'This Is Genocide': US, Armenia to Hold Joint Exercise Amid Rising Fears of Massacre of Christians
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The United States is increasing military ties with Armenia, a Christian nation that's under threat from its Muslim neighbor Azerbaijan.
CBN News Contributing Correspondent Chuck Holton reports the Biden administration is taking steps to dissuade Turkey and Azerbaijan from invading Armenia.
U.S. Army Europe, African, and Armenian Armed Forces will hold a joint exercise named "Eagle Partner-23" in Armenia between September 11 and 20.
The Defense Department said, "This initiative aims to fortify our alliance with Armenia, focusing on bolstering interoperability and readiness via specialized peacekeeping operations training. The exercise will involve approximately 85 U.S. personnel and 175 Armenian participants."
The Armenian Defense Ministry said the purpose of the exercise was to get its forces ready to help with international peacekeeping missions, according to Reuters.
This is reportedly an example of NATO's Partnership for Peace exercises that have been conducted in the Caucasus region for almost 20 years, and the first of its kind inside Armenia.
"As Armenia has distanced itself from its long-time ally, Russia, due to its betrayal and support from Turkey and the Azerbaijan Republic, the U.S. and its allies are improving their relationship with Armenia to protect the country from Turkey and Azerbaijan who intend to massacre Armenians because of racial and religious causes," Holton explained.
Former ICC Chief Prosecutor Tells Congress Blockade Is Genocide Under International Law
Meanwhile, a congressional Human Rights Commission heard testimony Wednesday that there's reason to believe genocide efforts against the Armenians are already underway.
In testimony before the commission, Luis Moreno Ocampo, the former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, warned the U.S. is at risk of becoming complicit in an ongoing genocide in Nagorno-Karabakh, where 120,000 ethnic Armenians have been sealed off from food and medicine for nine months and are being starved to death by the government of Azerbaijan.
"The U.S. should openly inform the Azerbaijan government that without the immediate and unconditional removal of the Lachin Corridor blockade, the U.S. would consider Azerbaijan to be committing genocide," Ocampo said.
Ocampo's warning comes just weeks after he issued a report that the Azerbaijani blockade of the Lachin Corridor—the lone road from Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh—constitutes genocide under Article II (c) of the Genocide Convention.
"The Biden Administration must say immediately that this is genocide—and put a stop to it," said U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) Co-Chair of the commission, who noted that both the U.S. State Department and USAID did not respond to his invitation to testify at the hearing. "Delay is denial."
"This crime—it is the crime of genocide—was planned, tested, and imposed by the government of Azerbaijan, that is to say by President Ilham Aliyev, who rules Azerbaijan as a dictator," the New Jersey congressman continued.
"The Biden administration must wake up, recognize the absolutely grave responsibility it has here, and focus on finding and implementing a humane solution," Smith said. "And this must mean that the blockade is lifted and the people continue to live in their ancient homeland—and not be subject to violence and threats. This situation is now a three-alarm fire."
In addition to Ocampo's testimony, the hearing also included testimony from David Phillips, the director of Columbia University's Artsakh Atrocities Project and adjunct professor at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service.
"The language used by President Aliyev and his officials leaves no question about their genocidal intent," Phillips explained. He also provided extensive evidence as part of his testimony, including a list of perpetrators who are responsible for the atrocities in Nagorno-Karabakh.
"The international community failed to sanction individuals who committed crimes after the war in 2016 and 2020," Phillips said. "Its failure sent a message to the Government of Azerbaijan that it can act with impunity and escape repercussions for its crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and acts of genocide."
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