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Karabagh May Benefit From U.S. War on Iraq 03/26/2003
Karabagh May Benefit From U.S. War on Iraq

By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
 
While Armenia has cautiously backed peaceful international efforts to disarm
Iraq, Azerbaijan has decided to align itself more directly with the American
war effort, according to the published list of countries supporting the U.S.
President Aliyev, seeing America's willingness to shell out billions of
dollars to "the coalition of the willing," or more appropriately, "the
coalition of the wanting," is probably hoping to get his share of American
gratitude and generosity. Even though the war is still in its early stages
and no one can tell how it will end and what its consequences will be,
Aliyev may end up regretting one of the war's possible outcomes.
When the shooting stops, millions of Iraqis will be in need of immediate
humanitarian assistance. In addition, a large number of Iraqis may flee from
the country, as was the case in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War. Several
neighboring countries are already busy setting up tent cities to accommodate
the large number of refugees from Iraq.

Among those needing assistance will be the 20,000 or so Armenians living in
Iraq. The Armenian government and various Diaspora groups began making
preparations last week to assist those who will remain in Iraq after the war
as well as those who might leave the country.
The Foreign Ministry of Armenia announced its readiness to issue visas and
admit all Armenian refugees from Iraq. The Ministry urged neighboring Iran
and Turkey to open transit routes from Iraq to allow Iraqi Armenians to seek
refuge in Armenia.

Given the Armenian government's meager resources, Armenia would not be able
to provide food and shelter, let alone employment for a large number of
refugees. An Armenian group called, "In Defense of Liberated Territories,"
however, seems to have found an ingenious solution. Since the government of
Karabagh is interested in increasing the Armenian population in its
territory, the group suggested that all Armenian refugees from Iraq be moved
to Karabagh where there is plenty of empty land. The international community
as well as the Armenian Diaspora could then provide the necessary funds to
meet the immediate needs of these refugees.

Should such a scenario develop, the President of Azerbaijan will not be a
happy man. Having supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Aliyev would find
himself in the ironic situation of inadvertently helping to increase the
Armenian population of Karabagh. This is one unintended consequence that,
Aliyev, despite all of his cunning, most probably did not foresee!
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