Yerevan, Armenia – Imperialist Iran and Russia threaten peace and security in the Caucausia, West Asia as Armenia walks with Turkey and Azerbaijan
The post-Soviet region is known for turbulent internal and external political processes. The hotspots inherited by states after the collapse of the Soviet Union remain to this day, and are hindering stability in this region. One of these hotspots is Nagorno-Karabakh, an independent unrecognized state with an Armenian population between Armenia and Azerbaijan, formed as a result of a military conflict (1991-94) between the two countries. Despite the fact that the international community recognizes Azerbaijan as the owner of these territories, until recently Armenia insisted on recognizing these lands as Armenian.
The Armenian Revolution
After the end of the war, power passed into the hands of military officials in both Armenia and Azerbaijan. In Armenia, despite the periodic change of power, people from the highest military level, who came to Yerevan from Karabakh, became presidents. This caused dissatisfaction among the people, especially against the backdrop of an unstable economic situation. In 2015, the former president of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan, initiated amendments to the constitution, changing the country from a presidential to a parliamentary republic. Despite Sargsyan’s promises that he would not put forward his candidacy for the post of prime minister in 2018, he did, and was elected. In the spring of 2018, mass protests began in Armenia, which led to Sargsyan’s resignation, and Nikol Pashinyan, leader of the revolutionary movement, oppositionist and former MP, became the prime minister. Two years later, in 2020, Azerbaijan launched a large-scale offensive operation against Nagorno-Karabakh, and most of the territories came under its control. In the history of the post-Soviet region, this military conflict was called the 44-Day War, in which about 5,000 people died on each side.
The war ended with the signing of a ceasefire agreement between Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia as an intermediary, which sent peacekeeping forces to Nagorno-Karabakh to ensure military stability. However, this ceasefire document also included clauses on establishing economic relations in the region without any further clarification. Now, the discussion on these economic relations has opened.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Azerbaijan was left with an enclave in the south of Armenia, Nakhichevan, bordering Armenia, Iran and Turkey. For 30 years, before the 2020 war, Azerbaijan had no land access to this territory. Therefore, it was expected that the discussion on the establishment of economic relations would include the opening of a land road through southern Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh, and hence Azerbaijan. The opening of this road spurred border skirmishes between Azerbaijan and Armenia and the issue of delimitation and demarcation of the borders between the two countries arose. Without clarifying the borders first, and despite the fact that the bilateral military-political situation was still not “prosperous” enough, Pashinyan proceeded with the process of opening routes. Azerbaijan, taking good advantage of this opportunity, increased pressure by delaying the start of the delimitation and demarcation of borders, moving forward along the sovereign territory of Armenia, and demanding that the routes’ opening process be accelerated. What is even more surprising is that the prime minister of Armenia seems willing to initiate this process not only with Azerbaijan, but also with Turkey.
The hostility between Azerbaijan and Armenia will ease with economic relations and the opening of routes. This step carries risks for Armenian national interests’
It is known that Turkish ambitions to translate the plan of Pan-Turkism into reality are growing increasingly stronger. Establishing economic relations without preconditions (at least on the recognition of the genocide) gives the green light not only to Turkey but also to its closest ally, Azerbaijan.
The Armenian government is conducting a large information campaign about the benefits of economic relations with Turkey and Azerbaijan in a manner that makes people wonder whether national interests have been put aside. It’s perfectly understandable that, for 30 years, Armenia was in a state of semi-isolation in the region. The country has borders with Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran and Turkey, and the bulk of its foreign economic activity is with Georgia and Iran.
In economic terms, according to expert calculations, the opening of the railway from Nakhichevan to Azerbaijan through Armenia will give Armenia $1.2 million in profit per year – the payback period for the project, taking into account the planned investments, is 100 years. In addition, the economies of both Turkey and Azerbaijan are several times that of Armenia’s.
On this large regional strategic field, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Russia remain in the game, Armenia has become the ball, and Georgia and Iran have been left on the sidelines. With the opening of economic routes in the South Caucasus, Russia could diversify the ways of foreign trade in goods with Iran, Turkey and even India, whose path to Russia lies through Iran. On the other hand, Iran is dissatisfied with the latest regional developments: firstly, because previously Azerbaijan could only trade with the southern part of Turkey through Iran, but now there will be an alternative; and secondly, because Turkey and Azerbaijan will strengthen their positions in the region, at the expense of Iran, which is already fighting for its position in the Persian Gulf.
The two countries that are historical Türkiye’s enemies are Iran and Russia in the Caucasus region. Turkey and the Organization of Turkish States It is necessary to settle the issue of the Zangezur corridor with political and military means.
Zangezur corridor (Armenian: Զանգեզուրի միջանցք, Azerbaijani: Zəngəzur dəhlizi) is a concept for a transport corridor which, if implemented, would give Azerbaijan unimpeded access to Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic without Armenian checkpointsvia Armenia’s Syunik Province and, in a broad sense, for the geopolitical corridor would connect Turkey to the rest of the Turkic world thus “uniting it”.The concept has been increasingly promoted by Azerbaijan[ nd Turkey since the end of the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war, while Armenia has steadily objected to it, asserting that “corridor logic” deviates from the ceasefire statement trilaterally signed at the end of that war, and that it is a form of propaganda.
The terminology, the potential routes, and the modes of transport connections have since been points of contention between Azerbaijan and Armenia, which are still maintaining a mutual blockade.[b] Azerbaijan has initiated construction projects on its territory presenting them as part of the implementation of a so-called “Zangezur corridor” and threatened that should Armenia not want it, Azerbaijan “will decide it by force”.
During 2021 trilateral talks, Armenia expressed willingness to participate in rebuilding the Soviet-era railway links historically connecting Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan, which Azerbaijan interpreted as Armenian consent to the “Zangezur corridor”. According to Russia, the third party, what is being discussed is unblocking regional communications, and not creating a “corridor”.
Various observers have commented on the “Zangezur corridor”, analyzing the political implications of the term’s usage, and the effects of it if implemented, some characterizing the concept as a Greater Turkey agenda, drawing from irredentism, and others emphasizing the solution to the blockade as a key aspect.