Israel’s military says it has retaken control of all communities around Gaza

 13:35, 9 October 2023

YEREVAN, OCTOBER 9, ARMENPRESS. There is no fighting going on between Israel Defense Forces (IDF) troops and Hamas inside Israel, and the IDF has re-taken control of all communities around the Gaza Strip, IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari told reporters Monday morning, CNN reports. 

However, isolated clashes continue as some gunmen remain active, the IDF spokesperson said.

The announcement comes more than 48 hours after Hamas launched a surprise attack with thousands of rockets and sent fighters across the border.

At least 493 people have died in Gaza since Israel began carrying out airstrikes in response to Hamas' surprise attack, the Palestinian health ministry said.

The death toll in Israel reached 700 Monday morning.

AW: Confronting the “triumvirate of moral cowardice”

One hundred and eight years ago, my grandmother, uncle, aunt, and my 13-year-old father – along with their entire village – were purged and exiled into the barren sands of the Syrian desert with only an armful of belongings.  Along with the rest of Western Armenia, my father’s Christian village and family were among those whom the Turkish pashas determined to exterminate.  Their ancestral homes were pillaged and destroyed, and churches rooted in centuries of history were torn down with their irreplaceable artifacts representing centuries of civilization.  Their fate was left to starvation, thirst, the swords of merciless Turks and rampant disease as they trekked into an unknown destiny. A million and five hundred thousand did not survive, including my grandmother, uncle and aunt.

One hundred and eight years ago, the world stood silent. America waived its conscience, and history repeated itself in the past weeks as the entire indigenous Armenian Christian population of Artsakh (Karabagh) was murderously marched out in the genocidal purge of another ancestral homeland carved out of its statehood in Azerbaijan.  The modern venal, murderous, amoral 21st century pasha is Ilham Aliyev, a corrupt, dictatorial oligarch who has enriched himself at the fossil fuel troughs of the Caucasus and, unbelievably, as he collaborates in the death and purges of Christians, is embraced and coddled by President Joseph Biden and his spineless Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his lickspittle NSC Adviser Jake Sullivan.

This triumvirate of moral cowardice has stood aside in the face of a tinhorn dictator in a backwater mountain region while he has soullessly set about the repeat of 1915’s systematic and calculated cleansing.  Once again the population’s target is babies, its elderly, its women and its working men.  And as Aliyev set his sights on expanding his empire into adjoining regions, Biden wrings his hands in confusion – issuing empty pronouncements through his low-level appointees of “sympathy and concern,” even as he continues military aid to Baku.

Now comes the further rub.  The so-called passion and outrage from the Congress and Biden’s colleagues in the Democrat Party has been meaningless – including that coming from Armenian-Americans in the Congress.  They wring their hands with letters and resolutions politely “urging” Biden to take action.  They make “requests” to Biden for “proper actions.”  Congressmen make themselves feel good by signing letters calling for sanctions and caterwauling about Aliyev’s mass violation of every conceivable standard of morality known to man.   None of this helps.

What the Democrats in Congress – Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and Anna Eshoo and Jackie Speier – need to do is to quit their polite promenade with Biden, Blinken and Sullivan and call them out for their moral cowardice.  What will make Biden act is if Pelosi goes into the Oval Office and tells him that anything less than action, intervention and immediate assistance is cowardice on Biden’s part – and to make public statements attacking Biden for his inaction.  Does Schumer have the courage to say to Biden: “Mr. President, if you can be pushed around by a low-life like Aliyev, how can we expect you to stand up to thugs like Putin or strongmen like Xi Jinping?” Like I have proposed for Pelosi, Schumer needs to go public with such statements – to embarrass Biden to act.

There is a reason to hold public office, and that is to achieve a service that those of us without power cannot.

As for Eshoo and Speier, the two of them are on the high moral ground to ask Biden if he has any sense of how he is now being viewed in the Armenian-American community – as callous and disconnected from reality. They might ask him a simple question: How would he feel if he was forced to leave his home in Delaware with nothing but the clothes on his back and a handful of memories – and not even his precious Corvette? And, again, those statements should not be only made in private – but loudly in public, before cameras and in press conferences – to place a blanket of shame on the shoulders of their party’s leader.

