With Bolton’s Visit, U.S. Reasserts its Heavy Hand on Armenia

U.S, National Security Advisor John Bolton during his meeting with Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Yerevan on Oct. 25, 2018
U.S, National Security Advisor John Bolton during his meeting with Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Yerevan on Oct. 25, 2018

U.S, National Security Advisor John Bolton during his meeting with Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Yerevan on Oct. 25, 2018

BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN

Not since the failed and dangerous Turkey-Armenia Protocols has the United States been so keen on pressuring Armenia to adapt to American priorities in the region.

U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton’s trip last week to Armenia, where he offered to sell arms and urged the government to take “decisive” steps regarding Karabakh, signals yet another attempt by Washington to coerce—or threaten—Yerevan to alter its priorities in favor of advancing U.S. interests in the region.

Outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Richard Mills set the groundwork in his farewell interview with EVN Report, where he said that territorial concessions by Armenia are an inevitable part of the peace process and while Armenia was free to pursue its own independent foreign policy, it would behoove Yerevan to toe Washington’s line when it came to regional issues.

Bolton’s bold offer to sell arms to Armenia not only would tip the balance of parity in the region, it would also pit Armenia directly against Russia, which has been Armenia’s main arms supplier. Hence, it is ironic that Bolton would call Russian arms sales to Azerbaijan and Armenia disruptive and unproductive for the Karabakh peace process and yet offer both countries to buy arms from the United States without presenting guarantees that such a transaction, which until now has not been on the table, would not create an imbalance in the region.

Given the size of Azerbaijan’s military budget, such a proposal would be dangerous and would bolster Azerbaijan’s political sway with the Trump administration.

Bolton’s suggestion that the hard-fought Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act could be repealed is also a signal that the U.S. will stop at nothing to advance its shortsighted agenda in the region, regardless of the fallout. Section 907 is an amendment to the post-Soviet US assistance effort advanced by the Armenian National Committee of America and its wide grassroots network, restricting aid to Azerbaijan and Turkey until they lifted their blockades of Armenia. Since 9/11, however, successive U.S. administrations have suspended portions of Section 907, but largely have maintained the provisions about military assistance to Azerbaijan. Bolton’s offer to repeal the mandate all together would not only play into Baku’s military opportunism, but it would also give Azerbaijan a carte blanche to do as it sees fit in the region.

“The ANCA will continue to press for strict enforcement of Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act, which – as a matter of law, currently waived by the Administration – restricts certain forms of direct U.S. assistance, including offensive military hardware, to the Azerbaijani government. In light of Baku’s escalating aggression, the ANCA calls upon the White House to discontinue its Section 907 waivers and urges Congress to roll back its waiver authority for this law. Parallel to Section 907 enforcement issues, the ANCA is carefully tracking potential arms export control violations related to Azerbaijan, including the third-party sourcing of sensitive U.S. equipment, software, and services for drones and other weapons systems,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian on Thursday immediately following Bolton’s remarks.

“We will continue to demand accountability for Azerbaijan’s aggression, and back continued U.S. funding for vitally needed humanitarian and developmental programs in Artsakh,” added Hamparian.

Of course at the center of the United States’ renewed interest in the region is the Trump Administration’s decision to pull out of the nuclear deal and White House’s determination to squeeze Iran both politically and economically. In Bolton’s view a swift resolution to the Karabakh conflict would isolate Iran in the region and would provide the U.S. much-needed leverage at a hefty cost to Armenia.

It just happened that the popular movement in Armenia that overthrew the previous regime and the White House’s increasing hard line toward Iran happened at the same time, prompting Washington to believe that the new regime in Armenia presented an opening for the United States to swoop in and assert its position on Yerevan, despite the fact that during the entire conflict resolution process, the United States had always advocated for a resolution that would benefit, above all else, Azerbaijan.

Bolton offered the Trump Administration’s support for the changes in Armenia. He saw the upcoming parliamentary elections as a decisive moment for the U.S. to advance its policies in the region.

