Thursday, 19 July

Aleppo: The End of Armenian Dream

Vahakn Keshishian

The killing of four ethnic Armenians on the Aleppo airport road, the several killings by snipers in the Armenian neighborhoods and the army casualties from one side, and the escalation of the conflict in these neighborhoods from the other, brings the Armenian community into an unprecedented security situation. Not only the fate of the Aleppine Armenians is concerned, but also the whole of the Armenian communities in the Middle East, starting from Aleppo, passing to the other Syrian-Armenian communities in Kessab, Qamishlo and Damascus, passing to Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Palestine, already devastated Iraqi communities and finally reaching Iran, Georgia and Armenia proper itself.

In other words, the Aleppo community is now in the delicate position of being the castle, that if it is fallen, the Armenian existence throughout Middle East and Caucasus will be threatened. This is not only because of certain strategic position that the Aleppo Community enjoys, neither because of the financial or human resources that it provides, but because its current conditions, and the incapacity of the Armenians to provide the necessary support it needs.

This reveals the deep structural and ideological weaknesses that the Armenians as communities suffer from. This fact is surfaced under the inability of the Armenians to act and organize to support the Aleppo community: There is a clear ideological bankruptcy of at least showing any position regarding the fate of the community. 

The influx of the refugees to the neighboring Lebanon and the Republic of Armenia, was too poorly organized – if any organized at all – that many of the refugees prefer going back to Aleppo, despite the horrible conditions there, which means that they are either not received well, or they are left alone in places that supposedly should have been able to receive them. Apparently, the mythical representation of Armenian solidarity was proven to be nothing more than nominal emotional condition associated with so and so sentiments.

It is now a fact that the Armenian communities of the developed world are incapable to guarantee the well-being of the Armenian communities of the Middle East, starting from the Iraqi, and now the Syrian. The lobbying mechanisms that are well developed proved to be for the sole purpose of the genocide recognition, and useless under other conditions. This puts the whole national strategy of concentrating on one sole issue under serious consideration.

Although there are attempts of fund raising in the United States, but till now no tangible contribution or project is developed, same as the Republic of Armenia tried to develop several policies concerning the issue, but all of them deemed to be irrational and impossible to implement. The policy of honoring the choreographer from Aleppo during the Dance Festival of the Ministry of Diaspora, is nothing but a farce when the streets in Aleppo are cut from internet, telephone, electricity and water. 

The circumstances and developments of Aleppo events are in escalation. Currently the Emergency Central Body is still able to distribute emergency packages to the economically most deprived. The AGBU and the Evangelical Church have additional package programs, but as the crisis continues and the lower strata of the community widens, these organizations will be unable to continue with their programs, especially that their resources remain local, and their budgets are not in important figures.

Another reality is that the nucleus families themselves are being partitioned, as the households are deciding to split, with usually the elder male sons and the fathers staying in Aleppo to protect the properties, while the children and women are taking refuge out of the country: the demographic effects of a prolonged mass separation will be devastating with no doubt, just to mention a single problem. 

The absence of proper leadership in Aleppo, and the sour reality that most of those personalities that were considered to be of leadership positions have left the country brings the hopes of proper organization to an end. Collective leadership and authority strength is also recording its absence. The two most important power centers of the Middle East Armenians, the Holy See of Cilicia and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation both have decided that it is best for the Armenians to help themselves inside Syria. This actual and moral abandonment from both religious and political authorities clears the path for the Aleppo Armenians to develop the feelings of not belonging.

Both authorities are under the impression that if the community is weakened their respective seats will be weakened, because historically Aleppo has been providing the most important Western-Armenian speaking youth masses, but the reality is that if the current conditions continue, both authorities will not only loose their standings in Aleppo, but their whole existence in the Middle East will be futile. The denial of the mentioned two authorities that the crisis is too deep to be neglected, and their self-centered ideology-oriented positioning, rather than pragmatic decision-making endangers the Syrian-Armenian communities. The mentioned authorities are in front of serious responsibility for the lost souls, property and any unfortunate events that the community might face in the near future.

