Mass violence as a favourite tool of the Armenian diaspora
    Upholding the peace between Azerbaijanis and Armenians

    ANALYTICS  17 March 2023 - 15:01

    Politics Department

    The stalemate in the peace process between Azerbaijan and Armenia since the end of the 44-day-long war in Karabakh triggered debates regarding the possible armed escalation in both societies. Although the previous 2022 promised to be a turning point in the peace process, the endless meetings in Brussels, Moscow, Prague, and Sochi yielded few positive results. On the contrary, the mutual accusations of the warring parties in igniting the situation and torpedoing the peace process provoked reactions on both sides.

    Although the ethnic enmity between Azerbaijanis and Armenians dates back decades, it turned significantly violent since the July clashes between the two states, the bloodiest since April 2016, occurred in Tovuz/Tavush directions. While the incident caused severe casualties on both sides, it immensely fueled the ethnic confrontation between Azerbaijani and Armenian diasporas outside the Caucasus, mainly in Western countries.

    The first act occurred in Paris, where the Azerbaijani embassy was reportedly attacked and vandalized by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation-affiliation nationalist protesters on July 19. Minor encounters were witnessed in mutual protests in Moldova and the UK when members from both communities engaged in a fistfight.

    The biggest clash, however, erupted across the ocean in Los Angeles, California, where thousands of ethnic Armenians staged a protest in front of Azerbaijan's Consulate General on July 2020, while approximately 50 Azerbaijani community members came to counter-protest and highlight the occupation of Azerbaijan’s lands by Armenia, as well as the recent border aggression committed against Azerbaijan.

    Although a handful of police officers were deployed to secure public safety, they could not prevent the Armenian protest from developing into a street brawl: the Armenian mob unleashing anti-Azerbaijani slogans and insults bypassed the police forces and ran toward the Azerbaijanis. As a result, seven Azerbaijanis were injured in the attack, four of whom were hospitalized, while a Los Angeles police officer suffered a head injury.

    In addition to injured Azerbaijanis, the officer of the Los Angeles Police Department of Azerbaijani descent, Fakhri Mirzaguliev, who attempted to rescue Azerbaijani protestors surrounded by the aggressive mob, also came under attack. Nevertheless, Fakhri managed to take Azerbaijani protestors out of the mob's hands and offered a safe corridor to leave the scene, though some were injured.

    The failure of the LAPD to ensure the safety of Azerbaijani officers came at a higher cost. However, the nightmare did not come to an end for officer Fakhri Mirzaguliev. Shortly after Azerbaijanis's incident and rescue operation, officer Mirzaguliev became the subject of bullying and death threats issued by the nationalist Armenian diaspora. Officer Fakhri Mirzaguliev quickly became estranged and put under pressure by the Armenian diaspora only because of his positive role in rescuing the people from the attacks of the aggressive mob.

    This incident spilt over into Moscow, Brussels, and Saint-Petersburg, which are home to significant Azerbaijani and Armenian communities. Whether spontaneous or planned in advance, this spillover and street fights elsewhere in the world actually distort the whole essence of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. Indeed, the reciprocal violence between Azerbaijanis and Armenians may serve the Armenian claims on the impossibility of co-existence in Karabakh. Moreover, such an ethnic pattern may also receive a religious shade as the Armenian side is trying to present the whole confrontation as a Christian vs Muslim war.

    By boosting the so-called "religious" and "ethnic" patterns over the Karabakh issue, the powerful Armenian diaspora intends to keep the tensions on the surface with the possibility of a new wave of violence. Although in the case of Los Angeles hostilities, officer Mirzaguliev excellently did fulfil his duties, it will not grant personal safety to Azerbaijani activists and people like Fakhri Mirzaguliev, who keep the professionalism level above all.


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