Official Yerevan was quick to respond to tensions between the United States and Iran, which escalated late last week with the U.S. targeted killing of Iran’s top military commander Major General Qassem Suleimani, with Armenia’s Foreign Ministry expressing “serious concern” and the prime minister saying that Armenia cannot be drawn into the conflict.
Soon after the attack that killed Suleimani, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in a Facebook live post that Armenia cannot be drawn into anti-Iranian or anti-American conflicts. He announced that Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif had discussed the developments in a phone conversation on Friday.
“The ministers discussed the regional situation, and the Armenian foreign minister expressed condolences to the Iranian government and people on the occasion of the situation that led to human losses,” said Pashinyan.
“You know that Iran is a friendly country for us, the United States is a friendly country for us, and in this situation, we, certainly, cannot be embroiled in anti-Iranian actions, nor can we become embroiled in anti-American actions. And our message is for our partners in Iran and United States to refrain from steps that would aggravate the already tense situation in our region and international relations,” added Pashinyan in his Facebook live message on Friday.
Pashinyan said he issued directives to relevant government bodies to monitor the situation issued to relevant governmental bodies to strictly monitor the situation..
“You understand that this work contains various nuances and I don’t think we should present all details. The government and all officials in-charge are in contact 24\7 and whenever needed we also meet, discuss and talk,” explained Pashinyan.
In a statement issued on Saturday, Armenia’s Foreign Ministry expressed “serious concern” regarding the attack in Baghdad, during which Suleimani was killed.
“We are deeply concerned about the recent incidents in Baghdad which led to human losses as well,” the Armenian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “They risk further undermining the regional security and destabilizing the situation in the Middle East and beyond.”
“Armenia calls for the de-escalation of situation exclusively through peaceful means. Armenia will continue to closely cooperate with all its partners aimed at ensuring regional stability and security,” it added.
On Friday, Mnatsakanyan convened a meeting with Armenia’s ambassadors to Middle East countries to discuss the developments.
On Saturday, Armenia’s top military brass also held an emergency meeting. According to Defense Ministry spokesperson Artsrun Hovhannisyan, Armenia’s military leaders discussed the developments in the Middle East following Suleimani’s assassination.
In a related matter, Armenia’s National Security Service has detained a man it suspected of breaching Armenia’s national security by posting false statements under a fake Facebook account, which was used to flare tensions by the Azerbaijani media immediately following Suleimani’s killing.
The suspect, whose name has not been publicized, reportedly ran a Facebook account by the name of Diana Harutyunyan and used the account to spread false information, the latest of which was a fake report claiming that Pashinyan had congratulated President Donald Trump on the Suleimani’s assassination.
The media in Azerbaijan cited the false account and statement in an effort to flare tensions, at a volatile time in the region.
“The public distribution of fake news with such content aimed at inciting ethnic, racial and religious hostility, manipulation in the information-propaganda arena has inflicted significant damage to the national security interests of the Republic of Armenia,” the NSS said in a statement on Sunday.
The NSS publicized a video, in which the suspect, whose faced was blurred, claimed that he is in opposition to the government and disapproved of the jailing of former president Robert Kocharian. He cited that as the reason for his fake account, which has been in existence since 2018 and being used to spread disinformation to defame the authorities.
In the NSS vide, the suspect said he did not intend to cause damage to the national security and did not think that the fake news report authored by him would be re-published to that extent. He said he regrets having written the fake report.
The suspect has been placed under arrest amid an ongoing investigation.