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LA City Council’s Foray into International Affairs Misguided

PERSPECTIVE-The armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan has been in the local news lately.

Demonstrations staged by the Los Angeles metro area’s large Armenian community have been vocal, but no physical damage to property has been reported. 

However, the demonstrators have blocked freeways and major streets, a tactic that has become all too common since the murder of George Floyd. It is not the way to win hearts and minds in a car culture society, it poses a hazard by blocking access for emergency vehicles and further exacerbates an already tense election climate. 

The Los Angeles City Council just passed a resolution condemning Azerbaijan for aggression in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, deemed to be part of Azerbaijan by the international community despite the majority Armenian population. 

A resolution was most certainly in order, but one taking sides in this conflict was ill advised. 

The resolution, instead, should have called for the Minsk Group (comprised of the United States, France, and Russia) to greatly step up the process of bringing the two sides together for a peaceful resolution. 

Words alone will not convince either side to do so. Their differences have deep roots going back to the formation of the Soviet Union and the Red Army’s occupation of the region. As with other former Soviet Republics, dormant ethnic animosity percolated to the top after the collapse of the USSR. For the US or the Minsk Group as a whole to show favoritism to one side or the other would be as futile as attempts made by the governors of West Virginia and Kentucky to end the Hatfield-McCoy feud by taking sides. 

The situation is about as complex as as any in the world today. Turkey and Iran, who back Azerbaijan are at not exactly friends of the United States. Both of those nations are at odds with Russia in Syria. One wrong move by anyone in the region could set off a chain reaction similar to what led up to World War I. Therefore, the U.S. and its allies, along with Russia, must not alienate any of the combatants. 

For better or worse, the only nation with leverage to rein in the opposing sides is Russia. The Federation supplies both Armenia and Azerbaijan with the bulk of their weapons. Russia also maintains a military base in Armenia, its ally, and has strong economic ties with Azerbaijan. 

Putin can threaten to pull the plug on Russia’s arms shipments if the antagonists do not stop combat operations. 

He won’t unless his economic interests in Azerbaijan are threatened. Would he want to lose the cash from arms sales and see an interruption in the flow of oil from the Caucasus? 

Putin will eventually intercede for business reasons and the crisis will slowly wind down. 

The sad truth is the tragedy will get worse before it gets better. 

But if the United States, Russia, and France embrace the spirit of the City Council’s resolution, the tragedy will go from bad to worse.

 

(Paul Hatfield is a CPA and former President of the Valley Village Homeowners Association. He blogs at Village to Village and contributes to CityWatch. The views presented are those of Mr. Hatfield and his alone and do not represent the opinions of Valley Village Homeowners Association or CityWatch. He can be reached at: phinnoho@aol.com.) Photo: Mike Blake / Reuters. Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.