Nor Kyugh is the first domino, that if falls, the last domino might fall on the flag of the clock-tower of the Republic Square. The Armenian nation as whole is under the threat of losing its reliability in the eyes of its constituencies forever. In existential times like these, Aleppo might become a point of no return for the nation.    

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Comments (16)
1. Hayotz Artzeev01:48 - 18 September, 2012
I always hesitate before reading articles posted by Hetq. They are always pessimistic and depressing. Please, when presenting a problem try also to suggest a solution. You know that our fatherland is cash-stripped so, you might wanna try to kick-start a fund raiser or, call on the international community to help funding the relocation of Armenians. Do something and stop winning.
2. Ell Inch04:27 - 18 September, 2012
I personally think that the Armenian Nation's time has come to focus because this is the next difficult period after a Genocide and dispersement into small communities, there's the issue of the long run... Which I am sure Turkey is banking on the diaspora communities dwindling in the long run. Regardless, we have two Armenian states though which have been paralysed from growing, So here we are, the Diaspora's assimilation has only begun. You have the widest proportion of your population in the biggest assimilation bowls of Russia, USA, and France, though that population has maintained.
3. KWS10:04 - 18 September, 2012
This dramatic situation of an unorganized and impotent diaspora leadership comes out of one single reason that we were warning from long ago. Diaspora leaders after Genocide, instead of tending to form and establish national leadership they have fallen into the laps of the international freemasonry network. All leaders of Armenian organizations in diaspora are Freemasons following the policies and standings of their respective lodges. They were unable to adopt any national programs or strategies independently from their masonic lodges. The genocide itself was planned and deployed from the masonic lodge of Thessaloniki in Greece at the start of 20th century..! How come freemasonry would allow any Armenian organization to develop any national programs or strategies when the higher authorities of the international freemasonry were the official sponsors of the Armenian Genocide..????? We were warning from this phenomena since decades but no one paid any attention..! Where's the diaspora Armenian Congress? Is there any serious statistics of the diaspora Armenians? anywhere? We think we count some 6 millions but Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry's information gives it to be 35 millions..! Who knew about this reality, NO ONE.., why? Because we had NO serious acting organized national leadership, just free-mason puppets occupying Armenian Organizations' top seats..! Is it time to face our dark reality???
4. Yeghig Tashjian13:32 - 18 September, 2012
very pessimistic, but reflects our tragic reality, it would have been better if the author provided solutions, though i think the authorities should thinking about it and act quickly since we realized that our old strategy failed
5. Baghdassarian18:04 - 18 September, 2012
Lebanese Armenians are already in big economical & political problems, how do you expect to organize and help the Syrian Armenians more than they are trying to do? Life in Lebanon is extremely expensive. most of the Syrian Armenians can not survive here, unfortunately.
6. vatche proodian19:50 - 18 September, 2012
My humble suggestion to the writer.- Please check your facts first and then, only then try to analyze the situation. This article is full of half-truths and ill-informed ideas. For example, if the Diaspora Armenian lobbying groups are not publicizing their political efforts, does that mean that they are not engaged in any such activity? Unfortunately, HETQ is not an exception, but the... abnormal norm especially in Armenia, where the media is filled with self-proclaimed pundits and "specialists", who every now and then like to make sensational statements, without first checking the simple facts. So far this much for the writer.
7. Mary Merdkhanian20:27 - 18 September, 2012
