Israel’s proxy war in the Caucuses continues
…by Art Stepanian for VT Armenia
Since Azerbaijan and Israel started sleeping together, anti-Armenian propaganda has oozed from the pens of a gang of mostly Israeli and diaspora Jewish writers.
Despite their transparent allegiance, these pretend-journalists have the temerity to demand that readers take them for unbiased journalists. That’s what is known as chutzpah in Yiddish.
The list of these shameless hacks includes Adele Nazarian, Tal Buenos, Brenda Shaffer, Maxime Gauin, Justin Schwartz, Justin Amler, Arye Gut, the late Alexander Murinson, and a dozen others, enough to fill a motel for a convention of liars. Probably the most prolific of the gang is one Nurit Greenger of Los Angeles.
Born in Israel in 1947, Nurit describes herself as a “one-woman Hasbarah army,” blithely unaware that such a self-description diminishes her credibility as a journalist. The Hebrew word means public relations efforts made to disseminate a positive image of Israel.
Thus, a Manichean idée fixe determines Nurit’s politics: countries, organizations, and persons are either angels or demons depending on their views on Israel. Those who fail her litmus test become her targets.
No stranger to modesty, Nurit’s CV says that she is adept at strategic planning, managing, supervising, marketing, entrepreneurship, running a non-profit organization, social networking, fund-raising, and journalism. She is apparently blind to the contradiction of being both a journalist and a PR practitioner. Betraying how clueless she is of current mores, dos and don’ts, she describes herself as a “Jewess” when that word has been banished along with “Negress,” “aviatrix,” and “Asiatic.”
As impressive as her multitude of skills is the plethora of names she has used in her 73 years: Nuzit Greenger, Nurit R. Greenger, Nurit G. Reimer, Nurit Greengerriemer, Nurtt Greenger, and Nurt G. Greenger.
The multi-named Renaissance Woman’s main thrust—since the mid-‘80s—has been writing screeds promoting Israel. Of course, it’s her right to be passionate about Israel. However, when that allegiance makes her spread hatred, untruth, and prevarication—in this case about Armenia and Artsakh—she opens herself up to criticism. A pop psychologist might speculate that her over-the-top passion for Israel is displacement/compensation for being a childless divorcée living alone in Los Angeles.
She calls herself an “Accidental Reporter.” She saw the light “during the 2006 second Lebanon War” and felt compelled to become a pro-Israel activist. Note the “war” rather than Israel’s invasion of Lebanon. An invasion that saw 1,300 Lebanese and 165 Israelis killed. Israel also severely damaged Lebanon’s civil infrastructure and displaced one million Lebanese.
During the invasion, Nurit became a complete journalist just like Athena who sprang complete from the skull of Zeus. Since then she has written about 700 articles. If you read one, you’ve probably read them all. You also enter an irony-free zone. They appear on online publications and the usual media suspects in Israel.
Busybody Nurit doesn’t confine her vast talents to journalism. She not only “thinks outside the box,” she also thinks big. Nurit is the founding president of a nonprofit called Western Civilization Heritage Israel Program (CHIP). In 2017 the Internal Revenue Service revoked the nonprofit status of CHIP for not filing the relevant forms for three years. Probably the IRS was unaware that Nurit was too busy defending Western Civilization to fill out boring grey forms.
Hungry for attention, she tends to exaggerate her importance (“world-traveling reporter”) because she has been to Israel, Azerbaijan, and Cameroon. She also dramatizes her life. When she received an eviction notice from her landlord, she recalled patriarch Abraham’s temporary bedmate Hagar who was driven out of the homestead by Sara, Abraham’s wife.
She wrote, “I am Hagar, Sara sent into the wilderness.” In that same cri de coeur, she pointed out that the landlord was an “immigrant from Iran.” Was the mention an indication of racism or was she taking advantage of Iran’s unpopularity in the U.S. to win sympathy and support for her court case against the landlord?
