The Lessons of the April 2016 Artsakh War

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The fallen soldiers from the April 2016 War

The fallen soldiers from the April 2016 War

BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN

The April 2016 War reinforced the Armenian Nation’s commitment and resilience toward the Artsakh Liberation Movement, which was embraced by every Armenian when it was sparked 30 years ago this year.

The immediate response from all corners of the world to a brutal attack launched by Azerbaijani forces on all Artsakh fronts in the late hours of April 1, 2016, once again showed the world that Armenians, regardless of their geographic location, will not sit idly as their homeland is attacked and will come together to fill in the gaps that exist be that volunteering to serve on the frontlines or coming together to support the soldiers and their families.

The political lessons of the April 2016 War are more opaque, while the effects and impact of those attack are still fresh in the minds—and lives—of Armenians in Artsakh.

For example, the fact that the war was waged by Azerbaijan while its president, Ilham Aliyev, was still in Washington and days after both he and President Serzh Sarkisian met separately with then Vice-President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry, has not been fully fleshed out. Similarly vague was the Russian response to the attack and its ability—or unwillingness—to rein in the sides more quickly and effectively.

What did follow were a series of summits Vienna and late in St. Petersburg mediated by the leaders of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing countries that produced agreements for enhance mechanisms for monitoring along the Artsakh-Azerbaijan border, commonly referred to as the Line of Contact.

One thing is certain: after the 2016 April War Azerbaijan has not ceased its attacks on Armenian positions and our soldiers continue to become casualties of a war that rages on almost 25 years after a cease fire agreement was signed between the warring sides.

However, the inaction by the international community, namely the Minsk Group co-chairing countries—the United States, France and Russia—which have opted to maintain a ridiculously false parity in their assessment of events has emboldened Azerbaijan to not budge from its already savage approach to the Karabakh conflict.

Azerbaijan was not held accountable for its military’s use of brute force and ISIS-inspired tactics against the civilian and military population of Artsakh. These included the beheading of a soldier and parading his severed head, the footage of which wound up on YouTube; the stabbing of an elderly couple in their home in Talish; and the dismemberment of soldiers’ bodies after they had been killed. All of this happened a in a span of a few days in April 2016. The incessant breaches of the 1994 cease fire agreement, forcing an Israeli defense contractor to test fly a live drone on Artsakh targets, risking an international incident, and finally Aliyev’s latest assertions that all of Armenia belongs to Azerbaijan are just a few examples of what happens when official Baku’s actions are left unchecked.

There comes a time when the stated objective for a peaceful and negotiated resolution to the conflict must take into account actual events on the ground and those tasked with fulfilling that aspiration must call a spade a spade.

Around this time last year, I traveled through Talish, the epicenter of the April 2016 War, and had the privilege to spend a couple of hours with our soldiers who are stationed at the frontline there. The 18-, 19- and 20-year-old soldiers perhaps were buoyed by the events of 2016 and were undeterred. I watched as they said a prayer at the makeshift altar they had built in their dugout, with the words “God will protect the soldier” inscribed on it, before assuming their positions mere kilometers from the Azerbaijani border. I listened as they told of their commitment to protect our borders at all costs and I heard when they said that they would remain at their posts “as long as it takes.”

The April 2016 War showed the fragility of the situation and reinforced the fact that Artsakh is the highest priority on our nation’s agenda. We remember those who lost their lives during that war and reaffirm our commitment to shoulder the burden of the soldiers by advocating and advancing the just aspirations of the people of Artsakh and of the Armenian Nation.

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9 Comments

  1. GB said:

    These fallen soldiers stamped, will of Armenian Nation toward our sacred historical lands! may God bless them all!

  2. Hagop Varoujian said:

    I may be labelled ignorant or naive. But what’s stopping our forces in launching an all-out “Israeli style” offensive against these bastards! Just to remind them who they’re dealing with?

