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Church Striving for Power. Triumph of Clerical Circles in Armenia will Trigger a New War with Azerbaijan

1 June 2024

The geopolitical situation in the South Caucasus region is changing as we speak. Georgia, only recently the Wests key ally and stronghold in the region is gradually drifting away from the dominance of Washington and its allies. The situation has evolved to a point when Secretary of State Antony Blinken threatens Georgian leaders with sanctions. Meanwhile Armenia, Russias strategic ally, increasingly assumes the role of a key conduit of Western interests.

Unlike Georgia and Armenia, Azerbaijan stands by itself, consistently maintaining balanced relations with all centers of power.

Igor Korotchenko, General Director of the Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies and one of the top Russian political analysts, shared his view on the regional geopolitics. 

Let me be frank: what we now see happening in Armenia amounts to destructive revanchist attempts which, for one thing, will not produce the results intended by the initiators; and besides, it is an obvious bid for a new war. Clearly, in the worst case scenario a new war will turn out an even greater disaster for Armenia than the defeat and capitulation in 2020. Moreover, a new war, should Yerevan unleash it, will mean a sure loss of Zangezur.

One noteworthy fact is that this time, it is not the opposition or Karabakh clan members that come to the forefront of the political stage, but the Armenian Apostolic Church (AAC), which effectively delegated its representative Archbishop Bagrat (secular name Vazgen Galstanyan) with pretentions to power. So it is not just some «color revolution» but rather an attempt by the clerical circles to seize the power and de facto establish church control over the Armenian state as it exists within its current borders. And it is not just an attempt to depose Pashinyan but an aspiration to prepare the ground for a new war with Azerbaijan.

Archbishop Bagrat himself is a Canadian citizen, and definitely not a pro-Russian candidate. He is primarily an AAC candidate, but his moves also mean that Western elites want Armenia to be led by a personality even more radical than Pashinyan of the 2018-2019 model. In fact, Archbishop Bagrat goes for coup d'état, if truth be told, and he is backed by the highest ranking AAC clergy. This is a network-type structure that extends beyond the Armenian territory and covers the whole world, just as the global Armenian diaspora does. We thus observe new players, of a more global nature and more closely affiliated with Western globalist elites, come to the forefront of Armenias political life.

I want to stress once again: Vazgen Galstanyan is not a Russian Federation creature, although certain renowned media personalities in Russia are screaming and shouting «Crucify him!» as they call for deposition of Pashinyan. Either through lack of thought or stupidity, they want Western globalist elites creature, an AAC priest with UK educational background and a Canadian passport, to seize the reins of government in Armenia. Lets not forget that Canada is a member of NATO and British Commonwealth. If such a person takes over, the tendency to push Russia out of Armenia may become even stronger than before.

Will Pashinyan be able to hold on to power?

To understand that, one needs to look at the current balance of power in Armenia. With internal political struggle going on, the key figure among the uniformed services is the minister of the interior, which position is currently held by Vage Kazaryan, Pashinyans personal friend and close associate. If he continues to be loyal to the prime-minister, the latter will enjoy free rein and hold the key to the future progression of events. It is precisely the Interior Ministry and its units that play the decisive role in stabilizing the government and thwarting the protests.

The Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia and the top brass have taken a wait-and-see approach, not being able to determine or influence the course of events. Moreover, Pashinyan is now promoting to generals a number of individuals who demonstrated their loyalty, especially in the course of the recently launched process of border delimitation and demarcation with Azerbaijan. In this way the current premier keeps the army uninvolved, this is why it remains out of the fray and neutral.

The Armenian National Security Service (NSS) acts a source of operating and technical support to the regime in power, by way of agent infiltration into immediate circles of protest leaders, collecting intelligence from within about the oppositions situation and action logic. In general, NSS as an organization is always on the winning side. As long as Pashinyan appears to be a legitimate and confident leader of Armenia, NSS will be busy providing him with full information on the current opposition. In case of Pashinyan losing the power game and rejoining the ranks of opposition NSS will gather intelligence on him in exactly the same manner, to inform the new Prime Minister. It is also entirely possible that NSS targets the top hierarchy of AAC as well.

