on the silk road

Turkish, Azeri Propaganda Attempts to Link PKK with karabakh
May 30, 2008, 11:42 pm
Filed under: Karabakh Conflict, Uncategorized

Eurasianet.org runs an analysis into the increasing temper of Turkish and Azeri accusations that PKK cells operate out of Nagorno-Karabakh. In recent months the mass media of both countries have been rehashing older stories ran in the 80s alleging the Armenian government of funding and sponsoring PKK terrorists in the Lachin Corridor. Interestingly enough earlier in March, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty ran a similar story. RFE/RL is the mouthpiece of the US state dept, and the primary method of US propaganda around the world. This is somewhat troubling as the news outlet has been foment what many believe to be a color revolution in Armenia with its media coverage of post election events. Aside from disseminating Turkish, and Azeri propaganda alleging pkk bases in Karabakh, RFE/RL has, since February, been running articles to facilitate the creation of rifts in Armenian society and has also been painting residents of Nagorno-Karabakh in an anti-Armenian light. This latest article by Eurasianet is similarly disconcerting as it draws attention to how Turkey justified its invasion of Northern Iraq earlier this year. With Turkish media and intelligence agencies all reporting that PKK cells were operating in Northern Iraq, it was not difficult for Turkey to create the connection between the two as it made the case for invasion. Soon after invading, the general consensus among the international press became that the PKK is in Iraq–without any real proof being provided of course. Now, Turkey and Azerbaijan seem to be implementing that same strategy. With Azerbaijan’s war drums sounding louder than ever, and with a military budget at 2 billion and growing, all this seems to be too much of a coincidence. I can see the headlines now. Worst of all, the Azeri and Turkish propaganda has successfully created a picture of karabakh Armeians as a separatists who have been occupying azeri territory after a bloody unjust war. If war were to break out, and Turkey were to intervene, I think it wouldn’t be very difficult for the two countries to make the case for war based on the imperative need to root out terrorist cells from the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

I can see the headline now….

“Turkey, Azerbaijan launch raid Against PKK in Seperatist Karabakh”

In any case…here’s the eurasianet article.


Stephen Blank 5/27/08
A EurasiaNet Commentary

The Kurdish issue, specifically the matter of establishing a homeland for Kurds, has complicated efforts to stabilize Iraq. Now, there is growing concern among international experts that the Kurdish question could become a source of tension, and possibly conflict in the South Caucasus.

Media outlets in Turkey and Azerbaijan have reported that militant Kurds, in particular fighters affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party, have been settling in Nagorno-Karabakh and in portions of Armenian-occupied Azerbaijan, with the tacit support of the Armenian government in Yerevan. Many of the Kurds are reputed to have resettled in the strategically important Lachin Corridor, a strip of territory now occupied by Armenia that was formerly part of Azerbaijan proper. Control of Lachin is one of the main obstacles in the search for a Karabakh settlement. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].

Before the outbreak of the Karabakh conflict, Lachin had a high number of Kurdish residents, and during the 1920s, it was part of a Kurdish Autonomous Area within the Soviet Union. Much of the Kurdish population fled the region during the Karabakh war. But the fact remains that there is a historical precedent for a Kurdish presence in Lachin. Even so, their resettlement today — especially if reports about PKK militants being among the migrants are accurate — is fraught with peril for regional security.

Some recent Turkish and Azerbaijani reports have seemed downright hyperbolic in sounding the alarm about the Kurdish threat, as well as about Armenia’s supposed role in promoting resettlement. The reports alleged that Kurdish militants have established training camps in and around Karabakh, and that Armenian authorities have given Kurds access to state broadcasting facilities. They likewise claimed that political organizations in Armenia, such as the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnakstoutiun), are actively assisting the Kurds, seeing them as a means to strengthen Armenians’ hold on Karabakh. In addition, Turkish and Azerbaijani media have stressed that both Ankara and Baku consider the PKK a terrorist organization.

On May 14, a commentary in the Istanbul newspaper Yeni Safak, a staunch supporter of Turkey’s governing Justice and Development Party, claimed that the PKK’s leadership, perhaps feeling insecure in northern Iraq, was mulling a move to Nagorno-Karabakh. The report could not be independently confirmed.

