Episode 284 | Recorded: October 9, 2023
On Saturday, Hamas and Israel clashed on the border of the Gaza strip. At the time of our recording, over 800 Israelis are reportedly dead, with over 2000 injured. The Palestinians report over 350 dead and over 2300 injured. It was a very uncharacteristic war, where Palestinian guerillas achieved unexpected results in their offensives, although Israel is now striking back and recovering some of the lost positions and villages.
There are Israeli reports that they’ve apprehended Turkish supplies and logistics targeted to the Palestinians. Meanwhile the Azeris are pro-Israel.
Since the depopulation of Artsakh, when 100,000 Armenians were forcibly removed from their indigenous homeland, we’ve been asking our analyst this same question.
The government of Artsakh was disbanded by president Samvel Shahramanyan, on Sep. 28.
In the past 2 weeks over 100,000 Artsakh refugees flooded into Armenia. This is on top of the additional 40-plus thousands who were already in Armenia since the war in 2020.
The Grenada meeting last week was in some ways disappointing and in other ways, even more disappointing. First, Azerbaijani president Aliyev did not show up. He wanted Turkish president Erdogan to attend his summit with Pashinyan, but European leaders rejected it, so neither Aliyev nor Erdogan showed up in Spain. Second, Aliyev’s absence did not prevent Pashinyan from signing something that he had said only verbally so far; he signed under a written statement formalizing his recognition of Azerbaijan’s sovereignty, specifying the 86,600 sq km of land area.
Immediately after the signing, Azerbaijani diplomats and media began circulating older demands that Armenia is in control of “8 villages” (referring to enclaves) which should be relinquished immediately.
Earlier you mentioned the topic of enclaves.
There are signs that Aliyev may be looking to move the negotiations platform away from Europe. On Sunday, Aliyev said that he would start talks in Georgia immediately, with Armenia. Additionally, today Russia has also offered to organize a meeting of the three foreign ministers in Bishkek, and possibly in collaboration with the US and the EU, saying that the Armenian Azerbaijani conflict is not resolved yet.
Russian experts are also predicting that Aliyev will try to move negotiations back to Russia, or somewhere away from the West.
With the concern that Pashinyan has agreed to give away the enclaves, which will be a chokehold on Armenia’s major communication arteries, it seems that the only “red line” left for Armenia would be its sovereignty over Syunik despite the demand from Turkey and Azerbaijan of multiple passageways through Armenia’s south, or what they call the “Zangezur corridor”. Armenia has repeatedly stated that it would retain sovereignty over any such road and has accused Turkey and Azerbaijan of claiming an ex-territorial corridor. Iran has stated firmly that Armenia’s borders and any geopolitical changes are a red line for them. The nuance here is that in point 9 of the Nov 2020 statement it states: “control over transport communication shall be exercised by the Border Guard Service bodies of the FSS of Russia”, so in a sense people are arguing that Armenia already ceded sovereignty.
In the past few days, Iran stepped up its diplomatic activities around reducing tensions in the south of Armenia, to prevent an outbreak of violence or possibly even war. Reportedly Iran and Azerbaijan have agreed to a railroad through Iran to connect Azerbaijan and Nakhijevan, which Turks have said is an alternative to the railroad through Meghri (part of the “Zangezur corridor”). Additionally, Azerbaijan and Iran have announced joint military exercises. Their diplomatic row over the attack on the Azerbaijani consulate in Tabriz also seems to be on the mend.
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. Sergei Melkonian is an Academic Director at the Armenian Research Foundation. He served as assistant to President of Armenia, Armen Sarkissian, on Russia and Middle East politics. Sergei is currently a Research Fellow at APRI Armenia and the Institute of Oriental Studies, and also Assistant Professor at Yerevan State University and the Russian-Armenian University. He is a co-founder of the Armenian Project NGO.
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.
Asbed is founder of the Armenian News Network Groong and co-founder of the ANN/Groong podcast.