Challenges for Armenia’s survival in a new geostrategic configuration

The Karabakh war is behind us but a formal peace is certainly not. While Armenia is waiting for its POWs from Azerbaijan and is burying its dead, the situation in and around the country continues to remain unsettled. Azerbaijan has taken over all the territories prescribed by the November 9 declaration, but the demarcation and delineation process is still in progress. Competing maps are in play and the losses of border villages are always from Armenian territory.

The impact of the war is so devastating that it has thrown people and government agencies which can barely keep up, let alone control the situation, into chaos.

Before domestic peace is restored, Armenia may lose even more territory and suffer further diplomatic defeats.

The challenge facing Armenia is not confined to the loss of Karabakh and large number of casualties; it is its accommodation to and survival in the new geostrategic configuration that has been created as a consequence of the war.

Turkey’s presence and influence has grown exponentially in the region and Armenia has to deal with the unrepentant perpetrator of genocide at its door.

As if Turkeys’ military presence in Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan were not enough, Ankara has more ambitious plans in the region and beyond. All these plans impact directly or indirectly, Armenia’s fate. Those plans may develop in three different directions:

A- The incorporation of peripheral regions into Turkey’s territory

B- The pan-Turanian plan which expands through Central Asia, challenging Russian and Chinese zones of influence in the region.

C- A thrust against Russia in cooperation with Ukraine over Donbass and Crimea.

A – Turkey already has military bases in the following countries: Albania, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Libya, Qatar, Syria, Somalia and Northern Cyprus.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey no longer keeps secret his desire of incorporating in some form of federal union the following territories: Northern Cyprus, parts of Northern Syria, a region of Kurdish territory in Iraq, Nakhichevan, the southern region of Armenia, a part of Georgia, most probably Ajaria, on whose territory Turkey has lay claim by the Treaty of Kars of 1921, and the entire territory of Azerbaijan, whose leader Ilham Aliyev, has been duped by the formal of “one nation, two states,” while in fact it has turned to be “one nation, one state.”

President Erdogan had also been complaining about the restrictive clauses of the Treaty of Lausanne, which in fact created a republic out of the ruins of the Ottoman Empire. Had it not been for Lenin’s assistance to Ataturk, the Greek forces of Eleftherios Kyriakou Venizelos had already occupied Smyrna, Armenians had returned to Cilicia and the territories prescribed by the Treaty of Sevres of 1920 would have been given to the Armenians and Kurds, and the Turks would have become a minority in Asia Minor.

And yet, President Erdogan wants to change the terms of the Lausanne Treaty, which has given the littoral islands of Turkey to Greece.

B – As Turkey lays its expansion plans, encroaching on neighboring countries’ territories, no one is bringing up the principle of territorial integrity of those nations. That question was not raised either when President Trump granted Syria’s Golan Heights to Israel.

It looks as if that principle only applies to Karabakh. Actually, it applies only to wealthy nations.

Incidentally, Armenians should continue challenging the case of Karabakh, because what Azerbaijan did in 1989 by annexing the Autonomous Oblast of Nagorno Karabakh to its territory was an illegal action. Because the Armenian people in Karabakh had held a referendum and seceded from the Soviet Union, as did East Timor, Kosovo, Ukraine, South Sudan and others, from their parent countries.

President Erdogan at one point expressed his ambitions for Turkey to become a caliphate of the Muslim world. But then he hit a snag domestically and internationally, because the leader of Turkey’s Nationalist Party Develt Bahçeli characterized him as the “most dangerous living threat to Turks.”

He has since entered into a coalition with Bahçeli and the Grey Wolves; he now has changed his tune to take up the leadership of the Turkic nations. Internationally, Turkey was challenged by Saudi Arabia and Egypt for the leadership of the Sunni world. This time around, President Erdogan’s plan is to build an empire consisting of 300 million Turkic peoples.

Last year, a conference of Turkic-speaking peoples was held in Baku. This is how Mr. Erdogan formulated his plan at that conference: “Despite the fact that we are two states, we believe we are the children of one nation. But today, enlarging our outlook, we say we are six states but one nation.”

These nations are Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kirgizia, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, led by Turkey.

Chechnya and Iranian Azerbaijan were not mentioned in order not to antagonize Russia and Iran, respectively.

This empire had been Enver Pasha’s dream, which did materialize because the newly-rising Soviet power dashed his plans. He was killed in Bukhara by an Armenian, Hakob Melkumyan.

It is no wonder then that Erdogan mentioned Enver, a member of the Ittihadist triumvirate who planned and executed the Armenian Genocide. Erdogan’s reference to him during the Baku victory parade after defeating Armenia contained a double meaning: that the heirs of the murderer of the Armenians was alive and that the Turks are joining to realize Enver Pasha’s unfulfilled plans.

C – Ever since Crimea held a referendum in 2014 to join Russia, that expression of the people of the region is considered illegal by the West and Turkey has joined the chorus of angry nations. President Erdogan reiterated many times that Turkey does not recognize the “annexation” of Crimea by Russia. Former Foreign Minister of Turkey Ahmet Davutoglu further elaborated that Turkey will support the Tatars in Crimea.

Historically, the Crimean Tatars have lived in an autonomous region of the Ottoman Empire for six centuries. But the peninsula has changed hands many times during the Crimean wars between Turkey and Russia. During the Soviet period, Crimea became an autonomous oblast of Russia. In 1954, Nikita Khrushchev, the head of the Soviet Union (who was of Ukrainian extraction) gifted the region to Ukraine.

Today, Crimea’s total population numbers 2.3 million, of which 65 percent are Russians, 15 percent Ukrainian and 12 percent Tatars. Under any condition, the results of the referendum were predictable.

Last week, a military agreement was signed between Ukraine and Turkey. The Kiev government has decided to purchase Turkish drones as an alternative to Russian defensive armaments, in light of the former’s superior performance on the battlefields of Syria, Libya and Karabakh. It is believed that Ukraine will invade Donbass, which is controlled by pro-Russian forces. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that “restoring Ukrainian sovereignty is one of the objectives of our foreign policy.”

One day after Zelensky’s announcement, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavusoglu and Minister of Defense Hulusi Akar arrived in Kiev. Again, this is a repeat of the choreography of the wars in Syria, Libya and Karabakh.

Although Turkey will be settling scores with Russia, this adventure will be much appreciated at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, where Ukraine’s membership is anticipated.

On all fronts where Turkish and Russian forces confront each other, Moscow gives in, seeking some sort of accommodation. In this case, Russia may give up Donbass to legitimize its control over Crimea.

Armenians have been pinning their hopes on Russia for protection for more than a century. But Moscow’s recent policy gives one cause for concern. Russian strength is being challenged by Turkish forces and it is on the defensive. One of the reasons Russia kept a neutral stance in the Karabakh war was Moscow’s reluctance to engage Turkish forces to save Armenia. The other reason was that Moscow had decided to teach a lesson to Armenia’s inept leadership for its anti-Russian posturing for two years.

Therefore, if not rely on Russia, what should Armenia do? First it needs to build up its defensive forces and develop alliances. The laser weapons that Turkey used to pulverize Armenian military hardware could have been countered, because Armenians have been far more advanced in terms of laser technology dating back to 30 years ago. Knowing that the enemies were waiting for an opportunity to strike, why did the Armenian government not use the wealth of knowledge at its disposal?

Turkey’s growing power — both in the region and beyond — poses an existential challenge for the very survival of Armenia.

Media can quote materials of Aravot.am with hyperlink to the certain material quoted. The hyperlink should be placed on the first passage of the text.

Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Related posts