Doesn’t the official Democratic Party understand that they have the political, moral and persuasive power to shame the President into action like others cannot?  And when they don’t act as I have just proposed, then they, too should be viewed through the lens of moral condemnation.  There is a reason to hold public office, and that is to achieve a service that those of us without power cannot.  Letters written by eager staffers, full of empty words, are going into files to be lost in the archives. The real leaders of the Democratic Party – those I have named and many others who claim to stand by the side of the Armenian-American community – can show where they truly stand by using armaments of action, not cotton candy.  This is one time they can portray themselves honestly and genuinely and not hide behind Capitol Hill fluff.

I speak only for myself and for no organization or cause.  Only for the memory of my father and his village.

Ken Khachigian served as a communications aide and speechwriter for President Richard Nixon and subsequently assisted Nixon in the preparation of his memoirs. He served President Ronald Reagan as chief speechwriter in the White House and as campaign strategist and speechwriter in Reagan’s two landslide presidential campaigns. He authored Reagan’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide in a 1981 presidential resolution. In California, Khachigian served as George Deukmejian’s close confidant and principal campaign strategist for Deukmejian’s two victorious gubernatorial campaigns.

The Persecution of Armenian Christians Is Not Just A Religious Freedom Issue


by Joel Veldkamp
10 . 3 . 23

This September, the end came for Nagorno-Karabakh. 

The tiny mountain region was once home to 120,000 Armenian Christians
governing themselves in a de facto independent republic, the Republic of
Artsakh. Armenians have been living in this region for thousands of years,
and they have been Christians since the fourth century. The dozens of
ancient and medieval churches dotting the landscape bear witness to this

But for nine months, the dictatorship of Azerbaijan had been blockading this
region. The siege led to a hunger crisis and created dire fuel and medicine
shortages. One horrifying indicator of the scale of the suffering: the
miscarriage rate in the territory reportedly quadrupled. 

Then, on September 19, Azerbaijan attacked. The military assault drove half
of the region's population out of their homes, and swamped the capital's
hospital with wounded for whom there were no medical supplies. Widespread
atrocities were reported, including the apparently deliberate bombing of a
group of fleeing children. Five days after the attack began, the Karabakh
Armenians accepted Russia's offer to evacuate their population to the
neighboring Republic of Armenia. 

In one fell swoop, one of the world's most brutal dictatorships destroyed
one of the world's oldest Christian communities. Not only that, but the
dictatorship in question receives U.S. military aid and is considered a
"valued partner" of the U.S.

How did conservative Christians in the United States-members of the world's
largest, freest, richest, and most influential Christian community-respond
to the ethnic cleansing of their coreligionists by a U.S. ally?

With almost complete silence.

Two facts make this shameful non-reaction particularly strange. First, since
the 1990s, the U.S. has been home to a robust and vocal movement on behalf
of persecuted Christians abroad. This movement has been especially strong
among conservative Christians. Second, during the Armenian Genocide of
1915-1923, American Christians mobilized to help the genocide's victims as
never before in history. They raised a phenomenal $100 million for relief,
aiding perhaps two million refugees in total. Herbert Hoover would later
remark that, "probably Armenia was known to the American school child in
1919 only a little less than England."

Contrast that with what one of my colleagues in the U.S. told me earlier
this year: "Joel, most people in my congregation don't even know what an
Armenian is."

How do we account for an abdication this massive?

From my perspective as a staff member at Christian Solidarity International,
one factor appears salient: the absorption of Christian organizing and
political energy into a movement for "international religious freedom."

Over the past three years, when I have talked about Karabakh with Christians
who work in organizations dedicated to helping the persecuted, I have
repeatedly gotten versions of this question: "But is this really about
religious freedom?"

There is a history to how this question became the overriding determinant
for organizations like mine. After the end of the Cold War, a large
coalition of Christian and Jewish activists and organizations began working
to get the U.S. government to address the persecution of Christians in the
Global South.