In this situation the premier holds all the cards, acting calmly and confidently. In Armenia we are witnessing a vicious fight between pro-Pashinyan and anti-Pashinyan media. However all this infighting in the Armenian media landscape, especially in social media such as Telegram, reminds me of the Bandar-log monkeys from Kiplings Mowgli Stories. This is an indicator of the various mindsets among Armenias political engineering elites which serve Pashinyan on the one side and his opponents on the other. So far the outlook for Pashinyan is favorable. Of course, some «black swan» may occur. That is, theoretically everything is possible, but as of now Pashinyan looks quite confident and is not afraid to bare his teeth to AAC hierarchs, which also suggests his strong belief in trump cards that he holds.  

Why is it that the West has recently become so harsh in criticizing the Georgian leaders, even though the ruling government keeps the country on a pro-Western course?

Looking into the situation in Georgia, I must make an important remark: the country plays a major role in Azerbaijans energy infrastructure projects. Main oil and gas pipelines run through its territory, and a power cable will be added in future to export electricity to Europe. All the countries of the region are thus interested in Georgias stability, especially Azerbaijan.

The ruling Georgian Dream party has declared EU membership as part of its political program. Without any doubt, this party is not pro-Russian but pro-Georgian, it is a party that prioritizes Georgias national interests. And this same party for the second time (and now with more confidence) has raised the issue of adopting the Law on the Transparency of Foreign Influence, or «foreign agents law» for short. The point is, Georgia has gone through multiple political crises, and the ruling elites of today prefer stability and do not want fringe politicians and parties funded from abroad to do things that Saakashvili and his cohort did when in opposition. All such political shakeups are very detrimental to the Eurointegration agenda.

On the other hand, Bidzina Ivanishvili, the ruling party founder and highly influential Georgian politician, and his followers are technocrats, in the sense that they give priority to national interests and consider political aspects less significant against the background of the Georgian economy. In this regard, bringing foreign funding in Georgia under control is primarily a matter of the countrys national security and stability.

By the way, the Georgian State Security Service fully supports the ruling government, having stated that domestic NGOs receive their funding mostly from the United States and EU. And those NGOs are associated with small but very aggressive parties. Bearing in mind the forthcoming parliamentary election to take place in October, the goals and objectives of the government and the ruling party are focused on minimizing any foreign influence on the expression of the will of Georgian people.

Tbilisi is calculating its risks carefully. Georgia was to become a replica of Ukraine in the South Caucasus. That is, Tbilisi was expected to join the anti-Russian sanctions and start providing extensive military assistance to Ukraine. Of course, all this would have a catastrophic consequences for Georgias economy and overall stability. But Georgian pragmatism did the trick. To their credit, the current leading elites are acting just right to promote national interests.

This is the background for opposition protests, but the opposition here acts in the «early Saakashvili» manner (capturing the parliament, violent coup). But today the Georgian Dream party declares that clean and transparent parliamentary election is a matter of principle for them. No foreign funding will hand a victory to those forces which serve alien foreign will. From this point of view, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze is a pragmatic politician: in his statements he makes a point that the country aims to join the EU by 2030 and that the foreign agents law is designed precisely to ensure the attainment of this goal because it will provide a guarantee from polarization and radicalism for years to come.

The countrys current president Salome Zourabichvili is at odds with the current government and was already blamed for being a foreign agent. What a collision!

The new law will hopefully bring Georgia stability, and the focus on the countrys national interests means pragmatism in economic relations with Russia. This will be sufficient as far as we are concerned because there will be no «second front» against Russia in South Caucasus. I believe this is important for Azerbaijan as well. Assumption of power by radicals is always associated with a risk of domestic destabilization and increased terrorist activity, which in turn creates a tangible threat for normal operation of the vital energy pipelines extending from Azerbaijan through Georgia to global markets.

Will the Georgian Dream government be able to maintain power in the end?

I think it will. One should bear in mind that the ruling party holds the majority in the parliament, enabling them to successfully override President Zurabishvilis veto on the foreign agents law. Of course, as Georgia enters the parliamentary elections period in October, the opposition will makes steps aimed at destabilization and subversion of constitutional order with the view to create chaos. Especially as Western politicians instigate them to do exactly that. A host of Western politicians openly interfere with Georgias domestic affairs. And the foreign ministers of the Baltic states did not hesitate to come and make public speeches at the rallies, stopping short of open calls to assault the parliament. In addition, the USA and EU threatened Georgia with sanctions.

