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This Week in Review we discuss the aftermath of the border clases of mid-July between Armenian and Azerbaijan. The violence that erupted between Armenian and Azeri demonstrators worldwide and the new National Security Strategy document promulgated by the government of Armenia.
Joining us today are
● Emil Sanamyan, who is a senior research fellow at USC’s Institute of Armenian Studies specializing in politics in the Caucasus, with a special focus on Azerbaijan. He is a regular contributor to ANN/Groong.
● Garen Vrtanesyan, editor of Razm.info, a specialty website on military and warfare strategies with a focus on Armenia and its neighboring region.
● Asbed Kotchikian, Professor of political science and international relations at Bentley University in Massachusetts.
This week we saw the fighting in the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan simmer down and take a backseat to the political statements flowing in from around the world. In general except for Turkey and a few other countries, we’ve seen balanced statements from major countries and organizations such as the US, the EU, the UN, Russia and the CSTO.
Major journalists such as David Ignatius called on the US and Russia to seize this moment as a rare opportunity to collaborate towards peace in the Caucasus.
Meanwhile, Azerbaijan has called in Israel and Turkey to analyze the failures of its UAV/Drone arsenal, and also to upgrade to a fleet of Turkish drones which were highly effective against the Kurds and Russia in Syria. We’ve also had a full week of Jeyhun Bairamov in his new role as Azerbaijan’s foreign minister, following Mammadyarov’s humiliating dismissal by Aliyev.
We discuss the state of affairs since the cessation of fighting, and what the replacement of Azerbaijan’s long-time foreign minister portends for the future of negotiations with Armenia. Also, the drone wars and what that means for the future of warfare in the region.
We also spend some time into why, as the border quieted down, clashes have broken out in cities around the world between Armenian diaspora communities protesting against Azeri aggression against Armenia, and Azeri or Azerbaijan-supported protesters. In cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Moscow, Kiev, London, violence broke out between angry demonstrators. In San Francisco an Armenian school was vandalized with hate graffiti, while in Berlin a car belonging to the Armenian embassy was set on fire.
● Interview with Seyran Ohanyan - Yerkir Media
● Turkey Now Has Swarming Suicide Drones It Could Export - TheDrive.com
Armenia’s Security Council introduced a new National Security Strategy (NS Strategy) on July 10, 2020. The previous strategy document was adopted in 2007, in the final year of second president Robert Kocharian’s final term in office. Last week we had a conversation with Dr. Karena Avedissian on this topic. Her research focuses on social movements, new media/communications, civil society and governance in the former Soviet Union, with an area focus on Russia and the Caucasus. Here is that conversation.
● Rationalizing the Tonoyan Doctrine: Armenia’s Active Deterrence Strategy - Jamestown.org
● Armenia’s New National Security Strategy: Sharing First Impressions -By Vahram Ter-Matevosyan on EVNreport.com (contains a link to the NSD)
● Armenian-Azerbaijani Border Clashes: The Russian Dimension and Beyond - Jamestown.org
● Հարցազրույց Արմեն Գրիգորյանի հետ - Armenian Public TV
The publication of the NSD came just before the border flare up and at a time when Armenia has been articulating a more assertive military doctrine known as a deterrence doctrine or in some circles “Tonoyan doctrine”. Azerbaijan may have been surprised at what appears to have been an aggressive counter response by Armenia.
One salient point we’ve noticed is that it seems that Armenia is making a deliberate effort to not use the term “Artsakh Republic” or “Nagorno Karabakh Republic” in the strategic document, which is a marked difference from the 2007 version. In explaining this change, Armen Grigoryan simply pointed to Pashinyan’s speech in Artsakh on August 5, 2019. That was the speech where Pashinyan said “Artsakh is Armenia, and that’s that”. Meanwhile, critics argue that this move de-emphasizes the right of self-determination, one of the key positions held by the Armenian sides throughout the last 30 years in negotiations.
● Over the weekend the Russian Defence Ministry carried out a snap check of troops in the southern and western military districts, as well as units of Air and Naval forces per the decision of President Putin. Despite denials, the exercises were clearly a warning to Turkey to stay out of the Caucasus war scene.
● Turkey's pro-Kurdish party refuses to sign under anti-Armenian bill in the Turkish parliament, stating that it is necessary to give preference to a peacemaking foreign policy instead of an anti-Armenian statement and that bringing Armenia and Azerbaijan to the negotiating table and easing the tension need to be the main principle.
● Greta Thunberg was awarded the first Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity
● Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.'s Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act will be included in an en bloc package and passed by Congress. It requires a report from the Secretaries of Defense and State to address allegations that some units of foreign countries that have participated in security cooperation programs under Section 333 of title 10, U.S.C. (Building Partner Capacity Program) may have committed gross violations of internationally-recognized HR before or while receiving U.S. security assistance.
● Three Armenians were elected to Syria’s 250-seat parliament: Dr. Nora Arisian and Jirair Reisian from Aleppo, and Lucy Esgenian from Damascus.
● Ararat Mirzoyan signed the law on the constitutional court, when the 21 mandated days expired after president Armen Sarkisian refused to sign it.
● Washington Post associate editor David Ignatius called on the US and Russia to collaborate on a peace deal between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
● The ECHR demanded Azerbaijan to give information about the location and living conditions of Narek Sardaryan; about his health; and whether a criminal case has been initiated against him. Narek Sardaryan wandered into Nakhichevan and was apprehended there nearly 2 weeks ago.
● Paul Stronski, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think tank noted the very late reaction from the US State Department on the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, and attributes it to a lack of South Caucasus strategy at the White House.
● An official car of the Armenia Embassy in Berlin is set on fire.
● The US congress adopted the Speier-Cox-Krishnamoorthi Amendment for U.S. demining assistance to Artsakh as part of HR 7608.
● US House Rules Committee ruled Congressional Azerbaijan Caucus amendment as "out of order".
● Vandals targeted the Krouzian-Zekarian-Vasbouragan Armenian School in San Francisco with threatening and racist graffiti, in an attack that claimed to support a violent, anti-Armenian movement led by Azerbaijan. The attack, which US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi condemned, is being investigated as a hate crime.
● UNESCO expressed its deepest regret for Turkey’s decision to change the status of Hagia Sophia, and has not received any guarantees of preservation of the world cultural site.
Dr. Nora Arisian was elected to Syria’s parliament on July 19.
Mr. Jirair Reisian was elected to Syria’s parliament on July 19.
● 3 Armenians elected members of Syrian parliament - Armenpress.am
Lucy Esgenian Esq. was elected to Syria’s parliament on July 19.