The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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US malevolence becomes more apparent as Artsakh Armenians are cleansed

Rodrigo Hernandez
A collage of CSUN’s Armenian community featured throughout archival issues of the Daily Sundial.

The last week — three years, rather — has been a perpetual hell for Armenians.

From the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War, also known as the 44-Day War, to Azerbaijan’s attacks on Armenia in September 2022, to the recent exodus of Armenians from Artsakh – it seems we are gradually falling further into a nightmare we cannot wake up from.

Furthermore, the United States has allowed the fall and removal of Armenians from their ancestral lands by remaining “neutral.”
Ethnic cleansing in Artsakh
Azerbaijan’s most recent assault began on Sept. 19 under the guise of an anti-terror operation. The operation designated Armenians as “terrorists” due to the existence of the Artsakh Defense Forces, and has used this to justify their invasion.

According to the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Information Center, the Armenian side had 200 deaths and 400 injured after one day of fighting. The number of civilians injured amounted to 40 people, 13 of which were children. The number of civilian deaths reached 10, five of which were children.

As of recently, 100,625 people have been displaced from Artsakh, with daily additions provided by the Armenian government, all following a nine-month blockade on the disputed region Nagorno-Karabakh. Skipping forward to Sept. 28, Artsakh’s President Samvel Shahramanyan signed a decree that agreed to dismantle all government institutions by Jan. 1, 2024.

To translate these numbers into words, the Republic of Artsakh will cease to exist, and will fall into the hands of Azerbaijan’s autocratic President Ilham Aliyev.
U.S. “malevolent neutrality”
Most crimes against humanity are not equal to the U.S. It knew about the blockade on Artsakh and still offered only lip service. Also, Armenians have been documenting the blockade and making statements about a possible ethnic cleansing.

Artyom Tonoyan, a visiting professor of global studies at Hamline University, describes the lack of action as Western “malevolent neutrality.”

“It is as simple as it sounds, and it is as damning as it sounds,” Tonoyan said.

Tonoyan designates the United States’ neutrality as malevolent because it had knowledge about Armenians being starved for nine months and has been extremely passive towards Azerbaijan.

Former Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Luis Moreno Ocampo warned about genocide in the region before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in early September, and said the U.S. may be complicit if a genocide were to occur.

The U.S. has explicitly been avoiding the ethnic cleansing question.

Samantha Power, Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), visited Armenia on Sept. 25 “to affirm U.S. support for Armenia’s sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, and democracy in helping to address humanitarian needs stemming from the recent violence in Nagorno-Karabakh.”

Power took questions from reporters about the current crisis. One of them asked, “You quite literally wrote the book on ethnic cleansing. Standing surrounded by people who fled their homes, are you ready to say that’s what this is?”

In 2002, Power published “‘A Problem from Hell’: America and the Age of Genocide.” The book examines how U.S. leaders and policymakers have been reluctant to condemn mass atrocities as genocide.

Today, Power is not in the position of an academic, but a government mouthpiece.

To respond to the reporter, Power went on a convoluted tangent about how the international community needs to get access into Artsakh and essentially avoided the question. She emphasized the importance of humanitarian needs being met for the refugees.

Soon after, USAID announced that more than $11.5 million in humanitarian assistance would be provided to those in the South Caucasus region – amounting to just $115 per person for 100,000 people.

“You can’t fix bullet holes with bandaids, and that is exactly what the U.S. is trying to do,” Tonoyan said. He further explained that the U.S. is being complicit by doing nothing and choosing to look the other way.

More importantly, the U.S. has not been killing Armenians, but rather aiding Azerbaijan. Between 2002 and 2020, the U.S. provided $808 million in assistance to Azerbaijan. About $164 million has been allocated to military resources.

The U.S. has also continually waived Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act of 1992, which bars financial assistance to Azerbaijan. Reasons given to extend this waiver of Section 907 include if it:

  • is necessary to support U.S. efforts to counter international terrorism; or
  • is necessary to support the operational readiness of United States Armed Forces or coalition partners to counter international terrorism; or
  • is important to Azerbaijan’s border security; and
  • will not undermine or hamper ongoing efforts to negotiate a peaceful settlement between Armenia and Azerbaijan or be used for offensive purposes against Armenia.

Azerbaijan has continually undermined and hampered efforts for peace, and the U.S. supplying them with aid digs them deeper in its hole of complicity.
Final thoughts
The U.S. can continue to excuse itself from “indirectly” killing Armenians all it wants. Even if this were not true, the more military aid Azerbaijan receives, the more funds they can allocate to killing Armenians – making the U.S. complicit.
“At the very least, the U.S. cannot claim ignorance,” Tonoyan said. “It knew a crime was being prepared. It knew who was preparing said crime. It had the wherewithal to prevent said crime. Yet it chose not to.”


Artsakh and Nagorno-Karabakh are used interchangeably by Armenians, and the author chose to use Artsakh in this article.
This article was an analysis and opinion on the U.S. role in the current crisis in Artsakh and Armenia. The omission of Russia’s role was intentional to avoid convolution and does not reflect the author’s opinions towards Russia. Also, Tonoyan mentions the West (NATO and the EU) as a whole as malevolently neutral, but the author focused on the U.S. for relevancy to the audience.

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