Azerbaijan

Armenia Assembly’s tactics to block U.S. funding to Azerbaijan, promote occupation

By | Rachel Brooks

October 22, 2020

Pictured above, the Armenian Parliament has its supporters throughout the world. It does not recognize Artsakh as an independent nation. Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan has stated “Artsakh is Armenia.” Artsakh is in the Nagorno-Karabakh, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan. 

As war wages in the Nagorno-Karabakh, and Armenia continues to pursue land granted to Azerbaijan by charters of U.N. law, the U.S. ANCA lobby continues to promote the Armenian cause. This is done through the support and sponsorship of representatives in the U.S. Congress, as well as through gaining the support of celebrities. As of the Armenian uprising on September 27, vocal support has come from the U.S. Democratic Representative of California’s 28th District Adam Schiff as well as from the U.S. Democratic Representative of California’s 32nd District Grace Napolitano. 

On October 20, Grace Napolitano wrote a letter to the U.S. Congress compared the Armenian cause in Artsakh to the American dream, inferring that the Armenian illegal occupation of Artsakh was similar to the War for Independence between the 13 British Colonies of North America and the United Kingdom, which had its inception in 1774. Artsakh, however, is a subordinate settlement funded by the Armenian government in what has been Azerbaijani territory since antiquity, and which Azerbaijan claimed back first from the khanates and then from the Bolsheviks. 

The ANCA’s development in recent history 

The Armenian National Committee of America, abbreviated ANCA, is the major organization of the U.S.-Armenian lobby campaign. Prominent voices of California speak on behalf of the ANCA. The motivation behind it is the investment of the Armenian political arm in Los Angeles county.

Likewise, a strong presence of the ANCA’s influence exists in New York City, New York. 

Adam Schiff has been a progressive_one may even describe him as an aggressive_lobbyist for Armenia of late. The Los Angeles Times reported that Adam Schiff held rallies in support of the Armenian nationalist vision as far back as December 2019. 

As the conflict broke out on September 27, after months of ceasefire violations, with notable events in Tovush in July, Adam Schiff made public statements in support of Armenian nationalism. 

In his most recent statements, Adam Schiff was quoted by Massis Post as having said that he was introducing legislation to demand the U.S. take action against Azerbaijan. 

“I have introduced legislation that would require U.S. intelligence agencies to assess who initiated this and other skirmishes, a necessary step to hold Azerbaijan accountable,” said Schiff. 

However, Schiff’s legislation conflicts with the U.N. treaties which grant Azerbaijan both the rights to the land that Armenia continues to pursue itself and the rights to defend itself with countermeasures in the event of an attack. 

Adam Schiff is not a random supporter of the Armenian nationalism cause. In his 28th District of California, a large population of his constituents are Armenian immigrants. Armenian immigration in the United States sees prevalence in California. 

The Armenian Caucasus in Congress 

The ties of the ANCA and the Armenian Caucasus go beyond funds, citing the “Success of the ANCA” by Nigel Van Der Berg of Radboud University. The nature of the Congressional Congress on Armenian Issues was described by the Armenian Assembly of America as an “informal, bipartisan group of legislators dedicated to maintaining and strengthening the U.S.-Armenia relationship.” 

The Armenian Caucasus spokespersons are also mouthpieces for the foreign image of the Armenian government. They are proactive in claiming Armenia’s legitimacy to the Nagorno-Karabakh region despite the U.N. Resolutions that determine the Armenian government must withdraw its occupation of the lands. 

The Armenian Assembly uses its voice to promote a direct U.S. involvement in the South Caucasus region, despite the facts of the U.S. decision to remain neutral, to forego sending direct aid to the occupied territories of the Nagorno-Karabakh, and to continue a meditative presence in the region.

 

“The U.S. gave the Aliyev regime in Azerbaijan an extra $120 million in military aid over Armenia, stopped direct U.S. humanitarian assistance to Nagorno Karabakh, and will not enforce Section 907 sanctions of the Freedom Support Act,” tweeted the Assembly, as this decision was made.  

Key supporters of the ANCA in the Armenian Caucasus include the following people: 

Congressman Frank Pallone: 

Congressman Frank Pallone Jr., the Representative of the 6th District of New Jersey, is an energy reformist lobbyist for the United States. His congressional web page describes his energy sector position as follows: 

“Pallone has successfully worked throughout his career to stop ocean dumping and offshore oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic Ocean. He has obtained millions of dollars for shore protection and beach replenishment work along a large stretch of the Jersey Coast, for dredging of the area’s navigation channels, and the maintenance of his district’s National Recreation Area, Sandy Hook. He has also championed issues important to the state’s commercial and recreational fishing industries.”

He describes his area of constituents as ethnically diverse. His representation of Armenian diaspora in the United States as well as his interest in energy reformation and markets would give him the motive to be opposed to Azerbaijani sovereignty, due to Azerbaijan’s leadership in world energy markets. 

