Black shadow above Batumi

May 19, 2004, Wednesday


SOURCE: Voyenno-Promyshlenny Kurier, No 17, May 12 – 18, 2004, pp. 1,

by Colonel General Leonid Ivashov, Vice President of the Academy of
Geopolitical Problems


The conflict between Tbilisi and Batumi appears to be settled, by
peaceful means and with the help of Russian diplomacy.

We may like it that bloodshed was avoided but should nevertheless
thoroughly analyze the processes under way in the Mideast and near
East, the Caspian – Caucasus region.

The first question that automatically leaps to mind is this: why Igor
Ivanov did not facilitate the negotiations between Tbilisi and Batumi
(like Yuri Luzhkov did) but came to the Adjarian leadership with an
ultimatum (like Viktor Chernomyrdin to Slobodan Milosevic once)? Do
Russia’s interests in the region boil down to replacement of the

Of course, we can always explain what happened the way officials of
the US Administration, NATO leaders, and pro-Western Russian
politicians explain them. That it was expansion of the territory of
democracy, free market, and security. Is it all there is to it?

Splitting the Caucasus and Caspian region from Russia is what the
United States is after.

Abkhazia, Adjaria, South Ossetia, Djavakhetia – these are the bases
of the pro-Russian vector on the territory of Georgia. In fact, other
regions of Georgia retain sympathies with Russia. It is the
populations of Adjaria, Djavakhetia, and Abkhazia that welcome
Russian military presence and protest against withdrawal of the
Russian military bases.

For the time being, Abkhazia is more than Saakashvili and his masters
across the ocean can bite off and swallow. Aslan Abashidze himself
was more than they could swallow when steer strength of arms was
relied on. When these attempts failed, the old and tested way was
resorted to – another special envoy of the president of Russia. Five
years ago, special envoy Chernomyrdin speaking on behalf of Russia
persuaded Milosevic to capitulate and effectively paved way to the
American occupation of Yugoslavia. Ivanov helped the Americans and
their puppets in the episode with Eduard Shevardnadze. Moscow must
have decided to use the old weapon again, this time to oust
Abashidze. The weapon was used, and produced the coveted results.

The question of how the recent foreign minister of Russia managed it
is asked nowadays. His prowess as a great diplomat is extolled. I saw
in Yugoslavia how deals like that are pulled off. I can tell you
right here and now that Ivanov merely denied Abashidze support. It
does not take a genius to guess that the Adjaria leader could not
face all of that alone. Not Georgia, by the way. He was facing a
united front of the United States, Russia, and united Europe –
without a single ally. Resistance was all the more impossible because
the country the leader of Adjaria counted on as an ally turned up in
the enemy camp.

Withdrawing from the Caucasus of its own volition, Moscow eliminates
all sympathies with it in the region, burns all bridges as though in
a war. It is doing to prevent anybody, first and foremost Washington
and Brussels, from thinking that it intends to come back to the
region one fine day.

The May 9 explosion in Grozny should have brought the Russian
political elite to its senses. This is an indirect echo of the
“diplomatic success” in Batumi. Region of the Mideast and Near East,
of the Caspian Sea, and Caucasus is an integral geopolitical zone.
The events in Iraq, Chechnya, Dagestan, or Georgia are intertwined.
Meeting with failure in the Mideast, the United States in a hurry to
set up a base in the Caucasus because the Caucasus is a key to
Caspian, Iranian, and Kazakh oil, a bridgehead from which pressure
may be put on Iran, Central Asia, Turkey, Ukraine, and Russia.

The situation in the Russian Caucasus directly depends on the degree
of Russian clout with the Caucasus. Moreover, the military-political
dominance there is a must for Russian national security.

Abashidze’s withdrawal from the Georgian political arena will have
thoroughly negative consequences for Russia.

1. It should be mentioned that loud protestations against the former
leader of Adjaria and the exuberant crowds supporting his resignation
are mostly the scum incited by foreign secret services paid for in
dollars and promises of economic aid.

The majority of the Abkhazians are shocked by Ivanov’s deed, because
Adjaria was practically the only safe haven in the post-Soviet
territory, particularly against the background of the rest of
Georgia. Abashidze never permitted anybody to drag Adjaria into a
conflict. It was Moscow’s support that guaranteed this internal
stability. These days, the population of Adjaria no longer trusts
Moscow, its fairness, or the hopes pinned on Moscow.

For Russia, it means a loss of yet another sympathizing area in the

2. From the military-strategic point of view, Russia is losing the
system of its military presence in the region. The military base in
Batumi will be isolated from similar bases in Akhalkalaki (Georgia)
and Gyumri (Armenia). It will take Washington and Tbilisi bare months
to start clamoring for its withdrawal. The Batumi port will probably
be closed for Russian ships. And since a pipeline from Baku will run
near Adjaria, an operational military base of NATO or the United
States may appear in the region soon enough.

