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Tuesday September 27 2022

Pelosi trip wreaks havoc on US peace efforts between Baku and Yerevan

19 September 2022 14:15 (UTC+04:00)
Pelosi trip wreaks havoc on US peace efforts between Baku and Yerevan

By Orkhan Amashov

In her three-day trip to Yerevan, which is now over, and with her rambunctiously pro-Armenian remarks made during this sojourn, US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi made everything humanly conceivable to cast serious aspersions on Washington’s peace-making credentials regarding the Azerbaijani-Armenian peace process, which has recently undergone one of its most volatile phases since the Second Karabakh War.

Whatever the State Department's sages and sources may pontificate on regarding the separation of power and the subtleties of the US Constitution, this was a trip, which cannot be extricated from what constitutes an extended form of high-level diplomacy. In Yerevan, speaking “on behalf of the Congress” on 18 September, Pelosi unequivocally stated that “America stands with Armenia” as if she were articulating the official US position.

This appears to be of a particularly deleterious import in view of the new mission by Philip Reeker, who was announced as US Senior Advisor for Caucasus Negotiations on 24 August. His appointment, despite prompting differing initial reactions from Baku and Yerevan, has, nevertheless, been perceived as indicative of increased Washington attention to the ongoing Azerbaijani-Armenian negotiations.

Reeker met Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Yerevan on 10 September, two days prior to the recent state border escalation and, on 13 September, at the height of the tensions, was received by President Ilham Aliyev in Baku.

His mission is one of extreme delicacy and the present timing is of heightened criticality. Given all these and some other concomitants of import, it seems to be beyond doubt that the overall idea of American impartiality has been taxed with a new charge by virtue of the partisan three-day trip of Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Armenia.

The fact that Pelosi’s latest escapade was not financed by the US State Department and, by its nature, was not representative of US foreign policy should not pull the wool over one’s eyes. It is fundamentally a question about the perceived fairness of the American attitude and the legitimacy of its mediatory prowess.

The general view is that, if not to put too fine a point on it, Pelosi’s sojourn was a high-level vote-grabbing exercise by virtue of which she is seeking to garner the support of US voters of Armenian extraction for the midterm US elections. It must be added that Pelosi was accompanied by her stalwart cohort Frank Pallone, Chairman of the House Energy Committee, and Representative Jackie Speier, two mainstays of the Congressional Armenian lobby.

It does not require clairvoyance skills to expect that any US riposte will be that this is not a state visit and does not reflect American foreign policy, as Pelosi is independent in her overseas voyages, with President Joe Biden having zero influence on the Speaker's decisions of this kind. In a nutshell, the Americans would say "if Azerbaijanis think this means anything in terms of the US approach to the Baku-Yerevan discourse, then they simply do not understand our system".

One is more than entitled to beg to differ here, as it is not as straightforward as that. The Speaker of the House of Representatives is not a mere Congresswoman with the onerous task of satisfying the US-based Armenian Diaspora.

She is also the second in the US Presidential line of succession, after the Vice-President, which imbues an extra-layer of international standing to her gavel. It is because of her position as the Speaker that her recent trip to Taiwan caused such massive uproar, which would have not been the case had she been an ordinary Representative in the lower house of Congress. It should also be borne in mind that Pelosi is the highest-ranking US official to travel to Armenia since 1991.

As would be predicted, this misinformed Speaker displayed no single shred of aloofness and accused Baku of aggression in the recent escalation, promising a Congressional condemnation and some further punitive measures, without having initially undertaken any fact-finding mission or on-ground investigation.

Interestingly enough, out of USD120 million that was allocated by the Armenian lobby for the trip, USD75 million is believed to have been procured via the banks linked to Ruben Vardanyan, a controversial Armenian tycoon, who recently renounced his Russian citizenship in favour of solely holding that of his ancestral homeland which, many believe, was predominately motivated with the intention of securing his financial resources in the face of western ani-Kremlin initiatives. Furthermore, he represents a dangerous loophole around these sanctions.

In the end, it should be also emphasised that any damage Pelosi’s outlandishly preposterous “diplomacy” will cause or has already caused will be largely, but not exclusively, circumscribed to the imaginary domain of perceived American fairness, rather than expectations related to practical steps. And, if Philip Reeker makes a great deal of the success of his Caucasus mission, the Pelosi escapade will retrospectively be forgotten as an inconsequential, yet memorable, nuisance that should be consigned to the memory stick of history and, in the fullness of time, incinerated or recycled.

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