of the sad legacies of Stalin and an unsolved issue left to the people of the Caucasus to sort out. It was part of Stalin’s strategy of divide and rule. Not only an Armenian territory was given to Azerbaijan that had been newly created for geopolitical reasons, but another piece of territory, Nakhitchevan which was in Armenia was also handed over to Azerbaijan. Look at the map of the region and you will have to ask yourself why these artificial political boundaries. A rational mind will have difficulty in finding a logical interpretation. Stalin who was Georgian, incorporated similar territories into Georgia, but then some of these regions, populated mostly by non ethnic Georgians, finally broke away and now have their destinies in their own hands after Russia intervened militarily. Unfortunately, the same political evolution did not take place in Artsakh for a myriad of reasons. Artsakh implicates Turkic speaking Azerbaijan, Turkic speaking Sunni Turkey, and Iran which is Shiite … no need to continue. In all this the need of Armenians for self determination was never fulfilled. Myriad reasons were given, and depending on which side of the conflict your convictions or sympathies lie one either adopts or rejects a certain approach. But one thing is certain; you cannot suppress or bully people into submission against the majority wish. Garapagh Armenians voted openly for self determination and those politicians who play with the destiny of nations should understand the historical context before passing any judgement as to the fate of the Armenians there. Sadly, news is usually skewed and in their eagerness to cover the news objectively, reporters, sometimes, at great risk to themselves, have to pay lip service to their masters or blissfully ignore professional reporting by giving stories that are not symmetrical. At the end of the day having in mind the anti Armenian racist utterances of the Azeris, will these two peoples be able now to live side by side? Armenians of Artsakh have nowhere else to go.
This of course puts the Republic of Armenia in a dilemma. Should they help their compatriots in Garapagh politically, or even militarily? Both options have arguments for and against. For people who have just survived the Turkish Genocide of 1915 these are difficult choices to make. People always choose life, but when war is imposed upon them, there will be suffering and blood will flow. The loss of any human life is deplorable and should be avoided at all costs – a noble idea but rarely taken into consideration when strong nations impose their will on the weaker ones. The mother who in ancient Sparta handed over the sword and the shield to his son seeing him off into battle to defend his country, has come down to us as a noble gesture. A powerful image!
Terminologies such as self-declared, occupied, Azeri territorial integrity, Azerbaijan will liberate (who, what) sound hollow and do not do justice to history and to the people of Artsakh when these people are not only fighting Azerbaijan, but Turkey and the Islamic fanatical militants brought over by Turkey to fight on the Azeri side against the ethnic Armenians who happen to be Christians. These facts are now documented and well known. Sadly in an immoral situation like war, it is difficult looking for morality. I ask why is it that that an ancient nation that has survived Genocide, needs to defend itself against military hardware sold to Azerbaijan by the survivors of another more recent Genocide.
One hopes the ceasefire will last and will usher all involved round the negotiating table.
Hratch Kouyoumjian, London, 13 Oct. 2020