Citing ANCA’s page, Frank Pallone has visited Nagorno-Karabakh personally in 2017. He toured the place with Representative Tulsi Gabbard, the Democratic Representative of Hawaii. Upon his visit in 2017, Pallone commented on the illegal occupation’s construction of settlements and habitats in Shushi.

 

“Shushi is being transformed in one generation from a city that was mostly destroyed to one that has roads, housing, and schools that are modern and up to date. A lot of this is with the help of the Armenian diaspora. I visited a technical school financed primarily by French philanthropists. The students are eagerly learning building and construction trades that will be important to the continued redevelopment of Artsakh. Its facilities and equipment were similar to schools in the U.S.,” said Pallone, as he was quoted by ANCA. 

“Stepanakert looks almost completely rebuilt from the time of the Artsakh War. The Parliament is housed in a new building. Construction continues throughout the city with a new landmark church and a completed hospital. I addressed the parliament and met with the speaker separately about the need for the U.S. to play a large role in the Minsk process. The settlement must guarantee that Artsakh remains Armenian as an independent nation or part of Armenia. We also discussed the extent to which Azerbaijan continues its military buildup with its oil reserves and receives advanced equipment from other countries,” also said Pallone.  

Lobby to cut off U.S. funding to Azerbaijan, sabotage the rehab efforts of the ANAMA

What Pallone failed to note is that Stepanakert is an Armenian military outpost of the fighting line between Armenia and Azerbaijan and that “Artsakh” is the illegally occupied settlement and subordinate proxy of the Armenian occupation. Armenia has no intention to give Artsakh independence as a “self-determined” region of Armenia. Pallone failed to address this because this is the direct intention. 

“The Armenian Caucus members intend to follow up in Congress to see how we can cut off assistance to Azerbaijan, as long as they continue military action against Artsakh. We will push for conference building measures with Azerbaijan that might prevent an unintended war. We will also seek continued U.S. aid to eliminate landmines and promote economic development in Artsakh,” Pallone concluded.

“We join with friends from across New Jersey and around the United States in welcoming Congressman Pallone’s most recent visit to Artsakh and thanking him for his tireless advocacy for the sovereignty and security of this proud republic,” said Dr. Artur Martirosyan of ANCA Eastern Region. We look forward to continuing to work with him and his Congressional Armenian Caucus colleagues on the broad array of Armenian American policy priorities they champion as we expand the U.S.-Armenia and U.S.-Artsakh relationships,” Pallone was quoted by the ANCA. 

 Pallone also failed to note in his direct lobby to eliminate U.S. funding to Azerbaijan that the Azerbaijani government is in the process of removing landmines from its territory itself. The UNDP stated that, since 1999, Azerbaijan’s Azerbaijani National Agency for Mine Action abbrev. ANAMA has successfully cleared over 520 million square meters of Azerbaijani land and has removed around 800,000 mines from the territory. 

The ANAMA also works to rehabilitate the Azerbaijani who were displaced from the region during the war. The ANAMA receives funding from the United States, as was noted in a report by the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs’ report “To Walk the Earth in Safety” which was published in 2002. This cooperation was noted to have still been active in 2017 by updates of the report. 

 

Representative Chrissy Houlahan, D-PA 

Rep. Chrissy Houlahan has advocated the Armenian occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh by condemning Azerbaijani national defense as “violence aided and abetted by Turkey.” She made her statement to confirm the propaganda spread by the Armenian lobby that Turkey had backed attacks in Artsakh, despite not definitive proof of this. 

Houlahan’s statement was as follows: 

“I condemn in the fullest terms the ongoing military violence perpetrated by Azerbaijan, aided and abetted by Turkey, against the ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh,” said Houlahan. 

“The United States has and must continue to support a peaceful, democratic, and negotiated resolution to the dispute surrounding the Nagorno Karabakh region. In Congress, I have advocated for security assistance funding for the Republic of Armenia as well as the Armenian people in Nagorno-Karabakh. This funding is now even more crucial as we witness these acts of violence. I applaud the State Department’s effort to honor our commitment to Armenia and to work toward a diplomatic solution. We must act with haste to prevent any more loss of life. I urge the countries to commit to a ceasefire immediately.”

With the U.S. Congressmen as spokespersons, the Armenian Caucasus also uses its platform to publish radicalized reports regarding the regional conflict. The Armenian Caucasus backs propaganda to warn and intimidate the United States to “prevent another genocide.” On October 16, the Armenian Assembly of America posted the following:

Today, the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) urged decisive U.S. leadership to stop the bloodshed and bring an end to the war launched against the Armenian people by Azerbaijan with the direct support of Turkey and the importation of jihadists.

“Azerbaijan has spent billions trying to whitewash its abysmal human rights record. Now, in the most blatant attempt since Operation Ring in 1991, when it ethnically cleansed nearly half of Nagorno-Karabakh of its Armenian population, and with the explicit support of Turkey and the importation of jihadist mercenaries, Azerbaijan along with Turkey are engaged in an attempted genocide of Armenian Christians – again,” stated Assembly Co-Chairs Anthony Barsamian and Van Krikorian. “This is a fundamental question of genocide prevention and the Genocide Convention must be invoked.”

