Kessab Tragedy Still on World Agenda

By Edmond Y. Azadian

Turkey has hit Armenians where it hurts most. Since the 1960s, the Armenian population in Middle Eastern countries has been dwindling and the Turkish government’s direct or indirect involvement in that process is no secret to anyone.

Syria was the last bastion of Armenian existence in the region, with thriving communities in Aleppo, Homs and Damascus acting as a thorn in the side of the Turkish government. When Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Syrian President Bashar Al Assad were bedfellows, the pressure increased on the Armenian community life. Armenians must not forget that when Assad last visited Yerevan, he bypassed the Tzitzernakabert memorial in order not to provoke Turkey.

Now that the political tides have turned, Turkey has resorted to a more direct method of disintegrating the Syrian-Armenian community; Aleppo is almost wiped from the Armenian landscape and survivors are clinging to dear life under the Syrian regime’s protection.

Turkey has been pursuing its depopulation process for Armenians within its regional and global plans. The last blow to Armenian existence came on March 21, when Ankara armed and dispatched Al-Nusra terrorists to Kessab to loot, destroy and desecrate homes, farms, churches and businesses. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s invitation to Kessab’s Armenian refugees to seek security in Turkey may be characterized as the political joke of the century. Whatever one might think of him, Davutoglu has a sly sense of humor.

Turkey is only one  among many willing accessories to a global political plot involving not only regional powers, but global ones as well. Aleppo and Kessab Armenians are trapped in an international conflict whose solution is far beyond them, the Republic of Armenia or the Armenian Diaspora. The situation would have been different had Armenia possessed energy resources or military might, which could give pause to the perpetrators of those atrocities and their international handlers.

Armenians reacted vocally, from Moscow to Buenos Aires and from Paris to Sydney, once again, highlighting Turkey’s genocidal plans. Even the Turkish paper, Today’s Zaman, acknowledged in a headline that “Attack on the Syrian town of Kessab might cause headache for Turkey.” The paper further writes, “The forced flight from Kessab has special significance for Armenians because the town has long been an important regional Armenian hub to which many ethnic Armenians in the wider region fled following ethnic upheavals. Many Armenians have also drawn parallels with the forced expulsions which took place in 1915.”

(It is interesting to see how many different reasons the newspaper uses to explain why Armenians ended up in Kessab and Aleppo, without ever slipping and using the word “genocide.”)

But mind you, the Armenian reaction will cause only a headache and not bone-crushing impact.

The destiny of Kessab Armenians is but a footnote in the confrontation of world powers in a reinvigorated Cold War. The voices of the Armenians have limited audiences — from Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian’s appeal to the UN Security Council to Armenian National Committee of America Executive Director Aram Hamparian’s substantive interview on the Russian Channel RT.

Russia’s actions in Crimea and continued pressure on the unelected Ukrainian government could not be left unanswered by the West. That is why President Obama made a detour during his recent trip to Europe to pay a surprise visit to the medieval country of Saudi Arabia, exporter of the zealous Wahabi philosophy and the most deadly terrorists fighting for “democracy” in Syria —groups whose declared aim remains the establishment of a caliphate in Syria.

Goaded by hawks at home and cold warriors in Europe, the US administration is delegating its Middle Eastern policy to those unsavory groups. It looks as if the sorting of good terrorists from bad has been completed now that  Saudis and Qataris have begun supplying anti-aircraft missiles to mercenaries in Syria. One needs to remember that these groups, when they were operating in Iraq, were the cause of death of many US soldiers and Iraqi civilians.

Now we are told to believe that the Turkish border guards who are so vigilant that they can shoot Syrian aircraft one single kilometer into their airspace are not able to detect thousands of mercenaries on tanks crossing from their border into Syria and back at will. Mr. Davutoglu made himself a laughing stock when he announced at the UN that the assumption of Turkish collusion with the terrorists is false.

Russia’s buildup of forces along the Ukrainian border may eventually cause the partition of that fragile country. In the short term, the US and the European Union don’t have a recourse to reverse that catastrophy but they can bleed Russia in Syria, increasing pressure through hired guns.

After the collapse of Geneva 2, which had promised a political solution to the Syrian crisis, the situation can only deteriorate. The introduction of sophisticated weaponry in the war theater is intended to reverse recent advances of the Syrian government and eventually bring about for its downfall, thereby denying a foothold for Russia in the Mediterranean.

Thus far, appeals to the State Department to condemn the terrorists attacking Kessab have been met with complete silence. The State Department has further thumbed its nose by supplying more deadly weapons to those terrorists.

