On September 19, after a ten-month blockade that starved the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh—an autonomous region located within Azerbaijan’s borders—the Azerbaijani military invaded, killing hundreds and forcing more than 100,000 Armenians to flee for the border. “Armenians had been determined in their attempts to call attention to this tragedy before it was too late,” writes Susan Barba today in NYR Online, “despite the ostrich effect of powerful bystanders such as the EU and the US; the inaction of Russia, Nagorno-Karabakh’s security guarantor; and the capitulation of the Armenian government.” The resulting shock for Armenians, she continues, has been one “of dreaded inevitability”—the violence of the Armenian genocide returned by a government that has long denied the genocide ever happened.
Below, alongside Barba’s article, we present a selection from the archives of essays about thousands of years of Armenian history.
“It is the coordination of different actions—by Azerbaijan, with Turkey’s support—aimed ultimately at the elimination of the Karabakh Armenians that makes the current violence continuous with the past and the forced exodus a genocidal act.”
“The conflict is no longer about Nagorno-Karabakh alone. It is about Armenia’s future as a sovereign nation.”
“The story of Armenia: an Eastern Christian society that was creative, enduring, and, at many times, gloriously idiosyncratic.”
Mass protests in Yerevan have, surprisingly, broken Armenia’s frozen pattern of power, and it seems that Armenia might now have a chance of getting a more responsive and accountable government.
In The Forty Days of Musa Dagh, Franz Werfel turned what might have been a footnote in the history of World War I—the deportation and mass murder of the Ottoman Empire’s Armenian minority—into an epic that was corroborated by many German sources and eyewitness accounts.
“You only have to spend a day or two walking around the capital city of Yerevan to understand just how much the past shapes Armenian thinking about the present and the future.”
“In a period when great and medium powers—Russia, the United States, Turkey, and Iran—are competing for the oil wealth around the Caspian Sea, renewed fighting over Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan could drag those powers into a disastrous confrontation.”
“Won’t all of us be ashamed of what’s happening now? When the tragedy occurs, won’t we say to the Armenian people, who will be half-destroyed or again scattered about the world, ‘Forgive us,’ and to ourselves, ‘We’re ashamed’?”