1in.am Armenian News & Analyses, 16 April 2014

  • Crimean issue and anexion of Crimea has drop shadow on the crisis in Syria, but that has returned to the agenda of the world with the displacement of Kessab Armenians. What has happened in Kessab and why now? Why has Turkey decided to enter Kessab now?
    As a Syrian, I find this ‘high politics’ way of depicting the situation in Syria disgusting. I do not know whether “the crisis in Syria” recaptured the international attention after a period of disinterest, because of “the displacement of Kessab Armenians”. If it is true, then either the “Kessab Armenians” are very valuable people, far more valuable than other Syrians who are being killed for three years continously, or perhaps that this world is very sick and finds nothing to protest against the killing of more than hundred Syrians everyday at the hands of the Assad regime, and millions displaced to Turkey and elsewhere, while the only thing that deserves attention is “the displacement of Kessab Armenians”! This sickness has a very well know name: RACISM! Now “Why has Turkey decided to enter Kessab now”? To tell you the truth I find this question that gives readers the impression that Syria is composed of two parts, Kessab and the rest, equally disgusting. Allow me not to answer a distorted question that makes the paroxysms of Syrians invisible.
  • There are views that Armenians were displaced from Kessab by Al Nusra front. Can this be regarded as a reliable information?
    Look, More than 9 million Syrians have been displaced, within the country and outside. The Armenians of Kessab are Syrians, and they were displaced because there is a war in the country. A war that the Assad regime launched from the very beginning of the popular protests against it. The cause of the displacement of the Armenians cannot be different from the cause of other citizens` displacement unless you consider the lives of Armenians more important than the lives of other Syrians. Are you saying this? Maybe you do know that not a single Armenian was killed in Kessab, do you? I only want to add that the very existence of al Nusra Front is an outcome of the war inflicted by the regime on the Syrian uprising.
  • How do you assess the situation in Syria, the possibility of the resolution of the conflict and what do you think will Syria have future with its current borders after this crisis?
    Well, I do not approve of words like ‘conflict’ and ‘crisis’ in portraying our struggle. I think they not only add ambiguity to the actual responsible actor of the terrible situation in the country, namely the regime and the Assad dynasty, they also show deep seated disrespect to our people and our victims. It is neither a vague “conflict” nor a complicated “crisis”; it is a struggle for freedom against a criminal junta that transformed our republic to an Assadi kingdom built on slavery.
    I think issues of justice and injustice, of ethics and responsibility, are very important.  Also I suppose a people who suffered from genocide and genocide denial have to show more sympathy with the weak not with the powerful. It is an insult to the Armenian genocide victims to speak about the Syrian struggle the way Russia, Israel, and the US speak about it.
  • The Armenian parliamentary delegation met with Bashar al-Assad in Damascus after displacement of Armenians from Kessab. During these years of Syrian war Armenia, having big community in Syria, was trying to save its neutrality, but with this meeting in Damascus this position has violated. How do you assess Armenia’s position? Is this serving to the resolution of the conflict in Syria or this serves to Assad’s positions strengthening?
    To put it bluntly, I despise those who put their hands in the hand of criminal thug that killed or was responsible of killing more than 150 thousand of our people. Being representatives of the Armenian people make their position even more despicable. My personal feeling about the meeting is that the “white” and the “right” people are discussing their important affairs and slandering the savage and unimportant Syrians who are being killed everywhere in Syria. Congratulations! As a “black”, “wrong” (and “left”) person, I only feel right when I am on the other side.
    Do you know what many Syrians are saying? They say: we wish we were Armenians so that the world would care about us!
    Now, you do not help resolving the “conflict in Syria” when you visit the public killer and do not think for a moment of meeting other Syrians or listening to them, right? 
  • What could be done by Armenian side and by the representatives of our community in Syria that hadn’t been done? They could make lobby with opposition, create some new platforms for relations which could apply security guarantees for not only Armenians in Syria but also this experience could be used by other minorities in Syria. Was that possible? They could also announce that they are with Syrian people’s choice, but they did nothing.
    I do not think that Armenians acted or should act as a coherent body with a unified policy and language. I have Armenian friends who were fully with the revolution, and helped their Syrian people in many ways. But even for mainstream Armenians I do not think it is a good idea to “lobby with opposition in Syria”. Perhaps they should help refugees and the displaced, pay a visit to refugee camps, invite some non-Armenian Syrians to Yerevan, perhaps give some grants to Syrian students in Armenian universities. And above all to understand the political and social sources of our struggle as one against political slavery and for freedom. It is also better for Armenians in Armenia not to speak about “security gurantees…that could be used by other minorities in Syria”. This does not show real understanding of the political situation in Syria, not to mention that it refers to the low principle of the alliance of minorities, attributed to the Assad dynasty against the Sunni Muslim majority which is today the most vulnerable group in the country, and certainly the group that is lacking “security guarantees” the most. Do you have any assurances for them?
  • What place have today minorities in Syria?
    I do not mean to be rude, but the questions are very “white” and “right”. Well, let may say something theoretical about minorities and majorities. The assumption behind the principle of “minorities’ rights” and “minorities’ protection” is that the cultural majority, being ethnic or religious or confessional, is at the same time the political majority, and the ruling elite belongs to it. Minorities are vulnerable because of this very situation, because of the cultural and political superiority of the majority. This is not the situation in Syria, the Sunni majority being the most vulnerable and the most threatened. Is the Assad regime protecting the minorities? You certainly know that Hafez Assad did not invent Syria, and that a big Armenian community was protected by the Syrian people long before this evil dynasty ruled the country. So what happened that made “minorities” threatened and in need for special protection? Who are those from the savage majority threatening them? Where have they come from? And why are they being killed on a daily basis, with Russian fighter jets, Russian scud missiles, barrel bombs, and sarin gas? Why aren’t they considered to be the real minority in need of protection in the country? I think one needs to know more about Syrian politics and contemporary history to answer these questions. But above all, I think one needs to recognize Syrians as human beings equal to any other humans on earth.
    You ask about the place of minorities? I think they are a shield behind which the regime is occupying a stronger position against the Syrian poor and underprivileged. Actually the regime is not protecting minorities, it is using them to protect itself.
  • In conclusion how do you assess Russia’s mediation efforts in Syrian conflict? Russian mass media used Kessab introducing that in very dark colors. Why does Russian side try to introduce Kessab and the condition of Armenians in Kessab worse than it actually is?
    In your opinion, are Russians really engaged in mediation efforts in Syria? Please tell them to stop sacrificing themselves in this altruistic way! I think the old “prison of peoples” (as Karl Marx labeled it in the 19th century) knows better than this. The Russian government is loyal only to the sinister principle of realpolitik, and is addicted to protecting thugs and tyrants.  I am not a follower of the Russian media, but when Russia Today spoke to me by phone 3 years ago, they gave me the impression that they are not any different from the Ba’athist media organs in Syria. High Russian officials expressed several times, and in an open and blatant way, that they are opposed to the rule of the Muslim majority in Syria as if the revolution aims to bring a Muslim rule to the country. In fact the Russians are restoring the colonial tenet of dividing Syrians according to religious and confessional lines, supporting some and weakening some, and helping the Shabiha regime in destroying the country. The “prison of the peoples”’ cannot be a friend of the Armenians in Kessab or elsewhere. They are only a useful tool in the Russian government’s struggle against freedom in Syria and in Russia itself.