Propaganda messages disseminated by Armenian diaspora during 2020 Armenian-Azerbaijani clashes in Tovuz

By Roza Asgarova

The shelling of the village of Dondar Gushchu in the Tovuz region of the Republic of Azerbaijan on July 12, 2020 by the Armenian armed forces and the ensuing fighting were once again presented by Armenians living abroad as an "Azerbaijani provocation”. As always, representatives of the Armenian Diaspora have launched propaganda campaigns, presenting Azerbaijan as the “aggressor” and Armenia as the “victim”. The representatives of the Armenian diaspora in the United States and congressmen of the US House of Representatives, whose campaigns are funded by Armenians, once again resorted to active propaganda and widespread disinformation.

The most active Armenian organization in the US, Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), starting from July 12, began to criticize the government of the Republic of Azerbaijan for rejecting the Royce-Engel proposals "to reduce tensions on the frontline", while pro-Armenian US congressmen Frank Pallone, Brad Sherman, TJ Cox and Senators Ed Markey and Andreas Borgeas called on Azerbaijan to respect the "territorial integrity" of the Armenian regime in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. In addition, Congressman Adam Schiff criticized Azerbaijan for "destabilizing the region”. The Bureau and Supreme Council of Armenian Revolutionary Federation also called on the international community to criticize the "aggressive policy" of Turkey and Azerbaijan. Moreover, as a result of this propaganda, the pro-Armenian congressmen submitted a number of “pro-peace" amendments to the major Pentagon authorization bill for the vote in the US Congress. Thus, according to the Amendment №66 to Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act proposed by Congressman Brad Sherman, the supply of military equipment and services to the Republic of Azerbaijan by the US should be suspended until the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan approves the non-threat to civil aviation clause. Pursuant to the proposal of Frank Pallone, the Defense Department were to submit to Congress a report on the US military support to the Republic of Azerbaijan. These proposals were widely supported by the Armenian diaspora in the United States. It should be noted that before these events, senator Robert Menendez made similar proposals, requesting reports to the Senate on military support provided to the Republic of Azerbaijan. Besides the above-mentioned, as a result of the vote in the House of Representatives on July 23, $1.4 million will be donated in 2021 Fiscal Year to the activities carried out by The Halo Trust organization in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. This amendment was sponsored by members of the Armenian Caucus in the US Congress: Jackie Speier, TJ Cox, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Gus Bilirakis and so on.

In addition, similar statements were made by the Armenian National Committee of Canada (ANCC) and the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU). The Armenian National Committee of Canada (ANCC) sent a letter to Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, criticizing Azerbaijan's "aggressive activities" in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. At the same time, the call of the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU) was supported by members of the Australian Parliament Trent Zimmerman, Joel Fitzgibbon, Senator Christina Keneally, Jason Falinski and Tim Wilson. In addition, the representative of the Australian Parliament Hugh McDermott, who visited the Armenian regime in the occupied territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan together with the delegation of the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU) in 2019, issued a statement criticizing the alleged “aggressive policy” of Azerbaijan during a parliamentary session in New South Wales. Unsurprisingly, this move was supported by the ANC-AU. Furthermore, former Australian Ambassador to the United States Joe Hockey, New South Wales MPs Natalie Ward and Tanya Davies, Willowby City Council member Wendy Norton, Northern Beaches Council members Vincent De Luca and David Walton, as well as Fairfield City Council members Paul Azzo and Adrian Wong joined the “Australian Friends of the Armenian regime in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan” group created in 2019, thus the number of the representatives reached 57.

It is also important to note, that the Armenian diaspora’s attacks on Azerbaijanis around the world were portrayed by Armenians in a completely different way. Organizations belonging to the Armenian Diaspora in the United States accuse Azerbaijanis of “vandalism and hate crimes”. Hence, the Pan-Armenian Council and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Western US, which operate in the United States, have issued statements accusing Azerbaijanis of aggression, portraying the Armenian side as the victim. The Armenian National Committee of America San Francisco-Bay Area, in turn, accused American Azerbaijanis of "vandalism" at the Krouzian-Zekarian Vasbouragan school, this falsehood then propagated by Fox11 in Los Angeles without any police investigation. The alleged “act of vandalism” was also criticized by the California Governor Gavin Newsom and California Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis in Twitter. Similar incidents have occurred in Canada, France, and other countries. The Armenian National Committee of Canada said in a statement that Azerbaijanis attacked Armenians, despite Armenians aggressors grossly outnumbering Azerbaijani protesters.

Representatives of the Armenian diaspora, as always, cover up Armenia's aggressive policy and present the Armenian side as the downtrodden victim. Despite the large size of the Armenian diaspora in the United States, it cannot prevent the allocation of military support to Azerbaijan, prompting pro-Armenian congressmen and senators to try to draw attention to this issue.

Overall, despite a big propaganda noise, the Armenian nationalist lobby groups are not able to significantly change the course of actions of the host countries. However, American, Australian and other taxpayers should question their elected officials who sign up under lobby groups campaign whether those politicians fulfil their duty to guard larger interests of their countries foreign policy and the international security as a whole or they pursue the agenda of small nationalist xenophobic groups.

Roza Asgarova, an advisor at the Center of Analysis of International Relations in Baku, Azerbaijan, especially for News.Az

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