According to the Washington Post, Obama was considering backing down from his stern opposition to arming rebels with more advance weaponry, including anti-aircraft missiles. The Saudis have long pressured Western powers to arm rebel factions fighting to topple the Syrian government with sophisticated weapons, hoping it would turn the tide in the opposition’s favor in the brutal three-year conflict.

Of course, it was in line with Russia’s policy to condemn the incursion in Kessab and they took some action. First, on April 3, Armenia’s Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian participated in the session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Collective Security Treaty Organization to discuss an agenda of international and regional security issues. At the conclusion of the session, the CSTO members released a communiqué stating, “We severely criticize the terrorist actions and the application of force against peaceful population. We call for an end to violence and the ensuring of the safe return of the refugees. We are confident that the stabilization of the situation is possible only by excluding any foreign intervention and by launching a broad political dialog with the consideration of the interests of Syrians and Armenians, irrespective of ethnic background or religion.”

Second, the Russian delegation at the UN tried to raise the Kessab raid issue at the Security Council, but the move was blocked by the Western powers. “The Western countries at the UN Security Council did not allow Russia to secure a reaction to the Syrian militants’ actions in Kessab, inhabited by ethnic Armenians,” read in part an official statement by the Russian permanent mission at the UN.

The French government has been playing the most mischievous role in this bloodbath. Far from condemning the terrorists  attacking peaceful towns, the French government has been drafting a resolution for the UN to refer the Syrian government to the International Criminal Court. Indeed, in its April 5 issue, the New York Times reports, “France has taken the first steps toward proposing a Security Council resolution that would refer Syria to the International Criminal Court for the prosecution of war crimes, diplomats said Friday, an action long sought by rights advocates.”

France, the shining star of world civilization, has turned a blind eye to the beheadings, cannibalism and the carnage undertaken by the mercenaries and yet intends to punish a government which is engaged in a self-defense battle against outside forces hell bent on its destruction, which are capable of hitting France tomorrow, should they change course.

The embattled former UK prime minister, Tony Blair, was characterized by the world news media as President George Bush’s lapdog. Since leaving office, he has been commissioned to commit adventures in Europe and around the world. Now his role seems to have been assigned to French presidents. Indeed, Nicolas Sarkozy and now Francois Hollande have been making noise whenever there is a minor problem.

The incompetent socialist French president suffered a humiliating defeat during the most recent municipal elections, casting him as a one-term president. France and Germany were considered the EU’s economic locomotives at one time, but no more. The rise of unemployment, the economic downturn and social unrest have been plaguing France. President Hollande has been trying to compensate for his domestic failures through an aggressive foreign policy in Central Africa or the Middle East.

After lying to the Armenian community regarding the Armenian Genocide during his election campaign, Hollande has made another blunder recently. The powerful protests of French Armenians has been met by a curt and cynical response at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has issued the following short statement about the tragedy in Kessab: “We follow with concern the situation in Kessab, where many inhabitants were forced to flee. We condemn the bombardments by the regime and call on all the parties to respect international humanitarian law.”

Far from taking an honorable position of distancing itself from the terrorists, the French Foreign Ministry blames the Syrian government, which has been the only source of protection for the civilians living in Kessab.

Traditionally the French are masters of prostituting their politics. The very terrain where those mercenaries are being trained, the Hatay region in Turkey, was once part of Syria and in 1939 it was ceded to Turkey by France against some mineral rights which the Turkish government offered.

Similarly, the French recruited 5,000 young Armenian Legionnaires towards the end of World War I and sent them into harm’s way, promising them an Armenian homerule in Cilicia. But after a deal with Ataturk, behind the backs of the Armenians, the French forces withdrew treacherously, leaving the unarmed Armenian population to the tender mercies of the marauding Turks.

In his drive to gain some international recognition and prestige, Hollande will be visiting the Caucasus in May, purportedly to

see KESSAB, page 15

KESSAB, from page 14

support a peaceful resolution to the Karabagh stalemate and “to show that this region is sovereign and can determine its future itself.”

France is the last country that can meddle in the issue of Armenia’s sovereignty. Of course, the Armenian government will treat him with all the diplomatic niceties, perhaps entertaining him with the Pernot Ricard-owned Armenian brandy, but the people have to talk to him in a language that any hypocrite can understand.

Like the Karabagh issue, the destiny of Kessab Armenians is held in the balance of international forces.

It may be solved eventually at the expense of its Armenian population.