Will the US Punish Armenia?

Reportedly Clinton warned Sarkisian during her June visit

BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN

The warped State Department-hatched Turkey-Armenia Protocols did not yield the necessary results for the US, nor have efforts to strong-arm Armenia into making dangerous concessions on the Karabakh front, so the US has renewed an old “concern” by alleging that Iran is using Armenia to for financial transactions that might violate international sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear program.

An exclusive report by Reuters Tuesday, citing a nebulous “Western intelligence report” and quoting anonymous diplomatic sources, claimed that Iran is seeking financial alternatives “in countries that do not work according to the dictates of the West” is looking to expand its banking foothold in Armenia to allegedly deceive Western governments that have been attempting to curtail Iranian banking activities worldwide to thwart Iran’s nuclear program.

The so-called “Western intelligence report,” according to Reuters, has singled out the Yerevan-based ACBA Credit Agricole Bank, one of the largest in Armenia, as one of Iran’s principal targets. Reuters also spoke to an anonymous Western UN diplomat who confirmed that ACBA was “a bank that has come up in connection with Iran.” He declined to provide details of any potentially illicit ACBA transactions linked to Iran, said Reuters.

This fracas has prompted the Armenian Central Bank to issue a blunt denial, echoing earlier statements by ACBA officials, who in the Reuters report, vehemently denied the allegations that the financial institution is being used by Iran for illicit activities.

“The Central Bank of Armenia obligates all banks and financial institutions in the Republic of Armenia to scrutinize their transactions, in order to avoid any possible involvement in transactions considered unacceptable by the international community,” said a statement issued by the CBA.

“We don’t have any relationship with Iran,” The ACBA chief executive Stepan Gishian told Reuters. “We never have, we don’t now and furthermore we don’t plan on becoming a channel for financing Iran. What you’re saying is complete nonsense.”

Furthermore, recent news reports indicate that Armenia has been following the mandates set forth by the sanctions imposed both on Iran and Syria, since Syrian and Iranian nationals of Armenian descent have experienced difficulty opening bank accounts in Armenia, because of their citizenship. This is especially disheartening to Armenians who are leaving Syria due to the crisis there and are experiencing hurdles in establishing themselves in Armenia.

The Reuters reports does state that Turkey and the United Arab Emirates remain Iran’s largest banking connections, but claims that due to US pressure, especially the government of Turkey has become more vigilant in its business with Iran.

Reportedly, President Serzh Sarkisian was cautioned by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her visit in June to Armenia about US concerns over the Iran’s interests in Armenia.

Iran remains one of Armenia’s largest trading partners with a reported $1 billion in trade. Asbarez has extensively reported about the intense desire by Armenia and Iran to strengthen their strategic partnership through varied projects, including the construction of an oil pipeline and a highway that would connect Iran’s port of Bandar Abbas with Batumi in Georgia, thus providing a direct link for Armenia to a seaport.

Evidently, this organic neighborly and centuries-old relationship between Armenia and Iran does not sit well with the US and its Western allies, who are keen on tightening the noose around Iran’s neck because of concerns over its nuclear program and be damned whatever stands in their way.

However justified those concerns might be, Armenia should not be penalized by the US, which in its efforts to police the world, is bullying nations to conform to its standards.

If the US scrutinized its own domestic financial system as meticulously as it does other nations’ perhaps the loopholes that allowed for the collapse of the banking system and wide-spread corruption in this country would have been avoided.

Moreover, if the US went as far as to caution Armenia, it has not lifted a finger to force Turkey and Azerbaijan to lift their blockade of Armenia, which has been in place since 1993 and in international legal circles is considered an act of aggression or war. Instead the US has concocted convoluted schemes—the Protocols and policy on Karabakh—that abets Turkey to continue its denial of the Genocide and face history and diminishes the sacred principle of self-determination.

The Reuter report is a harbinger of things to come. The failed approaches by the US to address concerns in the South Caucasus have now taken on a worrisome tone. How far will the US go to force its misplaced policies on other nations, especially Armenia?

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51 Comments

  1. hye4life said:

    i don’t like this title, you are already applying that Armenia is quilty of something.

