Never underestimate the resiliency of our people

Posted on November. 13. 2020

BY STEPAN PILIGIAN | The Armenian Weekly

(Photo: Armenian Government, October 12, 2020)

There is a plethora of reasons to feel betrayed, sad, angry and even depressed. So let’s get it out of our system. Our peaceful and civilized nation has received an intoxicating dose of the political reality of our cynical world. Morality is nowhere to be found. Compassion is limited to cheap rhetoric. The rules of international law are not enforceable, enabling the criminals to execute their egregious deeds. “Friends” are really acquaintances of self-interest, and mutual defense treaties apparently require full-scale destruction before they are honored. Welcome to the world of the small, peaceful, law-abiding, civilized nation. Play by the rules and you get ignored, victimized and isolated.

We are not the first, of course. The world “peace” infrastructure that has budgets in the billions and employs thousands with their comfortable lives in many worldwide locations including Brussels (NATO) and New York (UN) was unable or unwilling to prevent genocides in Rwanda, Darfur and elsewhere. Oh, I see…no oil or gold or strategic locations. Just innocent human beings. The Kurds have contributed more to peace in the Middle East than any other ethnic group in the last 25 years. Their sacrifices in northern Iraq and Syria have been stellar. What did it get them other than countless betrayals and atrocities? Even though Erdogan has been murdering his Kurdish citizens, the West continues to patronize his adventures while NATO heaps praise on Turkey as an important ally. Apparently NATO and the United States’ definition of “ally” includes purchasing a missile defense system (S-400) from the intended adversary of NATO (Russia), threatening the sovereignty of a fellow NATO member (Greece), undermining US interests in Syria, violating international laws in several regional locations and working against the interests of peace in several nations (Libya, Egypt). 

The Europeans similarly display the weakness that has wreaked havoc in most of their cities. Erdogan has tried to treat Turkish and Islamic residents in European countries as his constituents, which often is in conflict with the sovereign policies of those countries. What do you call Europe’s feeble attempt to prevent uncontrolled migration from Syria and elsewhere by paying off the Turks? Of course, we also have the dangerous petro-politics of Turkey and Azerbaijan—corruption and influence peddling to satisfy the oil and gas addiction of Europe and Israel. Those pipelines that run from Azerbaijan through Georgia and into Turkey and intentionally bypass Armenia were invested in and approved by European powers such as Great Britain, Germany and others, waiting to quench their insatiable thirst at the expense of peaceful peoples. Is it any wonder why Germany was opposed to a sanction proposal by France to the EU against the Turkish twins? What about the aggressively anti-Armenian “journalism” by the BBC? British Petroleum (BP) is one of the biggest investors in the Azerbaijani oil/gas corruption. 

In our own country, we have a State Department that runs deep with its “strategic partnership” with Turkey. This policy transcends administrations. Every now and then, they will leak things like the consideration of moving the Incirlik base to counter some of the public discontent. It hurts me to the core that my country has helped to fund and train the Turkish aggressors and sold them F-16s while granting over $100 million in military aid to the criminal regime of Azerbaijan.

Israel has been the benchmark of self-interest. Imagine a nation founded on the ashes of genocide and “dedicated” to fighting terrorism has compromised its asserted values to support a vile dictatorship and terrorist nation in killing innocent civilians who are the descendants of genocide—all for oil dependency and intelligence on Iran. Weapons sold to Azerbaijan will undoubtedly be used for criminal and offensive intent. 

Russia, of course, has a mutual defense treaty with Armenia through the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Russia has stated that it is ready to honor its agreement if the fighting expands to Armenia proper since it does not formally recognize Artsakh. I guess Russia must not have received the memo on the attacks on Tavush or the bombings of Gegharkunik and Syunik. 

It is in the context of our disgraceful global, geopolitical environment that Azerbaijan planned its attack on Artsakh. Turkey conducted military drills in Azerbaijan a few weeks before the attack, while it conveniently left men and equipment there. The timing was also planned in an attempt to quell any real intervention by the US on the eve of a contentious election. The unilateral attack has violated humanitarian international law with the transport of jihadi mercenaries and the use of illegal munitions such as cluster bombs and phosphorus bombs. Once again we have witnessed utter failure on behalf of those responsible for maintaining world order. 

