02/04/2021 United States (International Christian Concern) – Yesterday, U.S. Representative Brad Sherman (D-CA) sent a letter to the American ambassador stationed in Azerbaijan, Earle Litzenberger, regarding a report that the ambassador had congratulated Azerbaijan for “ensuring [its] territorial integrity” in a recent meeting with Azerbaijan’s Economy Minister. Although the U.S. embassy has not officially confirmed nor denied the validity of the statement released by the Azerbaijani Ministry of Economics, such a comment from a U.S. official is quite concerning to Armenia, who fell victim to Azerbaijani aggression in the recent war over Nagorno-Karabakh (Armenian: Artsakh).
Last fall, brutal fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan resulted in Azerbaijan gaining control of Artsakh, a region that is comprised predominantly of ethnic Armenian Christians. Azerbaijan was able to overpower Armenian forces with military assistance from Turkey, its close ally with whom Azerbaijan shares an ethnic identity. As a result, many view this conflict as a repeat of the genocide committed by the Ottoman Empire against Armenians in the 20th century, a genocide which Turkey still denies ever happened.
ICC recently published a report on the conflict entitled Anatomy of a Genocide, and is currently collecting signatures for a petition calling for the return of Armenian prisoners of war still being held in captivity.
Rep. Sherman is not the only voice expressing concern for Ambassador Litzenberger’s recent statements in his meeting. The Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of America, Aram Hamparian, said that his organization is troubled by a U.S. ambassador “celebrating Azerbaijani aggression and – even worse – enlisting Americans in the commercial exploitation of indigenous Armenian lands.”
Though the Trump Administration was rarely critical of Turkish and Azerbaijani aggression, the Biden Administration seems poised to reevaluate the U.S.-Turkey alliance. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has indicated a willingness to take a harsher stance towards Turkey, and is joined by a growing group in Congress willing to support the White House in the effort. Many Armenians hope that the United States will continue pushing back against Azerbaijan and Turkey to protect the Armenian Christians who remain in a vulnerable position within the region.
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