Armenia opening up ways for Western influence on Iran

Politics Materials 9 April 2024 12:21 (UTC +04:00)
Armenia opening up ways for Western influence on Iran
Asif Mehman
Asif Mehman
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BAKU, Azerbaijan, April 9. The second Karabakh war followed by a change in the geopolitical situation in the South Caucasus, which is one of the most important transit regions in the world and part of the Great Silk Road.

Notably, Armenia chose the path of rapid integration with the West following the war. However, this is more related to intensifying steps to attract external forces to the region than to Armenia exercising its right to choose as a sovereign state.

Thus, in 2022, Armenia invited the EU peacekeeping mission to its country, and since February 2023, this mission has continued its activities with a new mandate on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The Armenian side has publicly stated on several occasions that it has turned away from its traditional ally, Russia.

"Today, our Russian colleagues claim that Western governments are putting pressure on the Armenian government to reduce Moscow's influence in the South Caucasus. The reality is that Russia is spontaneously leaving the region, and we don't know the reasons. There are many indicators that one day we may wake up and find that Russia is no longer here," Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in September 2023 in an interview with La Repubblica newspaper, effectively sending an open message regarding new patrons.

One of the reasons for all these steps taken in recent months can be called Russia's "busyness" in the armed conflict with Ukraine, and Armenia has seized this opportunity to try to fill its place in the region with Western countries' interests.

One of the countries seeking to influence the South Caucasus region and closely monitor the processes is Iran.

Obviously, the new geopolitical situation that has emerged after the war and the current events contradict Iran's regional interests.

The search for a new ally by Armenia, which refuses to conduct an independent policy while remaining in the tandem of "either the West or Russia," undoubtedly cannot fail to worry other countries in the region.

It's no secret that there is a cold war between Iran and the Western world.

Despite the fact that for many years Western forces sought to use Azerbaijani territory to conduct operations against Iran, Azerbaijan did not allow this; however, currently, Armenia is opening paths for Western influence on Iran, and of course, Tehran sees this too.

That is why, in October 2023, Secretary of the Security Council of Armenia Armen Grigoryan was invited to Iran, and this happened shortly before the meeting in Granada, where significant improvements in relations between the EU and Armenia were recorded.

Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi, in a phone call with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, stated that contacts beyond the 3+3 format in the South Caucasus complicate the situation; any geopolitical changes are a red line for Iran; and Foreign Minister Amir Abdollahian has repeatedly stated in his speeches on various platforms that Iran is against interference in the region from beyond its borders.

Map with locations of the EU civilian mission to Armenia

One of the Western countries, France, openly declares its intention to open a consulate in Gafan. The fact that Canada, as a NATO member and a North American country not part of the EU, has also entered the region makes one wonder about intentions that are far from maintaining peace on the border.

Notably, in 2023, Canada's embassy began operating in Armenia. Regarding the involvement of third parties, the 9th Article of the EU Council decision published in the EU's Official Journal on the mission's activities in Armenia noted that the third parties will have the same rights and obligations as member countries.

The recent visit of American military personnel to Armenia (on April 1) as part of US-Armenian military cooperation is another manifestation of the impending military cooperation between the West and Armenia.

On the other hand, the duration of the peacekeeping mission in the region, which began its activities on the Azerbaijan-Armenia border in October 2022, was initially set for two months, but in January 2023, it was extended until February 2025.

In March 2024, the Armenian parliament ratified the official document on the status of the EU civil mission.

Just a few days ago, Pashinyan stated during a press conference that the duration of the EU civil mission on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border could be extended for another two years after 2025.

The increase in the number of mission members, its offices throughout this period, and the complete lack of public disclosure of the mission members' mandate raise certain doubts.

It's no secret that these peacekeeping forces not only do not support stability on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border in this region but also monitor Iran, which is just a step away; at least, "their sights are on Iran."

It's well known that there are longstanding misunderstandings between Iran and the West on the nuclear issue, and in this context, the official statement by the Executive Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, that "Iran has reached a peak in uranium enrichment," as well as evident military support for Russia in the armed conflict with the West's ally Ukraine, are the main indicators representing the current situation.

It's not coincidental that in such a situation, the collective West is increasingly politically and militarily strengthening itself on the northern borders of Iran.

Tehran is becoming increasingly aware that deepening relations between Armenia and the West create new risks to the country's national security.

It is also no coincidence that at a meeting with the Chief of the General Staff of the Islamic Republic of Iran during the visit to Tehran of the Chairman of the National Security Council of the Republic of Armenia, Armen Grigoryan, in October 2023, Mohammed Bagheri officially announced Tehran’s readiness to send its observers to the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and noted that the emergence of new actors from outside the region increases complexity and instability.

Thus, the current situation gives grounds to say that Armenia actively invites external forces into the region and creates conditions for them to closely monitor other countries.

As the West strengthens its position in Armenia, it seeks to observe Iran, with which it is in a "cold war" state, and, if necessary, create conditions for intervention.

As a result, the red lines that Iran always talks about have long been crossed. Just a month ago, in March 2024, when Ibrahim Raisi met with Armenian Defense Minister Suren Papikyan in Iran, his repeated emphasis on the phrase "permission for intervention by forces from outside the region does not bring peace to the region; peace can only be achieved with the participation of regional countries" is evidence that Iran sees what Armenia is trying to do in the region.

Before it's too late, Tehran must prevent Armenia from acting as a springboard for the West against Iran.

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