    • Avery said:

      I agree.
      Great article Ara. But you are already going on the defensive and conceding.

      US gave a pass to Turkey, amongst a couple of other counties, from Iran Oil sanctions.
      So who is the hypocritical US State Dept to even contemplate “punishment”.

      I have a better title:

      “After Denying the Armenian Genocide, US Sect of State Clinton is falsely accusing Armenia”.

      • Kevork said:

        Ha, good title for an article, and I would add a couple words…

        “After Denying the Armenian Genocide, Turkish stooge US Sect of State Clinton is falsely accusing Armenia”.

    • Hratch said:

      What better way to make you read the article. Be it governments or private enterprises, all work to achieve their self serving objectives. The US might be guilty as the posted comment below suggests, but then again everyone is guilty of pursuing their own agenda. That’s what makes humans unique; the ability to plan and put into action something that benefits a few at the expense of many!

    • Mabuballah said:

      Are the innocent never punished? What was all that about complaint about in the days of the Kings and Chronicles about shedding innocent blood; (or with Cain and Abel, for that matter); or about throwing children “into the burning arms of Molech”?
      The point to be made is not whether Armenia or the Armenian people are guilty or innocent, but whether America and/or its leadership can itself see clearly enough to remove the speck in another’s eye when America’s elite in particular are so blinded by their own overreaching ambition. Yes, let us hope that the good President (Sarkisian) was not slow to remind our dear Madam Secretary of the illegal stifling of Armenia’s trade by US Turkish “allies”; and that both America and its client Israel can hardly assume roles as honest brokers in any sense when they engage in such hostile acts as arming and training the Turkish and Azerbaijani armies.

  2. Svetlana Swanson said:

    When the CIA and the NSA are ordered to achieve a foreign policy objective, they will find many reliable sources to spread rumors, to incite emotions and take countries to war.

    Who today, remembers the stockpile of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?

  3. Jacob said:

    For the US to control Armenia and its Actions is just non-sense because the US has done no efforts to condemn Turkey for Committing a Genocide against the Armenian People. It has also not done efforts to Stop Azerbaijan from Randomly attacking Armenian Soldiers on the Borders of Kharabkh. Armenia has done Nothing Wrong and the US cannot punish a Country that is not Guilty.

  4. ohannes said:

    the whole word knows The greats country in the world in the human history is a mercinary
    to oil company’s we go to war and kill hundred’s thousand’s people for oil company’s
    we go and destroy country’s for oil company’s it is a shame but this is the way works for U.S.A
    in the name of national security mean time the oil company’s they suck American people’s blood
    go bless U.S.A..
    devil bless oil company’s

  5. Fred said:

    Last time I checked the illegal blockade of of Armenia by Turkey a NATO Country still stands. So America can go to hell. With their Jewish bankers. Because we Armenians are no bodies poudel. Let them take that to their Jewish masters and smoke it. If Armenia was not in an illegal blockade by Turkey, then may be we would have had an option other than going to bed with Iran. You see the American forigne policy is anty Armenian as well as anty Iranian, Infact it is anty any middle east country except Israel or Saudy Arabia. I wonder why is that?

  6. Hovik said:

    if U.S pressure Armenia for economy tie with Iran they should offer an alternative economy solution for Armenia, or no one cares about U.S colonial foreign policy in Armenia…(Armenia’s %50 economy partner is Russia and other %50 is France-Iran and EU countries).

  7. Tsayt said:

    The US has many levers to punish Armenia. However, in return Armenia has more than enough leverages to return the punishment to US interests, if Armenia’s security is compromised by any US action. To start with destroying the flow of oil from Azerbaijan, followed by liberating more captive Armenian territories followed by….

  8. Stefan said:

    Punish Armenia for what?

    Punishment is for a guilty party. What your title should be is:

    Will US sacrafice Armenia for OIL interest? and the answer is . YES they already have.

