Tag Archives: Azerbaijani war rhetoric

Journalism used to spread hatred

I just read a blatantly pro-Azeri, potentially dangerous article about the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict on the front page of the New York Times Web site. Not one Armenian interviewed. Biased and dubious information throughout. The article casts Armenia in a bad light overall. Specifically, Armenia is to blame for the squalid conditions Azeri refugees from Karabagh live in when the blame should be cast on the Azerbaijani government for taking advantage of their miserable plight so that such poorly written stories can be written. Once again, the country that started the war in the first place, an important point the article does not mention and that many seem to forget/not understand, is portrayed as the victim state.

It should be obvious to anyone who follows this issue that the reporter, Ellen Barry, who is also apparently the Moscow Bureau chief for the Times, has clearly not done her homework. Case in point:

Azerbaijan sees little way forward: though it could easily drive out Armenian forces, Russia could send its army to help Armenia, its ally in a regional defense alliance, just as it did in South Ossetia.

That point would be good to make in a blog post for instance since it is essentially a speculative opinion, but not on the pages of a reputable newspaper with international clout. It’s obvious that Barry either knew about and chose to ignore or was clueless about confidential memos brought to light by Wikileaks back in February — go here to read the full text, but scroll down to see it. In a July 2, 2009 cable former U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan Anne Derse wrote the following:

Azerbaijan, even with its focus on improving its military capability, is unlikely anytime soon to structure a force large or well-equipped enough to overcome the terrain advantages enjoyed by the NK Self-Defense Force and the Armenian army.

Couldn’t Barry have actually traveled to Karabagh via Armenia (the only way in) to interview the authorities, or made a phone call to the Armenian Foreign Ministry for comment? There were and should still be four flights operating from Moscow to Yerevan daily, so transportation shouldn’t be an issue, especially with all expenses paid by the paper. So why is it so hard to tell the whole story?

The entire piece was written from Baku using the opinions of Azeris, some of whom seem borderline fanatical with their calls for renewed war. Why not get Moscow’s opinion — doesn’t she think a single Russian diplomat has anything to say about one of the worst, if not the worst, Soviet-born simmering regional fiascoes? She’s based there!

I’d like to know who’s actually behind this story, and why the editors at the Times approved it.

Irresponsible, very disappointing journalism from what is considered to be one of the most celebrated, respected newspapers in the world. This is only adding fuel to the fire of animosity and hatred between Armenians and Azerbaijanis. It’s counterproductive, aggravating rhetoric at best.