By Alexander Murinson
Accuracy in the media is a key issue today. Publications disclaim opinion articles with "Opinions expressed by contributors are their own” as a means to protect against “fake news,” inaccuracies, and deceit.
However, an editorial process exists to safeguard the public from “fake news” and propaganda. It is, therefore, ghastly what Forbes published on October 30, 2017, in the piece, “Azerbaijani Aggression Shouldn't Be Rewarded With U.S. Aid,” written by virtual unknowns Movses Ter-Oganesyan and Suren Sargsyan.
Azerbaijan, with its own well-allocated foreign aid budget, receives a relatively small amount of foreign aid from the U.S., predominantly in the form of naval materiel and training. Peruse a map, and one easily discerns the national interest of the U.S. to protect Azerbaijani offshore oil and gas fields from Russian and Iranian encroachment — commodities that contribute crucially and irreplaceably to the energy security of Europe and to Western markets.
U.S. support of Azerbaijan, in general, seeks to safeguard it from Russian and Iranian intrusions and to promote its efforts to integrate this geopolitically and geostrategically important region with the West. Azerbaijan, a secular Muslim-majority nation, a U.S. strategic partner, ardently on the rough road to democracy, serves as a nexus of pro-West efforts in this strategically vital region.
Azerbaijan is the progenitor and driving force for Western integration, independence from its former Russian masters, and regional development. Beginning more than two decades ago with the Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan pipeline that transits vast amounts of oil from the Caspian Sea to Europe, Azerbaijan is also taking the lead in building a network of gas pipelines directly to Europe, both while bypassing Russia and Iran — just last week, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railroad was inaugurated and will open the European Union to the region and beyond to Central Asia and China, again while bypassing Russia and Iran.
The writers also try to sell a skewed account of the wars and bilateral issues between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The reality is that Nagorno-Karabakh is a region of Azerbaijan occupied by Armenia. It is not an independent nation. Both points are reinforced by the U.S., the U.N., the Council of Europe, and every international organization and nation. No nation recognizes Nagorno-Karabakh — not even Armenia.
The writers make much ado about a Nagorno-Karabakh independence referendum. They fail to share that the referendum was held after Armenia, with the help of Russia and Iran, ethnically cleansed and/or butchered every Azerbaijani residing in Nagorno-Karabakh. This created a refugee population of roughly 800,000. Human Rights Watch, as well as numerous international organizations, attested to the sheer carnage perpetrated by Armenian forces against Azerbaijani civilians.
The remainder of Ter-Oganesyan and Sargsyan's article is much the same.
Accurately, in the intervening years from Azerbaijani and Armenian independence, Armenia has held fast to Nagorno-Karabakh and its resulting self-imposed isolation. Armenia is largely destitute, repeatedly borrowing billions from Russia, and today, Armenia is little more than a vassal state of Russia, existing as a tool for the greater glory of Moscow. There is a plethora of open domain data on this.
During the same period, Azerbaijan gained billions of dollars of foreign direct investment; has become a player in world politics, energy, technology; and has built a stable, prosperous, and modern nation. Of course, Azerbaijan has more than its share of civil issues; however, the proof is the tenor of the people. From the leadership to the taxi driver, Azerbaijanis are generally satisfied with the success and direction of their nation.
Armenia, in stark contrast and a result of its unhealthy fascination with Nagorno-Karabakh, is excluded from the mammoth energy and transportation projects that have brought prosperity to the region. As the other nations of the South Caucasus have evolved into successful societies, Armenia remains a poor stepchild, complete with systemic poverty, corruption, a crippling brain drain (a consequence of the best and brightest leaving) and a net decline in population, leaving the poor and uneducated behind.
So why are Ter-Oganesyan and Sargsyan using their rather specific skill set on behalf of Russia and Iran in the form of a deceit-ridden attack on U.S. and European ally Azerbaijan? That is a complex question, rife with the rage, self-flagellation, and insecurities of an entire nation, one likely to remain elusive, as there is not a light at the end of the tunnel — only Russian rule.
Fake news cannot stand up to the light of facts, even at the hands of the Kremlin and if the venerated Forbes delves into it. In an environment where astute readers must pay such close attention to where their information emanates, Forbes should be careful to not make it that much more difficult.