Comment...An Interesting article. Not the first in its kind. The more interesting about such articles is their authors are usually people who had almost never participated in the community life in Aleppo (Or Syria) in general, or had done it on the minimum level. They never worried about the community itself and it is obvious in their way of thinking or handling the problems. Yet, they can see the right in themselves to come up with bold statements! We are going through a big tragedy in Syria, but it is not the end of the community; not in any way. Yes, the events might still weaken the community (Especially financially), but that does not mean the syriahayoutyoun will vanish. Reading the article I am –as few others- is under the impression (and, I apologize if I get it wrong) that the current and past leaderships do not care about the community, but are more worried about their power influence. The same leadership built the structure, which is helping the Syrian community to stand by and survive. I am Aleppo-Armenian, living in New York for the past few years. . I was the editor of the only Armenian weekly newspaper “Kantsasar” for more than 6 years (Total 10 years. I also have a very big family; most of them still in Aleppo and try to talk to each one of them on a daily basis. I consider myself as someone who has enough knowledge about the Syrian-Armenian community, our history and I do keep very close ties with the community members, on different levels. Yet, I am very careful about coming up with statements. TO be clear; I am not afraid, but careful! As such, I know for sure that the following statement is far from being true “personalities that were considered to be of leadership positions have left the country brings the hopes of proper organization to an end”. I don’t know where the author gets his information from. The description of the work done on the ground is far from an attempt to give the real and complete picture! The analysis does not really lead to the conclusions the author had. During the Lebanese civil war a lot of female members of the families fled to a safer spots. How did it effect the demographic structure of the Lebanese-Armenian community? And. And….. I am not even sure that the author has a complete vision of the community structure in Syria. I find it immature to jump to conclusions based upon some ideas. The community did not become a strong one Syria by itself, but because of the leadership, which the author thinks is irresponsible (or whatever). So, let’s be kind and appreciative enough to let them decide what is good for the community and try to help them in the best way. Let’s assume we’ve made an internal revolution and changed the leadership. What would you suggest? Fleeing to Armenia? Nerkaght? Arming the community? For clarification, I am not suggesting, in any meaning, to keep the aremanians all in Aleppo or Syria as hostages or just for the sake of having strong community. Of course, everybody is free to leave. And, a lot of them are doing so.
8. hovig20:50 - 18 September, 2012
Lebanese Armenian not doing any effort to support Syrian Armenian most of them arrived to Lebanon in a bad condition and looking for little help from their brotherhood unfortunately Lebanese Armenian forget the great help done by Syrian Armenian during the Lebanese war , at least they should find for cheap rating house for they staying , they are doing nothing..
9. VL04:23 - 19 September, 2012
This article makes one coherent point: that the church and the ARF may lose credibility because of their weak leadership in Syria. But this point, for what it's worth, is lost in the drivel about the travails of the Syrian-Armenian community endangering the security of Armenians elsewhere.
10. Man 04:33 - 19 September, 2012
The absence of proper leadership in Aleppo, and the sour reality that most of those personalities that were considered to be of leadership positions have left the country brings the hopes of proper organization to an end. Collective leadership and authority strength is also recording its absence. The two most important power centers of the Middle East Armenians, the Holy See of Cilicia and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation both have decided that it is best for the Armenians to help themselves inside Syria. This actual and moral abandonment from both religious and political authorities clears the path for the Aleppo Armenians to develop the feelings of not belonging
11. Saro11:41 - 19 September, 2012
Syrian Armenians are between a rock and a hard place. Leave and live, but lose everything or stay and fight, but possibly die. The world is in chaos. China v Japan. Muslim protests against the US. Sunni's fighting Shi'ites. Democrats and Republicans at each others throats. There is tension everywhere. Global power balance is shifting. I think we need a Stalin to whip everyone back in place.
12. Vahakn Keshishian11:19 - 20 September, 2012