Instead of seeing the changes in Armenia as an opportunity to bolster bilateral economic, political, and military relations with Armenia by proposing concrete measures, such as instituting a new double-tax treaty, which could increase U.S. economic investment in Armenia, Bolton—and Mills as a foreshadower—went for the jugular and in a heavy-handed manner threatened Armenia to comply with Washington’s wishes. It would have been more productive to engage Armenia’s leaders in a dialogue to advance U.S.-Armenia relations on all fronts and as a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group advance a more cooperative agenda.

So, it was heartening that Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Saturday directly addressed Bolton’s comment by saying “The entity that will or will not resolve the Karabakh issue is the Armenian Nation, and specifically the people of Armenia, the people of Artsakh and in this case also the Diaspora, because this is a Pan-Armenian issue.”

It is time for the United States to stop advancing a policy in the region that will only benefit Azerbaijan—a military dictatorship—and begin advancing issues such as the people’s right to self-determination—a vanguard and guiding principle of America’s forefathers.

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15 Comments

  1. Zartir Lao said:

    “Given the size of Azerbaijan’s military budget” – And who’s fault is that?? The idiotic Armenian government is the one solely responsible for the tragic situation that Armenia is in, because the cowards are too chicken to take steps against Azerbaijan, over some idiotic idea that they don’t want to irk Mother Russia or whatever else it is that goes through their delusional minds. It has been 30 years already that these chickens have been laying their eggs in Mother Russia’s lap without a single meaningful result. Not even an idiot would allow an enemy to get rich and buy all sorts of weapons while at the same time being the aggressor and killing Armenian soldiers at the border. How many times in the past 30 years has Azerbaijan’s income stopped because some mysterious blast blew up a segment of a pipeline? ZERO! So… what are we complaining about again?? And by the way, how come for 100 YEARS Armenia never got a border with Russia again???? I can only think of one word… STUPIDITY.

  2. Tsakoug said:

    Thank you, Ara, for telling it like it is. Bolton and his Neocon ilk are the worst of the worst.

  3. Ararat said:

    The Armenian leaders must never trust the US foreign policy makers in the region. They are up to no good. This is another trick up their sleeves just like the Armenia-Turkey protocols they shrewdly engaged in back in 2009 which would have been disastrous for the Armenians if it were ratified and adopted. The tricky Turks soon after showed their true faces and the Armenians sobered up, came to their senses and scraped it. Today, it is the very same two-faced and “conciliatory” terrorist Turkey that is conducting a proxy war on the Armenians through artificial Azerbaijan. The Armenian leaders must understand that they can never trust the United States to play a positive role to benefit Armenia so long as the US and terrorist Turkey, and the artificial Azerbaijan as well by association, are in the same club.

    The United States is trying to hit two birds with one stone. It wants to isolate Armenia by offering arms to Armenia to create a wedge between Armenia and her Russian ally and then to dictate Armenia in regards to Artsakh conflict and Iran. By making Armenian rely on the US it wants to force Armenia to a costly compromise on the Artsakh front in order to protect and secure the uninterrupted flow of “black gold” into Europe. This will minimize, if not eliminate, Europe’s reliance on Russian energy supply thus further isolating Russia and financially benefiting US and European oil companies. Then it wants to make Armenia submit to US foreign policy toward Iran to isolate Iran altogether and to please Israel.

    It is rather interesting, more like cunning, that all of a sudden US wants to offer help to Armenia when it was dead silent in the last few years when Israel, another ally of US, sold $1.1 billion dollars worth of armaments to terrorist Azerbaijan to be used against the Armenians and when terrorist Turkey’s Islamo-fascist leader Erdogan congratulated Aliyev the terrorist leader of artificial Azerbaijan for the April 2016 surprise attack on the Armenians. As they say, birds of a feather flock together. None of these charlatans are to be trusted!

    • Hagop Varoujian said:

      Ararat, I could not have worded your response any better! Now let us all like -minded Armenians unite behind Nikol Pashinyan and give him all the support we possibly can. Because unless we show a strong United front we shall never be able to defend our country.

