Tuesday December 6 2022

Armenian revanchism: Immense in daring, disastrous in consequence [VIDEO]

4 August 2022 09:59 (UTC+04:00)
Armenian revanchism: Immense in daring, disastrous in consequence [VIDEO]

By Orkhan Amashov

Revenge is a potent intoxicant that could take a hopelessly vanquished one through an agonisingly futile process of seeking to avenge. When one harbouring grievance is immeasurably weaker than one’s nemesis, the grudge held is a recipe for self-destruction.

Loose war coalition

The revanchist cause in Armenia and amongst its diaspora remains strong. Its propagators and backers form a loose confederation, including the Kocharyan-Sargsyan supporters inside the National Assembly, considerable elements within the army, the Armenian Apostolic Church, the diaspora who has a vested ideological and financial interest in ensuring the preservation of Yerevan’s isolation within the neighbourhood, external arms suppliers and other actors driven by pecuniary considerations.

This confluence of a wide array of forces is endangered by the possibility of peace, as a transition to stability will render them less consequential and with a lesser degree of authority over the affairs of the nation.

The Church, as the custodian of the Armenian national identity as ‘God’s uniquely chosen people’ is not remotely interested in peaceful coexistence with Azerbaijan and Turkiye, due to the massive loss of leverage over a society which has long been infested with what it has been preaching.

If the Church provides ‘spiritual foundations’ for the revanchist cause, the contemporary opposition, with ties to the former ‘Karabakh clan’ regime, gives it a definable content in domestic political discourse.

Given that the main strength of the aforementioned forces stems from pandering to the militaristic sentiments of society, after a comprehensive peace accord with Baku is signed, they will be politically emaciated, with their electoral base gradually evaporating.

The dynamics of ‘diaspora designs vs homeland realities’ will also be reshaped, as the worldwide Armenian diaspora will no longer be able to set the tempo or dictate the terms for Yerevan.

Peace is also devastating for all three elements as it militates against their long-held and deeply-entrenched notion that Azerbaijanis and Armenians are inherently incapable of living together. Former Armenian President Robert Kocharyan once said that the two nations are genetically incompatible, using this streak of rhetoric in a more diplomatic tone during the negotiations to propound the idea of a civilisational difference between the conflicting sides.

Sense of history

The present circumstances entrapping Armenia form an existential moment. It is vital that its meaning is judiciously understood. The existential import does not lie in the ‘loss of Karabakh’ per se, but in Armenia’s inability to accept this reality.

Pashinyan, for all his frailties and vacillations, has taken some steps towards a final peace over the past few months. Whenever he did something which could have been interpreted as a step away from the logic of former days, he has been viciously accused of treachery and sacrificing ‘sacrosanct’ Armenian objectives on the altar of a defeatist peace with Azerbaijan.

The revanchist cause is inextricably interwoven with a design that this is the time of resistance, and instead of ‘stooping to’ Azerbaijani demands, the line of vehement renunciation of the trilateral declaration provisions must be pursued.

History has known successful examples of defying what might have been deemed to be an inevitable course of events through the consolidation of resources under extraordinary circumstances. Turkiye – Armenia’s long-standing arch enemy - is a very good case in point.

The year 1919 constituted the lowest ebb in Turkish history. This was when Izmir was occupied by the Greeks, and Istanbul, the nation’s then-capital, was under de facto Allied occupation. The Sultan’s government was totally paralysed and unable to make independent decisions. This prompted some seemingly sensible Turks, guided by their country’s best interests, to suggest a peace accord with the victors of the First World War as the best mode of action.

A sense of defeatism and the premonition of even a greater calamity was palpable. The government of Damat Ferid Pasha was preaching a ‘sensible retrenchment’ to protect whatever was left of the Ottoman Empire, accepting the Allies’ demands.

It was the group of the resistant elements within the defeated Ottoman army, led by Mustafa Kemal, firmly convinced in the vital criticality of rejecting a defeatist peace accord, that organised a grand resistance from their newly-established base in Ankara. They reversed the course of history, much to the chagrin of the Armenians, who had had their own ambitions over the share of cake in the light of the Ottoman Empire’s dismemberment.

The parliament in Istanbul, in its final session, adopted the National Oath in January 1920, defining the territories not occupied at the time of signing the Armistice of Mudros (1918), inhabited by a Turkish majority, as the homeland of the Turkish nation. On this basis proceeded the government of the Grand National Assembly in Ankara, which pursued the line of resistance.

Being never ratified, the Treaty of Sevres went down in the annals of history as stillborn. But its mere name is still cause for perturbation in Turkiye. Its association with inglorious acceptance of defeat and treachery remains palpable in the Turkish psyche.

There are those in today’s Armenia, fully convinced of their patriotism and sense of historic mission, who may think it is time to ride out the storm, reverse the ‘unjust course of history’, overthrow the government of ‘defeatists and collaborationists’ and preserve the dignity of Armenian national pride.

And somehow unwittingly before signing a peace treaty with Azerbaijan, Armenia seems to have developed its own Sevres syndrome, which mandates that any accord with Baku or rapprochement with Ankara must be resisted, and it is vital to get through the presently agonising stage. These final straw-grabbing soothsayers anticipate that circumstances may eventually be sufficiently auspicious to retaliate and reverse the results of the Second Karabakh War.

Such a mindset largely forms the crux of the revanchist cause in today’s Armenia. Its premise is predicated on the idea that resisting ‘the loss of Karabakh’ is of existential importance. Herein lies the cause of the trouble.

The false conviction as to who is the rightful owner of the given territory and the attempt to give it a meaning along the lines of national self-determination constitutes the basis of the grand delusion that feeds the toxic and ultimately destructive desire that guides the minds of the revenge-driven segments of Armenian society.

What then? … There is a journey ahead, the duration of which is unknown. Blood may yet be shed again.

As sure as the Pope is Catholic, Armenia’s ‘moment of relief’ from this angst will come once Pashinyan, or his successor, following the mores of cold reason, will sign a peace treaty with Azerbaijan, officially and unreservedly renouncing any claim on Karabakh.


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