Letters to the Editor: In the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, Turkey is the real villain

·2 min read
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 11: Thousands from the Armenian community gathered at Pan Pacific Park in Los Angeles to denounce the military aggression by Turkey and Azerbaijan against Armenians in Artsakh. Photographed on Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, CA. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)
Thousands from the Armenian American community protest at Pan Pacific Park in Los Angeles on Oct. 11 to denounce military aggression by Turkey and Azerbaijan. (Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Aris Janigian and Mark Arax are fine writers whose work I esteem, but their account of the current conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh repeats a nationalist narrative that ignores the fact that Armenians as well as Azerbaijanis engaged in ethnic cleansing and murder following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Hundreds of thousands of ordinary people on both sides during the 1990-94 war were bombed and expelled from their homes.

Unquestionably, the Armenian holocaust during World War I was one of history's great crimes and should always be taught as such in our schools, but the current conflict is not a simple repetition of that slaughter. We should not forget that for 70 years, the two peoples and their cultures peacefully coexisted in the Soviet Union and fought side by side to defeat fascism.

The real villain today is Turkey's leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the oppressor of the Kurds and the Turkish left, who has deliberately enflamed the conflict to further his goal of making autocratic Turkey a regional superpower.

Progressives should support unconditional peace talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan while at the same time going into streets with our Armenian sisters and brothers to demand sanctions against Erdogan and his regime.

Mike Davis, San Diego

The writer is a professor emeritus of history at UC Riverside.

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To the editor: Thank you for publishing Janigian's and Arax's piece. The final paragraph made my eyes wet. These are really horrible times for Armenians all over the world and especially in Armenia.

The small republic of Armenia, with 3 million people, cannot sustain a protracted war against Azerbaijan (population 10 million) and Turkey (population 83 million). There is a serious possibility that Turkey, with Turkic Azerbaijan, could commit a major massacre one century after the Armenian genocide. Armenians are fighting for their own survival.

Armenia's hope is for the international community to realize that the Armenians of the Nagorno-Karabakh region may be ethnically cleansed under Azerbaijan's rule, and to start providing humanitarian and military aid to Armenia.

Ara Khanjian, Sherman Oaks

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.