BY HRANT APOVIAN
The soul from within the body was calling, saying
“Do not lose your time anymore,
Your sacred memory has been written in heaven
Mountains and valleys are on the attack
They are coming at you, to trample you under their feet
But your bravery, and the powers from heaven
In this world will leave your name
That love and faith, and the loyalty towards the homeland
Are so powerful and magnificent
That one can destroy a thousand
Two can break, vanquish the multitude”
They called on each other, gave heart to each other,
Took the blessing, and went ahead
Khatchadour Apovian, “Verk Hayastani”
The four day war in Nagorno-Karabakh is barely over. There is an uneasy and temporary lull in the fighting. It is supposed to be a ceasefire. Until next time. The people of Artsakh and Armenia are in mourning. They are burying our fallen heroes and taking care of the injured. We need to take note of where we went wrong. Were we truly ready for this kind of an all-out onslaught? It is a painful process and maybe it is premature for this assessment, but it needs to be done at all levels. We have to identify the weaknesses in our political and military leadership, in addition to the failures of our foreign ministry. Further, a frank reassessment and re-evaluation of our true friends and allies is needed.
Several questions keep lingering: Why were we caught by surprise? Is there a deficiency in our intelligence gathering? Why didn’t the Russians or the US notify us prior to such an attack? Both Russia and the US must have been aware of this attack due to Azerbeijani tanks, armor, grad missile systems, as well as army concentrations amassed at the line of contact. One can assume that Russia has both the means and the capability to monitor such movements. The same can be said for the capabilities of the US. It is Russia that sold five billion in sophisticated weaponry to Azerbaijan, but never delivered the two hundred million dollars’ worth of weapons promised to Armenia. Finally, Russia never intervened in the fighting.
There needs to be a course correction by the Armenian government and those in power who failed to anticipate the situation need to be replaced for their complacency. In addition, the leadership in Armenia needs to take a serious look at our failures in foreign policy: the lack of any movement in the recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh worldwide and our inability to counter Azeri falsifications regarding the conflict. Apparently we did not anticipate and were not ready for such an all out assault.
It is imperative that during these dire times, we identify our weaknesses and take appropriate actions where possible; mainly:
I. A resolution by the Armenian Parliament recognizing Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence is long overdue.
II. Withdraw if necessary from our membership in the CSTO, the Collective Security Treaty Organization, that does not treat Armenia as an equal and that – contrary to its bylaws – does not feel that it has to come to its rescue when attacked.
III. Oppose, at all cost, any kind of peace keeping force between Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan. Oppose, at all cost, any settlement imposed on Armenia that is detrimental to the national interests of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh and/or renders it indefensible.
IV. Intensify lobbying efforts around the world for recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent state.
V. Insist that Nagorno-Karabakh be a party to the Minsk Group negotiations.
VI. Ensure that Turkey will never be able to join the Minsk Group. Turkey’s incitement of the conflict, as well as its interference in attempting to represent the conflict as a religious one, make Turkey ineligible as a candidate.
VII. Create a strong, well-trained army reserve, recruiting and capitalizing on the volunteers and veterans of the liberation war of Artsakh who voluntarily came to the rescue of our soldiers on the front-lines.
VIII. Create a war fund to be bankrolled by Armenian oligarchs and the diaspora at large to help the war effort and to especially assist the families of the badly injured and our fallen heroes.
IX. Strengthen ties with the media in the West for more informed and unbiased reporting of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to counter the Azeri petrodollar propaganda machine. Our weakness in this field was flagrantly evident during the recent flare-up.
X. Expose Azerbaijan’s human rights violations and conduct in contravention of the Geneva Convention. The viciousness with which both civilians and soldiers were mutilated is reminiscent of actions by ISIS.
XI. Initiate bolder and more decisive actions from our political and military leadership. When Azerbaijan attacks again, capture new positions and hit the enemy where is hurts most: oil installations and pipelines. Initiate preemptive strikes if necessary.
The rebirth and the unified outpouring of support by the people of Artsakh, Armenia, and the diaspora in reaction to the all-out assault must compel the political leadership in Armenia to clean up its act. Those who are in charge of the fate of our homeland, the political as well as military leadership, must start strengthening the homeland and especially the army, even if it means forgoing their amassed personal assets for the war effort.
The time has passed when outside forces can be blamed for our failures. The leadership in Armenia has to perform its obligations under the constitution. It needs to be held responsible for its dereliction of duty. While Armenia and Artsakh are fortunate to have citizens who responded by the thousands to the danger in a rational and self-reliant manner, their political-military leadership has to mirror the passion of its people or abdicate.
Finally, Armenians worldwide must come together to overcome these insurmountable obstacles. We should unite as one. We should only rely on each other, and most of all, on our heroic army. We should cherish each and every soldier and volunteer and remain beholden for their sacrifice.