Armenia officials have vigorously denied a PKK presence in either Armenia proper or in Karabakh. “The unsubstantiated rumors about the intentions on the side of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to move to Nagorno-Karabakh and controlled territories cannot be called anything less than another provocation,” stated Foreign Ministry press spokesman Vladimir Karapetian.

It might be tempting to downplay the news reports as Turkish and Azerbaijani propaganda aimed at their longtime enemy — Armenia. But dismissing Turkish and Azerbaijani assertions and concerns could prove dangerous. They require further investigation.

There is a danger that Turkey and Azerbaijan could take matters into their own hands, using the reported Kurdish threat as a pretext for military operations in Karabakh. In a February commentary published by the Ekho newspaper in Baku, political analyst Mubariz Ahmadoglu stated that that the country’s political leadership might feel compelled to use force in an attempt to address the Kurdish issue. “If Armenia continues moving in this direction, resistance on the part Azerbaijan will be increasing. And not only at a diplomatic level,” the newspaper quoted Ahmadoglu as saying. “I cannot rule out that Azerbaijan can start real actions of a military character. I know officials who made remarks lately and I formed such an impression.” For example, Azerbaijan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Araz Azimov has stated publicly that Baku would consider military operations to root out Kurdish militants.

In addition, Turkish military leaders — who in recent months have ordered military operations in northern Iraq designed to smash PKK strongholds — have hinted that they would consider attacking Kurdish militants wherever they were found. This has fueled speculation that Turkey too might consider a raid against Karabakh, or even Armenia proper.

The mere fact that Turkish and Azerbaijani media outlets are complaining about a Kurdish militant presence in Karabakh should spur the international community to action, in particular the co-chairs of the Minsk Group — the United States, Russia and France. There is a clear need for redoubled efforts to get Karabakh negotiations back on track, so as to eliminate, or at least greatly diminish the chances of developments taking a calamitous turn.

Editor�s Note: Stephen Blank is a professor at the US Army War College. The views expressed this article do not in any way represent the views of the US Army, Defense Department or the US Government.


May 28: At stake was the survival of a nation


90 years ago amid the chaos of the First World War and the turmoil of genocide, a small but resilient people drew on their legendary past for strength as they made their last stand for freedom at the gates of Sardarabad.

At stake was their very survival.

In 1918, the Armenian people united emerging from the near certainty of total annihilation. For four days, the Armenians held off the advancing Turkish armies from descending on Yerevan and Edjmiadzin.

Outnumbered and outgunned, the Armenian volunteers should have been crushed, sealing the Turks promise of extermination. But this proud people, considered by the legions of Rome to be an unconquerable race of mountain warriors, united in a moment of supreme crisis.

The call for battle rang throughout Yerevan all day on May 24th as the bells of Edjmiadzin and every church in the province called on men, women and children; young and old; peasant, trader and clergyman alike to join the fighting soldiers in the defense of their common fatherland.

By 1918, only a sliver of Armenian territory in the east had remained unconquered by the Turks who continued to press further poised for a total purging of Armenians from their ancestral lands.

But the perseverance of an entire people, beaten and battered throughout history, was felt across those fields of battle that day as a few thousand people were roused from the brink of famine to hurl back the Turkish tide, saving the eastern heartland of Armenia and paving the way for a declaration of independence that would surprise the world.

On May 28, six centuries after the collapse of the last Armenian Kingdom, the Armenian National Council in Tiflis declared the birth of a democratic republic. Founded on the principles of equality, it was the Armenian people’s first experiment with democratic self-rule. In its first year, the fledgling republic, battling the scourge of typhus and struggling to feed a dying population, conducted its first parliamentary elections.

In this election, the Republic of Armenia, before any other nation on the planet, gave all adults, regardless of sex, race or religion the right to an equal and direct vote.

Despite the dire circumstances, an overwhelming majority of the Republic’s voting citizens got out the vote, giving 90% of the vote to the founding party of the Republic, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, and electing three women to the country’s legislature. A month earlier, acting Prime Minister Alexander Khatisian proclaimed the “Act of a United Armenia” creating 12 seats in parliament for deputies from Western Armenia, which the government sought to reunify with the Republic.