In introducing herself, she ungrammatically says she “stands for truth, no political correctness, active in order to save the world from itself, from despicable Leftism-Progressives-Liberals, and Islamic bestial barbarism evil as well as save America from Washington the Free World from Self-Destruction.” She sees “Israel and the U.S as the last two forts of true democratic freedom.” Do Britain, Canada, France, and Germany know they have fallen between the cracks?
Enter the heaven-sent Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. Since Azerbaijan and Israel are pals, Armenia and Artsakh became targets of Nurit’s bile, based on the premise that my friend’s enemy is my enemy.
Here’s a malodorous bouquet of some of the articles she has scribbled in recent years: “Armenia: Occupier of Nagorno-Karabakh,” “Armenia Recklessly Transports Corona-virus to Nagorno-Karabakh,” “Remembering Khojaly Massacre: Yearning to Forget and Forgive,” “Azerbaijan: Regional Force of Stability and Connectivity,” and “Nagorno-Karabakh: Stories of Loss, Survival, and Hope.” Last year an article she wrote was published with a headline that said Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan should be persona non-grata in Los Angeles.
In other articles, she has written:
- “Armenia is not interested in logic, rather than in confrontation…”
- “Azerbaijan is a peace-loving country that accommodates many ethnic and religious groups, while Armenia on the contrary, is seeking to prolong the conflict and constantly agitates its neighbor in an attempt to escalate the fighting”
- “Armenia has invaded and ethnically cleansed 20 percent of Azerbaijan sovereign territory, supporting terrorism at the state level, creating the main threat to regional stability and interested in escalation of the situation on the line of contact with Azerbaijan, it is important that Israel continues assisting Azerbaijan to maintain military superiority.”
After years of churning out hate-filled pap, Nurit hit the big time in the summer of 2018 when she became a monitor of a foreign election. To learn about that milepost in her life, we have to go to the West African country of Cameroon which has been ruled for 38 years by standard-issue dictator Paul Biya.
Cameroon is ranked by Transparency International’s (T.I.) Perception Index a lowly 153 out of 180 states on the corruption scale. Biya has won every election since 1982. T.I. is a respected organization with experience in election monitoring around the globe. Cameroon is one of the first two African states which restored relations with Israel after breaking them following the October War in 1973. For more than 30 years Israel has been looking after Biya’s security with elite forces.
Israelis also run an electronic surveillance system in Cameroon. Israel created and trains the country’s Rapid Intervention Battalion, an elite military force and army combat unit. It also sells weapons and military vehicles to Cameroon and offers scholarships. Cameroon is the only nation to join Israel in voting against UN resolution “Assistance to Palestine Refugees.” There are so many Israelis in Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon, that it is sometimes called “Little Tel Aviv.”
In October 2018, Biya held one of his pro-forma national elections. Three months before the election, a news organization named Agence Cameroun Presse (ACP) was established in Yaoundé. The editor-in-chief was Eli Dayan from Israel.
The ACP invited six or seven people to monitor the election. They were Raphael Kalfon, Salomon Benros, Yasmine Thabet, Amanda Benzikri Levy, Hubert Haddad… and Nurit Greenger. By some coincidence, they all had something important in common: they were Jewish.
As usual, Biya won the election by a landslide. At a post-election press conference, the ACP monitors gave the election process a clean bill of health. Kalfon said the election had been an exercise in “democratic emancipation” while Nurit chimed in: “Everybody did their job in a clear and satisfactory manner.” She, like the other monitors, wore a tag that said “independent.” They said they were sent by T. I.
While Biya was celebrating his seventh election win, things suddenly got hairy. Patricia Moreira, managing director at T.I.’s world headquarters, issued this statement: “A recent television report featuring individuals described as working for T.I. is false and untrue.” Charles Nguini, president of the Cameroon T.I., echoed the words of the head office.
