Armenian Americans build support for a distant country because fragile peace lies in Nagorno-Karabakh

Many ethnic Armenians set their homes on fire this week as they prepared to land Azerbaijan under the terms of a fragile ceasefire between the two countries.

Half a world, half a million Americans of Armenian descent can help determine the course of war and peace in this turbulent region, as they influence influence, experts say, far more than their numbers.

“In terms of domestic American politics, Armenian expatriates in America are punching above their weight,” said Richard Giragossian, director of an independent think tank at the Regional Studies Center, Yerevan, Armenia.

A November 9 treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh in the South Caucasus region of Western Asia ended a six-week war. The disputed region, which has a majority ethnic Armenian population, and the Armenian administration has been internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan since the bloody war in the 1990s.

Three failed ceasefire over several weeks make the future of the new ceasefire uncertain. Analysts say with its ability to help shape US foreign policy for the ethnic Armenian, region and global perception of Armenia in the United States, analysts say this may help gain international support Can.

There are few other influential expatriates than Armenian Americans: Cuban Americans are more than four times their number, for example, and the Jewish American community is 14 times larger. But the Armenian lobby creates significant influence – with the help of high-profile Armenian Americans, including Cher, who was born Cherilyn Sarkissian and the Kardashian dynasty of reality television.

In 2019, the Armenian American political lobby helped Armenia secure a $ 60 million US foreign aid budget – a 40 percent increase from the previous year.

Azerbaijan’s American community is very small and new, said Lala Ragimov, president of Azerbaijan Women of America. “It is severely younger than the Armenian migrant. As a community, we are still learning to lobby. “

The latest war in Nagorno-Karbakh ended in a crisis, which the Armenian Prime Minister Nicholas Pashinian called “incredibly painful”. But many Armenian Americans now hope that President-Elect will give a strong boost to Biden’s incoming administration Support for the interests of Armenia In the area, Girgosian said.

Biden has historically been a critic of Turkey and Azerbaijan, and the Vice President was elected by Kamala Harris in California, the state with the largest Armenian American population.

According to Giramosian, the Armenia lobby helped draft Biden’s many statements on Nagorno-Karbakh during his campaign. Biden called on President Donald Trump to reinstate a block on US aid to Azerbaijan, which was “imposed” for the country.[ing] A military solution to this conflict, “and Ankara Coding Administration” Ankara. He urged Armenia to initiate “credible talks” after the ceasefire arrived so that the war could be stopped.

This may be part of why analysts say that the trend of Armenian Americans is unaffiliated compared to Armenians in the region.

“We had no choice [other than to accept the treaty], But I am living in Armenia, “Girgosian said.” Someone sitting in Los Angeles or Boston is more and more comfortable with the radical nationalist demand. “

Armenian Americans took to the streets during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in October, closing a highway and gathering outside media offices in Los Angeles to demand more coverage of the war. Organizations such as the Armenia Fund, a Los Angeles nonprofit, raised more than $ 80 million for humanitarian aid for the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Armenian Americans also traveled to the region to bring supplies, provide medical aid, and some dual civilians also joined the Armenian army.

Armenian Prime Minister Nicholas Pashinyan thanked Kim Kardashian for contributing to the “growing interest for Armenia worldwide” during a subsequent visit to the country in October 2019.Armenian Prime Minister’s Office via Twitter

Around 20 million people also viewed Kim Kardashian, a video posted on Instagram on 10 October in support of Armenia. Kardashian toured the country in 2016 during an episode of her family’s TV show.

Armenian American advocacy remained strongly focused on events in the early 1900s, when more than 1 million Armenians were killed after being evicted from their homes by the Turkish Ottoman Empire.

The 1915 incident has been recognized as a genocide by international scholars, although Turkey and Azerbaijan rejected the label, leading to deaths in World War I and civil unrest.

The fight to ensure death is called a massacre, “a communal experience that binds Armenian Americans”, as many are descendants of Susan Patty, cultural curator and ethnographer at London’s Army Institute.

American politicians have supported the Armenian American vote for decades, including presidential candidates, including Biden, Pledge to recognize deaths as genocide If elected. Although the Senate passed a unanimous resolution in favor in 2019, no President has yet done so.

The 28-year-old Dr., about his decision to travel from California to Armenia during the Nagorn-Karbakh War. “It almost felt like the medicine I had,” said Haig Antabalian. “It was another call to action in my life.”Courtesy Haig Antabalian

An emergency medical specialist from Los Angeles, 28-year-old Dr. Haig Antabalian, is the grandson of the survivors. This prompted him to travel to Armenia in November for treatment of wounded Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh.

He said, “My grandmother used to say, ‘Eat, because you don’t know when you’re going to eat again,” he said.

The relationship of many Americans to Armenia will always be rooted in stories of violence, said George Avakian, 34, a real estate agent who grew up in Glendale, California. He supplied humanitarian supplies to Armenia from the US in October.

“You want to protect [Armenia]But at the same time, many expatriates do not feel that domestic connection, ”he said. “It is more part of the paternal relationship. It is a wound that never stops. “

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