To do so, these activists chose to frame the problem within the discourse of
human rights. They settled on one human right in particular: the right to
"religious freedom" enshrined in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights.

Today, we have become used to thinking of religious persecution as, by
definition, an attack on religious freedom. Yet the twentieth century's
worst instance of anti-Christian persecution-the Armenian Genocide-did not
fit the "religious freedom" category so neatly. The architects of the
genocide were not, after all, trying to keep Armenians from worshipping
Jesus, building churches, or reading the Bible. Much like Azerbaijan today,
they were trying to exterminate a Christian people (whether practicing or
not) that they had long held in subservience but had come to see as a threat
to their power.

At the time, this fact posed no obstacle at all to American Christians
organizing for their suffering coreligionists. Later generations of
Christendom would not benefit from this clarity.

The anti-persecution movement achieved its greatest legislative victory in
1998, with the passage of the "International Religious Freedom Act."
Significantly, as the scholar Elizabeth Castelli notes, the final
legislation does not use the word "persecution" even once in its definitions
of terms. It speaks only of "violations of religious freedom." These
violations might include "forced mass resettlement," "rape," "enslavement,"
"murder," and so forth-but only "if committed on account of an individual's
religious belief or practice."

This framing suits the priorities of the U.S. foreign policy establishment
rather well. If persecution is primarily a problem of individual liberty,
rather than a question involving ethnic identity, peoples, or even nations
and nation-states, then it becomes an issue between governments and their
citizens. U.S. diplomats can grade the performance of foreign governments
and otherwise address the issue at their leisure, without calling into
question broader U.S. foreign policy.

In order to pass key legislation and gain a foothold in the U.S. government,
Christian anti-persecution activists accommodated themselves to the
government's preferences. This came at a cost. Soon, the institutions the
U.S. and its allies set up to promote religious freedom began to shape the
way Christians did advocacy. Eventually, it shaped the very way we thought
about persecution.

This category shift has been so debilitating that, as the bombs were falling
on Armenian Christians in September 2023, Christianity Today saw fit to
publish just one piece about the attack-an article that interviews six
"religious freedom experts" about whether or not specifically Christian
advocacy for the Armenians would be appropriate.

An urgent task is now before Christian leaders and activists: to free our
imaginations from the constraints of "international religious freedom" and
its definitions, and to rediscover our biblical calling to solidarity with
the body of Christ (I Cor. 12:25-26).

The next Karabakh will most likely be Syunik, the southernmost province of
the Republic of Armenia, which Turkey and Azerbaijan are now eyeing
greedily. And there will be other Karabakhs. Christian communities around
the world are facing oppression, military attack, and ethnic cleansing in
ways that are not easy to define as violations of individual religious
freedom. This is the case today in the Nuba Mountains, West Papua, Benue,
Southern Kaduna, Manipur, and Karen state. 

But you likely haven't heard of most of these places.

Joel Veldkamp is the head of international communications at Christian
Solidarity International.

France to send military equipment to Armenia

Daily Sabah, Turkey
Oct 3 2023

France has agreed to deliver military equipment to Armenia, according to an announcement made by Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna on Tuesday.

"France has given its agreement to the conclusion of future contracts with Armenia which will allow the delivery of military equipment to Armenia so that it can ensure its defense," Colonna told reporters in a joint news conference with Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan after talks that she said touched upon security and defense.

Colonna traveled to Armenia to assess the country's urgent needs amid an influx of refugees from Karabakh following Azerbaijan's counterterrorism operation.

The Caucasus neighbors have been locked in a deadly dispute over the enclave – internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but occupied by Armenia for over three decades – since the 1980s and fought two wars over the territory.

In 2020, Azerbaijan liberated several cities, villages and settlements from Armenian occupation during 44 days of clashes. The war ended with a Russia-brokered peace agreement.

Last month, Azerbaijan carried out an anti-terror operation to clear the territory to establish constitutional order in the region.

Illegal Armenian armed forces in Karabakh surrendered after the 24-hour operation.

