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It's Time for a Pivot to Armenia | Opinion

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine highlighted the risk that Putinism poses, now not simplest in Russia itself however around the entirety of the previous Soviet Union. Whilst the Biden management and Congress properly make investments billions of greenbacks in serving to Ukraine maintain its freedom, it’s also vital to strengthen different international locations who search to decrease Russian affect. Right here, Armenia supplies a fashion.

Within the many years after the autumn of the Soviet Union, Armenia cultivated shut ties with Russia. A part of this was once cultural, and section additionally because of a practical safety calculation. Beginning in 1991, each Turkey and Azerbaijan blockaded Armenia and threatened its very lifestyles and so Russia’s safety promises mattered. In 2018, then again, Armenians took to the streets to call for executive transparency, extra freedom, and democracy. This Armenian fashion of democratic step forward—one achieved from inside of Russia’s sphere of affect—is a construction that america will have to search to domesticate. It bolsters U.S. pursuits with out requiring really extensive U.S. assets. Armenia these days is on a democratic trail.

Sadly, the State Division continues to perform as though the previous 20 years have by no means came about. This was once obvious right through a Nov. 16 Senate International Family members Committee listening to. Each U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Karen Donfried and Senior Marketing consultant for Caucasus Negotiations Ambassador Philip Reeker fumbled to shield The united states’s overseas coverage within the Caucasus area that continues to coddle Azerbaijan and defer to Turkey, whilst each international locations develop extra authoritarian and destabilize the area.

Senators requested Donfried to justify the State Division’s waiver of Segment 907 of the Freedom Beef up Act, which prohibits U.S. help to Azerbaijan till it ceases “all blockades and offensive makes use of of power towards Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.” She argued that army help to Azerbaijan is within the nationwide safety pursuits of the U.S. and results in “vital effects countering transnational threats from Iran and disrupting smuggling routes to the South Caucasus, Russia, and Europe.” Donfried supplied a equivalent chorus right through a Dec. 14 Space International Affairs Subcommittee listening to arguing that the U.S. supplies “non-lethal border safety help” to the federal government of Azerbaijan.

This ignores Azerbaijan and Turkey’s use of terrorist mercenaries within the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh Battle, in addition to each international locations’ more and more shut ties to Russia. It additionally ignores Azerbaijan’s blockade of the one highway connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia, chopping off medication, meals, emergency hospital therapy, ambulance services and products and significant items and provides.

Turkey and Azerbaijan are these days amongst Moscow’s most useful army and financial allies. At the eve of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev and Vladimir Putin signed an settlement deepening army cooperation, whilst Russian oil conglomerates bought roughly 25 p.c of Azerbaijan’s greatest herbal gasoline box.

It additionally places the Biden management at the mistaken facet of human rights. Donfried and Reeker have been uncomfortable when Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the committee chair, wondered atrocities dedicated via Azerbaijan towards Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia. In a single case, a video shot via Azerbaijanis confirmed Azerbaijani infantrymen executing Armenians on Armenian territory. Whilst State Division spokesperson Ned Worth had stated the killings and suggested the ones accountable be dropped at justice, and whilst Human Rights Watch additionally faulted Azerbaijan, Reeker was once dismissive. “I have observed various movies … my e-mail field is crammed,” he quipped. It seems that Secretary of State Antony Blinken these days defaults to State Division careerists who repeat previous errors of supporting transactional international relations and autocratic and dynastic leaders with whom the U.S. stocks no not unusual values. Turkey and Azerbaijan are irredentist, incite hatred, name for ethnic cleaning, and feature leaders who collect huge fortunes as their countrymen fight.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the Space Nancy Pelosi seems to be on as she visits the Tsitsernakaberd Armenian Genocide Memorial Advanced in Yerevan on Sept. 18, 2022.
KAREN MINASYAN/AFP by means of Getty Pictures

It is time to pivot to Armenia. Yerevan is house to The united states’s 2d biggest embassy complicated. The 2 international locations proportion the similar core values: equality, freedom, democracy, human rights, pluralism, and the guideline of regulation. Armenia could also be house to the College of California-affiliated American College of Armenia. The college is an emblem of bipartisanship. Then-Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Okay.Y.) subsidized and previous President Invoice Clinton signed into regulation $10 million for its endowment. It has been a just right funding, as its just about 6,000 graduates have prompt Armenia regularly westward. The rustic could also be more and more an funding hub for Western tech corporations, together with ServiceTitan and Synopsys.

Given the inherent pro-American stance of Armenian society, the shared values of each international locations, and the natural strengthen that the Armenian polity has for all issues American, in all probability it’s time for the State Division to prevent seeking to stability the South Caucasus and as a substitute deal with Armenia as an entity aside.

There were certain indicators. In a while after getting back from Taiwan, Space Speaker Nancy Pelosi become the highest-ranking U.S. executive authentic to seek advice from Armenia. She used her presence to sentence Azerbaijan’s assaults and praised Armenia’s efforts to advance democracy and the guideline of regulation. Such international relations, then again, is in brief provide.

Armenia is an more and more wholesome democracy inside of an authoritarian orbit. Nurturing it’s as a lot an American pastime as seeing Ukraine stay its freedom. The one distinction between the 2 is that nurturing democracy within the South Caucasus will value america not anything.

Timothy Jemal is president of International ARM.

The perspectives expressed on this article are the creator’s personal.

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