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Axar.az presents the article "Armenia's democracy is threatened by a military coup" by Andrew Korybko.
The General Staff of the Armenian Armed Forces dramatically intervened in the political affairs of the nation on Thursday by demanding that Prime Minister Pashinyan resign. He responded by accusing them of a coup and urging his supporters to take to the streets to peacefully rally around their country's fledgeling democracy. The situation remains fluid and it's unclear how this everything will end, but the very fact that this crisis has erupted speaks to how inherently unstable Armenia has become, which should be of serious concern for the rest of the international community.
The political and military leaderships of the country have sought to blame one another for last year's disastrous war against Azerbaijan which led to Baku's liberation of Nagorno-Karabakh following Moscow's mediation. This outcome was regarded as a major blow to Armenia's regional interests since it was the first rolling back of its expansionist ideology of “Greater Armenia” after it was violently weaponized against the South Caucasus during the twilight years of the former Soviet Union. Ultra-nationalist figures in the armed forces and civil society alike have since sought to reverse this outcome by attempting to overthrow Pashinyan's government.
It's of immense importance to all that Armenia continues to abide by last year's Russian-mediated ceasefire regardless of whatever happens with its ongoing power struggle. Pashinyan has signalled that he'll remain committed to the pact, which earned him the respect of his country's Russian partner, but it's unclear exactly what the rebellious military would do if they succeed in seizing power. The worst-case scenario is that they'd seek to violate the agreement, if not outright discard it, but that would result in the wrath of their Russian ally which certainly wouldn't support such an illegal act of aggression against its Azerbaijani partner.
Moscow is the most powerful actor in Armenian affairs but it doesn't exercise complete control of the country, nor does it aspire to contrary to what some have claimed. This means that it might have also been somewhat caught off guard by the Armenian General Staff's ongoing coup attempt, but would probably attempt to exert a positive influence over the military in the event that it succeeds in seizing power by letting it now how unacceptable it would be if they tried to reverse the ceasefire that Pashinyan agreed to last year. It can only be hoped that such possible moves might get the Armenian military to reconsider the wisdom of doing so.
The other scenario is that Pashinyan somehow survives this coup attempt if he's able to show the nation that he truly has the majority's support, but the protests that have exploded in Yerevan over the past few months raise doubts about his ability to do so. In addition, while it's perfectly within his rights to call on his supporters to peacefully rally around his internationally recognized government, their opponents might exploit this as an opportunity to clash with them, thereby creating the pretext for the military to forcefully intervene under the cover of “restoring order”.
Armenia is currently divided like never before as its people suffer a deep-seated identity crisis following the failure of their expansionist ideology of “Greater Armenia”. Instead of looking inward and asking hard questions about themselves, their political leaders, and military officials about why the nation was consumed with such hyper-nationalist hatred for so long, a significant share of them including in the armed forces want to reverse the trend of history by going back to those dark days of regional aggression. They simply cannot accept that their national vision belongs in the rubbish bin of World War II-era fascist history.
There are thankfully enough Armenians though who are taking heed of recent events to do some long-overdue soul searching, but these peaceful folks might not be influential enough to make their voices heard if the military succeeds in seizing power and imposing a neo-fascist dictatorship on society like some fear might soon happen. It might even be the case that a very strict state of emergency could be declared in that scenario which would make peaceful protests illegal, thus shutting these pragmatic people out of political life. Whichever way one looks at it, Russia increasingly seems to hold the solution to this crisis.
While Moscow is unlikely to militarily in the crisis, it would do well to send a very stern message to Armenia's military leadership that it mustn't consider going back on last year's ceasefire agreement. That would be suicide for the Armenian nation because their armed forces would be decimated by Azerbaijan's, especially if its Turkish ally participated in what would be a legally justified peace enforcement operation aimed at protecting international law. Fascist ideological influences need to urgently be purged from the Armenian national political identity once and for all, but recent progress might be reversed if the military overthrows Pashinyan.
2021.02.25 / 13:56