Azerbaijan, having established full sovereignty in the region, has called on the Armenian population to become part of Azerbaijani society and vowed to protect their rights.

Following Azerbaijan’s military offensive, most ethnic Armenians ‘want to leave’ Nagorno-Karabakh – Video

France 24
Sept 23 2023
The ethnic Armenian leadership of breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh said on Friday that there was no agreement yet with Azerbaijan on security guarantees or an amnesty after a lightning Azeri offensive forced them into a humiliating ceasefire deal. The future of Karabakh and its 120,000 ethnic Armenians hangs in the balance: Azerbaijan wants to integrate the long-contested region, but ethnic Armenians say they fear they will be persecuted and have accused the world of abandoning them. To share a glimpse of the harrowing plight of Karabakh's ethnic Armenians, FRANCE 24's Delano D'Souza is joined by Ruben Vardanyan, Former State Minister of Artsakh.

Armenia PM takes swipe at Russia as first civilians leave breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh Radina Gigova

Sept 24 2023

First group of Karabakh refugees enters Armenia

RTE, Ireland
Sept 24 2023

The first group of Nagorno-Karabakh refugees since Azerbaijan's lighting assault against the separatist region entered Armenia today, an AFP team at the border said.

The group of a few dozen people passed by Azerbaijani border guards before entering the Armenian village of Kornidzor, where they were registered by officials from Armenia's foreign ministry.

The group was primarily comprised of women, children and the elderly.

Some said that they came from the border-area village of Eghtsahogh, while other said they travelled longer distances.

One man said that he had been part of the separatist resistance until Azerbaijan's offensive forced the rebels on Wednesday to sue for peace and agree to disarm.

"Our families were in shelters," said the man, who was in his 30s and came from the village of Mets Shen but did not give his name.

"Yesterday, we had to put down our rifles. So we left," he said.

Meanwhile, Armenia has urged the United Nations to send a mission to ensure the safety of ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Accusations of ethnic cleansing plans

For the second time since the swift Azerbaijani operation in the mountainous territory, the top diplomats of the adversaries clashed at the United Nations as Western powers voiced alarm.

Armenia has accused Turkish ally Azerbaijan of planning ethnic cleansing. It has stoked memories of mass killings in the waning days of the Ottoman Empire that Armenians, the US and many historians consider genocide.

"After failure of preventing genocide in Rwanda, the United Nations managed to create mechanisms for prevention, thus making the 'never again' a meaningful pledge," Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan said.

"But today we are at the brink of another failure," he said in a speech to the UN General Assembly.

He called for the United Nations to send a mission immediately to Nagorno-Karabakh to "monitor and assess the human rights, humanitarian and security situation on the ground".

Azerbaijan's foreign minister, Jeyhun Bayramov, had accused Armenia of disinformation when the two top diplomats joined a special Security Council session Thursday.

Yesterday, Mr Bayramov also spoke at the General Assembly and said that Azerbaijan, which is mostly Muslim, would respect the Armenians, who are Christian.

"I wish to reiterate that Azerbaijan is determined to reintegrate ethnic Armenian residents of the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan as equal citizens," Mr Bayramov said.

"We continue to firmly believe that there is a historic opportunity for both Azerbaijan and Armenia to establish good neighbourly relations and coexist side by side in peace," Mr Bayramov said.

US calls for protections

Russia, which sent peacekeepers after earlier violence in 2020, yesterday was supervising the disarmament of ethnic Armenian fighters.

If the surrender is completed, it could effectively end a conflict that has erupted periodically since the fall of the Soviet Union.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who had led three rounds of talks seeking a diplomatic solution, voiced "deep concern" for the ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh in a telephone call with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

Mr Blinken told him that the US is pressing Azerbaijan "to protect civilians and uphold its obligations to respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the residents of Nagorno-Karabakh and to ensure its forces comply with international humanitarian law," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said.

Azerbaijan's swift offensive, which killed some 200 people, has sparked protests in Armenia against Russia, which had been tasked with guaranteeing the truce after the 2020 fighting.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, speaking to reporters at the UN, accused Western powers of "pulling the strings" to undermine Moscow but also said: "Unfortunately, the leadership of Armenia from time to time adds fuel to the fire itself."

