Azerbaijan should counter strong Armenian lobby in US – Azeri paper
19 May 04
Text of N. Aliyev and R. Orucov report by Azerbaijani newspaper Ekho on
19 May headlined “Armenian lobby calls on US Congress to cut military
aid to Azerbaijan
US Armenians have been startled by Azerbaijani President Ilham
Aliyev’s statement made in Naxcivan that the Azerbaijani army is
ready to restore its territorial integrity at any time.
The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) and “key
representatives of the Armenian lobby in the United States capable
of influencing the US policy” have issued a special statement in
connection with the threat “of resumption of aggression against
To all appearances, the Armenian lobby in the USA is launching a
new campaign of pressure on the American administration. The ANCA
wants Washington to toughen its position towards Baku. With the
forthcoming elections, the timing of the campaign seems to be perfect,
and considering the proportion of the Armenian population in the USA
it will be difficult to ignore its voice. It is already clear that
the Armenians are going to vote for democratic candidate John Kerry,
who in fact has already promised a lot to the Armenians.
“Unfortunately, it appears that previous signals from the US
administration concerning an increase in the volume of military
assistance to Azerbaijan cheered up the Azerbaijani president so much
that he has precipitously renewed threats against Nagornyy Karabakh,”
the executive director of the ANCA, Aram Khamparyan, has said.
The head of the ANCA appealed to the US Congress expressing the hope
that US congressmen would give the right assessment to the threat
posed by further US military assistance to Azerbaijan. Khamparyan
called on the US Congress to respect the agreement on “parity” (equal
military assistance to Azerbaijan and Armenia), which was reached by
the White House and the Congress in 2001 and served American interests
for several years”.
It is curious what the suspension of all US military assistance to
Azerbaijan could lead to. According to independent military expert
Lt-Col Uzeyir Cafarov, the US military assistance to Azerbaijan
“certainly plays a role in the way certain activities are conducted
in the Azerbaijani armed forces. However, it would be wrong to say
that this assistance is invaluable for our army, because our state
budget allocates sufficient funds to maintain the combat-readiness
of the army.
According to Cafarov, the disruption of the “parity”, as the ANCA
describes the situation, has to do with the fact that Azerbaijan,
unlike Armenia, was and still is actively involved in the international
anti-terror coalition together with the Americans.
“It is not surprising at all in this context that US ambassador
to Azerbaijan Reno Harnish stated recently that his country’s
administration would appreciate the expansion of the Azerbaijani
peacekeeping contingent in Iraq,” Cafarov added.
The military expert believes that the president’s statement was
“Our position is quite fair. We think that the negotiations cannot
last forever. They either have to bring about a tangible result or
Azerbaijan has got to reserve the right to liberate its lands by
force,” he said.
According to Cafarov, in this situation diplomats both in and outside
Azerbaijan have to step up their work.
“They have to try to elaborate such statements by the head of state
and other officials. It has to be stressed that Azerbaijan has both
moral and legal right to solve the problem by force.”
The head of the Euro-Atlantic Centre, MP Asim Mollazada, says it is
worth recalling that the previous head of the ANCA, Murad Topolyan,
was arrested and convicted by a California court for maintaining
contact and selling arms to different Arab terrorist groups.
“This situation seems paradoxical. On the one hand, the statement has
been made by a notorious organization and, on the other, it has been
made in support of Armenia, a country of the South Caucasus pursuing
a policy which totally contradicts US national interests. Armenia is
the main military and political partner of Iran and Russia, while
Azerbaijan and Georgia are both parts of the US-led anti-terror
coalition,” he said.
According to Mollazada, not only the US administration but also
a number of influential US officials are starting to have second
thoughts about the role of Armenia.
At the same time, Mollazada acknowledges that the Azeri or Turkish
lobby is not as active in the USA. He thinks it could play an important
role in advocating Azerbaijan’s interests at the political level. “Here
the balance of forces is not in our favour,” he said.
As for countering the efforts of the US Armenians, Mollazada believes
that it is necessary “to start active work not just by launching
short-term campaigns but by organizing serious work informing US
legislators of the real situation between Azerbaijan and Armenia. The
US-based Azerbaijani diplomats and ordinary Azerbaijanis can provide
information about this to local newspapers and write letters about
how the policy of our country meets national security interests of
the United States”.
From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress