in Iraq has had a damaging effect on the studies
of at least three students in Armenia who have
special reasons to worry about what is happening
500 miles from Yerevan.
Since last week, Armenian-Iraqi brothers Mihran
and Andranik Sedrakyan and their Armenian-Iraqi
friend Ara Vardan have done little but stay in
their hostel and watch Al-Jezeera television showing
bombs falling in Baghdad.
It is their home. And while the boys watch the
broadcasts, they know their families are in Baghdad
basements where rockets are landing.
"The last time we talked to our parents
by phone was more than a week ago, after that
we haven't heard from them," says 23-year
old Mihran. "Two days after our conversation
the war begun and the telephone connection ceased."
The boys sleep in the afternoon when normally
they would be attending university (Mihran is
studying music at the Yerevan Conservatory, the
other two are at State Engineering University
of Armenia). At night they watch the satellite
broadcast in their Arabian friend's room.
"This is the only connection with Iraq,"
says Mihran, "every day till 6 o'clock in
the morning we watch news of Arabian TV channels,
as only they show what really takes place in Iraq,
while others televise only scenes and news related
to the American side."
During the last 15-minute telephone conversation
Mihran and his 24-year old brother tried to persuade
their father to leave Iraq. They wanted him to
take their mother and 13-year old brother and
come to Armenia through Syria.
"Whatever happens we must stay in Baghdad,"
their father said.
Mihran explains the reply of his 62 years old
father with only five words, "He loves Iraq
"There is a saying - 'If I have to die,
let me die in my house'. My father wouldn't have
said that any other way," Mihran says. "Of
course there will be families among the Armenians
who will move to neighboring countries, but few.
All my relatives in Baghdad have remained there."
(According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
of Armenia there are about 20,000 Armenians living
in Baghdad and during these days the level of
emigration among them is not high.)
In an attempt to comfort their sons the boys'
parents promised that everything would be fine.
They said that they had reserved the necessary
amount of water and food so that in an extreme
situation they have no problems.
Their Syrian friends living in the same hostel
say that the boys worry about their families'
fates; they have changed a lot and have become
almost unrecognizable. According to them, they
were cheerful boys with good humor, but today
one can hardly ever see smiles on their faces.
Before the war started life on this floor of
the hostel had been in full swing. However, the
more boiling war has frozen the young men's faces.
The Syrians always try to change the boys' mood,
but are not often successful.
"We have gotten used to this war situation.
No matter whether there is war in Iraq or not,
the roar of military aircraft is a normal thing
there," says Mihran. "Residents there
have no fear. For example, my younger brother
told me by phone that he was playing, riding his
Sedrakyan brothers have grown up with war and
the threat of war. Mihran has a strong opinion
about his country and its leader.
"Saddam is not a bad person," he says.
"We have always lived well in that country.
Iraq was provided with everything, and till now
none is hungry in Iraq.
"The only desire of an Iraqi is elimination
of external limitations for their country and
establishment of relations with the world. Only
that hinders us, so we don't want to change the
Iraqi Armenians enjoy an exceptional respect
among Arabians, the brothers say.
"None ever told us - you are Christians,
so you are bad," they say.
Their father is too old for military service,
but the brothers are sure that there are also
Iraqi-Armenian soldiers among the Iraqi forces.
They say that in such conditions if it is your
country you should defend it irrespective of your
Of these three boys 21-year old Ara remained
silent during the whole conversation. He refused
to talk about the war, but his sad eyes told everything
"After graduating we want to return to Iraq
regardless of the war outcome. There it is not
like in Armenia, when you remain without any money
if you haven't worked for a day. There I can enjoy
my one-day work for a week," says Mihran.
"I cannot even provide for myself with money
earned in Armenia, but I can support a whole family
with money earned in Iraq."
The boys hope that this war will be the last
"It is hard to say what will be the result,
as Saddam Hussein is a very strong person. It
will not be as easy to capture Baghdad as it was
to capture those few villages or small towns.
The hot battles are yet to come," they say.
And if they survive those hot battles, the Sedrakyan
brothers are hopeful their parents will fulfill
their desire to come to Armenia this summer. The
only time they have been here was on their honeymoon