WASHINGTON—The Obama Administration told pro-Aliyev groups that had initiated and promoted two highly inflammatory, anti-Armenian petitions on the White House’s “We the People” site, that “there cannot be a military solution to the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict.”
The response came amid concerns of foreign manipulation of the popular “We the People” site, raised publicly and privately by the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), after several petitions echoing Azerbaijani government attacks on Karabagh rapidly collected over 100,000 online signatures in recent days.
The text of one in particular, titled “pay close attention on The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. 20% of Azerbaijan territory was occupied by Armenian military,” has a direct link to the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, a project headed by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s multi-billionaire wife, Mehriban Aliyeva. The other echoed a multi-million dollar public relations campaign, led by Aliyev’s daughter, Leyla Aliyeva. International press featured dozens of stories quoting Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesman Elman Abdullayev and other Aliyev mouthpieces urging worldwide support of the petitions, making a mockery of the unique White House internet platform designed to expand civic dialogue with the American people.
The White House issued a one-paragraph response, titled “U.S. Committed to Lasting and Peaceful Settlement of Nagorno-Karabagh,” without referencing Azerbaijani rhetoric utilized in the two petitions. The complete text of the response follows: “Thank you for sharing your views with the White House. While we will not be issuing a Presidential Proclamation, the United States deeply regrets the tragic losses of life in the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia. It reminds us that there cannot be a military solution to the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict, and that only a lasting and peaceful settlement can bring stability, prosperity, and reconciliation to the region. As a Co-Chair of the Minsk Group, the United States remains firmly committed to working with all sides to achieve peace.”
ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian had cautioned the Obama Administration against offering any response until the full extent of the foreign manipulation of the “We the People” platform could be determined. “While a U.S. message of peace is particularly timely in light of the Azerbaijani sniper attack which claimed the life of 21-year-old Gor Kazaryan just last week, and the escalating war-rhetoric emanating from the Aliyev Administration, it should not be coming in response to an obviously manipulative bid by a dictator to game the American democratic system,” Hamparian said.
“By responding to a transparently fraudulent campaign, such as the Baku-based rigging of the ‘We the People’ petitions, our government is sending the dangerous message that it’s allowing foreign interference in our domestic affairs to compromise and crowd out the genuinely expressed views and values of the American people.”