An open letter published on the anniversary of July 31, 2016, when Sasna Tsrer temporarily laid down their arms to continue the rebellion.
The turbulent world order, which emerged after the Cold War, has created a promising prospects for: (1) the liberation of Armenia from Russian colonial rule (Armexit), which was founded upon the regional architecture shaped by the Russian-Turkish treaties of 1921, and (2) a US-Armenia strategic alliance, an alliance that can resolve strategic problems of both parties and ensure the pursuit of their national interests in a very important inter-regional and inter-civilizational knot that encompasses Armenia.
The logic of this post-Cold War world order is becoming more and more prominent also in the foreign policy doctrine of the number one world player, the United States. According to Zbigniew Brzezinski, the US foreign policy will hereinafter rely on the “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” principle, which presupposes fewer rules and more pragmatism (“Last conversation with Zbigniew Brzezinski”, “Aravot” No. 104/5444, June 6, 2017).
Specifically, this principle envisages:
- Rejecting the normative/rule-based approach to trans-democracy; and
- Ensuring broader US global presence via proxies, by giving its allies an opportunity to carry out active US foreign policy tasks.
In the meantime, the US is toughening its policy toward Russia, which will keep Russia preoccupied with its domestic problems, unable to pursue its Eurasian integration plans and colonial, revisionist aspirations towards its neighboring states. Such a significant revision of US foreign policy creates enormous opportunities for establishing US-Armenia partnership aimed at utilizing its massive potential. If they can adequately balance the normative and pragmatic considerations in bilateral relations in favor of effectiveness, both the US and Armenia will gain new and very serious leverage for pursuing their strategic interests.
Armenia can become a valuable ally for the USA due to the following factors:
First, by helping deprive Russia from its North-South geopolitical axis. As a result, Russia will no longer be able to combine the North-South axis with its main West-East axis and to act as a self-sufficient geopolitical complex in all parts of the Eurasian region. Today, Russia has that North-South axis, which allows Russia to be a global player through its military component, having Armenia as its unique colony-garrison. By cutting off its ties with Russia, getting rid of the Russian presence, and becoming a US ally, Armenia will effectively neutralize that axis. By losing Armenia and its foothold on the North-South axis, Russia will be forced to limit its ambitions towards the greater Middle East. Simultaneously, as a result of being deprived of the ability to be an independent global player, Russia will have to also limit its ambitions along its West-East axis, and to embrace the prospect of being integrated into a civilized world.
Second, by ensuring integration of Iran with the West and act as a corridor between Persian Gulf and Black Sea. Armenia is a bridge between West and East not only geographically, but also by its centuries-old culture and experience in that role, a role typical for Armenia and for Armenians. The Armenian Diaspora and younger generation are essential factors that vastly improve Armenia’s chances on this dimension.
However, Armenia can only deliver on these two issues, if it becomes an independent state with relevant territorial, communicational, human, and material resources. In reality, Armenia is occupied by a colonial power on the basis of architecture formed by 1921 Russian-Turkish treaties (which were in direct violation of international law), with the declared rationale being that Armenia needs Russia. The tools for this control are Armenia’s colonial administration and pro-Russian political elite. Interestingly, not only Armenia’s ruling elite is pro-Russian, but so is the overwhelming majority of the country’s opposition.
These are important obstacles: there can be no US-Armenia strategic alliance without eliminating them. These reasons also rule out political transformation in Armenia through Ukrainian or Georgian scenario. In such a situation, the US’s tailored approach and support for establishing Armenia as an independent state is crucial. All of the components of the system colonizing Armenia should be reexamined. None of these components should be part of tomorrow’s Armenia that will come to substitute what we have today.
To succeed in Armexit, become a member of the family of civilized nations, and perform its mission of a bridge-mediator, Armenia must undergo the following changes:
- Substantially renew its political elite and create a national government to replace the colonial administration;
- Free itself of dependency on Russia and its presence (including forfeiting membership from the CIS, CSTO, EEU and closing the Russian military bases from its territory);
- Acquire the necessary regional and communicational capabilities necessary for a sovereign state by adjoining Artsakh and Nakhijevan; and
- Ally itself with the US and the West and regain its traditional role as a bridge-mediator for Iran and the region.
Such developments will also limit the joint Russian-Turkish leverage over Armenia, something that will significantly increase the possibility of moving the Armenian-Turkish relations from the deadlock.
Naturally, the need to revisit region’s architecture, take into account the Iranian factor, and ensure the integrative mission of Armenia in general would require that the US-Armenia and West-Armenia relations be built on pragmatism and not have their hands tied by normative considerations. Specifically, pragmatism suggests that to be effective, Armenia should refrain from becoming a NATO country and instead should adopt unique military-political relations, which are just as meaningful content-wise but are free of NATO-imposed limitations and restrictions.
Prior to this, the embryo of tomorrow’s US ally Armenia needs to be created in today’s Armenia. This cannot be done by the US efforts to put the pro-Russian administration and elite of today’s Armenia on the right track. That embryo can be created by adequately supporting national forces and civic/political activists, who represent the people of Armenia and their interests. The support should be sufficient for self-organization, establishing the people’s power and a national government. The remainder of the issues can be solved through joint efforts.
It should also be noted, that the embryo will be viable if it is shaped outside of the current colonial system and is guided by law (which among other things gives people the right for rebellion) and constitutionalism. It cannot survive if it is conceived in an environment governed by today’s system of rules, including “the parliamentary format” that has become the tool of the ruling regime.
The 2016 April war and Sasna Tsrer rebellion resulted in a revolutionary turnaround in the public consciousness of Armenia. The people in Armenia are ready to get rid of Russian colonialism and to ally themselves with the US and the West, to take over its traditional place as a full-fledged member of the civilized community. It is now voluntarily opening itself to the world and hope to build effective and mutually beneficial alliances.
Jirayr Sefilian, Coordinator of the Founding Parliament Secretariat (in detention)
Garegin Chugaszyan, President of the Founding Parliament (in hiding)
Varuzhan Avetisyan, Member of Sasna Tsrer’s Coordinating Committee, Spokesperson (in detention)
Garo Yeghnukian, Member of the Founding Parliament (in detention)