Advertisement

Start the Presses: Diplomatic relations

December 04, 2010|By Dan Evans

Early Friday morning, the calls began to roll into the newsroom.

One woman wondered why we were singling out Armenia. Another inquired about the ethnicity of our writing staff — perhaps wanting to make sure we employed no one of Turkish descent.

What caused this outrage? Like many news outlets, we have been closely following the WikiLeaks story and its wide-ranging implications. Within a massive trove of confidential documents released Sunday was a diplomatic cable alleging that Armenia supplied Iran with weapons. Those weapons, the document stated, were later used to kill U.S. troops in Iraq.

Advertisement

Glendale City Clerk Ardy Kassakhian told me he felt the story left out a significant amount of context, and might be misleading for that reason. In his view, Armenia has been forced into a relationship with Iran because its other neighbors, Turkey and Azerbaijan, have enforced an illegal blockade of humanitarian aid for decades. Combined with harsh winters and few domestic energy resources, the country has simply been backed into a corner.

People who just read the story, Kassakhian said, might believe Armenia and Iran share a common ideology and, thus, hatred of the West. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Clearly, the article was jarring for a number of people, if only because it seemed such a departure from our normal way of doing things. After all, if news breaks in Eagle Rock or North Hollywood, neither the Glendale News-Press nor the Burbank Leader will cover it. So, what made this story newsworthy?

It was this: Rep. Adam Schiff, who represents the area, said he found the information "enormously troubling." Schiff, I want to note, has long supported official American recognition of the Armenian Genocide, an issue of enormous importance here. Armenians are the single largest ethnic group in Glendale, making up about 40% of the population. Though that population is significantly less in Burbank, people of Armenian descent are a significant part of that community as well.

Though he did not say how he came about the information, I find it unlikely that Schiff, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, gets his news via WikiLeaks. The congressman also declined to speculate on how this would affect any official recognition of the genocide.

Burbank Leader Articles Burbank Leader Articles
|
|
|