Yesterday, Bryan Ardouny, executive director of the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly), and Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Diocesan Legate of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), met with officials from the U.S. Department of State regarding the current plight of the Armenian community of Kessab, Syria, reported the Assembly. Archbishop Aykazian previously served as the President of the National Council of Churches and served on President Obama’s Advisory Council on Inter-religious Dialogue and Cooperation Task Force.
The meeting comes days after the Assembly sent a pointed letter to President Obama, which called on his administration to take action to safeguard and assist the Armenians of Kessab. “We call on President Obama to take all steps necessary to not only safeguard the Christian Armenian community of Kessab, but to increase efforts in coordination with the United Nations to ensure that all minority communities are afforded greater protection. In addition, we urge President Obama to make it publicly clear that the United States will not tolerate its NATO ally’s policy of providing support to extremist groups,” the Assembly’s letter read in part.
During the meeting, the Assembly and the Diocese conveyed that the attack upon the peaceful town of Kessab, which has had no part in the Syrian civil war, is a blatant escalation of the conflict by Islamic extremists. The worldwide Armenian community is especially distressed and outraged by the reports that these extremist elements crossed over the border from Turkey expressly to occupy the last remaining historic Armenian town in the Middle East.
In a related development, the Assembly is encouraged that a parliamentary delegation from the Republic of Armenia this week visited the Armenians of Kessab who have sought refuge in the neighboring town of Latakia. This visit underlined the importance attached to safeguarding our communities and standing together during this critical time.