What forces are pushing Armenia into the big political game?
    Matanat Nasibova's analysis

    ANALYTICS  19 September 2022 - 12:31

    Matanat Nasibova
    Caliber.Az

    Several facts indicate that Armenia is in the midst of another political crisis. Firstly, there are renewed protests on Republic Square in Yerevan demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan which are likely to be protracted given the difficult situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border due to the provocative policies of the Armenian leadership.

    It is premature to say whether the current protests can lead to the overthrow of the current government since such slogans have been heard almost since the first days of Armenia's crushing defeat in the 44-day war in Karabakh. As we can see, Pashinyan has so far managed to retain power even despite Armenia's military and political failures and the prime minister's own diplomatic fiasco on various international levels, which testify to his incapacity as a politician and head of state. In fact, this is one of the main reasons why the consequences of the current political crisis may lead to the loss of the remnants of statehood in Armenia itself. However, it appears that in Armenia this important nuance is understood only by the part of society that does not support revanchist sentiments and calls to 'reclaim' Karabakh.

    Secondly, the current political crisis in Armenia, caused by the puppet policy of the authorities acting at the behest of the external forces, has been confirmed, including by Armenia's latest large-scale military provocation on the night of September 12 in three important directions of the Azerbaijani-Armenian state border. Given the fact that Armenia's military and economic capabilities are not comparable to those of Azerbaijan, it is unlikely that Yerevan attempted to provoke a new military escalation on the border without the assistance of some external force.

    It is obvious that some countries, not excluding the US, were the initiators and masterminds of the September military operation. The more frequent visits to Armenia by representatives of American intelligence services and diplomats over the last few months are an indication of this. In particular, the recent visit to Yerevan by the US special representative for the Caucasus talks, Philip Reeker, deserves particular attention. Curiously, during his trip, the American diplomat met with Armenian officials to discuss US support for diplomatic efforts between Armenia and Azerbaijan to achieve long-term peace and resolve Armenian-Turkish relations, but it was after the visit of the high-ranking diplomat that provocations by the Armenian side in Karabakh and on the border with Azerbaijan became noticeably more frequent. This does not seem to be a coincidence.

    In the same context, it is pertinent to recall the visit of CIA chief Burns to Armenia in July, which also shows increased US activity in the South Caucasus region. It is obvious that the Americans are trying to promote their interests in this strategically important region, using the factor of Armenia. By emphasizing the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, the US is in fact dictating its own rules of the game to Yerevan, while also setting Armenia up as the weakest link in the conflict. It is naive to believe that poor Armenia, as an independent state, is in the orbit of US interests. This is far from the case.

    In all likelihood, the Americans chose Armenia as a target for their own agenda, primarily because of Pashinyan's constant glances toward the US and the West. So the choice of the Americans is quite logical. It is clear that the US is using the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict to enhance its own role in the South Caucasus region as a counterweight to Russia and Iran. This fact is particularly evident against the background of the Russian-Ukrainian war and Russia's confrontation with the West, on the one hand, and Iran's activation as a regional player in light of the relative warming of relations with Türkiye (following the Tehran summit) and the generally converging positions of Russia, Iran, and Türkiye, on the other.

    Undoubtedly, such a regional arrangement run counter interests of the White House, so Armenia, which seeks to withdraw from Russia's zone of influence, is a very convenient springboard for pushing American interests in the Caucasus region. The USA is skillfully using this opportunity for its own purposes. As for Armenia, it is seriously hoping for support from the West, particularly from France, and for US assistance in the return to the negotiation process of the dead structure - the OSCE Minsk Group. Unlike Russia, which refuses to revive this organisation with its participation, the US and France do not deprive Armenia of such illusions, periodically giving it vague hopes. It is therefore possible that Armenian Defence Minister Papikyan discussed this issue at his meetings with US foreign policy officials during his US trip.

    The fact that Armenia, in its pursuit of external forces, is staging large-scale military provocations, confirms its willingness to switch to a pro-Western orientation, which is certainly understood in Paris and Washington. It is a kind of trump card in the hands of the Western powers. However, as we can see, despite the vain efforts of the Armenian side, the issue of the return of the OSCE Minsk Group to negotiations has become as deadlocked as the exit of Armenia itself from the political and economic crisis. Therefore, such illusions of Armenians are completely doomed to failure, and the Armenian leadership, by continuing provocations against Azerbaijan, is only further aggravating the internal political and economic crisis in the country, which, in fact, is indicated by the renewed actions in Yerevan.

    So what has Armenia achieved as a result of the latest military clashes? Another defeat. Azerbaijan has struck back with its "Iron Fist". If Armenia has chosen the path of provocation and war, it must be prepared for more losses and for peace to be enforced by force. And no phone calls from Pashinyan to Brussels, Moscow, and Washington will save Armenia.

    Elaborating on this idea, Dmitry Solonnikov, director of the Russian Institute of Contemporary State Development, draws a conclusion in a commentary to Caliber.Az that provocations by the Armenian side are done to drag Russia into a full-scale war and open a second front.

    "Georgia does not want this, so provocative forces are looking for another weak link in the South Caucasus to try to unleash a new war in the region after all. Until a border treaty is signed and there is a full-fledged peace agreement, tensions on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border will persist. This will be used to create local points of tension. Further Armenia will appeal to the CSTO in an attempt to draw Russia directly into military action. Pay attention to the hoaxes about the alleged shelling of Russian transport by the FSB by Azerbaijan. Yes, this information has not been confirmed, but Armenia is constantly generating information flow precisely to draw Russia into armed confrontation. As conceived by the organisers of this process, they are expected to force Russia to engage in hostilities on Armenia's side, with Türkiye on Azerbaijan's side. That is, a full-fledged war is unleashed between Russia and Türkiye and the CSTO and NATO countries. In fact, this completely nullifies the situation of building good neighbourly relations in West Asia, circumventing sanctions by Türkiye, the Black Sea, and Bosporus Strait issues, zeroing the North-South corridor, and so on. That is to say, a massive plan is being drawn up for those who will implement it. The backup option is rough as follows: if Russia does not get involved, then anti-Russian forces in Armenia become active, and literally on the first day of the conflict Pashinyan calls Paris and Washington and tries to revive the OSCE Minsk Group in order to invite representatives of the western OSCE bloc - the US and France to discuss the deoplyment of their "peacekeepers" on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. That is, this plan involves squeezing Russia out of the South Caucasus and incorporating the main players of the Western bloc - the US and France. We all remember how Pashinyan came to power with the help of US funding, so there is likely still pressure from the same forces on him.

    Nor should we disregard the pressure on the Armenian leadership by terrorists and militants, who incidentally threaten the lives of Russian journalists and politicians, myself in particular. Therefore, Pashinyan's situation is complicated, on the one hand, he has to follow the proposals that are coming from the West, and on the other, he is under serious pressure from within Armenia itself. So, I believe the plan to rock this conflict had two aims - the implementation of maximum and minimum programmes: unleashing a war involving Russia and pushing it out of the South Caucasus. However, the position of Moscow and the CSTO is very balanced, it is aimed at a diplomatic solution to the conflict, without military intervention. There is a need to sign a border agreement and to sign a full-fledged peace document in the future," a Russian political analyst concluded.

    Caliber.Az

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