The move signaled the government’s commitment to the establishment of a united homeland from the fragments of genocide. The prospect of viable independence compelled hundreds of Armenians, dispersed throughout the Diaspora, to journey to the new republic and work toward the revival of the people. Meanwhile, thousands upon thousands of refugees returned to their homes to rebuild their lives.

In the first year of Armenia’s independence almost 200,000 people died of hunger, but hope did not fade as the nascent country continued to push forward against the greatest of odds. By its first anniversary, the Republic’s boundaries had grown beyond the small province of Yerevan to include a total area of about 50-60,000 kilometers. The next year ushered in the employment of over 5,000 workers in hundreds of small factories and distilleries. Hundreds of miles of telegraph wire were repaired and extended. Thousands of miles of road were in operation and hundreds of miles of railroad track laid down. By 1920 a state university with a growing student body was established. 420 elementary schools were built to educate over 38,000 young Armenians and 22 secondary schools functioned for more than 5,000 students.

In the span of two and a half years, the Democratic Republic of Armenia created the vision of a homeland that would keep the hope of a nation alive during almost a century of exile and Soviet domination. It laid the foundations for the reemergence of Armenian statehood in 1991 and served as a source of inspiration for a new generation of freedom fighters struggling for self-determination against the threat of a renewed Genocide in Artsakh.

The dimmest moment in our history became our brightest. A nation, growing new roots after centuries of oppression, rose above adversity and forged its own destiny in 1918 by establishing a Democratic state far ahead of its time.

The Rise of the Armenian Blogosphere
May 12, 2008, 2:56 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Since February, the Armenian blogosphere has been growing and fast. This phenomena has the potential of revolutionizing Media in Armenia and Onnik Krikorian has written an in depth analysis of this phenomenon at Global Voices.

AYF Youth Corps 2008 Reaches out to Gyumri’s Youth
May 10, 2008, 7:41 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Applications Now Being Accepted

AYF is encouraging interested persons to submit their applications for this year’s new and exciting program.

Glendale, CA–The Armenian Youth Federation’s Youth Corps program will now be giving Diasporan youth the opportunity to serve as summer camp counselors for underprivileged youth in Armenia, the AYF Youth Federation announced on Friday.

The Youth Corps committee will begin reviewing Youth Corps 2008 Applications next week and is encouraging interested persons to submit their applications for this year’s innovative and exciting program. The application deadline is Monday, May 12th, 2008.
Participants this year, will make a lasting difference in the lives of disadvantaged kids in Armenia by serving as mentors and leaders for a summer camp program for 12-16 year olds living in Gyumri.

Youth Corps participants will have the opportunity to tap into their own individual talents and skills to share their knowledge with campers through organized sports activities, computer and English language classes, as well as educational sessions on Armenian culture and society, and the arts. In addition to living and working alongside youth in the City of Gyumri for 3 weeks, Youth Corps participants will also have a chance to tour Yerevan and Armenia.

“Youth Corps allowed me to connect with Armenia in a way no other program could,” said 2007 Youth Corps participant Knar Kitabjian.”My project really allowed me to give back to the homeland.”

The Youth Corps 2008 program seeks to provide direct assistance to some of Armenia’s most valuable and vulnerable citizens, underprivileged youth. The 2008 program builds upon over ten years of AYF experience in connecting diasporan Armenian youth with the homeland in a meaningful and collaborative environment.

Founded in 1933, the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) has grown to become the largest and most influential Armenian American youth organization; with chapters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world. Inspired by our past and motivated by the needs of the future, the AYF actively strives to advance the social, political, educational and cultural awareness of all Armenian youth.

Applications for the 2008 Youth Corps Program are available online: www.ayfwest.org.

Priority applications are due Monday, May 12th, 2008.

For more information, please e-mail: ayfyouthcorps@gmail.com

or call 818-507-1933.
Overview of the AYF Youth Corps
Young Diaspora Armenians have been wondering what they can do to help Armenia now that the barriers have been lifted. The doors have been opened for Armenians from abroad to become a positive physical presence in the homeland. It is now possible for young Armenians to spend a few weeks during the summer assisting where it is needed most, in border towns and war-torn villages in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabagh. Motivated individuals in search of a summer experience to enrich their lives should participate in the AYF Youth Corps program.

