As Large-Scale Military Drills Get Underway, Armenian Premier Provokes Baku to Conflict

Fuad Muxtarlı Analysis 18 September 2018
As Large-Scale Military Drills Get Underway, Armenian Premier Provokes Baku to Conflict

Serious events are brewing in the entire Middle East as a whole, and in the South Caucasus, in particular. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan is on the horns of a dilemma and is gradually realizing the burden on his shoulders and uncertainties surrounding his future political career. As time passes, he understands that economic, political, social and military problems need to be tackled urgently to avoid growing pressure at home and abroad. Simultaneously, he is forced to please his people to have their support and avoid criticism of the opposition. He also wants strong support from the West to withstand the Russian pressure coupled with pro-Russian groups and businesses at home to hit it off with other geopolitical players.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan remains undecided and his political statements do not follow exact patterns as he wants to benefit Russia’s economic opportunities and boost rapprochement with the West to which the Kremlin is nervous and uses all the means to keep the Pashinyan government from drifting away. Pashinyan’s coming to power would have been impossible without the participation of Western forces, and for this, of course, it is still necessary to compensate, which in principle forms part of his statements about the pro-Western way of development of Armenia.

On the other hand, he is still economically and militarily in the hug of Russia. The Kremlin is completely uninterested in the loss of another republic in such an explosive region. And, most importantly, it is the opposition from among all the former rivals and, of course, the economic situation in Armenia, which again can lead the people to the streets.

With all burning problems in mind, Pashinyan is trying to provoke the leadership of Azerbaijan with his statements, lacking absolutely clue what he can expect in the near future.

As a saying goes, in the absence of money, everything is very well settled by war. Therefore, now, especially abroad, during meetings with the Armenian diaspora, Pashinyan promotes nationalistic topics, such as "we will not give a single inch of our native land", provoking Azerbaijan to an open conflict.

However, what actually happens tomorrow, I think, he does not even know himself. After all, a man who has tasted popular power cannot refuse it so easily, and he has to turn around trying to keep power in any way, trying to please everyone - the people, the opposition, the West, Russia and so on.

Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan continues to remain in limbo, without knowing where the blow can come from, and therefore, he, depending on the situation, says something new every time, sometimes contradicting his earlier statements, but in another situation. This behavior of Nikol Pashinyan adds a certain drive to the explosiveness of the regional situation.

The situation in the region is not just critical. It is becoming explosive day by day. Due to certain factors, the crisis in Turkey is somehow under the control of the government. The absence of problems in trade with Europe, and, most importantly, the interest of many European leaders, allows Erdogan to keep the situation under control. The intensification of regional leaders meetings with one another in August-September of this year is a clear proof of the evolving situation.

Washington is ambivalent about the processes connected with the Syrian conflict. "The events in Syria, especially in Idlib province, where the interests of Turkey, Russia and Iran meet, somehow cause a frenzied interest, or rather, envy from America. The White House is not ready to say that someone other than it can settle down the situation.

At the same time, the situation is also explosive in Iran as the economic situation is worsening and in November, the U.S. administration is planning to slap new sanctions on Tehran, and the domestic situation may even become explosive and further escalate the wider regional situation. Events in Iran can at any time get out of control. Many people would be interested in Iran's government to become secular again, without religious dictatorship, but it is unlikely that this issue will be resolved without military intervention. Add here another destabilizing factor, like the situation in Armenia, it turns out that Azerbaijan is the only island of stability and tranquility in the entire region.

In the emerging situation, Baku is becoming almost a connecting geopolitical center, practically all the interests in the region. In addition, virtually all players in the region have either big claims to the U.S. foreign policy, or rather, to its new interpretation under Trump's governance, or a great interest in his attempts to solve the Iranian issue, and at the same time, Syrian, taking into account their interests.

According to the interests of European countries, the situation in the Middle East also begins to hit on the rebound. Hence, German Chancellor Merkel’s visit to the Caucasus and almost Makron's daily loud statements about the situation in the region and his genuine interest in the events in Turkey are among the key factors. Naturally, all these touch Moscow’s interests, which gradually regain the status of a world power, especially in this region. In this situation, Russia is almost a unifying factor for all regional players, as opposed to American hegemony and possible annexation.

On the other hand, the recent meeting in Sochi of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, it was not all about economic issues. At the latest meeting of Ilham Aliyev and Vladimir Putin, there was a disproportionate amount of talk for their level of communication about trade and economic relations between the countries, that you begin to understand that the main thing here is not trade but something much more serious happening in the region. So, it is not serious that one meeting was not enough for the presidents to discuss all aspects of regional trade.

Serious events are brewing in the region. Despite the fact that the situation is more than explosive and almost deadlocked, politicians driven by security and prosperity of their people have a role to play.