Emmy-nominated film producer and human rights advocate Eric Esrailian is the person behind reality television star of Armenian descent Kim Kardashian West's push for the US to weigh in and support Armenia amid an outbreak of fierce fighting with its neighbour and long-time adversary Azerbaijan, The Hill reported.
Esrailian is said to have been drafting statements for Kardashian West, her celebrity family, and other high-profile American Armenians, calling for more support to Yerevan.
“The situation currently with a lack of appropriate international attention is frustrating for a lot of people”, the activist, who was a producer of the 2017 film "The Promise" about the Armenian genocide, told The Hill in an interview.
He said that the prominent people he has been contacting are largely more than ready to help, while he acts as a coordinator:
"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?'“ Esrailian recounted.
The vast Armenian diaspora, which amounts to around 1.5 million across the US, has already launched a pressure campaign to drive Congress to support Armenia amid what has been described as a belligerent attack by “autocratic” Azerbaijan, backed by “a rogue Turkey”.
“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.
A recent social media post by Kardashian West, who has had a direct line to Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner since their cooperation on criminal justice reform, called on the public to urge Congress and the government to pressure Baku to cease hostilities, cut off all US military aid to the country being used against Armenians, and warn Turkey to stop sending arms and fighters to Azerbaijan.
Meanwhile, Kardashian West’s high-profile involvement and similar roles of other prominent figures were feared might tip the scales of the US’ historically neutral role in the standoff, with Washington having for 30 years been a co-mediator alongside France and Russia under the auspices of the Minsk Group, formed in 1994 as part of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, to resolve the tensions in the region.
The conflict initially erupted in the late 1980s, shortly before the fall of the Soviet Union, with Nagorno-Karabakh, or Artsakh, an Armenian-majority autonomy, proclaiming independence from what was then Soviet Azerbaijan in 1991, resulting in a military conflict with Baku.
New Round of Hostilities
The hostilities resumed on 27 September, and at least 19 civilians have been killed in the fighting, according to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, and officials have said that Azerbaijan is targeting civilian areas with cluster bombs and missiles, as both sides continue to blame each other for the resumption of the conflict.
Both France and Russia have said that Turkey has sent Syrian mercenaries to the front line on the side of Baku, a charge that Ankara denies. Separately, the International Crisis Group has said that Artsakh's forces have mainly been fighting on the defensive.