The program allows young Armenians to spend approximately five weeks in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabagh supplying the manpower to villages where residents are attempting to rebuild their lives.

Aside from supplying real, positive assistance to our brethren in Armenia, participants will experience the homeland in the most meaningful way. Their hard work will become one more building block in the progress of our nation.

AYF Youth Corps participants will spend time sightseeing in both Armenia and Karabagh. AYF Youth Corps participants can look forward to visiting such places as Sardarabad, Etchmiadzin, Karni, Keghart, Kantsasar, Khor Virab, Mt. Ararat, and other sights of historical and cultural significance.

History of the AYF Youth Corps
In 1988 the people of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabagh began protesting for the liberation of Karabagh from the hands of Azerbaijan. In less than a year guerilla warfare activity had began. By 1991 a full-scale war was being fought. The war united the Diaspora Armenians, leading them to raise millions of dollars annually to support the struggle.

Since 1988, the AYF had an active role in support efforts for Karabagh. Through several large-scale fundraisers, educationals, protests, and demonstrations the AYF internalized the struggle for a free homeland. In mid-March of 1994 while talks for a ceasefire were being held, the AYF was in the war-torn villages of Karabagh looking at the possibilities of providing direct assistance to our homeland. After three months of hard work, hours of planning, and days of communication, the AYF had structured the Youth Corps program. During the summer of 1994 the first group of AYF Youth Corps participants headed to Armenia to assist in the reconstruction efforts. Since then, every summer a group of 10-20 youth head to our homeland to partake in and contribute to the AYF Youth Corps experience.

Eligibility & Participation
If you have the courage to help, you must apply. The AYF Youth Corps is open to all youth over the age of 18 who are motivated and enthusiastic about helping Armenia. This is a unique opportunity for dedicated individuals to make a tangible contribution to their homeland. Participants can expect memories that they will cherish forever and experiences that will increase their understanding of themselves.

The preferred deadline to apply for the summer AYF Youth Corps program is May 12th. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis thereafter. 2008 Youth Corps applications are available online.

Take the challenge. All that is needed is the will to help.

Download the application
Priority applications are due May 12th.

Georgia says “very close” to war with Russia
May 7, 2008, 7:46 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

By Mark John

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Russia’s deployment of extra troops in the breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia has brought the prospect of war “very close”, a minister of ex-Soviet Georgia said on Tuesday.

Separately, in comments certain to fan rising tension between Moscow and Tbilisi, the “foreign minister” of the breakaway Black Sea region was quoted as saying it was ready to hand over military control to Russia.

“We literally have to avert war,” Temur Iakobashvili, a Georgian State Minister, told reporters in Brussels.

Asked how close to such a war the situation was, he replied: “Very close, because we know Russians very well.”

“We know what the signals are when you see propaganda waged against Georgia. We see Russian troops entering our territories on the basis of false information,” he said.

At a banking event in Madrid, Vice Finance Minister Dimitri Gvindadze said the Georgian economy was holding up despite the tensions. However ratings agency Fitch said a conflict would likely hit Georgia’s ratings but not immediately Russia’s.

“Obviously if we have an unfreezing of the conflict that will be extremely negative for the country (Georgia) and would lead to negative ratings action,” Fitch’s Edward Parker told Reuters in London.

Georgia, a vital energy transit route in the Caucasus region, has angered Russia, its former Soviet master with which it shares a land border, by seeking NATO membership.

Russia has said its troop build-up is needed to counter what it says are Georgian plans to attack Abkhazia, a sliver of land by the Black Sea, and has accused Tbilisi of trying to suck the West into a war — allegations Georgia rejects.

Tensions have been steadily mounting and escalated after Georgia accused Russia of shooting down one of its drones over Abkhazia in April, a claim Russia denied.

An extra Russian contingent began arriving in Abkhazia last week. Moscow has not said how many troops would be added but said the total would remain within the 3,000 limit allowed under a United Nations-brokered ceasefire agreement signed in 1994. Diplomats expect the reinforcement to be of the order of 1,200.


