Pompeo might have pulled the plug on Armenian-Iranian trade - Eurasia Future

17:11 • 23.05.18



By Andrew Korybko 


These two long-running civilizational allies might abruptly see their age-old economic relations disappear after Pompeo threatened to sanction anyone who defies the US’ unilaterally implemented punitive measures against the Islamic Republic, and the long-term geostrategic implications of this move could be as far reaching as provoking a more pronounced Chinese-Indian maritime rivalry.


New Secretary of State and former CIA chief Mike Pompeo issued what amounts to a declaration of Hybrid War against Iran on Monday while speaking at the neoconservative Heritage Foundation think tank about the Trump Administration’s so-called “Plan B” for dealing with the country after the US’ earlier withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal. America’s top diplomat made it no secret that his country would sanction anyone who defies its unilaterally implemented punitive measures against the Islamic Republic, in a stern warning that was directed more at his European “partners” than anyone else. Relatedly, however, this will inevitably have an impact on Armenia as well, which is a tiny, impoverished, and landlocked South Caucasian failing state which just experienced a pro-Western Color Revolution.


Armenian Ambitions


The Armenians and Persians have always enjoyed excellent relations with one another notwithstanding a few outlier events in their history, and the long-running friendship between these different civilizations disproves Huntington’s provocative thesis about the imminence of a so-called “Clash of Civilizations” between Christianity and Islam, which itself has always pretty much just been a 21st-century unipolar blueprint for dividing and ruling the Eastern Hemisphere. Although institutionally connected to Russia through the Eurasian Economic Union (EAU), trade with Armenia’s largest partner must pass through Georgia en route, whereas no such obstacles remain when it comes to neighboring Iran, which just signed a provisional free trade agreement with the bloc. Moreover, Armenian-Iranian economic relations have always been solid, although their full potential has yet to be tapped.

It’s in view of this that Armenia has considered putting its hitherto unattractive political geography to use by pioneering what its former president called a “Black Sea-Persian Gulf Corridor” (BSPG) through its territory in connecting the European marketplace with the Iranian and South Asian (Indian) one. Should this ever be created, then it could very well siphon off Indian trade from the prospective North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC) through Iran and Azerbaijan to Russia in order to remove the last-mentioned state from the transit route and more directly trade with the EU. In and of itself, this could indirectly accomplish one of the US’ main strategic objectives in “isolating Russia” but at the expense of enhancing Iran’s economy, though Pompeo’s latest sanctions threats suggest that “isolating Iran” could allow it to do the same without risking the chance of “blowback”.


Forcing an Armenian-Russian wedge


Because of this, both the NSTC and its EU-destined BSPG branch are now endangered, which almost instantly removed whatever strategic economic appeal Armenia could have had to the West when it recently signed the “Comprehensive  & Enhanced Partnership Agreement” (CEPA) with the EU in setting the basis for an unofficial but regulated “free trade” area with the bloc in spite of its EAU membership. Furthermore, Pompeo’s insistence on sanctioning those who violate American sanctions against Iran could pretty much pull the plug on existing Armenian-Iranian trading relations as well because the country’s companies might fear that they’ll become “untouchable” to the Europeans if the US blacklists them, which would basically shut them out of the EU marketplace and nullify one of the main reasons why this poverty-stricken state agreed to CEPA in the first place.


Another point to keep in mind is that many businesses in Armenia are somehow or another officially or unofficially linked to another larger Russian one and de-facto function as its “subsidiaries”, meaning that they too could prospectively be sanctioned by the US if their Russian “parent company” defies American threats and trades with Iran, whether or not any of this occurs on Armenian territory. This sobering reality will probably be abused by new Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan as he carries out a silent “lustration” of all Russian-linked political and economic forces in the country despite his public assurances to the contrary, thereby representing yet another fault line in Russian-Armenian relations and the EAU more generally. Speaking of externally provoked wedges against multipolar interests, the US is betting that it can exacerbate the existing one between India and China, too.

 

 

 

 





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