Mr Lavrov pointed to one senior Armenian politician who said that Russian President Vladimir Putin had handed Nagorno-Karabakh over to Azerbaijan.

"It is ludicrous to accuse us of this," Mr Lavrov said, while adding that he expected Armenians to maintain in Moscow's orbit and not ally with "those who swoop in from abroad".

A declaration signed in 1991 in Kazakhstan's largest city Almaty, then known as Alma-Ata, stated that existing borders of newly independent countries that had been Soviet republics were inviolable.

The declaration "meant that Nagorno-Karabakh was part of Azerbaijan – pure and simple as that," Mr Lavrov said.

Iran behind escalation between Armenia, Azerbaijan – analysis

i24, Israel
Sept 9 2023

Avi Monakov

Iran issues threatening message to Azerbaijan, adds warning: Israel, beware

Iran is actively escalating a new conflict in the southern Caucasus region. Against the backdrop of dynamic reconciliation efforts between Azerbaijan and Armenia under the aegis of the EU and U.S., Iran has been making every effort in recent weeks to fuel revanchist sentiments in Armenia, and acting on it by mediating arms purchases from India and demonstrating military support.

According to official Iranian sources, particularly the official Telegram channel of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), on Friday, August 8th, Iranian Land Forces units and possibly Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp were concentrated near the border of Azerbaijan. Video captured from a helicopter and published on Telegram shows some Iranian armored vehicles in the vicinity of the border river Araz. 

Another video shows Iranian troops near the border with Armenia. Similar information was also shared via the Hezbollah terrorist organization’s Telegram channel, posting a map indicating the locations of Iranian forces. 

IRGC, following its usual MO, has initiated a propaganda campaign by disseminating video clips in which it not only directly threatens Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, but also Israel, which is a strategic ally of Baku. A video titled "Warning to Aliyev” shows off weaponry and exercises depicting territorial capture (presumably of Azerbaijan), and with music that begins with the words “Israel, beware."

Iran may not limit its military presence just to the border. Russian sources suggest that Tehran may, in coordination with Yerevan, introduce its armed forces into Armenian territory. Armenia has been one of the channels for the transfer of military equipment to Russia since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine. This move aims to prevent Azerbaijan and Turkey from establishing the Zangezur transportation corridor. Iran considers this corridor, referred to as the "project of Zionists and NATO," to be one of the alternative routes from the East to Europe that bypasses Russia. In Iran's view, this corridor would cut off Iran from Armenia, thus disrupting a key channel for covert shipments both to and from the Islamic Republic.

This is one of the reasons why Tehran, in order to strengthen Armenia, lobbied for its purchase of Indian weaponry worth a quarter of a billion dollars. According to the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida, Russia, Iran, and India have reportedly transferred a substantial amount of weapons and military equipment to Armenia in the past month.

An unnamed source within the special unit of the IRGC, Sepah-e-Qods, confirmed to Al-Jarida that, based on a joint decision by Russia, Iran, and India, a substantial amount of high-quality weaponry has been sent to Armenia through Iranian territory in recent weeks. This includes drones, tracked vehicles for troop transport, ground-to-ground and ground-to-air missiles, as well as radar systems of Russian and Indian origin. According to the source, "these actions are aimed at creating a balance of power to deter Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Israel from occupying the Syunik region of Armenia." He explained that "intelligence received by Moscow and Tehran” confirms that the Azerbaijanis plan to cut off overland communication between Russia, Armenia, Iran, and India.

The source revealed that Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, personally issued orders to prevent this, "even if it requires the intervention of Iranian armed forces to support Armenia in case it becomes unable to resist." According to the source, Iran's General Staff of the Armed Forces received permission from Khamenei to train Iranian Armenians and send them for military service in Yerevan. It is reported that "the IRGC began training Armenian Iranians to operate Iranian military drones a year ago because they could quickly grasp their operational software due to their knowledge of the Persian language, in contrast to the difficulties encountered during the training of Russian personnel."

