BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
Last week we had the pleasure of addressing the “thoughts” of a representative of an Azerbaijani group in the U.S. He’d felt the need to attack me because I “dared” to find fault with MY government’s (you know, the people that I help elect to REPRESENT ME) policies regarding Azerbaijan and Turkey, and to correspondingly fault a colleague of that representative.
Then we have an interview with Elnur Aslanov, Chief of the Political Analysis and Information Department at the Azerbaijani Presidential Administration, from News.Az titled “Information war against Armenia ‘involves every Azerbaijani’”. Therein, we are treated to the usual muddle of distortions, half-truths, and creative history that Azerbaijani sources are noted for, easily matching their big brothers in Turkey— absurdity-wise. From this piece we “learn” that the high-priced, oil-money-paid-for, propaganda onslaught is allegedly making inroads in dispelling Armenian “lies”. The topics are Khojaly, characterization of the Artsakh situation, and even President Sarkissian’s recently rediscovered backbone in dealing with Azerbaijan and Turkey. I won’t even bore you with, nor lend credibility to, some of the statements passed off as “facts” in this piece. It’s tough not to laugh and gag simultaneously.
Of course we mustn’t forget about President Aliyev’s incessant, and, in the last couple of years more frequent and strident bellicose bombast about re-stealing Artsakh. Coupled with this is the obscene amount of money he spends in oil treasure building up Azerbaijan’s armaments instead of building up the country’s infrastructure, developing the economy, and helping its impoverished majority. I suspect the main reason for the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway, a meeting about which was reported in the January 24 Asbarez, is really to create an easier way to ship arms from Turkey to Baku, be that legally or otherwise.
None of this is new in substance. But the intensity, frequency, and shrillness are suggestive. It’s been nagging at me, without my even being too aware of the oddity of the situation. Last week, I received a very interesting article published by the Harvard International Review, “Azerbaijan’s Chances in the Karabakh Conflict” authored by Alec Rasizade. I think I know why Azerbaijan, its government, and minions throughout the world are so restive and aggressive of late.
After a quick summary of the conflict in Artsakh, Rasizade describes Azerbaijan’s oil and gas production, history, and reserves. It seems the reserves, for both oil and natural gas are inflated. In the case of oil, after almost two decades of production, and no major new discoveries, the reserves claimed by Azerbaijan reflect a decrease of only one year’s worth of production. Perhaps this is Azerbaijan’s version of new math. For gas, Azerbaijan’s reserves, whether inflated or not, are described as insignificant. The country’s era of “big oil” production is expected to peak this year, and be over by decade’s end. The way profits from current production are misused, i.e. no alternative economic development and misgovernment, may well lead to instability with the coming end of the oil money gusher. In conclusion, Rasizade says the Armenian Diaspora is balancing Azerbaijan’s oil money (and the relevance to the West oil begets).
So there’s our answer. Baku and its front groups worldwide are desperate to steal back Artsakh before they become irrelevant to the rest of the world. They have a very small window of opportunity.
So it’s up to us, the Diaspora, to keep Azerbaijan wasting its money and getting nowhere. Meanwhile we also must support and strengthen our two republics so they can withstand the increasing onslaught, verbal for now, but perhaps military in the future. How do we do this? We support and criticize, help and correct, applaud and condemn, all as appropriate. No one is perfect, and to pretend otherwise and avoid applying friendly pressure when our compatriots are on the wrong track serves only the bully to the east of our homeland. Let’s rise to that occasion by redoubling our efforts in the political and media spheres.