Armenian Maverick Premier in Occupied Azeri Land To Tilt The Balance In Own Favor

Fuad Muxtarlı Analysis 5 August 2019
Armenian Maverick Premier in Occupied Azeri Land To Tilt The Balance In Own Favor

On August 5, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan is travelling to Azerbaijan’s separatist Nagorno-Karabakh region to address the locals amid escalating bitter confrontation between the arch enemies – on the one hand, Robert Kocharyan and Serzh Sargsyan – natives of the breakaway region, who ruled Armenia for two terms each, on the other hand - the current prime minister.

In a Facebook post, Pashinyan urged people of the breakaway region to take to the street and help him in his drive to purge people of the former rulers from power in Karabakh. He wants to completely alter the balance of forces in the region in his favor as was the case in Armenia after the popular street protests that squeezed former Karabakh separatists out of power. Time will show whether or not for ever!

With the approaching so-called presidential election in the separatist region, several urgent issues needed to be tackled by Pashinyan to reinforce his position. On the other hand, Moscow has a series of plans in mind to keep the region unstable. One of them is to push own protégé since with own people in the region, it is always easy for the Kremlin to fish in the muddy waters.

On the other hand, unstable Karabakh always provides Russia with all-out opportunities to pressurise Azerbaijan and Armenia and dictate own conditions. For Nikol Pashinyan, whose aggressor country bears the brunt of expenses for keeping its military presence in Karabakh, it is pivotal to secure its rear from turbulence and chart own course – that’s pro-Western line, at the same time to enjoy Moscow’s backing in the Karabakh conflict.

Nikol Pashinyan, who led the popular movement in Armenia in April-May 2018 that led to the resignation of then Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan, is also at loggerheads with the separatist Karabakh leader, Bako Sahakyan, who is a confidant of the Karabakh separatists, who had launched the secession movement, provoked chaos and brought about tragedy in the South Caucasus when the USSR was in death agony.

Since May 2018, Armenia’s Pashinyan has had plans to change the situation in his own favor in Azerbaijan’s occupied territory and neutralise any threat to his power though Kocharyan does not want to concede with his demands and has recently decided to openly challenge his government.

The former president, who is in prison for his alleged role in the 2008 presidential election that resulted in over dozens of death and detentions of civilian protesters, made his point clear and predicted Pashinyan’s fall as long as this autumn. One of the detainees at that time was Nikol Pashinyan.

The two rival Armenian clans with covert and overt squabbling have a lot to win and lose for own clans and for outside backers. Robert Kocharyan is openly supported by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who also makes no secret of his amicable ties with him. Putin congratulated Robert Kocharyan on his birthday anniversary and pulled his weight behind him – a gesture that angered Nikol Pashinyan – who is seeking political independence from Russia, but at the same time, favors cheap Russian gas, weapons and the protection of the borders with Turkey among others.

With the unresolved conflict in the region for over 30 years and no prospect for peace in years to come between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Karabakh, the Kremlin is determined to conserve the conflict in order to retain both Baku and Yerevan under control and dictate own terms – a sort of an eternal trap for the whole South Caucasus region.

Hopes are slim or almost none that the Karabakh conflict will be resolved by peaceful means and calls for a military solution to the de-occupation of the seized territory are on the rise on daily basis.

Different forcible arguments are being made in Azerbaijan for the liberation of the territories under occupation militarily and one of the arguments is that the confrontation between the Karabakh clan and Pashinyan would reduce to domestic clashes and thus to the liberation of the territories.

At present, an extremely difficult situation has developed in Armenia. A tangle of conflicting interests of external forces and various domestic political groups, which, in turn, are also managed from external centres. It is important to take into account the factor of the Armenian diaspora in the USA and in Russia.

No matter how many Armenian nationalists of all stripes, who pretend to be adherents of “Great Armenia”, beat themselves in the chest, Yerevan is not a decision-making centre, but a venue of geopolitical experiments. Therefore, we cannot talk about an independent course of both Armenia and individual politicians and functionaries including current Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and ex-President Robert Kocharyan.

Now, in the conditions of a tug of war between Moscow and Washington, as well as internal groups oriented towards them, it is difficult to say whether it will be possible to get a conviction for the ex-president in jail. The current judiciary was mainly formed under the “Karabakh clan”, one of the ancestors of which is Kocharyan.

But even those political groups that came with Pashinyan have already smelled power; so they wouldn’t give it away just like that. We will still observe the confrontation of these forces until Armenia reaches the peak of the political and economic crisis. Perhaps Pashinyan will hold on to power for some time. He still has more chances than Kocharyan, but in any case, Armenia is going through a transitional period, and all these figures are most likely temporary.

Everything is possible in Armenia now, including the next coup as the next stage of the Armenian "revolution". But the so-called Armenian "revolution" has two manifestations: on the one hand, it was a "sweetie" for the people who were lured into a "bright" future: without corruption, oligarchs, executioners, with cheap gas and an affordable food basket.

On the other hand, the American embassy, the second largest in the world, simply launched its working project on Armenia, which is always used as an instrument of external forces. At the beginning of the 20th century - against Turkey, at the end of the 1980s - against the USSR, and today - against Azerbaijan and Russia’s presence in that country.

The confrontation between the authorities and the people will turn into yet another victim; but in Armenia, they are used to such scenarios. This is even part of their political culture. No matter how much the Kocharyans and Pashinyans shuffle in Armenia, nothing will change in this country until sensible political forces appear that can lead Armenia out of the Karabakh conflict and unblock the borders with neighboring states.