8 March 2010
When you look at the Caucasus it can be easily understood that Armenia is the ally of Russia, and Azerbaijan and Georgia are the allies of the West. In this framework, Russia acts as rationally as possible: It tries to defend its ally (Armenia), and it carries its small allies (Abkhazia and Ossetia) to state status. Russia has almost increased the number of ally countries to three. Now the rest of Georgia and Azerbaijan is on the line.
In contrast with Russia, the US punishes its allies in the region and it abolishes the entire Western alliance system for Armenia, the forever base of Russia in the region. If the US acted rationally, it would have made all its plans on the basis of strengthening the Turkey-Georgia-Azerbaijan axis after the Cold War. As continuation of this line, it would have been possible to extend along the Caspian and Central Asia and to establish a strong alliance. This kind of a line from western Turkey to China could have reduced the influence of countries like Russia and Iran in the region. Yet, except the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Oil Pipeline (BTC), the US did not give enough support for the creation of such an alliance. On the contrary, in many examples, we saw that the US supported a Russian ally, Armenia, instead of Azerbaijan and Turkey:Since the first day it was founded, Armenia has been the country which received the most per capita aid from the US. The US, as a matter of fact, financed the Armenian defense expenditures. The strong Armenian lobbies in the US Congress have provided full US support to the Armenian policies against Azerbaijan and Turkey. Although the Armenian forces have occupied almost one fifth of Azerbaijani territory, the US punished Azerbaijan not Armenia. When Turkey and Azerbaijan closed the borders in response to the occupation, the US began to pressure these two countries and the pressure still continues. As if this were not enough, the US backs Armenia in the historical disputes between Turkey and Armenia and turns the incidents that took place nearly 100 years ago into a problem.
After Obama’s inauguration, the US demands of ’opening the borders to Armenia’ increased. The US even threatened (if not blackmailed) that the Armenian resolution in Congress would be recognized if the borders are not opened and the protocols do not go into effect. However, whatever the US does, Armenia is the domain of Russia. Armenia cannot shift from being Russian orbit to the Western Bloc even if all the border gates are opened by Turkey (even by Azerbaijan). First, all the vital infrastructure is in the hands of Russia. Russians bought or took over most of the vital Armenian companies as payment for Armenian national debts to Moscow. Second, Russian soldiers protect Armenia’s borders with Iran and Turkey. You can see the Russian troops and flags on the Turkish-Armenian and Iranian-Armenian borders. And finally pro-Russians are so strong in the country so that they perceive those who try to drive a wedge between Russia and Armenia as traitors. In short, the argument that if the border between Turkey and Armenia is opened, Armenia will get closer to the West is a totally wrong assumption. In contrast, as Azerbaijan gets more offended while trying to gain Armenia, Georgia gets lonely. The pro-Western line established between Turkey-Georgia-Azerbaijan is about to break off totally.
Strange, the US seems to be working with all its strength to return the entire region to Russia. To sum up, the US does not act according to its own interests. The only region in which Americans and Russians probably act in the same direction is Caucasia. The main reason for this is the Armenian Diaspora in the US. The Americans of Armenian origin exceed 500.000 people and they do not serve in American foreign policy for the benefit of the US but for Russia. The animosity against Turkey, which has become kind of an obsession, prevents them from acting rationally. For them, the important thing is not the US but the Armenian cause and revenge from the Turks. Even if the US loses all its influence in the region, just being able to harm the Turks is enough for the Armenian Diaspora.
The Armenian-origin Americans, who gain influence especially during the election periods, received very clear words from President Barack Obama. Before he was elected, Obama promised to use the word ’genocide’ on April 24, the word the Armenians use for the 1915 events, if he became president. What is more, he was not content with only saying the word: he also published on his website.
Now, Obama does not know what to do under the burden of his words. Last year, he tried to handle the situation by using pompous language. But now, he delays using the expected words, giving the Turkey-Armenia protocols as his reason. Obama, trying to save himself, wants Turkey to sign the protocols as soon as possible. However, Turkey waits for an improvement in the Karabakh issue in order to approve the protocols. Yet, Obama is in trouble; he does not care about Karabakh and other occupied Azerbaijani territories, its ally Turkey, the interests of Azerbaijan or the US’ interests. He feels the pressure of the Diaspora down his neck.
To sum up, the US does not act rationally in the Caucasus. A small minority in the US imposes its own agenda on the American state. US foreign policy is taken hostage by the Armenians. We are not strangers to this. We saw a similar scene in the US’ imposition of an arms embargo on Turkey between the years of 1974-1980. The enormous US was under the control of the small but effective Greek lobby, and even the US presidents were not able to stop the imposition of the embargo on Turkey which has NATO allies. Thus, this was probably the first time in history that a country imposed an embargo on its ally. This embargo was abolished in 1980, but it had a huge impact, and if there is an anti-American stance in Turkey today, this embargo significantly influenced it. Many scientific articles were published on the embargo and it was long discussed how a small minority could capture a big country’s foreign policy. Today a similar danger awaits the US. The US, at the expense of throwing Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan into the arms of Russia, supports the most important ally of Russia, Armenia, in the Caucasus. Moreover, many energy opportunities are also in danger.
* Translated from Turkish by Gamze COSKUN (USAK)