25 January 2021

Monday, 05:41



How big is the risk of terror attacks, as it was in the ‘70s-’80s?



Armenia is in search for own identity. This is perhaps the best description of the current situation in Yerevan these days. Internal political passions are boiling. The visit of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to the Yerablur cemetery to pay tribute to the fallen soldiers and officers of the Second Garabagh War ended in disgrace. His trip to Zangezur renamed by Armenia to Syunik caused a scandal again: the priest refused to shake hands with the head of government, while a scuffle broke out in Goris between the local population and the police...

All these events raised a number of questions. Will Nikol Pashinyan stay in his post? Will Vazgen Manukyan, "a single candidate" from the opposition, take over as prime minister? Will Artur Vanetsyan take over the initiative from Manukyan? Can the former leaders of Armenia – Robert Kocharian or Serzh Sargsyan – launch a revenge campaign?..

As usual, the main thing often becomes obscured behind hot scenes, fist fights and other attributes of politics ongoing on the streets of Yerevan. We yet to see the "party of peace" declaring itself in Armenia. Unfortunately, we cannot hear the calls for building normal and civilized relations with neighbouring countries. And the whole situation in Armenian society with a strong cocktail of historical grievances, bitterness from a lost war, thirst for revenge, etc. evokes a persistent feeling of déjà vu: something similar has already happened in the Armenian history.


History repeats itself. Geography too

Parallels in politics is a risky thing. Nevertheless, let us recall the events of a hundred years ago, when hopes for the ‘Armenianization’ of six vilayets in Eastern Anatolia to build the so called Western Armenia collapsed. At that time, Armenian circles enthusiastically listened to the politicians of the Entente and firmly believed that the British, French, and even Russians would not hesitate to fight the Ottoman Empire and present Turkish lands to Armenia. But everything ended in collapse with the victory of Turkey and the signing of the Alexandropol, Kars and the Moscow treaties between Soviet Russia and the Republic of Turkey.

As many experts admit, the leaders of Armenia and even the expert community and the "chatting class" simply did not hear what the world community was trying to convey to them: at least the districts surrounding the former Nagorno-Karabakh need to be liberated and there will be no second Armenian state. They could only bargain about the degree of autonomy. But now, after the defeat in the war, when the issue of status is closed altogether, and the regions surrounding the former Karabakh have been liberated by military means, Armenians are offended. They ask questions such as: why the world community allowed Azerbaijan to do this? Why did not they protect Armenia? How could this possibly have happened?

Summing up the defeat in the Second Garabagh War, veteran of Armenian politics and diplomacy Zhirayr Libaridian in his interview with BBC noted that the Armenian political class “has not changed the mentality. This is the main problem of our political thinking, and this problem is at least 200 years old. It is not something new. We like it so much. We like illusions, we like to think that a fair decision, a perfect solution is a possible solution." In fact, he repeated the well-known statement of one of the Dashnak leaders, Hovhannes Kachaznuni: “We put our own aspirations in the hive of others. We have lost the sense of reality and have given free rein to dreams. "

We would not go into all these experiences and historical excursions if not for one circumstance. Then, in the 1920s, the Armenian leaders opted for terror, having been convinced that they were losing the Eastern Anatolia. They organised a series of murders of the former members of the government of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic and Young Turks. However, it did not work to influence world diplomacy. How big is the risk of reoccurrence of similar events today?


Terrorists are still there

One can argue that the wave of political murders in the 1920s is gone and advise to refrain from parallels. But what about the wave of Armenian terror in the 1970s and 1980s, when the Armenian groups, including the most dangerous and influential ASALA (Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia), carried out many terrorist attacks mainly against the diplomatic and commercial missions of Turkey. More than 40 Turkish diplomats fell victim to the terror. The last terrorist attack took place in 1989. In Armenia, ASALA terrorists are revered as national heroes. Streets, squares and military lyceums are named after them, they are solemnly buried in the Yerablur pantheon.

The most dangerous and blasphemous is that in Armenia terror was and is considered a completely acceptable method of struggle. Let's remember the events of July 2020.


Lessons from July

In the summer of 2020, Armenia provoked yet another skirmish at the border with Tovuz, very close to the route of strategic export pipelines. As admitted by the second president of Armenia Robert Kocharian, the provocation was orchestrated by Armenia with an obvious aim to hit the pipelines. Since Armenia has repeatedly pledged to destroy the Azerbaijani export routes previously, there is no reason to doubt Kocharian's words. At the same time, Armenian authorities were confident that the CSTO would immediately step in with the fist shots from Azerbaijan. The case, however, ended in a series of disappointments.

Firstly, Armenians military could not advance even a meter from the border line. Secondly, CSTO did not rush to help Armenia. So on and so forth... Bottom line: Armenia suddenly doscivered that it had lost its monopoly on "informational activity" abroad, which was intercepted by the Azerbaijani diaspora, which has vigorously launched a series of activities from rallies to posts in local social networks. Diplomatic missions of Azerbaijan also posted articles in the local media, held press conferences, and gave television interviews. Diplomats cited facts that were very inconvenient for Armenia: the hostilities unfolded many kilometres away from Garabagh but next to the pipelines.

And in response... Armenia launched a campaign of attacks both on the diplomatic missions of Azerbaijan and on the participants of Azerbaijani mass actions. Let us recall only the most famous precedents. On July 21, an anti-Azerbaijani banner was hung on the gates of the Azerbaijani embassy in Washington, which was then actively shared in the Armenian sector of social networks. In Los Angeles, radical Armenian elements attacked Azerbaijanis who were conducting a peaceful and legal action in front of the Consulate General of Azerbaijan, when 7 people, including women, were injured. There were also countless threats on social networks and even calls to sell the personal data of Azerbaijanis.

Another significant incident took place in Brussels, where the Armenian nationalists threw stones at the building of the Azerbaijani embassy. Incidentally, many of the participants, or rather the accomplices of the action, were wearing T-shirts with the ASALA logo. Former Armenian Defense Minister David Tonoyan openly promised to use "assault groups" against Azerbaijan, which were supposed to "create chaos behind enemy lines." In August 2020, Armenian saboteurs were already caught in Azerbaijan.

The above facts demonstrate that Armenia can again attempt to switch to the use of external terror acts.