    • HERAYER said:

      THE PRICE OF FREEDOM IS VERY COSTLY ARMENIANS WILL ALWAYS STAND UP AND DEFEND THEIR SACRED LANDS I CRY FOR THESE BRAVE MEN I AM VERY PROUD OF THEM AND THEIR FAMILIES WE SHOULD DO OUR BEST TO SUPPORT THE FAMILIES IN EVERY WAY BECAUSE THESE BRAVE MEN GAVE THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE TO THEIR HYRENIK ,MAY GOD BLESS THEIR SOULS , ASVAZ HOKERNEEN LOUSAVOREH , ARMENIA SHOULD ALWAYS DEFEND THE COUNTRY WITH THE HELP OF SINCERE FRIENDS.

      • HERAYER said:

        ALL YOU NEED IS FOR RUSSIA TO GIVE THE OK. IN TIME THEY WILL AND THE WORLD WILL SEE THAT ARMENIANS WILL NEVER BE SLAUGHTERED AGAIN,NEVER AGAIN NEVER AGAIN THAT HAS TO BE UNDERSTOOD

  3. Antranik Soultanian said:

    If our leaders knew about this attack as different people say they did, why aren’t they punished? It’s no good removing few officials from their jobs, they need to face trial, instead few of them got promoted. As a Christian, I find it hard to say this but I hope the corrupt guilty rot in hell . May our brave soldiers R.I.P eternally. Please God give their families strength and courage to go on with their everyday life

  4. joe said:

    The international community isn’t going to do or even say anything to Azerbaijan. Just as the silence for over 100 years, after the 1.5 million Armenians were murdered by Ottoman Turks, with our ancient homeland now being called Turkey. Forget the international community. Even our own ‘ally’ Russia knew exactly when the Azeri’s were launching the April offensive yet did nothing to warn Armenia. Yes, we have military agreements with Russia, but trust them zero.. The answer lies within ourselves. It always has. Azerbaijan currently has 126k soldiers. We collectively have half that amount. WHY is the diaspora youth not allowed to join the Armenian-Artsakh military for starters? I believe our Armenian leaders do not want outside influence, as the main reason, which is treasonous in my opinion.. Further, as a collective whole, we should adopt an offensive mind set. That includes Turkey. They have to pay for the genocide and destruction of our nation. The eventual liberation of more Armenian territory as our long term national goal needs to be instilled as well. Justice is on our side and ONLY in our hands. Ignore the international community. The Turks and Azeri’s will not stop. They will never come to terms with a free Artsakh or the Genocide itself. They are opportunistic and have their eye on riding all Armenians as Aliyev’s recent statement attests too. Its just a matter of time to them.WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND THAT. What is necessary is arming ourselves to the teeth. Use our nuclear ability and creative science to create a clandestine nuclear program. Its is necessary. This is the type of direction our nation needs as a whole. The answer is and always will lie within ourselves. Justice should be with in ourselves. The international community is impotent and obtuse at best. Ignore them. One Armenia, Arstakh and diaspora THAT IS THE ANSWER..

    • Edward Demiraiakian said:

      Armenia is afraid that Turkey will intervene. Armenia does not trust Russia to defend Armenia, on time or effectively. Russia would not mind Armenian land gains that would allow for a corridor between Russia and Armenia. There is no certainty that Azerbaijan or Iran would allow free passage to Russian ground troops against Turkey or NATO. So any expansion of Artsack to the Khura river and a little beyond to the Russian border, would solve massive military logistical problems. So, the world once presented with an accomplished fact, assurances of uninterrupted oil flow, will have their 15 minutes of flapping lips in the wind, and move on to more bizarre fake topics. This will be an EU problem, the US will leave it to it to resolve. The EU never does anything aggressive, unless pushed by the US. So if I was a military planner, looking at the line of contact, it seems to me that the Armenians could straighten out that line and see major manpower savings. And all the resources that comes with all that depopulated ancestral land.

  5. Raffi said:

    Hurriyetdailynews: ”Record number of Afghan migrants reaching Eastern Turkey without papers” This is what Erdogan is planning to Eastern Turkey. Populate Kurdish and Armenian lands with Afghan people, and the west is keeping blind eye on these actions, as if it was not enough 80million Turks to join EU, now they are bringing Afghans to the doors of EU. http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/record-number-of-afghan-migrants-reaching-eastern-turkey-without-papers-129771

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