3. The American-Georgian triumph in Adjaria paves way for revolutions
of roses (i.e. creeping turnovers) in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
These formations cannot – and do not – count on the Kremlin anymore.
It means that Saakashvili’s hands are all but untied. The world does
not pay any attention to statements of the Russian Foreign Ministry
concerning its “worries”. And by the way, the same turn of events in
Armenia is not exactly ruled out either.

Current leaders will be worried by Ivanov’s visits to any CIS country
as of now.

As for the hopes of populations of the Caucasus states for
independent development and prosperity, here are two quotes. Perhaps,
they will help somebody see the light.

“The people of Greece is unmanageable, so its cultural roots have to
be struck at. It may help it see the light then. In other words, we
have to strike at its language, religion, its spiritual and cultural
legacy to neutralize any chance of development. We have to conquer
Greece to prevent it from standing in our way in the Balkans or East
Mediterranean, in the Mideast, or anywhere else in the
conflict-ridden region that has the colossal strategic importance for
us and for the American policy in general,” said unforgettable Henry
Kissenger in September 1994 about one of Washington’s allies from

I’d say that the prospects are quite clear for Georgia, Armenia, and
Russia. Just put any other name instead of Georgia. By the way, the
US Ambassador to Georgia Miles is Kissenger’s ardent pupil and

There is another quote, dated much earlier. Lord A. G. Balfur,
Foreign Secretary of Great Britain (1916 – 1919) said, “The railroad
by which oil is shipped from Baku is the only thing that concerns me
in the Caucasus. If the locals cut one another into pieces, I do not
give a damn.”

ASBAREZ ONLINE [05-19-2004]


1) Europe Firm on Expectations from Turkey
2) Armenian, Turkish Parliament Speakers Meet in Strasbourg
3) Rustamian Speaks Candidly on ARF’s Role and Opposition
4) Foundation Seeks to Bury Gorky’s Remains in Armenia

1) Europe Firm on Expectations from Turkey

BRUSSELS (Marmara/Zaman)–Europe reiterated its recommendations and
expectations to Turkey during the 43rd meeting of the EU-Turkey Partnership
Council, in Brussels on May 18.
Addressing Turkey’s quest for EU membership, Enlargement Commissioner G√ľnter
Verheugen praised the legislative reform package approved by Ankara as
representing “very impressive progress,” but said the EU still remains
by the shortcomings in the implementation of these reforms. And while praising
Turkey’s policy on Cyprus, the body reviewed Turkey’s unbalanced policy on
landownership by its non-Muslim population, its banning of Kurdish TV, and
necessary reforms to guarantee judicial freedoms.
Responding to the criticism, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, who
attended the session, offered guarantees that all laws will be implemented by

2) Armenian, Turkish Parliament Speakers Meet in Strasbourg

STRASBOURG (Anadolu/RFE/RL)–The speakers of the Armenian and Turkish
parliaments met in Strasbourg on Wednesday to discuss the possibility of
improving relations between their estranged nations.
Armenia’s Artur Baghdasarian said the meeting marked a “positive step”
the normalization of Turkish-Armenian ties, even though it did not result in
any formal agreements. “We live in the same region and must be able to
gradually establish a normal relationship,” he said.
Baghdasarian said he and his Turkish counterpart, Bulent Arinc, agreed on
need to develop Turkish-Armenian dialogue.” He said he urged Arinc to press
Turkish government to adopt an “impartial position” on the Mountainous
Turkey sealed the border 11 years ago out of solidarity with Turkic
and still refuses to lift the embargo before a settlement of the conflict. The
government in Ankara signaled last year its readiness to drop that
but has recently ruled out such possibility. President Robert Kocharian
indicated Yerevan’s frustration with the Turkish stance last week when he
announced his decision not to attend the NATO summit in Istanbul next month.
The Anadolu Agency reported that Arinc once more conveyed Turkey’s
preconditions before bilateral diplomatic relations could be established.
According to Anadolu, Arinc expressed Turkey’s uneasiness about the
Armenian genocide and land claims taking place in [the] Armenian
and he said that not only Ankara, but also the United Nations, as well as
international organizations expect the Armenian authorities to take positive
steps in seeking a solution of “Upper Karabagh problem.”
Baghdasarian said he was specifically asked by his Turkish counterpart
Armenia has any territorial claims to Turkey stemming from its campaign for
international recognition of the tragedy. He said he told the Turkish speaker
that “the issue is not on our foreign policy agenda.”
Arinc told the Anadolu agency that if Turkey’s sensitivities were taken into
consideration, then “Ankara would welcome this and give a necessary reply to
The Strasbourg talks were held on the sidelines of a meeting of parliament
speakers from the Council of Europe member states.