    The flawed US foreign policy has managed to fast pace the growth of radical islam, its policies in Syria, Iran in 1950’s, Iraq & Egypt has only spread the seed of jihadisim even more, when will the US understand that Democracy & Islam do not mix well, which Islamic nation is a true democracy? Is Saudi Arabia democratic? they have been funding terror activities for decades, but their oil seems to far outweigh their terror funding, Turkey Saudi Arabia & Qatar are funding rebels in Syria openly, and Syria will now sit next to Iraq & Iran as another failed attempt to make changes in ME. Egypt is on brink of a disaster, Turkey could join these nations sooner than they can say We apologise for the Genocide, all thanks to the brilliant minds of those in Washington formulating foreighn policy that even a 10 year old knows is wrong.

    Who gains from all this bloodshed? the answer is very simple.

  9. Alex Postallian said:

    Did clinton sell the U.S. foreign policy down the river,when she sold out to the turks.

  10. Dave said:

    I am quite certain that Turkey – which imports lots of natural gas from Iran – and many other countries that border Iran, do much, much more business with Iran than does Armenia.

    Moreover, I tend not to believe that Armenia does a billion dollars of business with Iran per year.

    And I bet that Middle Eastern banks are stacked to the eyeballs with billions in Iranian money.

    Why pick on little Armenia? I can think of several reasons:

    1. Armenia is an ally of the hated Russians
    2. The US is trying to apply pressure on Armenia to cave in on the Artsakh issue
    3. Jews (inside and outside of the US State Department) and Israel are trying to harm Armenia because
    Israel is an ally of Azerbaijan
    4. Lastly because Hillary Clinton is a lying little _______ (fill in the blanks)

  11. Tsoghig said:

    The first Christian nation being threatened by the US…what a shame. The Israeli’s are brilliant. They have taken our natural ally, the Christians/evangelicals of the US, and turned them into Zionists. BRILLIANT. Can Armenia be more f-ed?? Seriously, Turkey and Azerbaijan want to crush us, Georgia doesn’t give a sh** about us and our only friend in the region, Iran, is hated by all! I hope and pray that Israel and Iran don’t get into any battles, it will be the start of World War 3. Good but scary article.

  12. Avery said:

    During Bush2, Anti-Armenia Neocon operatives in the Administration succeeded in adding Armenia to some list of “suspect” states (!), or something along those lines.

    The subsequent firestorm from the Armenian American community forced the Bush2 Administration Anti Armenian Denialist bigots to beat a hasty retreat: they claimed it was a “mistake”. Sure it was.

    Everybody get ready: as soon as ANCA sends out the call to action, flood Congress.

  13. Paul said:

    This is the exact reason why Armenia needs to join the Eurasian Union. Armenia must strengthen economic and military ties with Armenia. The Obama administration are agents of Israel . The biggest supporters of Obama are various rich Jews including Soros . The major Obama advisors are Jews including Axelrod and Emmanuel. The two-faced EU is only interested fooling Armenia into thinking that it can join the EU which will never happen. This is the same game they are playing with Turkey. All they want is cheap Azeri oil to force the Russians to lower their oil prices.

  14. Paul said:

    The Eurasian Union is the best way to protect Armenia from foreign sanctions because it’s economy is fragile. By joining the Eurasian Union, this will allow Russia to strenghten Armenia’s economy.
    A second approach would be for wealthy Armenians to put money together to buy a Greek Island (since Greece is in major economic problems, this is the best time to buy) and create a Cilician republic of Armenia. Two Armenia’s have existed in the past and that is not that far off of an idea.

    • Random Armenian said:

      “A second approach would be for wealthy Armenians to put money together to buy a Greek Island (since Greece is in major economic problems, this is the best time to buy) and create a Cilician republic of Armenia. ”

      WTF? What reality do you live in? How do you come up with stuff like this? What purpose would this buying and island serve? What makes you think the Greeks will even let you get away with this? You think Greeks are any less nationalistic us and her neighbors?

  15. Varant said:

    So clinton arrives in Yerevan and has the audacity to caution Sarkissian about Iran’s financial interest in Armenia after plotting every underhanded ploy in the book to deny and distort the genocide?

    Armenian Americans looking for answers on how to stem the tide of disrespectful administrations to our cause should pay attention: If obama wants to play hard ball with us on artificial equivalence and shameless April 24th statements then we will just have to dish it right back.