But that is enough on the polluted environment that we live in. There is hope. It is called the miraculous resiliency of the Armenian people. It is too painful for words to describe when a small nation loses 1,200 heroes defending their homes. We need to understand this assault in the broader context that the Azeri plan was to quickly overwhelm Artsakh. The intent was to open several fronts and overrun our defensive positions in a “blitzkrieg” manner. We are now in the sixth week of this tragic war, and that strategy has failed. In some areas, the Armenians are outnumbered by 100:1, yet their training, discipline, will and knowledge of the terrain will enable our victory. We have all read various reports of territorial incursions, especially in the south. In a war such as this where we are clearly outnumbered in manpower and equipment, the topography becomes our weapon. Several times it has been reported that the Armenians have conducted tactical repositioning to create a terrain advantage that has resulted in significant losses to the enemy. The Azeris will always be the aggressors, and we will always be the defenders of our homes. That is not just a psychological but also a logistical advantage. At this point, the Azeris’ infantry and other ground forces have been significantly depleted (over 7,000 military casualties and tangible losses in tanks, UAVs and air support). Regardless of Azerbaijan’s deep pockets, these losses have reduced their capability. 

The Azeris will always be the aggressors, and we will always be the defenders of our homes.

Their desperation and failure are illustrated by the criminal use of long range artillery, missiles and drones to target civilians. Yet it is difficult to take territory with air assaults. Aliyev has boxed himself into a corner. He played a hand that defines success as nothing short of conquering all of Artsakh. His reckless tactics continue, even with staggering losses, because the alternative is humiliation. Armenia cannot back down since the Azeris have proven their genocidal intent. If the Azeris entered the major cities of Artsakh, is there any doubt that full-scale atrocities would follow? This is why the failure of the diplomatic community is so devastating. Neither party is motivated to stop. There is no trust. Why would Armenia trust anything Aliyev says when he has three strikes on truces and murders civilians? Where does he go from here? Azerbaijan and Turkey seem resigned at the moment to destroying Artsakh as an alternative to capturing it.

We must never forget that there were dark days in the ‘91-94 liberation war. We eventually prevailed as a nation that fought with valor from a significant disadvantage from a military, territorial and resource perspective. Yet we emerged as victors. Now it is the sons and daughters of those fighters who have built a nation and a professional military. Many times in our history, we have inherited discouraging odds. The Persians had elephants (tanks of their day) and 300,000 men to our 60,000. Our resiliency defeated them. At the historic battles in 1918, we fought as a genocide-ravaged people against a professional Turkish army bent on completing the genocide. The result was the emergence of modern Armenia. In 1991, our people built an army in parallel while engaging the enemy for their survival. 

Today, we are still facing difficult odds. The world, paralyzed by self-interest, has again turned its back. The same Turks, energized by the world’s reluctance, are bent on our destruction to complete their racist pan-Turkic nightmare. It is not going to happen. We are stronger than evil. Why? I have learned to believe in the incredible people of Artsakh. Despite being sidelined as a direct party to the negotiations, the Artsakhtsis have said that there is no option other than independence. They have been consistent on this point since 1989. How much faith do you think they have in the “Madrid Principles?” Regardless of the “diplomatic” dialogue, the Azeri/Turk alliance would have to eliminate every Armenian before they ceded their homes to the invaders. It is this core value that the Azeris will never understand. We are simply too resourceful, motivated and incredibly resilient. This will not be Nakhichevan. We do need the help of the civilized world to throttle Turkey before the damage they cause in the region is irreversible. Turkey is betraying NATO while posing a threat to the EU and a serious challenge to Russia. It will not stop until it is confronted. This is where the sanctions are vital. One would think that the importation of terrorists would be a unifier between the United States, EU and Russia, if not to directly help Armenia, then for self interest (which they are all well acquainted with). 

We are stronger than evil.

In the meantime, Armenia will painfully yet valiantly continue to defend its territory. How can we not feel overwhelmed with pride and confidence in the face of the performance of our brethren at the frontline and the incredible outpouring of support and comfort from common citizens for refugees? The diaspora has discovered its sense of purpose, and united Armenians are a powerful force. I believe that the resiliency of our people will allow us to prevail. Remember: these are the sons and daughters of Vartan, Antranig, Sosse Mayrig and Avo. Stay united, stay committed and keep the faith. 

One response to “Never underestimate the resiliency of our people”

  1. Diana Tchakerian says:

    Very well analyzed and expressed! You are a level-headed person Stepan Piligian and I enjoy your statements and comments….. well done, especially in advising the Armenians at large to stay united!
    Diana Tchakerian
    Melbourne – Australia

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