3) Rustamian Speaks Candidly on ARF’s Role and Opposition

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Speaking to Noyan Tapan, Armen Rustamian said that
is a gradual demand in Armenia’s political arena for a constructive
and spoke frankly about the Armenian Revolutionary Federation’s role in the
ruling coalition government.
Rustamian, Chairman of the National Assembly’s foreign relations commission
and the chairman of ARF Armenia’s Supreme Body, emphasized that if the
opposition advanced constructive proposals rather than tactics to overthrow
government, it would have a greater following.
“While individuals can complain about the authorities, they can also be
dissatisfied with the opposition, and find it difficult to choose,” he said in
discussing the existence of a large undecided electorate in Armenia, as
well as
the possibility of some of the opposition forces to step back and form a
constructive opposition with other political forces.
This opposition, Rustamian emphasized, would advance issues crucial for the
country’s development and pinpoint correct tactics to avoid the mistakes of
today’s opposition.
When warranted, he said, the ARF will play the role of an “opposition,” or it
will back certain “positions,” depending on how the party views its role in
seeking an absolute solution to the problems the country faces.
He stressed that if the ARF believes it cannot realize its full potential
as a
part of the coalition government because the tasks at hand to advance the
country remain only on paper, then the party would not remain in the coalition
to act as a veil for the authorities or as a buffer between the authorities
the people.
The effective implementation of programs stipulated by the coalition’s
memorandum will decide whether it remains in the coalition. Rustamian
however, the possibilities of solving current problems have not yet expended.

4) Foundation Seeks to Bury Gorky’s Remains in Armenia

YEREVAN (Armenpress/BrainJuice)–One of Arshile Gorky’s greatest dreams was to
“to return home and mix with Armenian soil,” after his death. Fifty-six years
after Gorky’s tragic death, his wish is expected to come true. The
Yerevan-based Arshile Gorky Foundation has undertaken fundraising efforts and
is requesting permission to transport and bury Gorky’s remains in Armenia.
The chairman of the foundation Badal Badalian, said that if the foundation
succeeds, it would be appropriate to rebury Gorky at the Dzidzernagapert
Memorial in Yerevan, which is dedicated to the victims of the 1915 Armenian
genocide, but added that the final word belongs to the government.
Born in Western Armenia, in the village of Khorgom on the banks of Lake
Van in
1904, Gorky (Vostanik Adoyan) escaped the Turkish massacres with thousands of
others refugees. After his mother died of famine, he headed for the US. His
whole life in the new country, which ended in suicide, consisted of years of
hard work and bitter struggle.
A pilgrimage is planned to Gorky’s native village of Khorgom in Turkey on
21, the day Gorky committed suicide. The foundation also plans to launch a
poster campaign across Armenia in honor of Gorky.
One of the most famous contemporary artists, the founder of Abstract
Surrealism, Gorky was described by Andre Breton as the most important painter
in American history. Tragically enough, the years in which his art was
ascending to its greatest heights were also the darkest in his life.
In January of 1946, Gorky’s studio, a converted barn on his wife’s
property, burned down, taking with it many of the paintings, drawings, and
books Gorky owned. One month later, he was diagnosed with colon cancer and
underwent a colostomy, which left him physically handicapped and emotionally
scarred. His deteriorating marriage finally exploded when he discovered that
Agnes was having an affair with Gorky’s friend Surrealist painter Matta
Echaurren. Soon thereafter, she left, taking his beloved children. The same
week as his breakup, Gorky was involved in a car accident while riding with
York gallery owner Julien Levy, who was driving under the influence. Gorky
suffered a fractured back and neck and was put in an enormous leather neck
brace that held his head up. Shattered physically, emotionally, and
spiritually, betrayed by or estranged from everyone he most loved, Gorky
retreated to his house in Connecticut, where he hung himself from the rafters
of the barn on July 21, 1948. His parting phrase was written in chalk on a
crate: “Goodbye, my loved ones.”
To Gorky, art was nothing short of a necessity; he put his painting before
else, and when all else failed him, he relied on painting to pull him through.
He faced more than his share of misfortunes, which began in his early life and
brought him to an early death. In his art, he sought to reclaim the past that
had been stolen from him, and to shape his future, which always, and
tragically, fell short of his expectations and ambitions.

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Armenian Environmentalists’ Bid To Preserve Green Territories


A1 Plus | 14:27:52 | 19-05-2004 | Social |

A real battle for land has broken out in Armenian capital’s Zeytun
district. The district residents are trying to prevent construction
of apartment blocks in the district’s green area.

Many trees have been recently cut here.

Coalition for Preservation of Green Plantations, Armenian environmental
union, intends to stage a protest action on coming Saturday.