    We too can deliver half hearted generic “we understand your issue and promise to address it” responses to the administrations warnings but let them not expect Armenians to bend over backwards and obey their every beck and call as they reach back to twist their most recent dagger still plunged in our backs. It’s quite clear that the administration needs much coaxing and if a taste of their own medication can help, I see no reason why we shouldn’t try playing hard ball.

  16. Harry Kaladjian said:

    Perhaps the US Government should compensate Armenia for the consequences of the continued blockade by Turkey and Azerbaijan, which it indirectly supports. Perhaps the US Government should adhere to its commitments as arbitrator of Armenia’s boundaries, instead of cramming down protocols. Perhaps the US Government should compensate Armenians by disgorging all profits it acquired as a result of the Genocide. Lastly, perhaps the US Government should expressly support the recognition of the Genocide so that the crime can be addressed, instead of encouraging the crime.

  17. Kevork said:

    It is no one’s business but Armenia’s to decide how it will deal with Iran, being Iran’s neighbor. Armenia doesn’t tell the US how it must deal with Mexico, thus the same courtesy is expected in return. The US chose a genocidal terrorist nation (Turkey) as a “friend”. The US knows exactly what to do to stop its streak of hypocrisy and first of all accept that Turkey is a criminal state guilty of genocide. Iran is far, far, far, far, far away on Armenia’s “to do” list (perhaps even unattainable), to the satisfaction of western Imperialism,

  18. Seervart said:

    hye4life, I also don’t like this title as Armenia is not guilty of anything. However, the article is good and has many good points, just the title was not well chosen.

  19. Avetis said:

    What’s with the title? Is Asbarez finally coming out of the closet as to what side of the fence they are on?

    Btw, the US has been using Armenians such as yourselves to punishing Armenia for many years but Armenia’s sheeple is too politically ignorant and blind to realize it, and the main reason for the punishment has absolutely nothing to do with the silly “protocols” but everything with Russia’s military presence in Armenia.

    It’s very embarrassing for me as an Armenian to see this kind of political ignorance being expressed by an organization that is supposedly the inheritors of a political heritage that goes back to the late 19th century.

  20. Berge Jololian said:

    Well written article by Ara Khachatourian – the article has teeth.

    For two decades, the US State Department acted in the most counter=intuitive and self-destructive manner in its foreign policy towards Armenia.

    The hostile routine of the failed-US-State-Department goes something like this: Turkey blockades Armenia for 20 years, the US State Department applies additional pressure on Armenia to force it to capitulate. The International Association of Genocide Scholars calls on Turkey every year to acknowledge the Armenian genocide, the US State Department fires its ambassador to Armenia for uttering the word genocide. The International Monetary Fund evaluated Armenia’s loses due to Turkey’s hostile border blockade at the tune of US $1 billion per year, the US State Department lowers US “aid” to Armenia each year to its current meager $40 million (used to encourage corruption).

    According to the warped logic of the US State Department foreign policy, if country A (Turkey) closes its borders with country B (Armenia), Protocols are needed to apply pressure on contry B – Armenia – to accept open borders. If the US State Department does not succeed in convincing Turkey to stop its billions of trade with Iran, then the US State Department flexes its muscles to arm-twist Armenia to stop its economic survival-dependent trade with Iran. Instead of sympathizing with the plight of Armenians leaving the country to seek economic survival elsewhere; the US-State-Department encourages green-card lottery to depopulate Armenia – how else did the Armenian population swell so fast in California and elsewhere in the United States.

    Armenian-Americans advise the US State Department on the importance of integrating Armenia in the regional economies to ensure stability in the region, the US State Department responds by isolating Armenia and funding the Baku-Tibilis-Ceyhan pipeline by-passing Armenia. Armenian-Americans advise the US State Department not to fund the construction of Kars-Tblisi railroad, and instead use the existing Kars-Gumri-Tblisi railroad, the US State Department ignores Armenia. Armenian-Americans advise the US State Department not to lift section 907 regarding US weapons to Azerbaijan, the US State Department does the opposite, bolstering Azerbaijan war threats in the region.

