Friday, June 6, 2008

The Opposition and War with Azerbaijan in Context

Pashinian's interview below was published on March 3rd. Much of the original was about his account of what happened on the 1st, an account that he reproduces and adds to in his detailed "Analytical essay" that I've translated (you can access all six parts by checking under the April tab on the right); I'm therefore not going to translate that part of the interview, but the rest of it, where Pashinian talks about the relationship between the Gharabagh issue and the current government's efforts to hang on to power.

With the sit-ins scheduled to begin again on June 20th, I have decided to revisit the possibility that Sargsyan and Kocharyan might attempt to rekindle the war in order to be able to declare a period of martial law that, as Pashinian points out, could "legally" last as long as 6 months--even a year.

I want to know how likely it is that such a war will break out and, if it does, what it might mean in the context of the global geopolitical struggles being waged today, twenty some odd years after the breakup of the Soviet Union and neck deep into Haliburton Stalinism.
Two related bits of news in particular make me think that such a war is a distinct possibility, even though Pashinian says he thinks Russia and the west won't let Kocharyan and Sargsyan go that far. The first is a Eurasianet quote of Rudolf Perina, US envoy to Armenia, addressing in a very ambiguous way the possibility of the US's coming to see anti-Azerbaijani fighters in Gharabagh as terrorists:

EurasiaNet: How does official Washington regard the idea of dispatching US trainers to Azerbaijan for fighting terrorists in Nagorno-Karabakh?
Perina: I know the notion "terrorism" has been used in a wide sense. By "terrorism," the US means specific problems, for instance, [terrorist] organizations and persons supporting these organizations. We know very well what we mean by "terrorism".

The ambiguity of the answer makes it that much more creepy. I came across this article while looking into the background of Rudolf Perina, who, it turns out, has more neocon connections than Liberace had rhinestones: educated at the University of Chicago the same time Wolfowitz was there and Leo Strauss's and Milton Friedman's influence were rife, wrote his doctoral dissertation/hagiography on anti-Soviet Prague Spring dissident authors, entered government service to check Soviet power in East Europe around the same time that Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz became aids to Senator Henry Jackson, anti-Soviet paranoiac. (I wrote about Perina in a comment on Onnik Krikorian's site about a year ago. [Thanks to Onnik for finding it].)

Rudolf Perina served in Serbia (or thereabouts) right up to when war broke out in the 90s. His expertise is in Turkish/Christian regions that are under threat of war and where NATO/US have an interest. Note that it was under his watch that the US provoked the Serbs into attacking Kosovar Albanians by arming and funding the KLA and having them attack the Serbs and do things like commit mass rapes; once the Serbs had had enough and started fighting back, the US (and the usual suspects) concocted the story of Serbian genocide and used it as an excuse to bomb the Serbs back to the stone-age, for "humanitarian" reasons. That's what Perina specializes in. Pennington's (US Embassy charge d'affairs) credentials are, unsurprisingly, quite similar.

Clearly, these people's background is bad enough already. Coupled with Perina's innuendos about terrorism and Armenia, their task seems to be ensuring--for reasons very different from Kocharian's--that his martial-law scenario becomes a reality, one that neatly fits into the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), i.e., the horrendous mess that is Iraq and Afghanistan.

The second bit of news that fits in with this line of thinking is the recently recurring story about PKK presence in Gharabagh and Azeri presence in Turkey, near its border with Iraqi-Kurdistan. The long-term goal of all of this internationalizing of the Iraq war seems to be US/NATO expansion into Russia--through a war fought by proxies on both sides. Just in case it is not clear, I am talking about a new Vietnam. Vietnam being a proxy war between China and the US, a second war between Armenia and Azerbaijan will be the same thing: a proxy war between the US/NATO and Russia. About the only thing that Armenia has on its side is that the formation of loyalties and interests of the parties involved is so thoroughly byzantine that it would outdo a Philip Dick novel.

Will the US and NATO actually try forcing their way into Russia? US foreign policy experts, such as Brzezinski, are on record saying that the US should expand its influence into Eurasia and Central Asia; the PNAC calls for such unabashedly imperial expansion; Iraq was an important Russian ally in West Asia; and the color revolutions as well as Kosovo represent nothing less than a track record of the US doing so. The real question is whether anything can slow them down or stop them. Indeed, they have to take things one step at a time and solve their Iraqi mess first (or at least those US interests that want stability do, anyway; the neocons, for their part, don't care: they have a philosophical commitment to war as a means of controlling the public and keeping it psychologically "fit"). In this regard, what happens in Iraqi-Kurdistan, and Iraq and Afghanistan in general, is of extreme importance to Armenia.

It is in this context that I put the entire conflict between the Opposition and Sargsyan/Kocharian. Many people think that in this conflict, between US/NATO and Russia, Ter-Petrossian is some kind of an agent of the former. That is (most likely) not the case, although the fact that they are both struggling against the same force might make it seem like they have the same essential interests. This, however, is the decisive consideration in my decision to support Ter-Petrossian: Ter-Petrossian wants to kick Russian-backed Kocharian and Sargsyan out of Armenia--not for the sake of the US, but for the sake of real Armenian independence, which, in practical terms, means Armenians gaining control over their own ministry of intelligence (called the National-Security Service), the nervous system of the independence of any nation. As Pashinian has pointed out numerous times, Armenia's NSS today is a veritable hive of KGB-era spies looking out for the interests of an out-of-control mafia-esque network that is fiddling with the trigger of a new war, a war that could have consequences far, far beyond Sargsyan's and Kocharyan's puny lives.