ANC NJ: New Jersey Community Commemorates Armenian Genocide

Armenian National Committee of New Jersey
461 Bergen Boulevard
Ridgefield, NJ 07657
Tel: 201-945-0011
[email protected]

May 19, 2004

Contact: Kim Arzoumanian
[email protected]


RIDGEFIELD, NJ–The New Jersey Armenian American community commemorated the
89th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide on April 24, 2004 at the Sts.
Vartanantz Armenian Apostolic Church in Ridgefield. The program, sponsored
by the Armenian National Committee (ANC) of New Jersey, began with a flag
ceremony led by the Homenetmen Scouts Color Guard, after which local musical
artist Diane Haroutounian accompanied the audience in the singing of the
National Anthems.

Members of the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) New Jersey “Arsen” Chapter
gave emotional accounts of their relatives struggle in a segment called “We
Will Not Forget.” Knar Mesrobian, Talar Baronian, Stephanie Rollo, and Shant
Massoyan all recounted solemn stories from their ancestors and concluded
with a declaration: “We vow to fight until the resolution of our just

The first of two keynote speakers for the evening was Dr. Henry Theriault, a
professor of philosophy at Worcester State College who also heads the Center
for the Study of Human Rights. Dr. Theriault specializes in social and
political theory. That evening he spoke on the challenges and effects of
denial. In a three-part segment he examined the status of denial, the
burden that it represents, and the impact it has on dialogue and

He acknowledged that although we have made great strides towards Genocide
recognition, pointing to the recent recognition by the government of Canada
and the New York Times altering its policy of mischaracterizing the
Genocide, denial is still strong, powerful, and ruthless. He noted the most
recent denier, Edward Tashji who recently spoke at Rutgers University,
claiming to be part Armenian and denying the Genocide according to the
accounts of his ancestors. Dr. Theriault’s response to Tashji was that in
any group there are those who are going to sell out. He said, “This is
nothing new. The Armenian Genocide is not an ethnic relations issue, it is
a crime against humanity that concerns all people. It doesn’t matter what
an ‘Armenian’ or a ‘Turk’ says: what matters is what the historical records

It is precisely because the Armenian Genocide has become a human rights
issue that it has gotten increased support from non-Armenians worldwide.
But it is this support and recognition that poses a greater burden on us to
return the assistance we received from non-Armenians, and to help other
groups’ genocides be recognized. Dr. Theriault said, “Ethically we have a
moral obligation.”

And, lastly Dr. Theriault explained we must not become complacent with just
recognition. Recognition of the Genocide just gets us back to the starting
point. Reparations must follow recognition. He said, “We should be
demanding reparations not only for the act of genocide but also for the
denial which is a crime in itself. No amount of money and land can make up
for the act of genocide. Because no matter what we achieve or build in the
future it won’t make up for what we’ve lost.”

He concluded that Turkey has to be willing to change its society and put
aside their hatred for Armenians. Anything short of that allows for hatred
and denial to go on.

The second keynote speaker for the evening was Armenian Revolutionary
Federation (ARF) Bureau member from Canada, Unger Hagop Der Khatchadourian,
who spoke of the past, present, and the future of the struggles to have the
Armenian Genocide recognized worldwide. Khatchadourian was instrumental in
the effort that achieved Genocide recognition in Canada. He explained that
both efforts, in Canada and in France, took many years to come to pass, and
that he hoped the United States would be the next government to recognize
the Armenian Genocide.

He talked about the importance of western countries influencing the US
stance on the Armenian Genocide, the lobby by Turkey and Israel against
recognition of the Armenian Genocide, and the fact that as more countries
recognize the Genocide, Turkey will not have a choice but to follow.

The evening also included a performance on flute by Tamar Samouelian and
closed with Lori Dabaghian’s heart wrenching recitation of Siamanto’s

The Armenian National Committee (ANC) is the largest Armenian American
grassroots political organization in New Jersey and nationwide. The ANC
actively advances a broad range of issues of concern to the Armenian
American community.


Forgotten Christians: Not All Displaced Palestinians are Muslims

Forgotten Christians: Not All Displaced Palestinians are Muslims,
by Anders Strindberg

UN Observer
May 18 2004

2004-05-18 | “The Palestinian Christians see themselves, and are seen
by their Muslim compatriots, as an integral part of the Palestinian
people, and they have long been a vital part of the Palestinian
struggle. As the Anglican bishop of Jerusalem, the Reverend Riah Abu
al-Assal has explained, ‘The Arab Palestinian Christians are part and
parcel of the Arab Palestinian nation. We have the same history, the
same culture, the same habits and the same hopes.'”

Introduction by Jude Wanniski: The Christian Palestinians.