    Armenia remains grateful to the Russian Federation for its investments in Armenia; and is very appreciative for the protection of Armenia’s borders with Turkey. Armenia is most appreciative to the Islamic Republic of Iran for its steadfast support throughout the years and for the energy projects in Armenia (gas, oil, hydro-power stations, railroad and highway, trade imports/exports).

    What has the failed-US-State-Department done to influence Armenia towards the West? (besides Genocide, TARC and Protocols?) The answer is clear: Hetch.

    And to former US-State-Department employee (and still is) ambassador Mr. John Evans: Thank you for your personal genocide acknowledgment, however, YOU ARE NOT the arbiter for reparations, restitution and land returns for the crime of Genocide that Turkey continues to commit.. Please, do not go around Armenia and the diaspora preaching (brainwashing) that Armenians have no legal claims for land, reparations and restitution – Armenian Genocide fully qualifies under the UN convention for preventiona and punsihment for the crime of genocide. Mr. Evans – you do not decide!

  21. Raffi said:

    Why double standard, Why it’s O.K. for Turkey to have financial transactions with Iran, and it’s not O.K. for Armenia, I beileve this is Monopoly issue more than political, Turkey doesn’t like to see Armenians as competitors and little help from US can not harm

  22. Sevag said:

    The US, instead of starting and taking part in the civil war in Syria, should look over at the dictatorship in Azerbeijan and see how they treat their people…..where’s the justice? Sometimes the US cannot have their way, and they hsouldm ind their business….they are out fighting every war instead of tkaing care of their own country, under the mask of “homeland security”……

  23. hagop said:

    the US would be much more credible if they hold their promises concerning the AG or make some pressure on Turkey (concerning a lot of issues) should they have anything to ask from Armenians and this is how I see Armenian relations with the USA. being unreliable and very pragmatic I think also they can one day suddenly become friends with Iran

  24. Hrag said:

    The right question is NOT “will the US punish Armenia”.The question we should be thinking about is how much longer will Armenia silently incur US punishment (US complicity in genocide denial and azeri favouritism) until it lashes back with its own demands.This needs to be the MODERN approach towards dealing with a government complicit in genocide denial.

    Would the US comply with Armenia’s efforts to financially isolate Turkey from American investment and banking activities?? After all, just as Iran is the arch enemy of the US, Turkey is the arch enemy of Armenia.

  25. 4 AR said:

    I would say the mentioned report or article is paid by enemies of Armenia
    Since this is just simply so easy for individuals from IR/TH to open a Bank account in Baku (Without even traveling to Baku or Genja)! Beside this 100 000 of Iranian citizens have bank accounts in US and other western countries. But as soon as it comes to Armenia with its small and very risky banking sector- corrupt lobbyists start making anti Armenia propaganda

  26. VM said:

    Armenia have more interests in Iran and with Iran rather than U.S.
    We have given more to U.S. rather than getting proper response from american administration for the past 98 years.
    Do we really should care about Madamme Clinton or Hossein B.Obama ? I don’t think so.
    Fortunately our interests , security and future is with Russia , Iran and friendly members of CIS.
    There is nothing to bless relation with US ans EU.
    Armenia should look regionally and explore relation with none commited nations , being that S.America or Asia.

  27. Kevork Hagopian said:

    Armenia should continue its friendly relationship with Iran at any costs. After all, Iran was the only country in the world that opened its arms and helped Armenia. We are neighbors and have common enemies such as Azeris and Turks. Armenia with its strategic location could swing the balance of power in favor of Russia and Iran, our closest allies at this time.
    The foreign policy of Armenia in relationship with the developments in the refion, is excellent and should be continued. Armenia needs Russia and Iran for its survival and economic advancement. Those who are against this policy of friendship with Russia and Iran are not true Armenians and do not care about the future of Armenia.

  28. Hayastan said:

    This is a dirty report- The UN sanctions are only against the military sector of Iran and nothing else…
    If my friend does it so this is not problem! Thanks to US and EU sanction against Iraq and know against Iran the closest ally of US in the region- Turkey- is becoming form day to day richer- guess how ? There are hundreds of US and European companies which are doing business with Turkey , while there Turkish partners have business interests in Iran is

    US embassy doesn’t issue Visa for Iranian citizens they have to go to Turkey or Dubai and pay the needed visa fees by vesting a Turkish Bank….well Turkish Bnaks are making a good profit!

