Syrian Armenians Concerned about Negative Effect of Possible US Air Strikes


By Gohar Abrahamyan
ArmeniaNow reporter

YEREVAN (ArmeniaNow) — Ethnic Armenians who have fled Syria during the last two years of conflict and took refuge in Armenia consider that possible US strikes against the country will prove a futile effort to resolve the crisis, while only causing negative effects.

They acknowledge with regret, however, that Syria is getting continuously plagued by the civil war that has been going on in this Middle Eastern country for more than two years now with no end in sight.

The situation around Syria, where opposition forces are waging armed battles against government forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, aggravated in the wake of the alleged use of chemical weapons on August 21. The United States claims to possess conclusive evidence that the Assad regime used sarin gas near Damascus on that day killing 1,429 civilians, including 426 children. Meanwhile, each side in the conflict in Syria blames its opponents for the attack.

Washington has threatened to punish Assad for the use of banned weapons, with a limited military operation and has increased its military presence around Syria in recent days.

While some major US allies in Europe, such as the UK, Germany and other NATO members, have not agreed yet to be part of the military campaign against Syria, others, such as France and Turkey, have supported an even more fierce response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime.

Assad’s key allies, including Iran and Russia, have spoken against the strike, alleging that the United States is misleading the international community by putting the blame on the government forces in Syria.

Armenia is following the situation around Syria with particular interest and not only because of the involvement of major regional powers in it, including its top ally Russia, neighbor Iran and historical foe Turkey. Syria is home to an 80,000-strong Armenian community and the civil war in this country has already resulted in thousands of them leaving their homes and relocating to Armenia.

The Armenian government has been neutral on the internal conflict in Syria, but has been concerned about the physical safety of ethnic Armenians as well as the integrity of the community that was established in Aleppo and other major Syrian cities by survivors of the genocide in Ottoman Turkey.

Prime Minister Tigran Sargisian on Sunday said that Armenia should be ready for the worst-case scenario in the Syria crisis.

“A great outflow [of ethnic Armenians] is expected from Aleppo. The problem is that traveling around Syria by land cannot be safe today. It is clear that we should be ready for such developments in order to be able to receive Syrian Armenians who are able to overrun this blockade somehow. We are discussing all scenarios,” he said addressing teachers and students at the Artsakh State University in Stepanakert, according to the government press office.

Khachik Chozikyan, who moved from Syria to Armenia a year ago, fears that American strikes against the Assad regime will only make things worse for the entire country.

Chozikyan, who has been a member of the Help Your Brother initiative of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), delivering humanitarian aid to compatriots in Syria, says a possible US intervention may have unpredictable consequences.

“I can’t imagine how Muslim soldiers can embrace Americans. Maybe they will, but maybe they won’t. If they don’t, there will be a situation similar to Iraq, which is dangerous. The people of Syria are tired, they are waiting for peace in whatever way it may come, but launching missile strikes is not a solution,” said Chozikyan.

He urged for the United Nations to post peacekeeping forces there.

Another Syrian-Armenian, who did not want his name to be published (as many young male Syrian Armenians do probably to avoid possible problems with military authorities back in Syria), agreed that he believes that US strikes will only aggravate the situation in the Middle East.

The 25-year-old student at the Yerevan State University said: “I don’t think that the United States will take such a foolish step. It will only result in more human deaths, more destruction, the situation in the Middle East will become more confused, which will not be favorable to anyone.”