I’ve noted before the high quality of Pat Buchanan’s weekly magazine,
The American Conservative, which he co-publishes with Scott
McConnell. There is always at least one piece in each issue that by
itself is worth the price of admission, and always several worth
reading. The current May 24 issue offers this dazzling piece by
Anders Strindberg on a major missing piece to the Middle East puzzle.
Read it and you can begin to see why the most important barrier to
peace in the Middle East is neither Arab nor Jew, but a Christian
Zionist from Houston named Tom DeLay. Yes, the American Jewish
Political Establishment has a powerful lobby in Washington, but it
would not be nearly as powerful if it did not have the leverage of
the born-again fundamentalists.

Jude Wanniski

The following article is republished in conjunction with

Forgotten Christians
Not all displaced Palestinians are Muslims.
By Anders Strindberg

Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” is playing to full houses in
the Syrian capital Damascus. Watching it here turns out to be much
the same as watching it on opening night in New York – customarily
rowdy moviegoers observe a reverent silence, the usual sound of candy
wrappers is replaced by sobbing and gasping, and, at the end of it
all, the audience files out of the theater in silence and
contemplation. Many of those watching the movie on this occasion are
Palestinian Christian refugees whose parents or grandparents were
purged from their homeland – the land of Christ – at the foundation of
Israel in 1948. For them the movie has an underlying symbolic meaning
not easily perceived in the West: not only is it a depiction of the
trial, scourging, and death of Jesus, it is also a symbolic depiction
of the fate of the Palestinian people. “This is how we feel,” says
Zaki, a 27-year old Palestinian Christian whose family hails from
Haifa. “We take beating after beating at the hands of the world, they
crucify our people, they insult us, but we refuse to surrender.”

At the time of the creation of the Israeli state in 1948, it is
estimated that the Christians of Palestine numbered some 350,000.
Almost 20 percent of the total population at the time, they
constituted a vibrant and ancient community; their forbears had
listened to St. Peter in Jerusalem as he preached at the first
Pentecost. Yet Zionist doctrine held that Palestine was “a land
without a people for a people without a land.” Of the 750,000
Palestinians that were forced from their homes in 1948, some 50,000
were Christians – 7 percent of the total number of refugees and 35
percent of the total number of Christians living in Palestine at the

In the process of “Judaizing” Palestine, numerous convents, hospices,
seminaries, and churches were either destroyed or cleared of their
Christian owners and custodians. In one of the most spectacular
attacks on a Christian target, on May 17, 1948, the Armenian Orthodox
Patriarchate was shelled with about 100 mortar rounds – launched by
Zionist forces from the already occupied monastery of the Benedictine
Fathers on Mount Zion. The bombardment also damaged St. Jacob’s
Convent, the Archangel’s Convent, and their appended churches, their
two elementary and seminary schools, as well as their libraries,
killing eight people and wounding 120.

Today it is believed that the number of Christians in Israel and
occupied Palestine number some 175,000, just over 2 percent of the
entire population, but the numbers are rapidly dwindling due to mass
emigration. Of those who have remained in the region, most live in
Lebanon, where they share in the same bottomless misery as all other
refugees, confined to camps where schools are under-funded and
overcrowded, where housing is ramshackle, and sanitary conditions are
appalling. Most, however, have fled the region altogether. No
reliable figures are available, but it is estimated that between
100,000 and 300,000 Palestinian Christians currently live in the U.S.

The Palestinian Christians see themselves, and are seen by their
Muslim compatriots, as an integral part of the Palestinian people,
and they have long been a vital part of the Palestinian struggle. As
the Anglican bishop of Jerusalem, the Reverend Riah Abu al-Assal has
explained, “The Arab Palestinian Christians are part and parcel of
the Arab Palestinian nation. We have the same history, the same
culture, the same habits and the same hopes.”

Yet U.S. media and politicians have become accustomed to thinking of
and talking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as one in which an
enlightened democracy is constantly forced to repel attacks from
crazy-eyed Islamists bent on the destruction of the Jewish people and
the imposition of an Islamic state. Palestinians are equated with
Islamists, Islamists with terrorists. It is presumably because all
organized Christian activity among Palestinians is non-political and
non-violent that the community hardly ever hits the Western
headlines; suicide bombers sell more copy than people who congregate
for Bible study.

Lebanese and Syrian Christians were essential in the conception of
Arab nationalism as a general school of anti-colonial thought
following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of the
20th century. During the 1930s, Hajj Amin al-Hussein, the leader of
the Palestinian struggle against the British colonialists, surrounded
himself with Christian advisors and functionaries. In the 1950s and
’60s, as the various factions that were to form the Palestine
Liberation Organization (PLO) emerged, some of the most prominent
militants were yet again of Christian origin. For instance, George
Habash, a Greek Orthodox medical doctor from al-Lod, created the Arab
Nationalists’ Movement and went on to found the Popular Front for the
Liberation of Palestine. Naif Hawatmeh, also Greek Orthodox, from
al-Salt in Jordan, founded and still today heads up the Democratic
Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Among those better regarded in
the West, Hannan Ashrawi, one of the Palestinian Authority’s most
effective spokespersons, is a Christian.

