SHUSHI, Artsakh (ChurchMilitant.com) — Hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan have seemingly come to an end after nearly seven weeks of fighting, but it took the surrender of ethnic Armenian territory to military aggressors to achieve the peace many say is only temporary.
A peace agreement struck by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan of Armenia, President Vladimir Putin of Russia and President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan determined a cease-fire would be enacted Nov. 10. As part of the deal, the independent ethnic-Armenian territory of Artsakh (known as Nagorno-Karabakh to the Azerbaijanis) would be surrendered to the military and mercenary forces of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Syria.
Two thousand Russian peacekeepers will oversee a travel corridor through the surrendered territory from Armenia to the capital city of Stepanakert in Artsakh. It is being claimed the Russians will also maintain a joint security presence in Shushi with military forces from Turkey.
Turkey was not an official delegate in the peace agreement, but the country's presence overshadowed the proceedings and observers say it is highly unlikely Turkey would not be excluded in any deal reached by Azerbaijan.
Russia has denied Turkish troops will be involved, but Armenians familiar with the situation say intentional misinformation is coming out of the region. Sources also worry over the uncertainty of the peace agreement because the Armenian Parliament and President Armen Sarkissian have not yet ratified it.
Pashinyan said in a statement it was "painful" to agree to the peace, but an evaluation of the military-strategic operations rendered it necessary. Armenia has been unable to significantly strengthen its military since its victory in 1994, when Artsakh Armenians took control of their ancestral territory, which had been given to Azerbaijan during Soviet rule.
Azerbaijan, however, was aided by Turkish military assets, including drones, missiles and artillery. The Azerbaijanis were also reinforced by Syrian mercenaries who, in turn, were aided by Turkey, despite Turkish claims to the contrary. These mercenaries were ordered to "slaughter" every Armenian they encountered — military and civilian.
After the peace deal was announced, people could be seen cheering in the streets of Azerbaijan's capital, Baku, while in Armenia's capital Yerevan, citizens rioted over what they perceived to be Pashinyan's cowardly acquiescence.
Video shows a crowd storming Parliament, damaging Pashinyan's offices and beating Parliament Speaker Ararat Mirzoyan unconscious in front of his family.
The loss of life and land is a source of great pain to Armenians, who share a similar history to the Jewish peoples. Both are ancient races descended from major biblical figures — Abraham for the Jews and Hayk, Armenian patriarch and great-great grandson of Noah.
The Greek name "Armenios" can be traced back to 476 BC; Persian references to "Armina" date back further, to 517 BC.
After the death and resurrection of Jesus, Apostles Bartholomew and Thaddaeus preached throughout the Armenian realm, which then extended into central Turkey, Lebanon and Northern Iran.
In the early fourth century, under King Tiridates III, Armenia became the first nation to adopt Christianity as its state religion. The country split from the Universal Church after the Council of Chalcedon in 451, when the Armenian Church was accused of the heresy of monophysitism, which taught that Christ only possessed one (divine) nature. The Armenian Church disputes the claim, maintaining it simply objected to the formula proposed at the Council. The Armenian Church says it adheres to miaphysitism, which recognizes the singularity of Christ, allowing for a compound nature of Christ, whereas the Greek mono-prefix denoting "alone" or "only" is not a part of its view.
Early Armenia, like other smaller kingdoms, was subjected to larger empires, like the Byzantine-Romans and the Persians. But it was not until the march of Islam, under campaigns by the Seljuk Turks and Mongols, that Armenians were subjected to wholesale slaughter and destruction. Ani, for example — a once-thriving Armenian city located in what is now modern Turkey — was known as the "City of 1001 Churches" until Muslim invaders reduced the city to ashes.
After the full seizure of Anatolia by the Ottoman Turks, Armenians lived divided as an ethnic minority in lands they no longer ruled in Turkey, Iran and Russia. During the First World War, the Ottomans feared that Armenians under their rule would side with the Russians and their Armenian forces. The Turks launched a campaign of mass deportation and extermination, resulting in the death of 1.5 million Armenians.
The ethnic bloodline of Azerbaijan is diverse. During the same ancient history time period as the Armenian people, the land of modern-day Azerbaijan was inhabited by Caucasus Albanians. Religiously, the Caucasian Albanians went through a similar cycle as the Armenians, transitioning from a pagan Roman-Zoroastrian belief to Christianity. But they never held a distinct national identity.
As time passed, the inhabitants of modern-day Azerbaijan became a melting pot of diverse invading forces of Iranian-Persian/Arab, Turkic and Mongol bloodlines.
As a result of the Russo-Persian War of 1826–28, both Armenia and modern-day Azerbaijan were absorbed into the Russian Federation.
Under Soviet rule, the disputed territory of Artsakh, which has consisted of ethnic Armenians in the majority for centuries, was given to Azerbaijan. "Azerbaijan" a name given to the nation by radical Muslim nationalists to promote the Iranian-Turkic identity of the people inhabiting it, only came to be after the Ottoman Turks attacked the capitol, Baku, and allowed the local Azerbaijanis to exterminate the leading groups of Armenians and Russians.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, both Armenia and Azerbaijan declared themselves independent republics and the conflict between Christian and Muslim nations again resumed.
In 1994 and 2016, the two nations fought over Artsakh, which declared itself independent from Azerbaijan and has since acted as an unrecognized Armenian territory.
Speaking to Church Militant, renowned scholar Raymond Ibrahim, an expert on Islam's aggression against Christendom, confirmed Turkey's influence on today's conflict:
Any question concerning land disputes between Armenia and its Muslim neighbors must take into account that, for more than a thousand years, the Turks have been chipping away at and absorbing Armenian territory, which, before Islam violently conquered the Anatolian plain, was significantly larger than today; and, just as Turkey is currently relying on jihadi mercenaries and jihadi rhetoric to terrorize Christian Armenia, its earlier historic conquests of Armenia — to say nothing of the genocides of Armenians — were also performed through a jihadi paradigm. While peace may be achieved by Armenia ceding more territory, history — one might add Islamic doctrine — indicate that it will only be a temporary peace. The goal is total [domination].
Observers of the peace agreement are convinced it is only temporary, speculating that both sides will fight to claim or reclaim what they feel is theirs. Many Armenians feel their lack of foreign allies will result in the loss of even more land and the continued slaughter of their people. They note that Russia, Armenia's supposed protector, did nothing to aid the country militarily and was quick to push for the peace deal, to Armenia's detriment.