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Is Armenia being prepared for war with Iran and Russia?

November 17 2023, 14:45

On November 15, the House Foreign Affairs Committee of the US Congress held a hearing titled ‘The Future of Nagorno-Karabakh’. This event should be considered a ‘one-man show’ of the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, James O’Brien, who was as frank as possible when presenting the position of official Washington on the situation in the region, outlining the clear interests of the American government, and shedding light on a number of events that have occurred recently.

The following points should be highlighted from O’Brien’s remarks:

  • Armenia and Azerbaijan can build their future outside the Russia–Iran axis
  • The goal of the United States is to achieve the withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers from Karabakh
  • The Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh should be replaced by military personnel from the United States and Europe
  • Any transport corridor that will be created in Armenia with the use of force or with the participation of Iran will face a decisive response
  • The United States stopped providing military and other aid to Azerbaijan

Even after skimming O’Brien’s speech, it is already very easy to answer why anti-Russian sentiments have been systematically heated up in Artsakh for a long time—in which Pashinyan’s henchman Arayik Harutyunyan took a personal part—and why anti-Russian protests were organized at the garrison of the Russian peacekeeping mission. One can also understand why, after the ceasefire in September 2023, panic was purposefully spread in Artsakh, although even Azerbaijani media wrote that Azerbaijani troops would not enter Stepanakert in the coming years. The purposeful spread of panic is, for example, when a former senior Artsakh official posted footage of Russian armored personnel carriers moving around Stepanakert on his social media, calling them “Azerbaijani heavy equipment.”

It is also noteworthy that a few hours before the congressional hearing began, the Azerbaijani media actually published inside info from O’Brien’s future speech on the suspension of Washington’s military assistance to Azerbaijan. Who could “leak” O’Brien’s speech and why?

Speaking of Azerbaijan, local pro-government media—as if there are others in this country—have already responded to the statements of the American diplomat. Thus, it became known that while preparing for the September war, Ilham Aliyev “took into account the pressure of non-regional players”, and “repeatedly warned that no force could prevent Baku from restoring full sovereignty over its territories,” and this position of Aliyev was fully brought to the attention of US officials.

Commenting on the “suspension of military aid,” the very same media noted that “US support is mainly designed not to strengthen the security of Azerbaijan but to protect the interests of the United States itself in the strategic confrontation with Iran.”

However, the key part of O’Brien’s speech was that Armenia and Azerbaijan can build their future beyond the Russia–Iran axis. This is what we have repeatedly stated, but the Armenian public and the political elite did not pay much attention to this. With such wording, Washington signals that Yerevan should follow the path of forming a regional military-political alliance with Turkiye and Azerbaijan. Alliance against Iran and Russia. Moreover, it should be the alliance that is ready to fight against these countries.

Back in May, a senior adviser to the US State Department, Luis Bono, stated that the US seeks to ensure that Yerevan and Baku can live together, strengthen economic ties, and even ensure collective security in the region. And no one understood the essence of this statement.

By the way, both Yerevan and Baku have already responded to O’Brien’s proposal. The Aliyev media reminded Washington of the failure of the Obama administration to establish relations between Turkiye and Armenia “without taking into account the interests of the actors in the region.” As for official Yerevan, Pashinyan responded to the proposal to build the future “outside the Russia-Iran axis”, stating that “Armenia is neither a place of arms nor an outpost,” hinting at similar statements previously addressed to Armenia by Russian officials. At the same time, he did not say a word about whether he considers Armenia a buffer between Russia and the West, as President Macron previously called the country.

The hearing in the US Congress proved that we are just entering a period of great upheaval.