Armenian Christians Are Being Blockaded by Azerbaijan with Few Outside Resources
What a lot of people aren’t paying attention to right now is the fact that there are 120,000 Armenian Christians being blockaded into their country, cut off from outside resources, due to their beliefs. Their neighbor to the east, Azerbaijan, is predominantly Muslim, and they want to take over Armenian land. Tragically, Azerbaijan is using U.S. weaponry to enforce the barricade — which means, by association, we are contributors.
Sam Brownback, former United States Ambassador for International Religious Affairs during the Trump administration, joined Joseph Backholm and FRC’s Travis Weber on the “Outstanding” podcast last week to discuss what to do about this crisis overseas as American Christians.
Brownback and Weber recently returned from a trip to Armenia. The two acknowledged that Armenia sits in the shadow of Mt. Ararat, where Noah’s ark was believed to land. Armenia has deep Christian roots, and has withstood centuries of persecution, and we should feel some sense of connection and responsibility towards standing with them as believers ourselves.
This conflict has been happening for months and is ongoing. So what can we do about it? Brownback noted, “The United States has a great deal of influence in this region.”
Section 907 is a statutory restriction on U.S. assistance to the Government of Azerbaijan. This law is the reason why the persecutors can carry U.S. weaponry, but it puts limits on the U.S.’s ability to use that weaponry to combat offensive uses of force against Armenia. “If this blockade is not lifted, then the Section 907 sanctions should be put in place by the United States immediately to apply this pressure,” Brownback continued.
America has a say in this conflict, having provided the weapons, and so we have the power to stop it. It is up to Biden, to make this decision, or Congress to pass a law to do so. Brownback and Weber are calling on Christians to be informed about this situation, and place pressure on our government to defend these innocent, Armenian Christians.
Weber challenged the U.S. government to action. “Their faith is connected to ours and we can pray for them, and we can ask for God’s help for them and then make that voice known to our leaders here and say, ‘Enforce 907’ and send the signal that we need to stand with Armenia.”
Brownback added, “What message does it send to other dictators that would do genocides around the world if we don’t stand up for these 120,000 Armenians? How many more genocides do you proffer on forward here if you don’t stand up on this one?”
As American Christians, we must cling to Matthew 5:44, which it says, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” We must act in prayer as we pray for the trapped Armenians as well as for the members of the Azerbaijan military. But we also must use our human responsibility and contact our elected officials, making this issue more widely known, and putting pressure on our government to put in place section 907 sanctions.