How could the war-mongering president of Azerbaijan be permitted to chair the UN Security Council, the august body that is supposed to promote peace and security in the world? Unfortunately, such an outrage is possible simply because it is Azerbaijan’s turn to take over the rotating chairmanship of the Security Council in the month of May.
Given Ilham Aliyev’s persistent anti-Armenian rhetoric, no one should be surprised when he transforms the UN podium into a battlefield. Fortunately, his military has neither the training nor the motivation to use its highly sophisticated weapons, including those purchased recently from Israel for $1.6 billion. Given Azerbaijan’s inability to unleash an actual war against Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabagh), and fearing that such a confrontation may end with the loss of more territory and devastate his country’s petroleum industry and oil pipelines, Aliyev is trying to distract his destitute people’s attention by issuing threats and launching a war of words against Armenians.
The problem is that Azeris at home won’t be the only ones listening to Aliyev’s hostile statements. The countries bordering Azerbaijan—Iran, Turkey, and Russia—will be taking special note of his saber-rattling at the UN. These neighboring states are alarmed by Azerbaijan acting as a surrogate for Israel in their backyard. Should Israel attack Iran by using Azerbaijan’s air bases, Iran may retaliate by annexing Azerbaijan, since there are many more Azeris in northern Iran than in all of Azerbaijan.
Aliyev’s UN diatribe will probably include some of the same hostile words that he has used recently in Baku. He called Armenians “fascists” and described them as Azerbaijan’s chief adversary. He then blamed “the Armenian lobby” for being his “number one enemy.” Using language borrowed from anti-Semites, and substituting “Armenians” for “Jews,” Aliyev made the following racist accusation: “The scope of their influence is quite broad. They [Armenians] are represented in the leading print media outlets of various countries. Sometimes they go under different names and hide their ethnic origin.” Aliyev’s ongoing hateful speeches provide the best evidence as to why Artsakh-Armenians can never again live under his despotic regime.
The Azeri president also objected to Armenians calling Azerbaijan “backward and undemocratic,” which accurately describes his country’s dismal human rights record. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the European Parliament, the State Department, and the Western media have repeatedly criticized Azerbaijan for violating the rights of countless journalists, bloggers, dissidents, opposition members, and common citizens.
Eduard Sharmazanov, the deputy speaker of Armenia’s Parliament, gave a fitting response to Aliyev last week, when he bragged that “the day will come when the Azerbaijani flag will fly in Khankendi [Stepanakert] and Shusha [Shushi].” Sharmazanov quipped that the Azeri flag can fly in Azerbaijan’s embassy in Artsakh only after Baku recognizes the independence of the Republic of Artsakh and establishes diplomatic relations with it.
To counter Aliyev’s war of words, Armenian Americans, along with human rights activists and Azeri dissidents, will certainly raise their voices in protest in front of the UN headquarters in early May, as Azerbaijan’s president begins spewing his usual anti-Armenian venom.
Unfortunately, Aliyev has no plans to come to the West Coast, where the large Armenian community would surely welcome him with massive protests against his Armenophobic speeches and activities. However, the California Armenian community could take advantage of Aliyev’s U.S visit by urging the state legislature to adopt Assembly Concurrent Resolution 96, which commemorates the massacres of Armenians in the Azeri cities of Sumgait, Kirovabad, and Baku.
Violating U.S. laws and established diplomatic protocol, the consulate general of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles sent a lengthy letter to all members of the California State Assembly urging them not to support this resolution. The letter, signed by Ramil Gurbanov, the acting consul general of Azerbaijan, is clearly drafted by one of its lobbying firms. This piece of propaganda contains many ridiculous statements, but that is not the concern of the “hired guns,” which will do anything to keep their Azeri paymasters happy, as long as they are compensated handsomely for their dirty work.
West Coast Armenian Americans should contact their state legislators, in particular the co-authors of Resolution 96—Assemblymen Felipe Fuentes, Katcho Achadjian, and Mike Gatto—and urge them to bring this bill to a vote while Aliyev is still on U.S. soil. Meanwhile, East Coast Armenian Americans should turn out in large numbers in front of the UN headquarters in early May to protest Aliyev’s racist remarks as “chairman” of the UN Security Council.
Furthermore, the Armenian community should complain to federal and state authorities about the Azerbaijani Consulate’s illegal interference in internal U.S. affairs and demand expulsion of Ramil Gurbanov from the United States as “persona non grata.”