The escalation of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in early-April and its implications for Armenia’s survival raise a number of important questions for the leaders and the general public both in Armenia and the Diaspora. These questions will need to be answered in a very short order. Despite the seemingly complex nature of some aspects of what transpired on April 2-5, 2016, the root cause of the problem is rather simple requiring little, if any, analysis to comprehend.
The questions are as follows:
Will Armenians be able to mobilize the necessary resources to strengthen their defenses and procure modern armaments for the army? Or will young recruits continue to pay with their lives on a daily basis for the negligence and corruption of their leaders as these leaders continue to build casinos, private castles and foreign bank accounts? With the certain prospect of escalating and increasingly aggressive Azeri attacks, will Armenians be able to mobilize and modernize their forces?
Will the Armenian society be able to remove the ring of systemic corruption that has brought Armenia to its knees, destroyed the country’s economy, industry, science, and sent nearly one half of its population into economic exile? Will Armenia continue to sink deeper and deeper into poverty, backwardness, and become an eventual failed state with a semi-colonial status protected by another power? Is the Armenian society going to show a level of consciousness that is befitting a nation-state, or will it continue the current pattern of inaction, division and self-destruction?
Will certain organizations in the Diaspora continue to turn a blind eye to the abuses of Armenia’s rulers and the devastating effects of systemic corruption? Will they focus all of their attention to historical discussions, symbolic resolutions by foreign parliaments, and rallies in front of foreign embassies? Will they continue to distract the public attention from the life and death decisions of today, effectively providing a cover-up and allowing Armenia’s rulers to bring the country closer and closer to a national catastrophe? Or will the Diaspora be able to stand up and say “this has got to stop!”?
Will Armenians continue to discuss whether President Obama used the term genocide, whether it was Russia’s fault, what the Parliament of Uruguay decided, or what Kim Kardashian posted on her Facebook page, otherwise engaging in behavior that resembles a national psychosis? Or will the Armenian society awaken from self-delusion and self-distraction, clear its mind, and understand once and for all what is really important?
In the event that there is no change in the behavior of the leaders and public figures both in Armenia and the Diaspora, the prospects are unfortunately very clear. The Azeri armed forces, emboldened by the recent limited success, will continue to acquire modern armaments and eventually reach an even greater military superiority. The attacks will become more aggressive and the Armenians will sustain more losses and will likely face defeat. With little leverage available to counter this, Armenia will have to make concessions, subjecting its population of Artsakh to a very grim future. Continuing to grow weaker, isolated, faced with a united front of its neighbors from the East and the West, Armenia will have to do what it has done many times in its long history: turn to a third power (i.e., Russia) for protection, becoming a client state, more dependent on its unfriendly neighbors.
This is disappointing and sad, and this is exactly what will happen if the Armenian society does not awaken in a very short time. Will it?
Dr. Arthur Kachikian is a Senior Fellow at Policy Forum Armenia. He received his Ph.D. in International Relations from Stanford University.