A few years ago, a respectable European publication asked the readers whom they would not like to see as their neighbours. Obviously, drug dealers, criminals, neo-Nazis, terrorists, etc. found themselves on top of the list.
It is unusual to conduct such polls on the scale of entire states, as countries, as the well-known saying goes, do not change addresses.
However, coexisting with an aggressive regime like Armenia is an unpleasant experience. The country borders with four states - Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran and Turkey. But it has territorial claims to all of its neighbours. For example, territorial and historical claims to Turkey manifested by an image of the Agri Dag Mountain (Ararat) on the coat of arms of Armenia; to Georgian regions of Javakheti and Borchala as a result of the 1918-1920 war lost by Armenia; and to Azerbaijan, which resulted in an open conflict at the end of the last century and the occupation of 20% of Azerbaijani territories by Armenia.
For many years, world powers have done everything to keep the conflict frozen with all sorts of peace talks, settlement options, etc. The conflict is rapidly unfreezing now. After the July clashes provoked by Armenia on the border with Azerbaijan, the peace process was actually on the verge of collapse, as warned by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. “I am quite negative on the current state of negotiations... In fact, there are no negotiations at all... I said that we would not participate in the negotiations for the sake of attendance. This does not mean that we refuse to negotiate but we do not want to be part of the cunning policy of Armenia,” Ilham Aliyev said in his interview with the leading TV channels.
He also underlined that Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan seriously hit the negotiation process with his statement “Karabakh is Armenia. Period.” “If he thinks that Karabakh is Armenia, although the whole world rejects this nonsense, then we cannot discuss on any peace agreement? [Pashinyan’s statement] was a political provocation." Same as the demand that Azerbaijan should negotiate with Nagorno-Karabakh, not with Armenia. "This also means changing the format of negotiations. Of course, we will never agree with this... In fact, these statements confirm that it was Armenia that withdrew from the negotiations, not Azerbaijan. Armenian prime minister voiced seven conditions for Azerbaijan. First of all, how dares he place conditions on us? If we we use the same language of conditions, then his political life will be very short. I said that we reject these absurd conditions. But we have one and only condition: Armenians must completely and unconditionally leave our lands, as reflected in the resolutions of the UN Security Council."
“The July provocation was an armed provocation. Everyone knows that Armenia started it. A high-ranking official from one of the countries co-chairing the Minsk Group has already openly stated this. Then was the provocation in August. A sabotage group was ordered to commit terrorist acts against civilians and military provocations. Leader of the group was captured. Now he reveals the names and evidences with details of the sabotage. He is not a shepherd, nor a lost child. After all, Armenians always call their captured spies shepherds or madmen. We already have five or six such saboteurs. Are they all mad or shepherds? Is the majority of Armenian population shepherds and madmen? So, who is committing these provocations? Did we send a sabotage group? No, they did. Are the July events our fault? No. Did we kill their citizens? No. There were no casualties among the civilians on the Armenian side. But they killed a 76-year-old old man from Azerbaijan and destroyed many houses. Therefore, these provocations are actually a logical result of the aggressive Armenian policy. The goal is to disrupt negotiations, then blame us and keep the status quo unchanged. But we think they are wrong in thinking so. The sooner they understand this, the better for them."
Unfortunately, Yerevan has not demonstrated understanding so far. Moreover, a process started in Armenia can lead to a dangerous situation with unpredictable outcome.
Armenia becomes a terrorist hub
The word hub is relatively new in our vocabulary. It is used to denote a significant junction point or node that goes far beyond national borders. Many nations dream about having important transport, energy or financial hubs on their territory. Today Azerbaijan successfully accomplishes this mission, including the implementation of several international projects such as the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, Southern Gas Corridor, North-South transport corridor and the revived Silk Road and the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway projects.
Armenia has always dreamed of having something similar. In January 2019, in his interview with RBK television channel of Russia, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan admitted that it would be nice to have a transit pipeline passing through the territory of Armenia.
But in reality, Pashinyan is systematically turning Armenia into a terrorist hub.
Back in early September, the Russian news agency Avia.Pro published the following: “Russia delivered 450 troops from Armenia to Syria to fight together with the militias of Assad. Armenian mercenaries were recruited by the pro-government party that operates in Syria and Lebanon with the headquarters in the latter. The battalion is accompanied by Brigadier General Muhsan Nafnoff from the Syrian military intelligence in coordination with the Russian military base in Khmeimim.” It is no secret that Armenia has long been part of the Russian military mission in Syria. They even dispatched to Syria a group of sappers trained under the American demining assistance program. The fact caused much bitterness and resentment in Washington, of course. There is definitely a difference between being part of a military mission and being involved in a conflict as a mercenary, playing dangerous games with militants.
By the way, Syria is not the only and certainly not the most dangerous episode.
In September, the South Caucasian media outlets reported about a large-scale resettlement of ethnic Armenians from Lebanon to the occupied lands of Azerbaijan. Baku immediately stated that such activities are contrary to international humanitarian law and the Geneva Conventions. Yet the dangerous details became known recently: the group of resettlers is not just ethnic Armenians from Lebanon but terrorists of the Armenian ASALA group.
There are also serious indications that the militants of the well-known terrorist group the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) will also be deployed in the occupied Karabakh. Semyon Baghdasarov have long suggested using the combat experience of the Kurdish Peshmerge in Karabakh (although they forgot to mention that Peshmerge showed fantastic combat skills supporting the US and the Allies militaries. Now there are reports that thousands of militants arrive in Karabakh using the Suleymaniya-Seyran Band-Kermanshah-Karabakh route. Armenian Ambassador to Iraq Hrachya Poladyan takes an active part in this operation. Russian Gazeta.ru provides interesting details: 25 Kurdish militants moved to Armenia from Syria and Iraq through Iran with the city of Urmiyya as a transit point. It also reports that another 250 militants of the Syrian wing of PKK-YPG will follow the same corridor. Another group of 25 men is currently at the Makhmur base in Iraqi Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. Hezbollah and the pro-Iranian armed structures operating in Iraq provided assistance in the transit. According to Gazeta.ru, the operation took place under the patronage of French intelligence, which caused an understandable irritation of the Kremlin – a member state of CSTO and EAEU should not cooperate so closely with a NATO member state. Especially the one which is dragging terrorists very close to the Russian border.
Hiding a leaf in forest or...
The reasons behind ongoing events in Armenia are quite obvious. The country has been experiencing serious demographic problems for a long time. The population is decreasing, and for obvious reasons, families with young men of military age leave the country. As a result, the Armenian military is encouraging women to join the army, as well as creating militia units. Today, when the risk of resuming combat operations in Karabakh is great, we can assume that Armenia is simply replenishing its military personnel in this way.
The people resettled in Armenia is not just those who want to shoot but experienced terrorists. Moreover, the traditions of political terror in Armenia go back to the 19th century. Armenia still raises the terrorists to the rank of national heroes. Quite recently an ASALA terrorist A. Tovmasyan was buried with honors in the Yerablur pantheon of Yerevan. According to the press-release of ASALA, “on January 22, 1983, Tovmasyan was one of those who carried out a group attack on the headquarters of a Turkish airline in Paris as part of the Operation Shapin Karahisar.”
Armenia has already conducted numerous terrorist attacks against Azerbaijan in the early 1990s. And soon after the Armenian Minister of Defense David Tonoyan threatened to launch assault groups that "will wreak havoc in the deep rear of the enemy", terrorists began to appear in the occupied Azerbaijani lands.
It is quite obvious that such a hornet's nest is a danger to everyone in the region.