In the final analysis, I haven't seen any evidence that suggests that Ter-Petrossian is working for US/NATO interests, but I have seen plenty of evidence that the Kocharian-Sargsyan network is thoroughly corrupt, out of control, and under the influence of Russia; therefore, if the Opposition prevails, there is a chance that Ter-Petrossian will prove through his deeds to be loyal to Armenia, but if the Opposition fails, we will never get to find out whether Armenia could have gained real independence, and Armenians will continue to languish under tyranny. The choice is clear: the Opposition might bring independence; the status quo will definitely bring more tyranny.

Unfortunately, there are many people who harbor a bizarre kind of personal hatred against Ter-Petrossian. They refer to him by his first name, as if he were a personal acquaintance of theirs, and treat him as if he were a used-car salesman that has sold them a lemon (I suspect that ARF propaganda from 1996 is at the root of this attitude). These same people don't harbor such feelings toward Pashinian, however, and Pashinian has said and done things that have proven to me that he is a natural at the game. Maybe Pashinian is the one destined to pull Armenia back from the brink of catastrophe, after all.


Pashinian: War with Azerbaijan.

Q. News arrived only yesterday that quite a tense situation obtains at the border between Gharabagh and Azerbaijan. In your opinion, what do those actions mean: Does an immediate threat of war exist?

A. Robert Kocharian and Serzh Sargsyan know very well that the minute the tanks leave the streets of Yerevan they will no longer be in power. The state of emergency declared by [Kocharian] is illegal, because the Constitution clearly states that the legal regime [1] in a state of emergency is governed by laws, whereas Robert Kocharian has defined a legal regime through his executive order, meaning that the legal regime, the censorship, the closure of newspapers, and all of the rest of the restrictions are illegal. Robert Kocharian's state of emergency cannot last very long; it has been slated for 20 days. In order for him to be able to keep his tank regime going, a state of emergency is indispensable to Robert Kocharian, and declaring martial law is conducive to having that. And I think that is one of Kocharian's scenarios: provoking clashes on the border which will make it possible to establish legally sanctioned martial law in Armenia that can last six months, a year. That would make it possible for him to continue acting as President, because Presidential elections are not held during periods of martial law and the sitting president continues in that capacity. I think that this is one of Robert Kocharian's spare scenarios.

Q. Immediately after the border clashes, NATO's special representative, Robert Simions, said that he is ready to facilitate the treaty upon the re-establishment of peace along the Armenia-Azerbaijan [2] border. Do you think that could prove a barrier to the realization of that scenario of Robert Kocharian's?

A. I am not able to comment on that at the present time, but I think that NATO, Russia, and the entire international community all understand that Serzh Sargsyan and Robert Kocharian are capable of taking the most extreme measures for the sake of staying in power, and I think that Russia and the west will not permit war to be provoked in the region just so one or two people can stay in power.

[...]

[Pashinian:] We all need to understand that, today, the people consider the arrest of Gagik Jhangirian as direct evidence of Serzh Sargsyan's and Robert Kocharyan's having been the authors of October 27th.

[...]

Q. There are credible reports that the NSS [3] has received orders from the highest levels of government to, not arrest you, but to eliminate you physically and make it look like an armed confrontation. What do you have to say about this?

A. I want to say that I have never had a weapon or carried one, I'm not armed right now, and I am not planning on arming myself. I have, in effect, gone underground not to escape arrest, but because I believe I bear a distinct responsibility for the future course of the movement, and the impetus to go underground has come from [the desire] to make a modest contribution to the future organization of the movement. As far as being armed is concerned, as I've already said, I have never had a weapon in my life, I am not armed right now, and I don't plan on arming myself. I am armed only with civil resolve: struggle, struggle until the end.

1. The rules that come into effect during a state of emergency.
2. The interviewer must mean the Gharabagh-Azerbaijan border.
3. National Security Service

6 comments:

parisan said...

very interesting work. I'll try to come back with comments, but it might take a while, because I'll be without Internet access for some time.

Keep the spirits up!

Armen Filadelfiatsi said...

Yeah, I would very much like to hear your comments, but I've been given to understand that you are on the move, and internet access under those conditions is usually iffy, given that we don't have chips in our brains yet.

Best of luck to you in your travels.

Anonymous said...

There's no Wikipedia article about Nikol Pashinian (or Pashinyan). To get him known to the larger world, maybe you or a colleague could work something up?

Onnik Krikorian said...

I guess you mean this:

http://blog.oneworld.am/2007/09/16/sksel-a/#comment-694

Armen Filadelfiatsi said...

That's a good idea, anonymous. I'll see if I can set up a stub for people to add to.

Armen Filadelfiatsi said...

That's exactly the one I was talking about.

Thanks a bunch, Onnik.