A couple of weeks ago we were talking with Benyamin Poghosyan, and in his scenarios for securing the safety of Armenia, he recommended that Armenia needs to negotiate for indefinite, or at least prolonged, monitoring missions, CSTO troops, or whoever’s able to cause a dampening of Azerbaijan’s attacks on our borders.
It seems that Armenia is indeed negotiating for international monitors, EU, OSCE, CSTO, any presence, even civilian missions, at this stage of the negotiations with Azerbaijan, with Aliyev’s deadline of Dec. 2022 to get an agreement signed, looming on the horizon. We are explicitly avoiding calling the process with Azerbaijan a “peace agreement” because there can be no peace signed with a gun pointed to your head, no matter what Pashinyan wants to call it.
We all know the checkered history of peacekeeping and monitoring missions under different auspices, whether it is UN, NATO, OSCE or EU. Yet, some people are really excited about a limited 2-months monitoring mission from the EU, composed of several dozen civilian monitors.
We just heard the news towards the end of the week that the OSCE is sending a needs assessment team
As if the EU and OSCE are not enough, the CSTO says it will meet soon and sending monitors to Armenia is one of the recommendations of their fact-finding team. In Astana president Putin said that Armenia, holding the presidency of the CSTO in 2022, should convene a CSTO security council meeting and request the troops it needs on its borders. This hasn’t happened for months.
Macron stated that Russia conspired with Turkey against Armenia. You could also hear it in US official statements including:
Experts have warned that lack of cooperation or outright rivalry between the West and Russia in our region is against Armenia’s interests. Yet at first glance it seems that’s where we’re headed. The animosity between the West and Russia and Iran is coming off loud and clear.
In terms of the Artsakh conflict, it appears that the West has collectively recognized the sovereignty of Azerbaijan over Artsakh, even with Macron wavering on the status of Artsakh. The Russian proposal is only a tad bit less discouraging. The Russians offer a very similar “peace plan” (what in reality is a clear capitulation) but with the status of Artsakh to be decided at a future date, without any clear prescription of when and how, and what happens in the meantime.
Ararat Mirzoyan recently said that “unexpected third countries” are supporting Azerbaijan’s interpretation of the Nov. 9 statement, many interpreting it as an obvious accusation at Russia.
In the past month, Iran has fully activated its diplomacy, as well as its military in the northern direction. It appears that the aftershock of Armenia’s losses in the 44-day war have awakened Iran to its own present disadvantageous positions, vis-à-vis its traditional competitors, as well as enemies; and that includes Turkey, Azerbaijan, Russia, as well as the west, the US and the EU. We can even include Israel in this list, due to the worrisome defense cooperation between Israel and Azerbaijan.
At every summit, or conference, Iran has reiterated its redline about keeping the Iran-Armenia border intact through all geopolitical changes. And most recently, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp, the IRGC, has begun conducting massive military exercises in the northern direction; reportedly the exercises point at readiness to invade Azerbaijan, Nakhichevan, and defend Armenian borders deep into its territory.
This past week, Iran opened its consulate in Kapan, in Armenia’s southern Syunik province. The foreign ministers of both countries were present and emphasized the close relations between the two countries, with Iran’s FM Hossein Amir-Abdollahian saying that Armenia’s security was Iran’s own security.
Iran’s newly appointed consul general in Kapan, Morteza Abedin Varamin, added that “we will not officially recognize any change in internationally recognized borders of Armenia.” He further stated, “don’t worry, I am in Kapan”.
Iran has also announced a number of economic investments in Armenia, including a manufacturing line for auto exports to the Eurasian Economic Union.
In the past week, defense minister Suren Papikyan paid a long visit to India. After Armenia’s near quarter billion dollar purchase of Indian weaponry, including MLRS and surface to air missiles, and other weaponry, Armenia is considering further purchases. Papikyan also attended a Defense Expo in New Delhi. This week reports also came out that Armenia is considering buying Iranian drones, which are proving their value in battle for Russia in Ukraine.
After the 44-day war, there were complaints by Pashinyan that some Russian weaponry “worked only in 10% capacity”. More recently Pashinyan has made side swipes at Russia, insinuating that they had been paid for weaponry which they were not delivering.
In a response to the reports that Armenia may be purchasing Iranian drones, the newly installed Iran consul in Kapan, Morteza Abedin Varamin said that “Armenia will never need offensive weapons”.
After years of stop and start negotiations, Lebanon and Israel have announced that a maritime agreement brokered by the US is essentially agreed upon. We’re including a couple of links in our show notes to read about the details of the agreement.
On Thursday this week, the Lebanese parliament again failed to elect a new president, and Michel Aoun’s term ends on October 31.
We hope you found our Week in Review helpful, we invite your feedback and your suggestions. You can find us on most social media and podcast platforms. Thanks to Laura Osborn for the music on our podcasts.
Dr. Arthur Khachikyan, an International Relations expert from Stanford University, specializing in intervention. He currently teaches at the Russian Armenian University in Yerevan.
Yeghia Tashjian, is a regional analyst and researcher based in Beirut, with expertise in China, Iran and the Persian Gulf. Tashjian is Associate Fellow at the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut and a part-time instructor in International Affairs at the American University for Science and Technology.
Asbed is founder of Groong and co-founder of the ANN/Groong podcast.
Hovik Manucharyan is an information security engineer who moved from Seattle to Armenia in 2022. He co-founded the ANN/Groong podcast in 2020 and has been a contributor to Groong News since the late 1990s.