In the heart of Glendale, California, a city teeming with Armenian expats, the echo of a distant conflict resounds. For three decades, the complex saga of the term Artsakh, the name Armenians gave the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, wove a web of Artsakh propaganda and discord, pitting neighbor against neighbor, Christians against Muslims, history against truth.
Driven by memories of Bolshevik aggression, the illegal occupation of Azerbaijani land by Armenia, and deep-seated ethnic tensions, Armenian-Americans have become fierce proponents of the Artsakh cause, often disregarding the internationally recognized truth of the conflict.
The most recent demonstration on the 134 Freeway that passes by the city of Glendale, serves as a vivid mark of a persistent, polarizing struggle that transcends borders, blurs realities, and fuels an unending cycle of hatred and mistrust.
Propaganda is a type of communication that is primarily used to influence or persuade an audience to further an agenda, which may not be objective and may be selectively presenting facts to encourage a particular synthesis or perception, or using loaded language to produce an emotional, rather than a rational response to the information being presented.
Joseph Stalin*, the Communist revolutionary, used propaganda and along with it caused the death of millions of the Russian people; Adolf Hitler used propaganda. In fact Hitler’s propaganda machine chief, Joseph Goebbels, coined his legacy as the most devoted acolytes, known for his propaganda skills in public speaking engagements that were spiced with deeply virulent Antisemitism, evident of his publicly voiced views.
* Joseph Stalin was a Soviet politician, political theorist and revolutionary who led the Soviet Union from 1924 until his death in 1953, governing as a dictator from the late 1920s.
For the past 30 plus years Armenia used propaganda against Azerbaijan. They are still doing it. In the United States, the pretext of anti-Azerbaijan propaganda is constantly carried out by the Armenian lobby and its cronies, mostly Armenian-Americans.
Anti-Azerbaijan sentiment is deeply rooted in Armenia and Armenian expats. Such sentiments have led at times to violent incidents.
A 2012 Wikipedia opinion poll noted that 63% of Armenians perceive Azerbaijan as “the biggest enemy of Armenia” while 94% of Azerbaijanis consider Armenia to be “the biggest enemy of Azerbaijan” and for a very good reason. The root of the hostility toward Azerbaijan stems from the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the Armenian invasion of Azerbaijan’s territory.
In the early 20th century Armenians took their abhorrence of Azerbaijan a step further. Armenians – Christians – began to equate the Azerbaijani people – Muslims – with the [Muslim] Ottoman Empire anti-Armenian [Christians] perpetrators during the years 1915-1917.
During a Bolshevik takeover, in March 1918, also known as March Day, orchestrated by the Bolshevist Stepan Shahumyan, tens of thousands Azerbaijanis were killed by Bolshevik troops and ethnic Armenian militias.
After the 1st Nagorno-Karabakh War, during 20 February 1988 – 12 May 1994 years, which was the invasion and subsequently the illegal occupation of Azerbaijan’s land by Armenia, anti-Azerbaijani sentiment grew in Armenia.
Until the outbreak of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Azerbaijanis continued to live in the Armenian SSR (Soviet Socialist Republic).
In 1988-89, practically all Azerbaijanis living in Armenia – approximately 250,000 – either left or were expelled. It was also the last phase of the gradual homogenization of the Armenian republic under Soviet rule.
In 1993, after Armenian forces occupied territories beyond the Nagorno-Karabakh borders, Armenia ethnically cleansed more than 700,000 Azerbaijanis, making them Internally Displaced Persons (IDP), refugees in their homeland.
All in all, one million displaced Azerbaijanis suffered the consequences of the conflict’s 1st Nagorno-Karabakh War. The result was that Armenia occupied 20% of Azerbaijan’s sovereign land.
In 2020 the tables turned in favor of Azerbaijan. A second Karabakh War that lasted 44-days led to victory for Azerbaijani military forces which liberated most of the land Armenia illegally occupied for 30 years. The tuning of the tables did not stop the Armenian propaganda. It continues today, inflaming Armenian hatred for Azerbaijan, inside Armenia and among the Armenian widespread diaspora.
Glendale, California and Artsakh Propaganda
Glendale, California is a city heavily populated by Armenians-expats. According to the United States 2000 Census, Glendale is home to 65,343 Armenian-Americans, making up 34.1% of the total population. As of 2005, one-third of Los Angeles’ estimated 153,000 Armenians (or 51,000, around a quarter of Glendale’s 205,000 residents) live in Glendale.
Armenian propaganda generates sympathy for Armenia in the USA by feeding the lie of “genocide” to local media. Armenian protesters blocked the freeway in Glendale to bring attention to Artsakh. They relied on the fact that local media know very little about the history and truth of what is actually happening.