Therefore, in the event of an armed conflict in the South Caucasus involving Armenia, Iran and Russia would likely become involved. This is possibly why Azerbaijan has increased its purchases of Israeli weaponry in recent months.

In August 2023, the Israeli think tank Middle East & Central Asia Research Center published an analytical document highlighting that Armenia is becoming a tool in Iran's proxy war against Azerbaijan.

The document noted that Iran is a relatively weak country in terms of conventional military power, and traditionally relies on asymmetric warfare rather than direct confrontation. Iran has managed to bolster its asymmetric capabilities by using missiles, drones, and proxies. One of Tehran's proxies in this regard is Armenia, which it employs against Azerbaijan.

The analysis also pointed out that Iran's former ambassador to Syria, Sobhani, was appointed as a diplomatic representative in Yerevan. The position of Iran's ambassador in Damascus and Beirut carries not only diplomatic significance but also a military rank. The ambassador is responsible for coordinating with Lebanese Hezbollah, the Assad regime, and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Sobhani's appointment reveals the military importance of Yerevan to Tehran, and suggests that the IRGC is planning to escalate tensions with Azerbaijan.

Turkish Press: Ankara slams elections held in Karabakh by Armenia

Hurriyet, Turkey
Sept 10 2023
The Turkish Foreign Ministry has slammed the elections held in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan under the control of illegal Armenian forces as a worrying development that can undermine the ongoing peace talks between Baku and Yerevan.

“The elections held in the territories of Karabakh region of Azerbaijan under the control of illegal Armenian forces is a new manifestation of efforts to unilaterally legitimize the current situation in the region, which is contrary to international law,” read a statement issued by the ministry over the weekend.

“This step is a flagrant violation of international law, including the U.N. Security Council resolutions and the [Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe] OSCE principles,” it added.

Armenians living in the Azerbaijani territories of Karabakh voted to elect a new parliament speaker, drawing condemnation from Azerbaijan, Türkiye, and the European Union.

“We condemn and consider this election, which is held in a period when Azerbaijan and Armenia strive to continue peace talks, as a move to undermine them,” Ankara said.

“Türkiye does not recognize this illegitimate election, which constitutes a violation of Azerbaijan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We call on the U.N. and international community not to recognize this election,” read the statement by the ministry.

It also reiterated Türkiye’s support for the peace negotiations process between Azerbaijan and Armenia, stressing that signing a lasting peace agreement soon will make a major contribution to peace and stability in the region.

Azerbaijan had freed its territories from Armenia’s three-decade occupation following the 44-day war.

Erdoğan to talk to Pashinyan

In the meantime, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he had a phone conversation with Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev and will talk to Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan about the recent developments in Karabakh at a press conference he held following the G20 summit in India.

“We have no option other than calling for restraint in the region,” Erdoğan said, stressing that the elections in Karabakh are unacceptable. President Erdoğan said he will ask Pashinyan to urge those who conducted the elections in Karabakh to reconsider in his planned phone conversation on Sept. 11.

During phone call with Pashinyan, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz expresses readiness to support peace efforts

 13:06, 9 September 2023

YEREVAN, SEPTEMBER 9, ARMENPRESS. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan spoke by phone on Saturday with Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Olaf Scholz.

PM Pashinyan and Chancellor Scholz discussed issues related to the deepening of the humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh as a result of the illegal blocking of the Lachin Corridor, the accumulation of Azerbaijani troops around Nagorno-Karabakh, and the increasing tension on the Armenia-Azerbaijan state border, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a readout.

Prime Minister Pashinyan reaffirmed his commitment to the approaches of settling all issues exclusively through diplomatic means and in a constructive atmosphere, based on the agreements reached on October 6, 2022 in Prague and on May 14, 2023 in Brussels.

Chancellor Scholz noted that he is ready to support efforts aimed at establishing peace and stability in the region.

Prime Minister Pashinyan emphasized that he is ready to hold urgent discussions with the President of Azerbaijan aimed at reducing tension.