  29. Ararat said:

    The title of this article should be: US Hypocrisy Knows No Bounds.

    The United States and its two-faced state department should get off its false moral high ground and stop dictating what Armenia should or should not do vis-a-vis its ancient and historically friendly neighbor Iran, which in many ways is the economic lifeline of Armenia today, and instead put its focus on the two criminal Turkish and Pseudo-Turkish Azerbaijani governments illegally blockading our homeland.

    Just because the US can hand out a few measly dollars to Armenia as foreign aid that does not mean it can dictate Armenia’s foreign policy. The combined US foreign aid to Armenia and Artsakh is a drop in the bucket compared to many billions of dollars Armenian businesses and Armenians living in US are paying the US government in taxes. The US government gives $10,000,000,000 of hard-earned tax payer money to Israel annually, while millions of its own citizens are becoming homeless, and Israel not only does what it wishes but it also infiltrates into and outlines the US foreign policy toward Israel for the US government.

    The US government has no credibility when it comes to acting as the moral compass for Armenia and its neighbors in the region because if it did it would officially have recognized the annihilation of Armenians from their homeland in Western Armenia and the destruction of their ancient civilization from Eastern Anatolia instead of giving in to pressures from the genocidal Turkish criminals year after year in return for maintaining Turkey as an outpost to dictate its own foreign policy in the region.

  30. Paul said:

    If you go on this website, there are Greek Islands for sale out there. Greece is in a major economic crisis and there are uninhabited islands for sale. Buying a Greek Island and creating a Cilician republic of Armenia could be a platform to show the world that Armenians can create a country that is not a third world dump. The oligarchs of Armenia have made us look bad.

    http://www.privateislandsonline.com/main_maps_html/greece_map.htm

  31. peter said:

    We need to learn from the Jews that we need to enter into the media and government to start influencing the system. It is a disgrace that there are only two Armenians in Congress. Look at how many Jews there are in congress. Armenians need to get advanced degrees in law and political science to enter into politics. We will never be able to raise the money that the Jews have due to their domination of the financial industry, but we can still try our best. Armenians also need to get advanced degrees in the medical and biological sciences and use these talents to generate money. Armenians must also be united like the Jews instead of stabbing each other in the back. Armenians especially Hayastansis need to value getting advanced educations rather than driving fancy cars and wearing expensive clothing and jewelry and showing off to everyone. Advanced education is what gets you places.

    • Avetis said:

      By the time Armenians do all that you want therm to do… they would be lost to assimilation! Wake up, the American people have no say in politics and there is no future for Armenians in the American empire. Armenia’s future lies in better relations with Russia, Iran, Europe, China… And Armenians can be in Russia what Jews are in America. So, if you want to see a truly powerful Armenian lobby (i.e. not one that lies to you so that you send them money), think of ways to help Russian-Armenians better organize themselves. But comparing Armenians to Jews is like comparing apples to sting-beans, and shows that you know absolutely nothing about Jews, their culture and their history. If you must, try comparing Armenians to Greeks, Albanians or Afghans…

  32. Alex Postallian said:

    I cant understand how clinton a paid stooge of the turks,can blantonly blame the Armenians,of shortcommings with Iran.When turkey and israel are like two snakes in a vase,that she ponders too.

  33. Raffi said:

    How come it’s O.K. to Turkey and not O.K. to Armenia, Double Standard as usual????? “Turkey’s gold sales to Iran largely in bullion ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News Thursday,August 30 2012, ´´

  34. GB said:

    Does Hussein Obama knows that 30% of sick Aliev’s people going to Iran for medical treatments?? Because rich oil nation is so poor and the cost of treatment is so high, that only his high ranking officers can afford!! Azerbaboon ordinary people They have on other choice, but to go Iran and get medical help from “unfriendly” Islamic republic, sometimes free of charge!! Corrupted Aliev still don’t have enough medical technology with his billions in order to help his own sick sheikdom people!!

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