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Three-pronged revanchist coalition threatens Armenia’s future

15 December 2021 12:46 (UTC+04:00)
Three-pronged revanchist coalition threatens Armenia’s future

By Orkhan Amashov

Revenge is a strong poison. When the one harbouring grievance is immeasurably weaker than his nemesis, the grudge held is likely to be excruciatingly damaging for one who is seeking to avenge. Armenia is defeated and weak. More than anything else, it needs to have peaceful relations with its neighbours.

But there are those, both in and outside Armenia, who are frantically trying to sow the seeds of revenge, or rather augment already existing pain, and defy the natural order. Their endeavours are the receipt of a more calamitous defeat, and they are better stopped, inter alia, for the sake of Armenia.

Those dreaming of revenge are not, in fact, one consolidated force. They rather form a large and loose confederation of units, which are linked through various modes of explicit cooperation, and could collectively be referred to as the pro-war coalition. Their strategy is to convince the country that the disastrous consequences of the Second Karabakh War are irrefutably reversible and therefore any step towards a conclusive and comprehensive treaty should be held in contempt and foiled. The revanchist conglomerate seeks to gain some time, restore the ramshackle Armenian army's so-called capabilities, and wage a new war.

The Armenian Karabakh clan, which had a powerful sway over the whole government apparatus during 20 years of uncontested supremacy, is at the heart of the whole business. By fuelling revanchist sentiments, they also form and pursue their own political agenda to dethrone Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan at an appropriate moment.

The Armenian diaspora, known for its militant and uncompromising demands, constitutes another ingredient, which is in a uniquely advantageous position, as its members are not suffering the consequences of the lack of peace, yet from their comfortable seats located in various countries they, in the most bellicose manner, demand retribution. They are haughty, hawkish, deluded and incredibly self-opinionated. A potential peace treaty with Azerbaijan will necessitate the renunciation of the long-held toxic aspirations that have been central to the diaspora's identity.

According to some experts, including the prominent Robert Cutler, fellow at Canadian Global Affairs, there is also a third element, and that is Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the entity which has been in close relationship with the Armenian military-industry complex for some time. It could perhaps be tentatively assumed that this component is relatively inert, and in light of the improved Azerbaijani-Iranian relations and some shrewd moves recently made by incumbent Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, is likely to remain largely harmless.

The revanchists, in general, maintain the view that the present quagmire, in which Armenia has found itself, is exclusively due to the current government. It is true that Pashinyan was the one who signed the final act of surrender. It is also undeniably true that a series of incautious and irresponsible steps taken by him led to the point of no return, after which a military confrontation became unavoidable. Nevertheless, what the pro-war coalition members failed to mention is that Armenia's disastrous defeat was largely the outcome of the unforgivable diplomatic and strategic recklessness committed under the collective rule of former Presidents Robert Kocharyan and Serzh Sargsyan.

It was the Karabakh clan that pursued the simple and ultimately fatal policy of procrastinating over the conflict in perpetuity or, to be more precise, of maintaining the status quo and engaging in the process of imitating negotiations until Azerbaijan was diplomatically and morally exhausted. This was a massive miscalculation, which lies at the very heart of Armenia's current pathetic, dire and beleaguered state. In addition, the clan in question had an upper hand in negotiations, due to the result of the first war, but failed to utilise this advantageous position for the purpose of peacebuilding.

When the Armenian government started to refer to the seven districts adjacent to Karabakh as "liberated lands", it was clear that the aggressor's appetite was not likely to be curbed easily. Pashinyan's Karabakh policy was utterly shambolic and he committed all sorts of blunders, sometimes not altogether inadvertently. However, he was, in many ways, hostage to the previous administrations' inflexibility

The damage Armenia suffered as a result of last year’s war is not merely physical, but also mental. The urge for revenge is an unhealthy reaction to this calamitous and unmitigated defeat, and the absurdity of the aspirations of would-be avengers is closely linked with the delusions of grandeur firmly entrenched in Armenian society.

There was a feeling prior to the war that Armenia would always be favoured by the Western world, which would tilt towards a "long-suffering Christian" victim nation, and Russia, which was and is a formal treaty ally of Yerevan. There was also a feeling of military superiority engendered by the result of the first war.

Armenian political scientist Arman Grigoryan stated that revenge-driven forces create an image of reality, which has elements of a simulacrum of truth. Their way of thinking seems to be fully inclusive of desires and prejudices, which have nothing to do with sober reevaluation of the present circumstances. The historical trauma, which is, to a certain extent, invented or imagined, in conjunction with limited experience of sovereignty, has long been the cause of the self-destructive policies pursued by Yerevan. If, due to the war party, Pashinyan's government finds itself compelled to repeat the pattern, the consequences will be completely ruinous.

Armenia is weak and ill, albeit not terminally. What it requires is a powerful and clearly-defined denunciation of the grandiose delusions long held dear. The dense atmosphere of illusion is to be dispelled. This, of course, should happen inside the country itself first. However, in some ways, the shattered Armenian soul will also need to be cleansed in a regional purgatory, as the future of any nation also lies in the hands of its neighbours.

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