Armenian Extremists Are Blocking Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh

Armenian Extremists Are Blocking Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh

Recent clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan have served as an impetus for a new wave of violence that could worsen the closer Yerevan and Baku come to making peace.

Notably, ARF rage has lashed out at targets other than the Azerbaijanis. Consider that the ARF deploys a bitter and abusive tone on its Facebook pages against many media outlets—particularly Le Monde, which has become much more impartial on the topic of Armenia-Azerbaijani after the Armenian defeat of November 2020.

It’s clear that the ARF, and a number of its sympathizers, are quite angry and stewing in resentment, and feel that they have nothing left to lose. The sense that acts of intimidation and public pressure are not bearing fruit as they once used to opens the door for further radicalism and violence. For example, consider a comment with many “likes” from an ARF member on the Facebook page of the ARF’s youth branch: “I think it is time to stop the demonstrations and to act…” She did not specify what kind of “actions” she had in mind, but considering the ARF’s history, including its recent actions, one can assume it won’t be legal.

Is America Next?

American officials and law enforcement officers must take heed of these incidents in Europe and the Middle East. The recent shooting in Washington, D.C. is but the latest example of Armenian terrorism; a number of other concerning incidents have occurred recently. The Azerbaijani consulate in Los Angeles has received death threats several times over the past few months alone. In March, two Armenian Americans in California were sentenced to jail for having attacked a family-owned Turkish restaurant on November 20, 2020, screaming “We came to kill you!” The Los Angeles Police Department’s investigation of hate crimes perpetrated by ARF members against Azerbaijani Americans in July 2020 is still ongoing. Meanwhile, the strident tone used by the ARF-controlled Armenian National Committee of America against the U.S. State Department only raises additional concerns.

Ignoring or downplaying the growing threat posed by Armenian extremists or terrorist organizations to the peace process does not serve U.S. national interests. Aside from the fact that this could lead to foreign-motivated homicides on American soil, there is a geopolitical imperative too. The ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War is partially being financed by Russian energy sales to Europe. If Washington wants to cut off this source of revenue for the Russian state, it will have to find alternative sources of gas for Europe. Azerbaijan is one of these sources. Similarly, if the United States wishes to see the end of Armenian dependency on Russia and Iran—which coincides with the best interests of ordinary Armenians in Yerevan—then a formal and lasting peace with Azerbaijan (followed by a normalization of ties with Turkey) is necessary. Such a lasting peace is precisely what Armenian extremists want to prevent.

Dr. Maxime Gauin is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Development and Diplomacy of ADA University located in Baku, Azerbaijan. He previously served as Scholar-in-Residence at the Center for Eurasian Studies in Ankara.

Image: Reuters.