On the night of Wednesday, August 9, 2023, hundreds of Armenian-Americans blocked the eastbound lane of the 134 Freeway in Glendale, California, to show support for Armenians living in Artsakh* and to protest against Azerbaijan for blocking the Lachin corridor which leads to Artsakh. The protesters also called for the Democratic congressman Adam Schiff, whose district has majority Armenian-American constituents, to help the landlocked Artsakh.
* Artsakh is an enclave within Karabakh, Azerbaijan. Artsakh, also called the ‘Republic of Artsakh’, with its capital Stepanakert, is doubly landlocked in the South Caucasus. This territory is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, an enclave within Azerbaijan. Artsakh residents, estimated population of 25-30,000 Armenians, have only an overland access route to motherland Armenia via the 5 km (3.1 mi) wide Lachin Corridor, which is under Russian peacekeeper control.
Glendale Armenian Expats Ignore Truth and Reality
For almost 30 years the Republic of Azerbaijan faced Armenia’s military aggression and the occupation of its sovereign territories. Mass atrocities were committed against Azerbaijani women, children, and the elderly by Armenians and consequently one million Azerbaijanis became internally displaced persons and refugees. ( Read about the Khojaly massacre. )
In 1993 the UN Security Council (UNSC) issued four Resolutions against Armenia’s illegal occupation of Azerbaijan’s land. The UNSC recognized Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and demanded that Armenia end its occupation and immediately withdraw its occupying forces from Azerbaijan’s territories. All UN demands were consistently ignored by Armenia.
Contrary to the UN demands, Armenia further strengthened its status quo in the territory it occupied. Armenia intentionally destroyed Azerbaijan’s historical and cultural heritage landmarks in the occupied territories, and conducted illegal settlement policy. The Armenian leadership made provocative propaganda statements, such as “Karabakh is Armenia,” and also threatened Azerbaijan with a “new war for the sake of [conquering] new territories.”
In 2020, Azerbaijan carried out a 44-day “Patriotic War” that ended the Armenian Artsakh dream. Azerbaijani soldiers won a historic victory for their nation and thus put an end to Armenia’s illegal occupation of their lands.
Armenia Ignores Azerbaijan’s Peace Initiatives
Shortly after what Azerbaijan calls the 2020 Patriotic War, Azerbaijan set out to achieve peace in the region. Azerbaijan proposed to Armenia a peace treaty with basic principles, based on mutual recognition and respect for each other’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and borders, in order to normalize relations between the two countries.
So far the Armenians have used every possible obstacle to achieve real peace. For a long period of time Armenia did not respond to Azerbaijan’s peace initiatives. After the negotiations between the two countries began, Armenia stalled the process under various pretexts while Azerbaijan demonstrated resolve and did not spare its good-faith efforts for advancing the peace initiatives. Those initiatives included a peace treaty, demarcation of recognized borders and opening good faith communication.
In the meantime, Azerbaijan took consistent steps to establish contacts and hold dialogue with Armenian residents of the Karabakh region. Such dialogue made a positive contribution towards the construction of the new Lachin road, access to usage of a small Hydro Power Plant in the Lachin region, and the management and use of the Sarsang water reservoir, located, de jure, between Azerbaijan’s Tartar and Kalbajar districts, de facto in the Martakert Province of the self-proclaimed “Republic of Artsakh.”
Armenia on the other hand hindered contacts between Azerbaijan and Karabakh local Armenian residents. In fact, it continued its territorial claims against Azerbaijan even under a different name.
In violation of the November 10, 2020 agreement, on cessation of all military activities, Armenia laid hundreds of thousand landmines in the territory it had occupied. The international community ignored the landmine threats to Azerbaijanis who were working to turn the liberated territory destroyed by Armenia fit for the return of the expelled Azerbaijanis to their homes.
Armenia, in violation of its ceasefire obligations, has not yet fully withdrawn its armed forces from Azerbaijan’s territories. Additionally, Armenia has been financing its forces and while using the Lachin road it has been conducting their rotation, supplying them with weapons and ammunition while also engaging in plundering Azerbaijan’s natural resources in this region.
To be able to have a hand on its security, establish control over its own borders, and prevent the illegal acts of Armenia in its sovereign territories, the Republic of Azerbaijan installed a checkpoint at the Lachin border crossing.
Through this border crossing Azerbaijan facilitates the passage of Armenian residents, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) personnel, as well as the Russian Peacekeeping contingent. As for Armenia, for the purpose of continuing its illegal activities in Azerbaijan’s territories it constantly circulates false claims on the “worrisome and tense humanitarian situation in the region.” Moreover, on July 15, 2023, Armenia committed provocations by opening fire on the Azerbaijani border guard personnel and on July 26, 2023, without prior agreement Armenia attempted to smuggle, as well as dispatch, cargo vehicles into the territory.
