Armenian troops' plan to join Syria peacekeepers 'threatens new level of international isolation'

17:50 • 23.09.18



By Aghasi Yenokyan

Political analyst


The Armenian mililitary's plan to dispatch peacekeeping troops to Syria can now be said to be an accomplished fact. Our servicemen too, will have their engagement in the long- running conflict to hoist the Armenian tricolor in this country - the cradle of modern history.


The Syrian war has been among the bloodiest and the most entangled conflicts in the past decades, with the Syrians themselves remaining increasingly out of attention and not even actively taking part in the negotiation processes concerning their own country's future. Instead, regional and international superpowers – Russia, Turkey, Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia, United States and its NATO allies - commit themselves to determining Syria's future, having, some way or another, their own engagement in the conflict zone.


Yet, it would be very naive to think that the Armenian troops' presence among them is likely to ever make our country a superpower. Superpowers are normally those countries which pursue certain interest in the political processes across the region, and have a real opportunity to impact those processes.

Long considerations might give ground to think that Armenia does, after all, pursue interests in the Middle East and, what's even more, it can build a foreign policy model to make it part of the Middle East civilization.


It is possible to even deduce the kind of fantastic process or outcome from the Syrian conflict allowing us to liberate our historical territories in Turkey. Accordingly, we could elaborate and present such a foreign policy scenario that would potentially make the Armenian troops' presence in Syria a key security component.


Regrettably though, Armenia does not have real leverages of influence over the situation in the region. It would be naivety to expect the 100 soldiers there to be able to change anything to our advantage. There is a tremendous diplomatic component underlying the current conflict in Syria. We, for example, are the eye-witness of the Russian-Turkish alliance and antagonism a day in and a day out. Those countries resolve tactical problems in that way; notwitstanding the unsolvable disagreements on the continuing rule of the Assad regime, the Kurds or the refuges, they have, nonetheless, coinciding interests, for example, in terms curbing the United States’ actions. Such a situation implies intensive and powerful diplomatic work – conducted on a daily basis – to secure not only a military presence but also intelligence and agency network data.

Armenia’s diplomatic arsenal, if any at all (to say the least), is in a rather poor state today. Our diplomatic resources do not suffice to address even the vital work dealing with Russia and [Nagorno-]Karabakh, let alone to offer any assistrtance to our troops in Syria.

It is not the first time our servicemen are joining an international mission (we could recall at least our missions in Kosovo and Afghanistan as part of the NATO cooperation). But we were totally under the North-Atlantic Alliance's responsibility as it were. In this case, however, neither the Russians nor anyone else has signed any formal document proposing any responsibility or assistance.

 

Apart from the fact that Armenia may become a target for most different terrorist groups, apart from the imminent risks to the Armenian community in Syria, this action per se threatens the country with a new level of international isolation. There are already reliable reports warning us of the Trump Administrartion's deep disappointment by the move. And it was for the purpose of avoiding this diasspointment that [Belarusian President Aleksander] Lukashenko, [third President of Armenia] Serzh Sargsyan and the other allies of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin categorically counterracted, reportedly, to the proposed engagement in this kind of adventure. Anyway, in case of a public debate over this – whether on public or political platforms, or in the media – it will be really hard to explain to our public why the opening of corridors for the Turkish troops’ actions, for instance, would be in the interests of New Armenia.

Whereas the authorities do not apparently even try to avoid this kind move fraught with irreversible consequences for Armenia. Moreover, at the public rally summing up his 100 days in office, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan proudly declared the initiative a testimony to the developing Armenian-Russian relations, considering it unnecessary to discuss the legislative and constitutional obstacles that this kind of intention can possibly encounter. So even if the National Assembly or any other responsble body try to hamper the plan, Pashinyan already enjoys the square public's support to break down all kinds of barriers.

 





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