Happening This Week in Washington DC: April 26-30, 2015

By Taniel Koushakjian

AAANews Blog

January 26, 2015

It’s going to be another busy week in the nation’s capital. Congress will be in session Monday, Tuesday, and barely on Wednesday, before heading out of town. Democrats have their annual caucus retreat this week in Philadelphia, and President Obama and Vice President Biden are scheduled to speak at the closed-door meetings.

In the context of Armenian American issues, here are a few events taking place this week that may interest you:

  • Wednesday, January 28, 2015: Woodrow Wilson Center will hold a discussion entitled “Security and Energy Implications for the South Caucasus after Ukraine” from 9:00 AM – 2:30 PM, http://bit.ly/1LbJIf0;
  • Wednesday, January 28, 2015: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace will hold a book signing and discussion entitled “Armenians and Turks in the Shadow of Genocide” for Thomas de Waal’s new book entitled Great Catastrophe from 12:15 PM –  2:00 PM, http://ceip.org/1yVO0SX ;
  • Thursday, January 29, 2015: The Knights of Vartan-Ani Lodge will hold their first academic lecture series entitled “Oil, Politics, and the Genocide in Armenia: The First World War in Retrospect” at American University, featuring Professor Christopher Smith, from 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM.
  • Friday, January 30, 2015: Atlantic Council will hold a daylong conference “Toward a Transatlantic Strategy for Europe’s East” from 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM, http://bit.ly/1BeU7hL.

Also, next week, President Obama is expected to send to Congress his budget recommendations for Fiscal Year 2016, beginning the long slog that is the appropriations process. Also next week is the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC, where it has been reported that the theme of this year’s breakfast will be in commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. It is not yet known whether President Obama will address the breakfast this year.

Congresswoman Speier Calls Armenian Christians “Unseen Victims in Syrian Civil War”

Today, Congresswomen Jackie Speier (D-CA) issued the following statement following the recent attacks against Armenian Christians in Kessab, Syria, which forced around 2,000 people to flee their homes.

“Armenians are once again being forced to leave their homes as Syria’s civil war rages on and Turkey meddles in the war-torn country’s affairs. The small village of Kessab was a safe haven for this Christian community but now their futures are cast in great doubt as they seek refuge elsewhere, not knowing whether they will ever return home. No one should have to live in fear or leave their homes because of the faith they practice.

“Anti-Armenian violence is real but much of the world still denies it. We must open our eyes to the truth that the assault on these Christians continues nearly 100 years after the Armenian genocide that left nearly l.5 million dead. The U.S. must launch formal inquiries into Turkey’s role and whether this is al-Qaeda-linked aggression.”

Congresswoman Speier is one of two Armenian Americans serving in Congress.

Last week, the Armenian Assembly of America’s executive director, Bryan Ardouny, and Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Diocesan Legate of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), met with officials at the U.S. Department of State. The meeting came just days after the Assembly sent a pointed letter to President Barack Obama urging him to take steps to safeguard the Armenians of Kessab. The National Council of Churches also wrote a letter to President Obama asking him to safeguard the Christian Armenians of Kessab.

Last Wednesday, the Assembly publicly condemned the assault on Kessab and remains alarmed at reports that Al-Qaeda affiliated Islamic extremists crossed into Syria via NATO ally Turkey, resulting in the displacement of over 650 families and the confiscation and looting of Armenian homes, businesses and religious sanctuaries.