The six monitors were thus exposed as a sham. A number of local publications and one of France’s major news services published exposes headlining the ‘fake’ election observers who they said had masked the truth about the presidential polls.
The U.S. based-Foreign Policy also exposed the imposters. Meanwhile, the French news service anonymously interviewed a monitor who said none of the monitors had previously visited sub-Saharan Africa, and it was the first time they had monitored elections.
The monitors said all expenses had been taken care of including hotel and airfare “although they didn’t answer a question about remuneration for carrying out the observation.” Camerounweb.com twisted the knife in Granger and alleged Greenger was an “unemployed white divorcee with no fixed address that had become the star of the presidential elections.” It added she had been provided with bodyguards, a driver, had received red carpet treatment, was received by members of the government, and had appeared on television news. The report went on to say: “This woman and the gang of rascals who accompany her, including Salomon Benros, a convict of Moroccan origin, convicted for theft and swindle…”
Who is Eli Dayan of Israel and why was he in Cameroon?
How and why did he establish Agence Cameroun Presse a mere three months before the Cameroon election?
How did Dayan, who invited the monitors, pay their expenses?
If the monitors were paid, how much were they paid and by whom?
Why were all the monitors Jewish?
Many questions but no answers.
By Karen Mkrtchyan, Yerevan,
Between July 12-16, 2020, when the world was focused on fighting the global pandemic, Azerbaijani troops attacked Armenia. The attempted Azeri infiltration occurred in the northern Tavush province of Armenia–sovereign territory some 300 kilometers from the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno Kharabagh), the usual target of Azeri aggression.
Although through the years Azerbaijan has violated the ceasefire agreement on many occasions, this is the first major aggression since the four-day war of April 2016. As a result of Azerbaijan’s cowardly attack six Armenian soldiers were killed.
Casualties on the Azeri side were nearly double that number, with the Azeri authorities reporting 11 dead, among them high- ranking officers Major General Polad Hashimov, chief of staff of the North Military Unit and Col. Ilgar Mirzayev among others. Even the special “Yashma” troops, which President Aliyev has spent millions on to train in various parts of the world, could not yield the desired results for Baku.
The Azeri forces suffered a heavy blow, raising doubts about Aliyev’s continuous propaganda assertion that Azerbaijan’s superior army could wipe out Armenia off the map. Once again, Azerbaijani citizens witnessed the defeat of their armed forces at the hands of a more capable Armenian army. The Azeri military leaders could hardly hide their shock when Armenian armed forces destroyed Azeri armament using locally-manufactured drones while also downing several Azerbaijani UAVs, including an Israeli-made drone costing $30 million. Despite its usage in a number of conflicts, this was the first time the UAV was hit. The loss of the expensive technology came as a big blow to Azerbaijan.
For the past 30 years, the Azeri government has sold its citizens the dream of a strong, rich, successful Azerbaijan, pitted against “poor, weak and failed state” Armenia. The Azeri people, much as they believe everything the Government “feeds” them, have become irritated and impatient with the continuous defeats of their army by the allegedly weaker Armenian forces.
As the news of Major Geral’s death spread across Azerbaijan, thousands of Azerbaijanis poured to Baku streets calling for war on Armenia. Armenophic chants (“Death to Armenians”) filled the air, as protestors demanded the resignation of the head of Azerbaijan army. Soon rumors spread among the protestors that the killing of the popular Gen. Hashimov was an inside job and that someone had informed the Armenians of the general’s location.
Angry protestors stormed the Milli Mejlis (Parliament) building, clashed with law enforcement officers, vandalized property, and denounced the government. This was exactly what Aliyev had hoped for. He wanted to crack the whip: the angry mob had given him the perfect excuse.
In recent year, Aliyev has witnessed his popularity decline. The Azeri people are tired of reeling under Aliyev’s dynastic rule and are hungry for change. The fall in oil prices has caused economic crisis featuring unemployment and inflation made worse by Covid-19. The peaceful, non-violent “Velvet Revolution” of Armenia in 2018 has made matters much harder for Aliyev.