In fact, over the decades, many of the rank and file among the
secular nationalist groups of the PLO have been Christians who have
seen leftist nationalist politics as the only alternative to both
Islamism and Western liberalism, the former objectionable because of
its religiously exclusive nature, the latter due to what is seen by
many as its inherent protection of Israel and the Zionist project.

Among the remnant communities in Palestine, most belong to the
traditional Christian confessions. The largest group is Greek
Orthodox, followed by Catholics (Roman, Syrian, Maronite, and
Melkite), Armenian Orthodox, Anglicans, and Lutherans. There is also
a small but influential Quaker presence. These communities are
centered in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Beit Jala, Beit Sahour, and

For them, the conflict with Israel is quite obviously not about
Islamism contra enlightenment but simply about resistance against
occupation. To be sure, there have been periods of tension between
the Christian communities and members of the Islamist groups, yet to
many Christian Palestinians the Islamist movements have emerged by
default as the heroes in the conflict with Israel. Following the
incremental atrophy of leftist ideals, the Islamists are seen as the
only ones who are willing and able to fight the occupation. The
Lebanese Hezbollah, widely seen as a nonsectarian organization that
is able to cooperate with people of all faiths, is particularly
admired both among the refugees in Lebanon as well as those who
remain in Palestine. “We have received far more support and comfort
from the Hezbollah in Lebanon than from our fellow Christians in the
West,” remarked one Christian Palestinian refugee in Damascus. “I
want to know, why don’t the Christians in the West do anything to
help us? Are the teachings of Jesus nothing but empty slogans to

This is a justified and important question, but the answer is not
straightforward. The Catholic Church has, in fact, long argued for an
end to the Israeli occupation and for improvement of the
Palestinians’ situation. The leaders of the Eastern Orthodox churches
have taken similar, often more strongly worded positions. Likewise,
many Lutheran and Calvinist churches run organizations and programs
that seek to ease the suffering of the Palestinians and draw
attention to the injustices with which they are faced. Usually
working within strictly religious frames of reference, however, their
impact on the political situation has been minimal.

This political limitation has not applied to those parts of the
Evangelical movement that have adopted Zionism as a core element of
their religious doctrine. Christian Zionists in the U.S. are
currently organized in an alliance with the pro-Israel lobby and the
neoconservative elements of the Republican Party, enabling them to
put significant pressure on both the president and members of
Congress. In fact, they are among the most influential shapers of
policy in the country, including individuals such as Ralph Reed, Pat
Robertson, and Jerry Falwell, and groups such as the National Unity
Coalition for Israel, Christians for Israel, the International
Christian Embassy Jerusalem, and Chosen People Ministries.

Christian Zionism is an odd thing on many levels. A key tenet of
Christian Zionism is absolute support for Israel, whose establishment
and existence, it is believed, heralds Armageddon and the second
coming of Christ. The politically relevant upshot of this is that
without Israel’s expansion there can be no redemption, and those who
subscribe to this interpretation are only too eager to sacrifice
their Palestinian fellow Christians on the altar of Zionism. They do
not want to hear about coreligionists’ suffering at the hands of

Israeli and Jewish American leaders have until recently kept their
distance from the Christian Zionist movement. But Beltway alliance
politics coupled with a sharp turn to the right among American Jewish
organizations since Israel began its onslaught on Palestinians in
September 2000, has driven them into each other’s arms.

One of the most potent forces behind the Evangelical Zionist
influence in Washington is Tom DeLay, leader of the Republican
majority in the House. DeLay insists that his devotion to Israel
stems from his faith in God, which allows him a clear understanding
of the struggle between good and evil. Be that as it may, he is also
able to cash in financially and politically from his position. Part
of DeLay’s growing influence within the Republican Party stems from
the fact that his campaign committees managed to raise an impressive
$12 million in 2001-2002. Washington Post writer Jim VandeHei
suggested, “In recent years, DeLay has become one of the most
outspoken defenders of Israel and has been rewarded with a surge of
donations from the Jewish community.”

In Oct. 2002, Benny Elon, Sharon’s minister of tourism and a staunch
advocate of a comprehensive purge of Palestinians from the Holy Land,
appeared with DeLay at the Washington convention of the Christian
Coalition. Crowds waved Israeli flags as Elon cited Biblical
authority for this preferred way of dealing with the pesky
Palestinians. DeLay, in turn, received an enthusiastic welcome when
he called for activists to back pro-Israel candidates who “stand
unashamedly for Jesus Christ.” In July 2003, Tom DeLay traveled to
Israel and addressed the Knesset, telling the assembled legislators
that he was an “Israeli at heart.” The Palestinians “have been
oppressed and abused,” he said, but never by Israel, only by their
own leaders. DeLay received a standing ovation.

