Kim Kardashian uses star power to pressure US on Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict – The Hill

Reality television star and criminal justice reform advocate Kim Kardashian West is pushing for President Trump to do more to support Armenia amid an outbreak of fierce fighting with its neighbor and decades-old adversary Azerbaijan, The Hill writes.

The influential celebrity, who is of Armenian descent, is broadcasting to her hundreds of millions of social media followers to demand Congress condemn Azerbaijan as the instigator of the recent fighting and denounce Turkey for interfering in the conflict.

Kardashian West, who has a direct line to Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, has the potential to push the administration to take a more active stance.

Behind her efforts is the L.A.-based gastroenterologist, Emmy-nominated film producer and human rights advocate Eric Esrailian, who has been drafting statements for Kardashian West, her famous family members and other high-profile celebrities of Armenian descent calling for more support to Yerevan, the capital of Armenia.

“The situation currently with a lack of appropriate international attention is frustrating for a lot of people,” Esrailian, who was a producer on the 2017 film “The Promise,” about the Armenian genocide, said in an interview with The Hill. 

“What I’ve done with my friends, like Kim Kardashian, her family, her siblings, and other friends like Cher, Serj Tankian, Alexis Ohanian, all of us — obviously they have a bigger platform than I do, but I have the ability to pull everybody together … and I feel honored that everybody cares and they basically say, ‘what can I do?’ “

“I would not ask all of my friends, in all of our positions, to use the language that we’ve been using if there was even a one percent chance that Armenia had started these hostilities,” said Esrailian, who is leading the celebrity advocacy campaign.

One social media post by Kardashian West called on the public to urge Congress and the White House to pressure Baku to cease hostilities, cut off all U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan being used against Armenians and warn Turkey to stop sending arms and fighters to Baku. 

Kardashian West’s position on this issue lends a highly influential voice. On Sept. 29 she shared on social media a link to the advocacy group the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), nearly overloading their systems.

“We may operate on any given day in the tens of thousands, or maybe hundreds of thousands [of web visitors],” said Aram Hamparian, the executive director of ANCA. “But she had us into the tens of hundreds of millions, it was a good problem.”

By Oct. 1, bipartisan House lawmakers had introduced a resolution condemning Azerbaijan for the aggression of hostilities and denouncing Turkey’s interference.

ompeoThe resolution was accompanied by a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from House lawmakers that condemned Azerbaijan as the aggressor and called for leveraging U.S. military aid to Baku to achieve a cease-fire.

Kardashian West’s relationship with Trump and Kushner goes back to 2018 when she successfully lobbied the president to commute the sentence of Alice Johnson, a mother and grandmother who was serving a life sentence for a first-time, nonviolent drug offense.

It’s unclear if Kardashian West has been in direct contact with the White House recently over the issue with Armenia and Azerbaijan. The White House did not respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

A representative for Kardashian West said the star would continue to post her comments and messaging about the situation in Armenia on social media.

“Allowing people to behave with impunity, particularly committing human rights violations attacking civilians, using cluster munitions, using foreign mercenaries, there’s a lot of things at play,” Esrailian said.

“We’re just getting started. If this doesn’t resolve quickly then I guarantee we’re going to make it a world story,” he added.

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