The Operation Ring of 1991 that the Assembly refers to is the operation by the Republic of Azerbaijan to liberate the Soviet Oblast of the Nagorno-Karabakh.  

 

The cooperation between the U.S. and Azerbaijan on demining was described by the report as follows: 

“In FY02, the United States provided $3,330,000 in humanitarian demining assistance to Azerbaijan to fund a U.S. contractor, RONCO Consulting Corporation, to assist the Government to establish a national mine-action capacity, including a national MDDs capability within the ANAMA infrastructure. The funds provided for maintaining the current operational capacity of Relief Azerbaijan, the national demining NGO, training and deploying a new survey team, an EOD team, developing and deploying the national Monitoring and Training Team, and integrating the MDDs with survey and clearance operations. The DoD conducted demining and EOD training for Azeri military personnel.

 The Government has expressed a firm commitment to address the landmine problem and to maintain an effective organization capable of implementing national demining policy and priorities. As a result of this commitment, the U.S. Embassy in Baku provided $1,100,000 of its FSA funds to augment the existing demining program. During FY02, U.S. military personnel trained 55 deminers in four major subjects: basic demining, management training, basic medical skills, and mine-risk education for the general population. At the completion of the training, the U.S. military team left behind $400,000 worth of demining equipment to be used by the trained personnel. In FY02, a total of 100 deminers, medics, MDD handlers, and staff personnel were trained and equipped. Deminers have cleared more than 775,000 meters2 of land in the Fizuli and Geranboy regions and destroyed 45 mines and almost 1,000 pieces of UXO in the process. In FY01, Azerbaijan received $1,100,000 in U.S. assistance, including $600,000 for an expatriate MDD capability; $250,000 for additional demining equipment; and $250,000 to establish an indigenous MDD capability organic to the ANAMA,” as was directly stated by the U.S. State Department report. 

 

The U.S. cooperation with ANAMA also resulted in a series of accomplishments that undermined the Armenian political lobby’s desire to repossess Artsakh. They are described as follows: 

“A Landmine Impact Survey has been conducted. An MDD program has also been established, and training for this program continues successfully. U.S. assistance has funded the training of more than 100 Azerbaijani deminers and, in conjunction with UNICEF, a program of mine-awareness instruction for 800 teachers, 500 medical personnel, and 200 representatives from public organizations. ANAMA is currently developing all components of mine action in order to acquire a national, sustainable capability for humanitarian demining that includes an infrastructure to support the return of IDPs to their homes. The Regional Training Center at Fizuli is operational and is being used to expand national demining. In 2002, U.S.-trained mine-clearing personnel focused on clearing those areas with wineries, a move that is expected to help Azerbaijan restore its war-torn economy. To date, Azerbaijani deminers have cleared more than 981,000 meters2 of land and destroyed more than 1,300 mines and UXO,” as was directly quoted from the U.S. State Department’s report. 

 

The same report also notes that the United States had, to promote post-wartime normalizations, provided similar forms of assistance to the Armenian Humanitarian Demining Center. The U.S. State Department reported providing Armenian $2M in assistance for demining programs. The U.S. has not acted biasedly on the part of the legitimate Armenian territory for the humanitarian process. 

 

 

Celebrities who support Armenia’s agenda 

Schiff’s district also stretches into West Hollywood. His vocal support of the Armenian nationalist agenda is favorable to the strong presence of Armenian-supportive celebrities in Hollywood. 

The most famous Armenian celebrities in the U.S. include the Kardashian family and the singer Cher Bono. 

The Kardashian Family is one of the most prominent members of Hollywood’s socialite class who support the Artsakh lobby. They are also affiliated with artisan brands, owned by Armenians, who use the proceeds of their sales to raise finance and support for the Armenian national cause. Kim Kardashian-West purchases design jewelry from the Kristen Kesho brand, which has sold a signature gold set called “Artsakh Strong” which sold at a limited number of pieces. The Kardashian-West children modeled some items for this set. Kristen Kesho jewelers donated the proceeds of their sales to the Armenia Fund, which in turn intends to use them to finance the building of expatriated Armenians in the subordinate state.  

The Armenian lobby through charity 

The U.S. Democratic Party-leaning lobbyists support the Armenian rhetoric and cause outside of direct political rallies. Support is also funneled to Armenia through the work of the charity. One of the most prominent charities that work on the behalf of the Armenian cause is The Armenia Fund, which is headquartered in the Greater Los Angeles area, California. The Armenia Fund works directly with private funders, Armenian immigrants to the United States who are prominent in the real estate industry, to conduct a habitat program in what they call Artsakh. The funds are used to build habitats and thus to move ethnic Armenians directly into the firing line. This project has been described by the #ArtsakhStrong. 

The Armenia Fund also, on October 12, raised $3.2million in Los Angeles to support the transfer of funds to Artsakh. The funds were described as being allocated to housing and other needs of human development. Yet, the Armenian government continues to shell the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, putting the same civilians it celebrates humanitarian assistance at risk as well as the people of Azerbaijan.