Christians find themselves under the hammer of the Israeli occupation
to no less an extent than Muslims, yet America – supposedly a Christian
country – stands idly by because its most politically influential
Christians have decided that Palestinian Christians are acceptable
collateral damage in their apocalyptic quest. “To be a Christian from
the land of Christ is an honor,” says Abbas, a Palestinian Christian
whose family lived in Jerusalem for many generations until the purge
of 1948. “To be expelled from that land is an injury, and these
Zionist Christians in America add insult.”

Abbas is one of the handful of Palestinian Christians that could be
described as Evangelical, belonging to a group that appears to be
distantly related to the Plymouth Brethren. Cherishing the role of
devil’s advocate, I had to ask him, “Is the State of Israel not in
fact the fulfillment of God’s promise and a necessary step in the
second coming of Christ?” Abbas looked at me briefly and laughed.
“You’re kidding, right? You know what they do to our people and our
land. If I thought that was part of God’s plan, I’d be an atheist in
a second.”

Anders Strindberg is an academic and a journalist specializing in
Mideast politics.

ISLAMABAD: Azeri minister meets Musharraf

Azeri minister meets Musharraf

Daily Times
May 19 2004

ISLAMABAD: President General Pervez Musharraf said Pakistan would
continue to support Azerbaijan till it gains sovereignty in Nagorno
Karabakh and other Azeri territories occupied by Armenia.

The president said this in his meeting with Deputy Foreign
Minister Khalaf Khalafov on Tuesday. He said the Azeri government
had supported Pakistan in the Kashmir issue and the peace process.
President Musharraf said Pakistan wanted to consolidate its relations
with Azerbaijan by strengthening commercial and economical ties.

Mr Khalafov said his government and people respected President
Musharraf for taking courageous steps at the time of the 9/11
attacks. staff report

Halley’s comet portrayed on ancient coin

Halley’s comet portrayed on ancient coin
Heather Catchpole, ABC Science Online

ABC Science Online, Australia
May 19 2004

Could the star shape on the king’s crown be Halley’s comet?
A rare ancient coin may feature an early record of Halley’s comet,
researchers say.

The coin features the head of the Armenian king Tigranes II the Great,
who reigned from 95 to 55 BC. A symbol on his crown that features a
star with a curved tail may represent the passage of Halley’s comet
in 87 BC, say the Armenian and Italian researchers.

Their research will be published in Astronomy & Geophysics, a journal
of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Halley’s comet, which was last visible in 1986, has cropped up
periodically in the Earth’s history, with regular observations in 1531,
1607 and 1682.

This led Edmond Halley to declare in 1705 that this was the same
comet, with an orbit taking it past the Earth about every 76 years.
He predicted successfully it would return in 1758, and the comet was
named after him.

Now researchers have found further evidence that the comet was
significant thousands of years before Halley was born.

Tigranes could have seen Halley’s comet when it passed closest to the
Sun on 6 August in 87 BC, according to the researchers, who said the
comet would have been a “most recordable event”.

The appearance of the comet in Armenia, which borders Turkey and Iran,
could be useful to date the coin accurately. While the coin dates back
to before 83 BC, when Tigranes conquered the ancient city of Antioch,
the capital city of Syria at the time, researchers do not know its
precise date.

Halley’s comet (Image: NASA/Ames Research Center) Halley’s comet is
a ball of dirty snow and ice about 15 kilometres long. Like other
comets that periodically pass the Earth, it has a highly eccentric
orbit that changes as the larger planets pull at its orbit.

Astronomer Vince Ford from the Research School of Astronomy and
Astrophysics at Canberra’s Australian National University said the
comet would have been bigger and brighter 2000 years ago.

“As comets come round the Sun they lose a lot of material, up to 10%,”
he said.

Although Halley’s comet wasn’t losing that much, it would still get
smaller over time as the Sun burnt away icy dust and gas.

Like other comets that return within 200 years, Halley’s comet is
thought to come from the Kuiper belt, a disc of comets and icy planets
including Pluto, which periodically sends icy material hurtling into
the solar system.

Ford said the oldest confirmed observation of Halley’s comet was from
Chinese recordings on 25 May in 240 BC.

Art had often been the source of evidence of sightings of Halley’s
comet, he said.

For example, the Bayeux tapestry depicted the comet in the lead up to
the Battle of Hastings in 1066. But art had also mislead astronomers,
Ford said.

“Giotto painted it into his nativity scene, probably because he has
recently seen Halley’s comet and he was impressed,” Ford said. “But
the comet only appeared in 12 BC, way before the birth of Jesus.”

