Yerevan, Rojava, Drones

By Asbarez | Friday, 26 August 2016

Garen Yegparian

Garen Yegparian


The long-awaited Invasion of Syria by Turkey has commenced. What has Turkey to gain?

1. It stops Kurdish advances westward;
2. It regains some credibility with the U.S. by “fighting” ISIS/Daesh;
3. It reinforces and consolidates its relationships and connections with Syrian opposition groups;
4. It allows Turkey to attack PYD (Kurdish forces), which is already happening with Turkish artillery hitting Kurdish positions inside Syria;
5. It provides a miniscule smidgen of credibility for Turkey in Iran’s and Russia’s eyes, that despite Turkey’s commitment to toppling Syria’s President Assad, their ally, it is also giving lip service to “fighting” the region’s and Syria’s current greatest nemesis (ISIS/Daesh);
6. It creates a physical, actual, Turkish military presence inside Syria’s borders, feeding into Erdoğan’s ever-present Ottoman fantasies and Turkish expansionism;
7. It may even be a way to start rebuilding the Turkish military after the significant blows and weakening it experienced thanks to Erdoğan’s post-coup purges (some 40% of the upper echelons) of the military leadership who are allegedly Gulenists.

Why does this matter to Armenians? Anything that can strengthen Turkey is inimical to the Diaspora’s and homeland’s interests, pure and simple, until such time as Turkey fesses up to the Genocide, makes reparations, and terminates its occupation of Wilsonian Armenia. Plus, with the Kessab and Haleb/Aleppo Armenian communities so close, coupled with the damage already caused to our compatriots by the Turkish-supported Syrian opposition, there is a very real risk of further and even more serious harm if Turkish supported forces are strengthened.

What can we do? Aside from the obvious public relations and governmental advocacy work, perhaps it’s time to take military, albeit covert, action.

You might recall reading, since 2011, that in recent months the Republics of Armenia and Karabakh have UAVs – unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, built “in house” and not purchased from other countries. You might also recall that Artzakh has had some success in downing Azerbaijan’s purchased drones. These two areas of experience/expertise – the building and combatting of drones – could be valuable to Kurdish forces. I suggest that some of these drones be shipped to the Syrian-Kurdish area known as Rojava, along with Armenian advisers to fly them and combat opposing drones, to fight ISIS/Daesh.

What have Armenians to gain from this?
1. Our experts/technicians will gain valuable experience which can be used on the Azeri front and to improve the technology in the drones;
2. It is an opportunity to build up a technology/industry in which the RoA has had success;
3. Armenians would be making a contribution to fighting ISIS/Daesh, thus benefitting not just the region, but also the Armenian communities there. Remember, how the church in Der Zor was desecrated and destroyed by those murderous forces?
4. It quietly conveys to Turkey that harming Armenian interests will not be ignored;
5. It would build trust and cooperation between Armenians and Kurds;
6. It is an unusual, out-of-the-box thinking, potentially highly effective step that makes Armenians stronger actors in the region. This is the region where our deported ancestors were walked to death. The place names in the news now read like a tour of Genocide era death zones. Reasserting our presence there is not only a measure of restorative justice, but also another tiny step on our long journey back home…

What do you think? Do you have any other clever ideas that can further empower us in and near the Armenian highlands? Please throw them out for discussion.


Endless CDP Summer: How the Democrats Are Losing Armenians

It seems that the California Democratic Party (CDP) is out to create a new summertime tradition.

Unfortunately, it is not a positive tradition. But it IS highly undemocratic.

It’s called voter disenfranchisement. That’s a term Democrats like to hurl at Republicans as a way to give the GOP a black eye among minority voters. But when the minority is Armenian, that’s a different story. Democrats do whatever they want with no repercussions.

What am I referring to?

Earlier this month, the CDP went through its process to determine which of the two Democratic candidates in the runoff election of the 43rd Assembly district would be officially endorsed by the party. The people making this decision are delegates, some elected, some appointed by elected governmental officeholders (Congress, Assembly, statewide, etc.). Both candidates had worked on getting as many of their supporters as possible into the delegate positions.

Just as with other elections, a “vote-by-mail” option is available to the delegates. They can sign a ballot indicating their preferred candidate rather than showing up on the day of the election. Glendale’s thrice elected City Clerk Ardy Kasskahian had more delegate votes than Laura Friedman, in each round of party-endorsement voting leading up to this final showdown before the November election but… were it only that simple.

Friedman’s campaign consultant, Parke Skelton found a way to “invalidate” some of Kassakhian’s votes by crying and accusing Kassakhian supporters of “illegal” activities. The party went along with this even though there were no provisions in the State Party bylaws to support the Skelton/Friedman allegations.

Skelton is very good at what he does. What he does often descends in dirty tricks. In this case, he noticed that the dates on some of Kassakhian’s supporters’ ballots were earlier than the date of their formal appointment as delegates. Sure, this is technically, formalistically, ritualistically, speaking, an issue, though not one that invalidates a vote baesd on the party’s rules. But in reality, what difference does it make? Were those people going to vote differently? Were they not going to be appointed as delegates? Spare me… And, to top it all off, Skelton ended up screwing over one of his Northern California clients who had done the same thing as Kassakhian. Win some, lose some. Disenfrachise anyone and particularly the district’s Armenian community. That’s what the Democratic Party did and condoned by going along with Skelton’s accusations.

That was this summer. Last summer – 2015, you might remember, an election was held for the 43rd Assembly District’s 14 elected delegates to replace a January 2015 election voided by, you guessed it, the CDP. It was the result of nothing but an effort supported by the current Assemblymember, Mike Gatto, to unseat a slate of delegates who won. The slate was called Democrats United. It included members and activists from all of the local grassroots democratic clubs, among them many Armenians. In fact, it included more Armenians than the slate that Friedman and Gatto had been pushing under a misleading banner of being “progressive.” The election was invalidated and held again under the careful, watchful, eye of the Democratic Party only to have similar results. In fact, the second election proved to be an even bigger defeat for the Gatto-Friedman camp than the first one. Mark Twain once said that “It’s better to remain silent and be thought of as a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” But the line between perceptions and reality is often blurred by those who seek a certain outcome and to try to manipulate the process.

These are the kinds of shenanigans that lend credence to those who want to discredit the Democratic Party’s claims to be broadly representative and inclusive. This seems to hit the Armenian community of the region with uncommon frequency. If you were at the receiving end of such exclusionary actions, how would you feel? What would you think of the party? Who would you vote for if you thought the party didn’t want you?

The authorities of the CDP should really take stock and reconsider their invalidation of the delegates’ ballots. In one case (2015) they decided to hold a revote, draining significant time and resources, at the whining and behest of a grown adult Assembly member and his ultra-loyalists. In the other (2016) instance, where a revote would have been quick, easy, and the appropriate action to take, they decided to invalidate the results and postpone a review of their own decision to November 16. That’s more than a week after the November 8 election. At that point, whatever they conclude, it will be inconsequential because it will have absolutely no impact on the election.

Politics is a brutal game requiring sincere and intense participation. Jump in and defend everyone’s right to be counted. More importantly, remember the 43rd! This is the district where the Armenian community’s votes have been marginalized, brutalized, vilified, and taken for granted. Every vote should count – regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or creed. To not count them or give them the opportunity to be counted reeks of the tactics that party bosses used to use to disenfranchise other minorities in this county not too long ago.

Contact the party and let them know how you feel! The endless summer of discontent must come to an end. It’s time to stand up and be counted.