USAID's Power visit to Armenia sparks controversy over Baku-Yerevan peace process
    Assessing regional implications

    ANALYTICS  10 July 2024 - 15:52

    Matanat Nasibova

    Administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Samantha Power notorious for her ardent anti-Azerbaijani position, paid a visit to Armenia.

    Samantha Power declared the day of the “Armenian genocide” as her birthday and earned the honorary status of a “valued partner” in Armenia.

    This is Power’s second visit to Yerevan in a relatively short period of time. Last time she visited Armenia in September 2023. Then her visit was marked by provocative statements. In particular, she voiced the initiative to create an international observation mission in the liberated Azerbaijani territories.

    During a press conference in Yerevan, Power said that the US has provided more than $24 million in humanitarian assistance since 2020. According to USAID estimates, the US has replenished the Armenian state budget by $3.3 billion. Power encouraged the Armenians with provocative statements that the US is considering the possibility of an adequate response to the military operation carried out by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces in Karabakh on September 19–20. Power’s visit to Yerevan was also remembered for pathetic statements that USAID would provide support to the so-called “internally displaced people from Karabakh”.

    USAID is overzealous in this issue, which is caused by the desire to present the Karabakh Armenians as “internally displaced people” for the international community. For this purpose, the USAID Armenian office reported in November 2023 that the US announced the allocation of additional humanitarian assistance worth more than $4.1 million for “those affected by the events in Karabakh”. During a meeting with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Brussels in April 2024, Power announced her further support for the institutional reforms being implemented in Armenia and her readiness to render ongoing support for the programmes of the Armenian government to strengthen and develop democracy.

    Armenian media reports that Power's current visit to Yerevan is aimed at USAID's support for the reforms and the efforts of the Armenian government to strengthen the country's resilience. By the way, Power has already managed to demonstrate culinary skills by cooking a “traditional Artsakh dish” during a trip to the Armenian “Taste of Artsakh” fast food facility, funded by USAID. During a visit to Armenia, she met with representatives of the Karabakh Armenians. However, during last year’s visit to Baku she refused to meet with Azerbaijani refugees and internally displaced people.

    Power maintained close ties with the so-called former “minister of state” of the Karabakh junta Ruben Vardanyan and is even a member of the Aurora Prize Selection Committee. Vardanyan was the initiator and sponsor. In this regard, it is not surprising that in her book “A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide” Power did not write a word about the Khojaly genocide and the atrocities of Armenians against Azerbaijanis. As the US representative in the UN Security Council, she never raised the topic of the plight of Azerbaijani refugees and internally displaced people and never urged Armenia to comply with the UN Security Council’s resolutions.

    USAID is the world's biggest aid organisation with a budget of approximately $27 billion. Some $9 billion from its budget has been allocated to support the civil society in different countries in 2023–2025. The donor funds and USAID assistance mechanisms were created by the US to support opposition organisations in different countries under the pretext of “supporting democratic development” and were financed through various grants. USAID’s mission was to arouse protest sentiments in society towards the legitimate authorities, in particular in the South Caucasus.

    For example, USAID was directly related to the scandal that erupted in Georgia last October. As it turned out, USAID was caught trying to stage a coup in this country. The Georgian intelligence services published some training materials in Tbilisi on September 26–29, confirming the preparation of a coup organised through this agency. During the training conducted through USAID, activists were trained to confront the authorities and law enforcement agencies.

    USAID has also intended to carry out subversive activity in Azerbaijan. However, Azerbaijan, thanks to the unity and solidarity of people and the authorities, crushed the plans of this agency, preventing its aspirations to manipulate civil society. Commenting on Power’s statements and actions, Assistant to the Azerbaijani President Hikmet Hajiyev wrote on X last November: “Mask Off! There is no place for USAID operation in Azerbaijan any longer!” As a result, USAID failed to harm Azerbaijan.

    However, USAID and Samantha Power are welcome guests and “valued partners” in Armenia. Armenia has become a reliable berth for USAID in terms of spreading espionage activity. Of course, USAID’s activity in Armenia amid Yerevan’s pro-Western aspirations is directed against the interests of regional countries. In parallel, USAID is trying to undermine the peace process between Baku and Yerevan by highlighting the issue of Karabakh Armenians and manipulating the consciousness of civil society in Armenia. Is Armenia benefiting from USAID's disservice? There are some doubts. Yerevan will only secure its status as a political puppet, which the US will fully use by promoting exclusively its own interests.


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