Sunday, November 15, 2020

Crisis in Armenia Not Narrowly Political but Existential, Babyan Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 13 – Armenia’s defeat in the Karabakh war and the trilateral accord which most Armenians call “a capitulation” has sparked political protests by those who demand that Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, whom they now label “a traitor” leave office, Lenta correspondent Elen Babayan says (

            But it is a mistake to think that what is going on in Armenia is simply a political crisis that can be solved by the departure of Pashinyan and his replacement by any of those now on offer, she argues. Instead, “Armenians are confronted not by a political crisis” but “a crisis of statehood” in which almost any move will make things worse.

            Armenians can see that their army has lost the war and is no longer in a position to counterpose anyone else. They are not persuaded by Pashinyan’s suggestion that the latest deal is only an extended ceasefire, believing instead that it is a complete defeat not only before Azerbaijan but before Turkey, Armenia’s historical nemesis.

            And looming behind this, although Babayan doesn’t stress this, Armenians overwhelmingly feel that Russia has betrayed them, leaving them to face their enemies alone and without the capacity to resist. In short, Babayan says, what is taking palace in Armenia now is “not subordinate to the laws of logic, is irrational, and this means is not predictable.”

            When a people feels that it has been betrayed both by its own leaders and by those abroad whom it mistakenly thought were its friends, it may descend into passive fury or it may decide to act in the only way left to it, employing anomic violence against its opponents, again both at home and abroad.

            There is unfortunately a tradition of the latter in Armenia; and while no one can say that this tradition is about to re-emerge, one can conclude that the risk that it could might be exploited by outsiders such as Moscow which could orchestrate violence against the existing regime in Yerevan or attacks on Turkic or Azerbaijani targets.

            How large that danger is again is impossible to predict, but when a nation feels it has suffered an enormous defeat and its back is to the wall, lashing out is not the last thing some of its members may consider and certainly is not the last thing others who have demonstrated that they are prepared to violate the normal rules and play rough may think about.

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