Armenian News Network / Groong

Review & Outlook - 12/25/2016

Armenia: The Year in Review, and Outlook for 2017

Armenian News Network / Groong
December 25, 2016

By Grigor Hakobyan

The highlights of 2016 for Armenia (if we can call them “high” lights) would be 
the Four Day War in April, the popular and violent acts of discontent in July, 
and the change of ruling government in September. For 2017 the outlook for the 
country may be grim as well, but hopeful as the newly formed cabinet lead by 
Karen Karapetyan makes efforts to reduce the corruption in the government, 
improve the nation’s defense capabilities and raise economic living standards 
for the populace.

2016 was a challenging year for Armenia. The Four Day War in April, resulting 
in major losses of human life, in conjunction with the loss of territories, 
revealed a scale of corruption within the Armenian military that had 
significantly undermined its military readiness. The war also revealed the 
resilience of the Armenian people, including the diaspora, to self-organize and 
take up arms in defense of their Fatherland, support the families of the fallen 
soldiers and rebuild devastated border villages through worldwide collective 
efforts despite disagreements with the government. The war and its subsequent 
consequences showed the wisdom of the Armenian nation to distinguish between 
the country of their origins that is everlasting and the government that runs 
it for a brief period of time in terms of historical time scale.
The bloody crisis in July associated with hostage taking and armed occupation 
of a police precinct in Yerevan by a group of armed men, including former 
veterans of the Artsakh liberation war revealed the extent of public anger and 
resentment toward the ruling regime in Armenia which had lost a lot of 
legitimacy and goodwill in the eyes of the public, thus prompting the 
dissolution of the previous cabinet and creation of a new government headed by 
a new Prime Minister albeit with the same President.
Since the Four Day War in April, Armenia’s military capabilities have been 
rapidly augmented with the acquisition of a number of Iskander-E ballistic 
missile systems, Smerch MLRS wheeled artillery pieces, various electronic 
warfare systems, night vision and thermal vision optics, high end surveillance 
cameras, upgraded T-72 battle tanks, Tigr armored combat transportation 
vehicles, a number of various anti-tank weapon systems including new handheld 
RPGs and latest MPADS. New class of UAVs commonly referred to as “kamikaze 
drones” was quickly developed in Armenia along with new anti-drone systems.
As Azerbaijan inked new weapons deals with Pakistan to the tune of five hundred 
million dollars and acquired latest Israeli air and missile defense systems 
knowns as Iron Dome and Barak-8, Armenia deepened its cooperation with Russia 
by forming a collective army unit under unified Armenian-Russian military 
command. Further moves by Azerbaijan aimed at forming political and military 
alliances with Pakistan and Israel were countered by counterbalancing Armenian 
moves aimed at developing closer relations with military establishments of 
India and Iran.
Additionally, to break the economic isolation imposed by the decades-old 
Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades, Armenia and Iran discussed building a 
regional railroad for improving trade and increasing cargo transportation 
between the Black Sea and the Persian Gulf that will go through the Armenian 
territory. Additional large economic projects between Armenia and Iran are 
expected to be agreed upon and implemented within the next few years.

Armenia’s outlook for 2017 may be grim in the short term, but hopeful in mid to 
long term. Continuous emigration of people from Armenia seeking better economic 
opportunities, and repeated attempts by Aliyev’s government in Azerbaijan to 
forcefully subjugate Armenians to his will by occupying Artsakh through means 
of warfare and low to mid intensity violence on the front line, will continue 
unabated. In the meantime efforts lead by Karen Karapetian, the new Prime 
Minister of Armenia, to improve the nation’s defense capabilities, 
significantly reduce corruption in the government, and improve the living 
standards of all Armenians, may be the key to changing the country around 
toward a better and hopeful future for Armenia.

Happy New Year, and merry Christmas!
Շնորհաւոր նոր տարի եւ սուրբ ծնունդ.
Grigor Hakobyan is an independent political analyst residing in
Phoenix, AZ, and a former ANCA Fellow in Washington D.C. He is the
founder of a virtual think tank called Ararat Institute for Near Eastern
Studies. He was also a freelance writer for the Central Asia-Caucasus
Institute of John Hopkins University and has interned in Congress for Rep.
Brad Sherman, researching ethnic conflicts and terrorism in Russia,
Caucasus and Central Asia. Grigor also completed an internship at the
International Center for Terrorism Studies of the Potomac Institute for
Policy Studies where he researched international terrorist networks
operating in the Caucasus and Central Asia, preparing congressional
briefings for the Director of ICTS on WMDs. Grigor holds a B.A. in
Political Science from Arizona State University.

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