  4. Edward Demiraiakian said:

    If the US wants to assert its influence in the middle east, it should start with taking responsibility which it willingly undertook when it accepted the mandate for Wilsonian Armenia. Forget Eastern Armenia and Artsakh. Western Armenia under a US mandate would buy all its weaponry from the US, and support US policies. Think about that Mr. Bolton. So now go and tell Erdogian to withdraw from Western Armenia and Cilicia.

  5. Assdig Maagar said:

    Armenia can dictate to the US the policies that are beneficial to them by playing the Iran card more than the other way around. The last thing Armenia needs is US weapons. Even the repeal of Section 907 (not desirable but) will not be that detrimental to Armenia at this time which will be offset by increased military aid by Russia when AZ starts buying US instead of Russian.

  6. JOE said:

    The useless Trump administration will be gone soon enough and so will chicken hawks like Bolton. This man is ultra pro Israel which means
    pro Azerbaijan and anti Armenian. Trust him ZERO!

    • mgl said:

      Hey Joe, and who will come instead of the current President? Another Lier? At least Trump didn’t promise anything. Use common sense, don’t be librard.

  7. Norserunt said:

    US weapons are grossly over priced, very difficult to operate and maintain and they work best only against enemies that wear sandals and turbans. Moreover, American officials are war criminals and they only serve the interests of the Zionist state. Therefore, American officials and their war toys are not welcome in Armenia. No one, including Nikol and his Western funded cohorts, will be able to drive a wedge between Russia and Armenia. Russia and Armenia are locked in an embrace no one can break. No Russia in Armenia = no Armenia in the south Caucasus. No Armenia in the south Caucasus = no Russia in the strategic south Caucasus. Russians and Armenians have been natural allies for two hundred-plus years and will remain allies for well into the foreseeable future. God bless Russia. God bless Armenia. And may God help protect Russo-Armenian friendship from all enemies both foreign and domestic.

  8. jirtu said:

    Bolton and the State Department must think the collective Armenian IQ is close to room temperature on a spring day. The nerve of Dr. Strangelove…telling us to forget history, to give Artsakh to Turkbeijan, to play nice with our twin nauseating neighbors which are committed to our elimination. What do we get in return? Mustache Johnny will probably give us some spare rifles from the misunderstandings in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria…

  9. Anon said:

    Bolton and Giuliani were in Armenia to collect on the $20M of additional “aid” Armenia just got from U.S. taxpayers. There is only one difference between what Bolton and Giuliani (and the U.S.) are doing and what corrupt Armenian politicians do when they pay for votes: the U.S. bribe is an assault on Armenia’s sovereignty.

  10. Raffi said:

    What for Armenia needs US weapons, Armenia needs peace not war, are these weapons to be used against Turkey? or against who, and what will be the price to pay, abandon the friendly relations with its neighbours Iran and Russia?

  11. Daniel Sagherian said:

    Russia cannot, should not, must not allow any Turkic land at Armenia’s southern border, be that Turkish or Azeri; chopped off of Armenia or Iran. That game plan was played Protocols time; and now it is revisited. I can see only nuclearized Russian backed Iran in the near future. Post Velvet Revolution, there was an attempt of dividing Armenians into either black, or white; now that’s behind us, and so are Western backed Armenian voices on mass media. Now, countries are being labeled either black, or white; with us, or against us. Sorry, Mr. West, this is a voice from the West itself: Armenia needs survival, and that has come always from the north. Special Interest groups have always failed British promises, as well as US mandates over America. The Caucuses is merely a gains field for the West, while it is basic necessity for Russia. Since days of Issrayel Orri, This Armenian vote goes to Russia.

  12. Daniel Sagherian said:

    It meant US mandate over Armenia, not America (post-Sevres Treaty).

  13. Daniel Sagherian said:

    Armenia is only pleasure for America, while a necessity for Russia.

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