With Georgians and Armenians successfully achieving regime change through mass mobilizations, the citizens of Azerbaijan can’t help but look with envy towards their neighbors. Aspirations for a democratic Azerbaijan had gained momentum and Aliyev knew he had to respond. Having already used the Coronavirus as an excuse to shut down opposition party offices earlier this year, Aliyev needed another pretext to divert people’s attention and settle domestic political scores.
What better plot than to escalate tensions with Armenia? After orchestrating mass mobilization to display to the world that Azerbaijan is a democracy and people can come and demand action from the government, Aliyev arrested over 100 members of the Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan, Aliyev’s most-vocal opposition.
Aliyev has long considered them “the enemy within”, denouncing them as “worse than Armenians.” He has even claimed that supporters of the Popular Front Party were “the fifth column” funded from abroad whose main aim was “to destroy Azerbaijan.” Other protestors were charged with aiding the spread of Corona virus by attending a mass gathering despite the pandemic.
Feeling the noose getting tighter around his neck, Aliyev is asserting his authority. While Azeris strive to replicate the revolution in Armenia, Aliyev has found inspiration in Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan whose disregard for the opinions of the Western powers has won him fans among Muslims globally.
Erdogan’s crackdown on opposition leaders and critics within the armed forces after the self-orchestrated coup d’état attempt in July 2016, as well as his recent decision to transform Hagia Sophia to a mosque, have inspired Aliyev. Wanting to act tough like his big brother Erdogan, Aliyev is now wagging his finger at the co-chairs of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) a.k.a the Minsk Group, denouncing them for their inaction.
Continuing with his maximalist approach and anti-Armenian rhetoric, Aliyev remarked to the local…press, “…there can be no changes in our position… the conflict must be resolved within the territorial integrity of our country…. all occupied lands must be liberated from the occupiers, and Azerbaijani citizens must return to the lands of their ancestors.”
It is evident Aliyev is not ready to budge. Criticizing the OSCE Minsk Group for calling for a peaceful settlement to the conflict, Aliyev said during the same interview: “What is the main thesis of their statement? A military option is impossible. Who said that? Open the UN Charter and see if countries have the right to self-defense or not? Who do you think you are?! Are you above the UN?! Are you above the UN Charter?!”
Such brazen disregard for OSCE Minsk Group’s position shows Aliyev’s readiness to attack Armenia in the guise of “self-defense”. The sacking of Elmar Mammadyarov, Azerbaijan’s long-time foreign minister was another desperate attempt to flex his muscles. Mammadyarov has been the face of Azerbaijan during the negotiation process.
By replacing him with Education Minister Jeyhun Bayramov, a non-diplomat, Aliyev is sending a clear message that he no longer attaches importance and meaning to the negotiations. This also helps Aliyev maintain his domestic image as a tough leader, having punished his foreign minister for failing to register substantial results in favor of Azerbaijan.
In a clear violation of fundamental principles of international humanitarian law, the ministry of defense of Azerbaijan threatened to launch missile attacks on the Medzamor Nuclear Power Plant (M-NPP) of Armenia. The bombing of a nuclear power plant is a war crime that can spell disaster not only for Armenia but for the entire region.
Thus, the threat shows Azerbaijan authorities are far from wanting a peaceful settlement to the conflict. Azerbaijan issued a similar threat in 2018, which has gone unnoticed. This is proof the plan to attack Armenia, apart from the M-NPP, has been in Azerbaijan’s consideration for years.
However, unlike in 2018, Azerbaijan faced criticism from international organizations, governments and politicians for its genocidal approach and rhetoric. The condemnation was partly due to the tireless lobbying efforts of Armenian governmental and non-governmental bodies and representatives of the Armenian Diaspora.
