U.S. Prioritizes Political Interests Over Armenian Humanitarian Crisis

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Less than a year ago, Azerbaijani forces stormed Nagorno-Karabakh, an ancient Armenian province that has been the site of a decades-long struggle for independence. The region holds great historical significance, being the traditional heartland of Armenia and the birthplace of democracy.

Nagorno-Karabakh’s democratic movement, which began in the 1980s, ultimately led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. After Armenia gained independence, the region asserted its right to autonomy through peaceful means, including petitions and referendums. However, Azerbaijan rejected this autonomy and sought to crush the movement through military force.

Despite this, Nagorno-Karabakh maintained a semblance of democracy for nearly three decades, until Azerbaijani troops invaded the region on September 19, 2023. The invasion led to the destruction of the local parliament and the ethnic cleansing of Armenians from the region.

The international community, including the United States, has been slow to respond to this humanitarian crisis. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has continued to provide aid and military equipment to Azerbaijan, despite reports of ethnic cleansing and human rights abuses. The U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power has also remained silent on the issue.

There is growing concern that the Biden administration is prioritizing its own political interests over the well-being of the Armenian people. Mark Libby, the U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan, recently visited the historic Armenian town of Shushi, despite reports of ethnic cleansing and human rights abuses. The visit was seen as a way to curry favor with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.

The administration’s failure to condemn Azerbaijan’s actions has emboldened Aliyev, who has continued to stall and negotiate in bad faith. The prospect of a peace deal between Armenia and Azerbaijan has been raised, but it remains uncertain whether any agreement can be reached. The real question is whether the United States will continue to prioritize its own interests over the humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Michael Rubin
Michael Rubin
Michael Rubin is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). He previously worked as an official at the Pentagon, where he dealt with issues relating to the Middle East, and as political adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority. He's also a contributor to the Beltway Confidential blog.

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