ISLAMABAD: Musharraf Assures Pak Support To Azerbaijan

Musharraf Assures Pak Support To Azerbaijan

Pakistan News Service, Pakistan
May 19 2004

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan : May 19 (PNS) – President General Pervez Musharraf
Tuesday said Pakistan will continue to support Azerbaijan till its
sovereignty is restored to Nagorno Karbakh and other Azeri territories
occupied by Armenia.

He was talking to Khalaf Khalafov, Deputy Foreign Minister of
Azerbaijan, who called on him here. Mr. Khalafov is on an official
visit to Pakistan. During the meeting, the President conveyed to the
visiting dignitary Pakistan’s abiding interest in augmenting relations
with Azerbaijan, particularly in the economic and commercial spheres.

The President thanked the Government of Azerbaijan for its consistent
support to Pakistan’s principled stand on the Kashmir dispute and
endeavours of the Government of Pakistan for resumption of dialogue
with India.

Mr. Khalafov informed that the President and people of Azerbaijan
hold the President in a very high esteem for the courageous stand
taken by him in the wake of events of 9/11 and his endeavours for
global peace and security as well as for his role in the political
and economic reconstruction of Pakistan. He reaffirmed support of
the Azeri Government for endeavours of the President for resumption
of dialogue and resolution of Kashmir dispute, by peaceful means.


Glasgow Daily Record, UK
May 19 2004


Champ Scott turns to underwater training
By Hugh Keevins

SCOTT HARRISON has been working under water in a bid to triumph on
dry land.

The WBO world featherweight champion has been punching in a pool as
he prepares for his title defence against William Abelyan on June 19.

He turned to the unusual rehabilitation technique after damaging the
bicep in his right arm.

Now he’s vowed to make a real splash and give US-based Armenian
Abelyan the hammering of a lifetime in their rescheduled fight at
Braehead Arena.

Harrison’s father and trainer, Peter, said: ‘The injury was sustained
doing every-day push-ups on the training bars.

‘But Scott could come back stronger than before because of the work
he’s been doing at the sports rehabilitation centre at Hampden. He’s
been punching under water and that resistance work is strengthening
his arm.’

Harrison has also been putting in some tough training sessions on
the hills as he prepares to get into the ring with Abelyan.

Their original meeting in March was postponed when the challenger
injured his arm and the Scot had to fight South American Walter
Estrada as a late replacement.

Last night Harrison said: ‘Now I’m ready to go. I’m sure this will
be a case of third time lucky for me but it will be no such thing
for Abelyan because he’s going to get the hammering of a lifetime.

‘The injury was unfortunate and happened at a bad time because my
training was going so well. But now I’m back in the gym and the arm
feels great again. I’ve started punching and, if anything, it feels
a lot stronger.

‘The rest and treatment have done me the world of good and I can’t
wait to get it on with Abelyan.’

Harrison senior has been poring over video footage of the little-known
opponent and has arrived at the conclusion the challenger has more
nuisance value than star quality.

The trainer said: ‘Armenians based in the States aren’t big box office
so he won’t have fought on many big shows.

‘Abelyan says he won’t be intimidated by the 5000-capacity crowd at
Braehead Arena but I can assure you it will have an affect on him.

‘Some people on the other side of the Atlantic try to tell you they
don’t where Scotland is on the map, so how can they be frightened?
Then they feel the passion of the ticket-buying public and there is
a sudden change of mind.

‘Abelyan will come here to steal the fight with counter-punching. All
of the commentators over there describe him as the kind of fighter
you would want to avoid.

‘He is awkward enough to make you look bad and can bang a bit if he
gets the chance.

‘But I don’t believe he can be a harder target to hit than Manuel

It was the Mexican who gave Harrison only the second professional
defeat of his career last July and relieved him of his title.

Revenge was taken in November and the double header has convinced
Harrison senior the champion will not relinquish his crown a second

He said: ‘Nobody can be more awkward than Medina. He was so
unpredictable in his movements.’

BAKU: KLO Stages Picket In Front Of British Embassy, Protesting BBC

KLO Stages Picket In Front Of British Embassy, Protesting BBC

Baku Today
May 19 2004

Karabakh Liberation Organization (KLO) staged a picket in front of the
British embassy in Baku on Tuesday in protest against BBC s sending
its reporter Steve Eke to Nagorno-Karabakh without getting permission
from Baku.

The picketers also voiced dissatisfaction over what they called biased
reports by Eke and Mark Grigorian, an ethnic-Armenian producer of BBC
s Russian service. The protestors began chanting Shame on Britain
after British embassy officials refused to meet them on the grounds
that the ambassador was not in Baku.

But later KLO deputy head Barat Imami was invited to the embassy
and promised that the picketers complaints would be delivered to the
ambassador Laurie Bristow.