Dear Hayots Arzeev, Please don’t blame us for being pessimistic.. this is the best I could present the feelings of my fellow Aleppo Armenians. Dear Ell Inch, I agree with you. We have to concentrate… rather, we have to have the ability to concentrate. Dear KWS, I agree on what you say about the leadership organization, but concerning the freemasons, I am afraid this is one of our other myths that we build on to avoid seriousness. Dear Yeghig, I could have included some suggestions of solution to avoid being criticized for that, but to be honest, I am a bit pessimistic, as you could easily guess from the article.. excuse my pessimism, but believe me, as you said, it is grounded in our “tragic reality”, I will use this wording… Tragic reality.. thank you. Dear Baghdasarian, That is true, it is also true for Armenia… and this is the wide image of the problems I try to articulate, I’m not sure how far I am able to, but the problem is not the money, not the humanitarian aid, but the ability to organize and be prepared.. Dear vatche proodian, I will take your suggestions into consideration for sure. I will check all the facts carefully, and will not be a self proclaimed specialist. Honestly. But please assure me that you are not just saying these for discrediting my ideas. Dear Mary Merdkhanian, First, I appreciate the time that you took for commenting. To be honest, I read two articles last week, one in Kantsasar and one in Agos about the leadership of Aleppo, so I wanted to enquire the matter more and asked whomever I could about the situation, and frankly this was the image I could see. Maybe it is not true, maybe the leaders in Aleppo are all working hard, I hope so.. but the people are not seeing results.. do you know of any street level formations that will guarantee the solidarity? The people are in panic, because most of all, there is no proper organization. Do I have a complete vision of the community? no, I don't, and basically because of lack of transparency.. I wish there we could draw such a complete vision.. Dear Hovig, Not all of the armenians are in bad conditions in Lebanon.. I heard that same in Armenia.. some of us are rude enough to use the opportunity for a nice vacation, while their friends and family are in need. Dear VL, I totally agree. Dear Saro, You are right, the choice is very hard, the problem is that there is no debate about it... if there is, either it is secret, or it is on the level of gossiping.. Dear HammerSkins Hayasdan, Yes I agree, that might be a solution, what do you think of trying to get such formations inside Western Armenia? For your other comment: It will effect directly because somehow the armenian communities of the Middle East form a belt of buffer zone for the homeland.. This is the topic of another article, if not a whole study. Other than that, the moral weakness will affect the image of the Republic. Dear Serop Sahagian, Why would you address me like that? "mi vomn".. Thank you for giving me credit for the "shvaradz" situation, I wish I could think of that word in my article. You are right, I am trying to alarm those to whom it may concern that we are in a devastated situation as a nation, and either we accept our defeat or we do something. Please make sure that I have no revange or "hashiv makrel" approach in this article.. Why would I? Am I not right that they are responsible of the communities of the Middle East? Dear Avedis Bertizlian, Can you clarify please?
13. KWS18:44 - 20 September, 2012
Dear Vahaken Keshishian, do you want to say Armenian leaders, EVERYWHERE, are not totally surrendered to freemasonry??? and that's a myth??? Dear all who try to defend the Armenian leaders in diaspora, kindly note that keeping Armenian schools is a great job, but organizing campings, basketball teams and gala dinners is not a POLITICAL work..!!! excuse us..!!!!!!! Give me ONE SINGLE achievement Armenian leaders have done during the last 95 years on the international POLITICAL arena..!!!! NONE..!
14. Arman23:54 - 22 September, 2012
Meg goghmen agumpayin magartagi "azkayin gusagdzutyan-egedzii anbadrasdvadzutyune",..arten vor aden grdzadz en nakhadesel azkin esbarnadzogh vdanknerun grahume..mivs goghmen Suriayi aysorva aghedali khaghakagan-gronagan...vidchage, Badgere isgabes mshushod e SuriaHayutyan hamar..
15. Datev23:43 - 23 September, 2012
The article is pessimistic and the author may reserve the right to feel that way. However, he seems to not be aware of some of the major current undertakings in Aleppo of some community/church leaders. The leadership of the Armenian Protestant Church in Aleppo, for instance, has been very busy night and day providing support and direction, and locals will tell you how effective the support, leadership and money have all been. Statements like; "organizations will be unable to continue with their programs" are not very accurate and lack depth. How do you know what these organizations have in their plans? Let us not spread insult where encouragement is due.
16. Hay dar10:54 - 4 October, 2012
Yete irabes mdahokes halebov yev halebahayoutiamp yev entanrabes haygagan kaghoutnerou koyadevman , yev nouynisg vorosh patstoghumner ge desnes ashkhadankayin magartagov! Garelier nmanorinag hotvatse hayerenov nergayatsenel yev voch aysbes voch as tsev hamamartgayin nergayatsum, harkelien koo midkeret yev gartsikneret pits ge gartsem aynbisi jamanag e vor bedke shad zkush yev sduyk tsevov ardahaydvink kani voyeve meg skhal getsvatskov alaveli ge vdankenk mayr kaghuti me koyoution!
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