Russian soldiers acting as peacekeepers patrol areas between Georgian and Abkhazian forces but handing full military control of the breakaway province to the Kremlin would alarm both the Georgian government and its allies in the West.

“Those 200 km (120 miles), the distance between the Psou and the Inguri rivers, are all Abkhazia. We agree to Russia taking this territory under its military control,” Sergei Shamba, “foreign minister” of Abkhazia, told Russian newspaper Izvestia.

“In exchange, we will demand guarantees of our security.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow had not received an official request from Abkhazia for its military to take control of the region.

Iakobashvili urged EU states to take a more active role in the region, with options including the deployment of border monitors or a police mission.

Diplomats said EU President Slovenia was studying sending a delegation at the level of state secretaries to Georgia as a gesture of solidarity, but a number of ex-communist EU states were insisting it should be a full-fledged ministerial visit.

Could it Spark a Larger War?

From “The Week Daily”

“It’s tough to pay attention to wars that haven’t yet broken out in places we can’t even spell,” said the Los Angeles Times in an editorial (free registration), but we should care that Abkhazia is “perilously close” to open warfare. Russia is trying to keep Georgia out of NATO, and its attempts to provoke Georgia into a NATO-ending invasion “have been nothing short of outrageous.” But Georgia “is fighting dirty as well,” putting a hold on Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organization. The U.S. wants Georgia in NATO and Russia in the WTO, but it only has sway over Georgia.

This might be a good time to rethink our support of Georgia’s NATO bid, said Matthew Yglesias in The Altantic, at least until it comes to “some kind of stable resolution” of its problems in Abkhazia and fellow breakaway region South Ossetia. It isn’t wise to extend NATO’s “absolute security guarantees to a country in Georgia’s position unless there’s some overwhelming strategic rationale for doing so,” and “just to be nice” doesn’t cut it.

With or without formal NATO membership, said Anne Applebaum in Slate, “the West will have to come up with a major response” if Russia invades Georgia. Georgia is “an emerging democracy” with troops in Iraq, and it has “many implicit assurances of security” from the U.S. and NATO. This is worrisome. World War I had a similarly obscure start, and trouble in Abkhazia could “become the starting point of a larger war.”

It certainly could, said Alexander Golts in The Moscow Times, but not because Russia or Georgia actually wants “this conflict to escalate toward a military conflict.” Both sides have political and strategic reasons to provoke the other, but they are playing a dangerous game of brinksmanship. The two sides’ “aggressive” posturing could sharply escalate out of control, like at the start of World War I, and that could have “tragic consequences for the entire world.”

Veteran Reveals Secrets of Key Karabakh Battle
May 7, 2008, 5:47 pm
Filed under: Karabakh Conflict, Uncategorized

Shoushi was liberated without the approval of Armenia.

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–The heroic liberation of Shoushi, a turning point in the Karabakh Self-Defense movement, was organized and carried out without the approval of Armenia’s senior leadership, Karabakh War Veteran Arkady Ter-Tadeveosian told a press conference on Tuesday.

A veteran of the Karabakh Liberation mopvement, Ter-Tadevosian, also known by his comrades as “Comandos,” organized and executed the liberation of Shoushi from Azeri occupation.

But Armenia’s leadership at the time didn’t believe that the liberation of Shoushi would be possible, he explained. Outnumbered, outgunned and at a tactical disadvantage, Armenian freedom fighters under Ter-Tadevosian’s command were charged with the duty of attacking an impregnable fortress.

Full Article at Asbarez.com

Asbarez.com Launches Newsletter–Sign up Today!
May 6, 2008, 5:32 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

In an effort to make access to Armenian related news as effortless as possible, Asbarez.com Monday Launched a new newsletter, which will distribute to your inbox the daily and weekly news in an HTML formatted email, complete with pictures, videos, and useful links.

Founded in Fresno in 1908, Asbarez has grown to become the largest and most influential Armenian American Daily Newspaper in the United States. Inspired by our past and motivated by the needs of the future, Asbarez actively strives to keep informed all Armenians so that we may, together, work to advance the social, political, educational and cultural awareness of all Armenians.

Subscribe to the Asbarez.com newsletter today! It’s free!