Arab Spring Has Encountered Iran, Which Will Sooner or Later Make Both Azerbaijan and Armenia Facing Tough Choice

By Rauf MirkadYrov

Political Observer

Baku

Smart people say that globalism is a corporate slaveholding. Proceeding from this assumption, automatically brings to the conclusion that in the modern world all are interrelated. This is a like process of global warming. It starts with poles, but cooling takes place somewhere in the tropics. However, there is another, diametrically opposite approach to the ongoing processes, lying in the fact that the analogy is a far-fetched coincidence of different phenomena.

I think that truth is somewhere in the middle. Revolutionary events in the Middle East hardly have a direct impact on political processes, taking place in the South Caucasus, although the opposition of all stripes has tried to create a diametrically opposite effect. Incidentally, Azerbaijani and Armenian opposition leaders were very similar in this. Both in Armenia and Azerbaijan some opposition leaders predicted Serzh Sargsyan and Ilham Aliyev, “Mubarak’s end.” But after the elections held in Armenia Serzh Sargsyan, one might say, has maintained internal political position. The expected revolution, especially in view of the March post-election events in 2008, did not happen.

I think that the so-called “domino effect” is triggered, when the items are part of a common geopolitical, economic, ethnic, or spiritual space. Even coincidence of one or two elements is not critical. As an example, let’s recall the process of collapse of the Soviet Union. In principle, all the Soviet republics were part of a unified geopolitical, economic, partly linguistic and partly spiritual space. However, immediately after the collapse the newly independent states saw dissimilar and sometimes diametrically opposed vectors of socio-political development.

Baltic countries almost immediately started to build a Western-like democracy.

In the countries of South Caucasus there was a tough fight between “the old Communist Party nomenclature” and the so-called democratic forces. As later events showed, the so-called democratic forces, inside varied little from the same nomenclature. However, in general, even this vector of development fits into the system of liberal western values.

Yet in some countries of Central Asia, especially in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, almost immediately after getting independence, even in the course of the process itself, the political Islam came to the forefront. That is, almost immediately after the collapse of USSR, its subjects that once were a part of the Union, began to focus on opposite geopolitical space.

Thus, there is little common among South Caucasus countries and the Middle East except the fact that the Azerbaijanis are Muslims, there is Armenian Diaspora in many countries of the Middle East. But it is doubtful whether these elements could be crucial in bringing Azerbaijan and Armenia, not to mention Georgia, in the zone of the “domino principle”.

Yet the Middle East events already have, and will likely substantially impact both domestic and foreign policies of the South Caucasus. First, it must be noted that the West is trying to speed up the evolutionary vector in the process of democratization of the South Caucasus. I would like to remind the admission of the former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who noted that: “For sixty years, my country, the United States, pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region, here in the Middle East—and we achieved neither.”

Put simply, pursuing stability at all costs, the lack of hope for the evolutionary path of democracy and the resolution of acute social and political conflicts in the framework of generally accepted democratic institutions, sooner or later causes extreme radicalization of a society. This, in turn, makes a major “headache” for the West. Suffice to note that as a result of the “revolutionary spring” on the Arab street radical anti-Western forces came to power through democratic elections. It is unlikely that the West would like to face the same phenomenon, for example, in Azerbaijan.

Most likely, this may explain the increased pressure on Azerbaijan and Armenia recently undertaken by the West, which requires a more consistent movement toward democratic reform. For example, it is worth recalling that the EU has conditioned continuation of financial and economic aid to Armenia by “quality” of parliamentary elections.

Secondly, geopolitical processes taking place in the Middle East, gradually “bring closer” this region to the South Caucasus. Recent geopolitical events in the Middle East, may add new nuances to the Armenian-Russian relations. This was stated on May 17 by the Head of the Department of the Caucasus Institute of the CIS countries, Felix Stanevsky during the video conference Yerevan-Moscow.

“The South Caucasus will inevitably be drawn into the vortex of changes in the world, especially in the Middle East. In this regard, we must understand what could be the stances of the countries in the further development of, say, the Syrian crisis or in the development of aggravation of the situation around Iran,” – he stressed.

In the expert’s opinion, the reality emerging upon the past and forthcoming elections in various countries, including USA and France, may greatly affect, if not radically change, the situation.”We need a clear idea how Armenian-Russian cooperation may develop in connection with the new factors – a wave of elections in the South Caucasus and in states influencing the situation in the region[i]“.

Generally speaking, the statement of the Russian expert is equally relevant to Azerbaijan. Eventually, the “revolutionary spring” on the Arab street, encountered the Iranian problem.

The Iranian problem, in fact, is not simply a conflict over the nuclear program between the current Tehran regime and the West. Iran, in the opinion of the West, in general, is a regional destabilizing factor. Today hardly anyone can accurately say whether a relationship between the “Arab spring” and the Iranian issue discerned after the Syrian events is a result of a neatly developed and implemented multi-move combination or just a coincidence. But in any case, it is the logical outcome of the geopolitical balance of forces.

Some fondly believe that if we manage to agree on the nuclear issue, the conflict is settled. No, no! West is not happy with the Tehran regime as a whole, as Iran’s foreign policy hinders the formation of a new world order in the region.

A day ago, commenting on the situation around Iran well-known Russian journalist and political analyst, Vitaly  Tretyakov, Dean of the Graduate School of Television, Moscow State University, literally stated the following: “Nobody can predict what and when Americans will do. They may start anything, if consider it beneficial to them and decide that the balance of forces in the region and the world community will guarantee them impunity[ii]

In case if the West, or rather, the U.S. turn to coercive methods, our region may see serious, or I would say fundamental changes. It is clear that Iran will not withstand the onslaught of the United States, which in turn will lead to increased Western influence in the South Caucasus, unless Russia will drift. But Russia will have to act in flagrant violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and Georgia. With current alignment of forces one can hardly imagine that Azerbaijan and, moreover, Georgia will appeal to Russia for “help”.

Armenia will face yet a more complicated situation. Whatever the majority of Armenian political analysts say, Armenia will have to make its choice, especially if turns out that Russia do not have resources for active military and political interference.  I have intentionally taken out the Karabakh problem, as they would say, “off the brackets,” since in case if the Iranian issue is settled, its effect on the formation of regional geopolitical balance of forces would sharply reduce…

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