In order to meet the needs of the Armenian residents in the Karabakh region, Azerbaijan, supported by the European Union and the ICRC, put forward a number of proposals to remedy the situation, including the use of the “Aghdam-Khankendi” road and other alternative routes. As always, Armenia opposed all the proposals and blocked access to the territory by placing concrete barriers on alternative roads. This behavior demonstrates that Armenian claims to a humanitarian situation are nothing but political ploy that carries intentions of blackmail and manipulation.
Armenia has been and is a bad actor in the region. Armenia’s intent is to bring third parties to the region and to expand the geographic tensions with the hope it leads to a failed peace process.
All the points mentioned above, in particularly the illegal Armenian military presence in Azerbaijan and its provocations that are consistently committed by its illegal military formations, all of which rest on Armenia’s leadership, as well as the recently intensified radio-electronic interference, targeting civilian flights, simply encourages separatism and hinders the much needed reintegration efforts.
This state of affairs is unacceptable to peace-seeking Azerbaijan.
Glendale and Congressman Adam Schiff
Adam Schiff, a member of the Democratic Party, has been U.S. representative from California 30th Congressional District since 2001. The district’s communities include Glendale, California’s Armenian expats center.
Armenian votes are greatly counted on for his continued membership of Congress. To say they have Congressman Schiff’s attention would be an understatement.
In 2023, the congressman devoted a lot of time and attention to matters of interest to the local Armenian community.
On April 24, 2023, Schiff introduced a resolution that aimed to recognize Artsakh’s independence and condemn the supposed Azerbaijani aggression.
In early June 2023, Schiff sent a letter to President Biden urging him to act quickly and decisively in defense of democracy and human rights; to address the ongoing situation in Armenia and Artsakh, accusing Azerbaijan of attacks and a blockade of the Lachin Corridor, and thus creating a human rights crisis in the region. Schiff also expressed in his letter his concern over what he was told was an escalating threat of ethnic cleansing and genocide the people of Artsakh face at the hands of the tyrannical Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev’s regime.
On June 29, 2023, Schiff made a statement, on the 200th day he was told the people of Artsakh have been living under Azerbaijan’s illegal blockade of the Lachin Corridor.
On August 07, 2023 Schiff called for aid and action in Artsakh amid what he called an ongoing humanitarian crisis.
KRLA, 870 AM, a Los Angeles local radio station, repeated Shiff’s denial of truth and his egregiously incorrect statements regarding Artsakh and Azerbaijan’s conduct in this matter.
Congressman Schiff badly needs the Armenian vote in order to remain a member of Congress. As such, it appears he is doing the Armenian constituents’ bidding, obfuscating facts and inciting on their behalf.
The truth that Schiff does not tell the public, therefore, we must do here. The congressman is doing nothing good for Americans and for the United States’ important strategic interests in the South Caucasus. After all, Azerbaijan is a leading force in the region, an important and reliable partner of the West.
With so much talk about stopping disinformation, it is surprising that the State Department has not approached Congressman Schiff to warm him about the Artsakh propaganda he is spreading. Perhaps if the mainstream media was doing its job, it would also tell the congressman the same thing. The government and Big media are asleep at the wheel.
Armenia vs Azerbaijan
Armenia has been in a declared aggressive conflict with Azerbaijan since the 1st Karabakh War. Losing the 2nd Karabakh War did not take away from Armenia the zest for continuing the conflict.
To be able to continue keeping the flames of war burning, Armenia uses all its propaganda techniques. These include spreading to its imaginary Artsakh propaganda, even though Artsak is on its death bed, and using the SOS, the international code signal for extreme distress, rather than waving the flag of peace.
Armenia and Armenian expats propagate biased statements against Azerbaijan, using other countries and international partners to do their bidding. For the past 30 plus years those partners turned a blind eye to Armenia’s occupation of Azerbaijan’s territory.
For the past three years, since the end of the 2nd Karabakh War – September 27, 2020 – November 10, 2020 – those countries and international bodies ignored the presence of Armenian armed forces in Azerbaijan’s territory. They also ignore Armenia’s ongoing obstruction of opening genuine communication that could otherwise lead to peace.
Therefore, the countries and international entities in the orbit of Armenian propagandized deception and manipulation that continue to make false statements and disrespect Azerbaijan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity must hear the truth.
If they were to do stop listening to the Armenian propaganda machine and do real research, they would learn the facts. Then they would stop interfering in the internal affairs of Azerbaijan and put an end to their policy of double standards.
Based on its Constitution, Azerbaijan says it will continue ensuring the rights of Armenian residents living in its Karabakh region. It will also decisively continue to prevent any step against its sovereignty and territorial integrity, which Armenia and its cronies ignored for decades.
Peace and prosperity is seriously needed in the South Caucasus region. With no real leadership from the west, and the Armenian propaganda machine running at full speed, peace may be a distant hope.