The 120,000 residents of Nagorno-Karabakh, the disputed territory, are facing a humanitarian crisis and an existential threat. What they are experiencing is catastrophic, a true tragedy. To complicate matters, the COVID crisis is causing its own issues. With a population of just under 3 million in Armenia the daily cases are increasing, and with border restrictions this is making the flow of assistance and humanitarian aid into Armenia very difficult. The disputed region is an ancient Armenian land, where Armenians have continuously lived and innovated for thousands of years. It has a rich Christian heritage and culture with churches that were built in the fourth and fifth century. To the Western observer, it may just seem like yet another territorial war. However, behind the current scene is a much larger issue that has been playing out for centuries.
One that is connected to the systematic mass murder of 1.5 million ethnic Armenians which was carried out in Turkey and adjoining regions by the Ottoman government between 1914 and 1923. We are told that Azerbaijan wants to resolve the territorial issue of Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia, while Recep Erdogan, the President of Turkey, has other plans. He has stated that he seeks to implement what is called the Pan-Turkism vision, which is to restore the Great Turan and the pan-Turkish empire. However, a report in the ‘Eurasia Daily Monitor’ states that, ‘over recent years, Turkey has shifted from promoting pan-Turkism in the Turkic-speaking countries of the post-Soviet space to backing neo-Ottomanism. A move which reflects both developments inside Turkey and Ankara’s assessments of what will best work for its interests in the post-Soviet space’.
On September 30 the President of Turkey declared, “Jerusalem is our city”, calling Jerusalem a city that belongs to the Ottoman Empire and where “the Turks left with tears in their eyes”. Some international observers suggest the recent conversion of Hagia Sophia back into a mosque was a symbolic manifestation of this vision. This building was formerly the Church Hagia Sophia which was built around 537AD. It was the largest church in the Eastern Empire until 1453. After the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire that year, it was converted into a mosque. However, in 1935 the secular Turkish Republic established it as a museum. Through the instigation of Turkish authorities, and the recruitment of thousands of radical Islamic terrorists from Syria and Libya, the government of Azerbaijan has initiated ruthless attacks against Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh).
Reports say, ‘Turkey is offering Syrian rebels between USD$1,000–$2,000 a month to go to Azerbaijan to guard Turkish troops and strategic assets – with suspicions that many may soon find themselves on the frontline of the conflict.’ A senior pastor in Armenia reports how the authorities of Azerbaijan and Turkey are not hiding their goals and intentions. They have openly announced that they need the territory without any Armenians, and are calling for the continuation of the war until the last Armenian is killed or expelled from Nagorno-Karabakh. The Armenian Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinyan, highlighted just how far apart the sides are by saying, “Everything that is diplomatically acceptable to the Armenian side is no longer acceptable to Azerbaijan.”
Pastors in Armenia report that many congregations are taking in refugees from the troubled region. One pastor said, ‘there are already martyrs and mourning mothers amongst the members of our churches across Armenia. Those men who grew up in the church and loved God are today forced to wage a battle of life and death that was never their intention. This is a struggle of existence for the whole nation, of maintaining our Christian faith and heritage. The heart cry of one leader was, ‘we do not wish for a war or bloodshed. Today there are victims on both sides of this conflict. There is much mourning and suffering. We want the war to end and peace to be restored.’ The word of God says: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute…” (Proverbs 31:8 NIV). Innocent blood is being shed, let us not be silent.
- Pray for a just, peaceful and workable resolution to this age-old conflict, knowing that the Armenians never initiated this war, and they are always ready for peaceful dialogue.
- Pray for the Lord to hold back the forces of darkness seeking to rob kill and destroy the people of Armenia, especially those living in Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh). Proverbs 24:11 (NIV) says, “Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.”
- Pray for the ability to stand in faith in the battle and for the Father’s comfort. Pray for justice, peace and reconciliation.
Source: CHI-Ministries and APN