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Nagorno-Karabakh Disaster: How the Armenian Genocide’s Legacy Points out Conflict

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An Armenian soldier stands guard at battling positions on the entrance line all through a military conflict versus Azerbaijan’s armed forces in Nagorno-Karabakh, Oct 20, 2020.(Stringer/Reuters)

For far as well prolonged, the West has turned a blind eye to Turkey’s egregious behavior.

For Armenians close to the environment, the recent just one-sided peace offer to conclusion the conflict involving the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh should be seen as a result of the lens of heritage. And that heritage is stitched collectively by common persecution and mass struggling around hundreds of many years. It is a record that involves the to start with genocide of the 20th century, when far more than 1.5 million Armenians had been systematically exterminated by the Ottoman Turks, an function Turkey continue to denies to this working day. Framing today’s conflict over land gravely misses the point.

Armenians see these hottest functions of aggression by Turkey vis-à-vis Azerbaijan as a continuation of genocide and a risk to their pretty existence. In some means, history is repeating alone. Irrespective, these activities additional underscore why recognition of the Armenian genocide and the war more than Nagorno-Karabakh are not mutually exclusive.

To entirely comprehend why this a long time-outdated conflict out of the blue reignited, just one will have to analyze the increase of authoritarianism in Turkey below President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Throughout his rule, Erdogan has sought to improve Turkey’s regional impact and on numerous instances has glowingly talked about resurrecting the Ottoman Empire, all although styling himself as a modern day-working day sultan.

During the Trump administration, Erdogan has tried to extend that affect from the Aegean Sea to the South Caucasus. It is one of the factors that Turkey has been a staunch supporter of Azerbaijan in the latter nation’s initiatives to retake Nagorno-Karabakh. With the two nations sure by powerful cultural, ethnic, and historic ties, Turkey has vowed to assist Azerbaijan on the battlefield or at the negotiating desk. Having said that, Erdogan’s belligerent and hostile behavior has only reminded Armenians of their horrible past.

Considering that the conflict erupted final thirty day period, Turkey has armed and despatched Syrian mercenaries, together with Islamic terrorists, into the area to assist Azerbaijan combat Armenians where by there have been verified reports of war crimes and atrocities. We’ve observed this right before. A hundred several years ago, Ottoman Turks enlisted the support of Kurds, who participated in massacres of Armenians and performed a vital function in the Armenian genocide. It is as if Erdogan has turned to the Ottoman Empire’s playbook.

There’s no denying Turkey’s purpose in fueling the fireplace in Nagorno-Karabakh through its reckless actions and rhetoric. But Ankara’s ongoing campaign to deny the Armenian genocide has also aided it there. Denial has served create a level of insouciance from countries these kinds of as the United States, Fantastic Britain, and Israel, therefore enabling Turkey to carry on to act with impunity. Hence it can, for case in point, present Azerbaijan with drones that are indiscriminately killing innocent civilians and destroying cultural facilities and churches that have stood given that extensive before Azerbaijan turned a nation.

For much also long, the West has turned a blind eye to Turkey’s egregious habits. There is a rationale that extra journalists sit in Turkish prisons than any place else in the environment, and that Ankara consistently tops the yearly lists of human-legal rights violations. Turkey’s sizeable accomplishment in refusing to acknowledge its historic part in the Armenian genocide helps make Ankara nowadays think that it can do what it wants with out effects. It is why Erdogan felt compelled to obstacle the United States to impose sanctions on his region for its involvement around Nagorno-Karabakh and released a personal attack on French president Emmanuel Macron.

These latest steps by Erdogan did not happen overnight. Ankara has been hoping to form U.S. foreign policy for yrs relating to Turkey and the Armenian genocide. As portion of an hard work to sow question about the veracity of the Armenian genocide, Turkey has embarked on a decades-lengthy marketing campaign to block any U.S. legislation that formally acknowledges it. For the most element, Turkey has correctly utilised the include of NATO and realpolitik to convince lawmakers that recognizing the Armenian genocide is not in the political passions of the United States. When Congress at last passed a nonbinding resolution previous 12 months that formally affirmed recognition, Ankara formally responded by calling the bill political theater. There had been even many stories that President Trump tried out to thwart the resolution on the Senate ground to appease Erdogan.

It need to not shock us, then, when we see Turkey’s wanton disrespect for the rule of legislation and aggressive behavior in its actions in Nagorno-Karabakh. In lots of ways, we have permitted it to transpire, and have even inspired it. We have only ourselves to blame.

It is frequently explained that people who fall short to master from background are doomed to repeat it. It is also frequently mentioned that denial is the final phase of genocide. That is why recognition of the Armenian genocide goes hand in hand with a actual resolution of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenians know all too well what takes place when this variety of aggression goes unchecked. Till Turkey will come to conditions with its past, we can anticipate Ankara to keep on its quixotic quest to revive the Ottoman Empire.

Stephan Pechdimaldji is a general public relations qualified who lives in the San Francisco Bay Region. He’s a initially-technology Armenian American and grandson to survivors of the Armenian Genocide.

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