Faced with the humiliating defeat, Azerbaijani authorities decided to instigate discrimination and violence against the Armenian Diaspora. The Food City market in Moscow, owned by Azerbaijani Jewish businessmen, banned the sale of apricots from Armenia, leaving more than 65 trucks full of Armenian apricots on the road to perish. This was followed by another Azerbaijani business chain, “Tvoi Dom” banning Armenian products.
Determined not to allow Armenian importers suffer losses, Armenian communities in all major cities in Russia flocked to buy every last one of the Armenian fruits. Defeated and humiliated by such display of strong Armenian unity, the Azerbaijani authorities instigated violent attacks against Armenians and Armenian businesses in Russia.
Over 50 Azeri vandals were arrested on a single night by police. Similar attacks against Armenians took place in major cities of Europe and America, drawing strong words of condemnation from local authorities. Aliyev’s miscalculation, coupled with an unprecedented display of unity in the country and the diaspora, helped Armenia register victories at all levels, both military and diplomatic. The US House of Representatives passed a resolution to continue US funding for de-mining efforts in the Republic of Artsakh, which had been stopped owing to Azerbaijani lobbying activities.
The Azerbaijani aggression, however, should not be viewed in isolation but rather within the larger geopolitics in the region. Turkey, which has, in recent years, tried to compete with Russia for influence in major conflicts, such as in Syria and Libya, while at the same time flexing its muscles against Greece and Cyprus, has thrown its weight behind Azerbaijan.
Not only is Turkey using Azerbaijan to settle historic scores with Armenia, but Erdogan wants to send a message to Putin that just like Russia was forced to work with Turkey in other conflict zones on mutually beneficial terms, in the South Caucasus too the Turkey factor must be acknowledged.
Ankara was quick to declare its unwavering support for Baku, with Erdogan threatening to “finish what our ancestors had started”, which is an open threat of another genocide of Armenians. Reports of Turkey transferring ISIS fighters to Azerbaijan–on a $2,000 per month contract to fight against Armenia–were circulated in the media.
Similar terror outfits from Chechnya and Afghanistan, among others, had also been used against Armenia in the early ‘90s during the Artsakh war of liberation. To add weight to its threats, Turkey announced joint military exercises with Azerbaijan to be conducted in several places, including Nakichevan, bordering Armenia.
In retaliation, Russia declared combat-training activities together with the Armenian armed forces. A telephone conversation between Erdogan and Putin was also held to reduce tension. Ibrahim Kalın, the spokesperson of President Erdogan declared Ankara would back Azerbaijan should tensions escalate any further. Turkish participation would automatically force Russia to get involved, resulting into a major conflict.
Despite the unprecedented unity shown by Armenians across the globe in confronting Azerbaijani aggression, some people grabbed the opportunity to advance their narrow, vested interests. Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of “Russia Today” TV, in an open letter accused the Pashinyan government of fanning anti-Russian sentiments in Armenia and showing contempt towards Russia since coming to power. Citing the case of former President Robert Kocharyan’s arrest, Simonyan accused Prime Minister Pashinyan of deliberately targeting politicians with close ties to Moscow to spite Russian authorities.
Her letter sparked a wide range of criticisms against her, with thousands of people demanding she change her surname. She followed up with another post, publishing a list of other Armenians in Russia who endorsed her views. In an interview with Russian media, Pashinyan dismissed her allegations as baseless.
Individuals such as Ms. Simonyan have been among us throughout our history. They have sought to advance their interests at the cost of our nation. As Garegin Nzdeh said, “Our misfortune lies not in the fact that there are Turks in the world, rather than that there are Turk-like Armenians.”
Simonyan will be forgotten in the trash can of history. As for Aliyev, it will take a long time to recover from the losses he suffered due to his adventurism. The blows inflicted by Armenian armed forces on the Azerbaijani armed forces and the capture of new strategic heights will contribute in Aliyev’s eventual downfall.