In general, we can talk about instigative activity of Western politicians whose purpose is to whip the current Georgian leaders into line, force them to capitulate so that small but destructive forces in Georgia could have a chance to succeed in the parliamentary election. However, as we have seen so far, the Georgian government remains adamant to resist pressure from the West. This position is worthy of respect because they stand up for Georgias interests and do not want the country to once again fall into the kind of disastrous turmoil that was triggered by the rise to power of Saakashvili and his supporters. 

Church Striving for Power. Bakinsky rabochiy, 01.06.2024. https://br.az/politics/72609/cerkov-rvetsya-k-vlasti/

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Church Striving for Power. Triumph of Clerical Circles in Armenia will Trigger a New War with Azerbaijan

1 June 2024

The geopolitical situation in the South Caucasus region is changing as we speak. Georgia, only recently the Wests key ally and stronghold in the region is gradually drifting away from the dominance of Washington and its allies. The situation has evolved to a point when Secretary of State Antony Blinken threatens Georgian leaders with sanctions. Meanwhile Armenia, Russias strategic ally, increasingly assumes the role of a key conduit of Western interests.

Unlike Georgia and Armenia, Azerbaijan stands by itself, consistently maintaining balanced relations with all centers of power.

Igor Korotchenko, General Director of the Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies and one of the top Russian political analysts, shared his view on the regional geopolitics. 

Let me be frank: what we now see happening in Armenia amounts to destructive revanchist attempts which, for one thing, will not produce the results intended by the initiators; and besides, it is an obvious bid for a new war. Clearly, in the worst case scenario a new war will turn out an even greater disaster for Armenia than the defeat and capitulation in 2020. Moreover, a new war, should Yerevan unleash it, will mean a sure loss of Zangezur.

One noteworthy fact is that this time, it is not the opposition or Karabakh clan members that come to the forefront of the political stage, but the Armenian Apostolic Church (AAC), which effectively delegated its representative Archbishop Bagrat (secular name Vazgen Galstanyan) with pretentions to power. So it is not just some «color revolution» but rather an attempt by the clerical circles to seize the power and de facto establish church control over the Armenian state as it exists within its current borders. And it is not just an attempt to depose Pashinyan but an aspiration to prepare the ground for a new war with Azerbaijan.

Archbishop Bagrat himself is a Canadian citizen, and definitely not a pro-Russian candidate. He is primarily an AAC candidate, but his moves also mean that Western elites want Armenia to be led by a personality even more radical than Pashinyan of the 2018-2019 model. In fact, Archbishop Bagrat goes for coup d'état, if truth be told, and he is backed by the highest ranking AAC clergy. This is a network-type structure that extends beyond the Armenian territory and covers the whole world, just as the global Armenian diaspora does. We thus observe new players, of a more global nature and more closely affiliated with Western globalist elites, come to the forefront of Armenias political life.

I want to stress once again: Vazgen Galstanyan is not a Russian Federation creature, although certain renowned media personalities in Russia are screaming and shouting «Crucify him!» as they call for deposition of Pashinyan. Either through lack of thought or stupidity, they want Western globalist elites creature, an AAC priest with UK educational background and a Canadian passport, to seize the reins of government in Armenia. Lets not forget that Canada is a member of NATO and British Commonwealth. If such a person takes over, the tendency to push Russia out of Armenia may become even stronger than before.

Will Pashinyan be able to hold on to power?

To understand that, one needs to look at the current balance of power in Armenia. With internal political struggle going on, the key figure among the uniformed services is the minister of the interior, which position is currently held by Vage Kazaryan, Pashinyans personal friend and close associate. If he continues to be loyal to the prime-minister, the latter will enjoy free rein and hold the key to the future progression of events. It is precisely the Interior Ministry and its units that play the decisive role in stabilizing the government and thwarting the protests.

The Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia and the top brass have taken a wait-and-see approach, not being able to determine or influence the course of events. Moreover, Pashinyan is now promoting to generals a number of individuals who demonstrated their loyalty, especially in the course of the recently launched process of border delimitation and demarcation with Azerbaijan. In this way the current premier keeps the army uninvolved, this is why it remains out of the fray and neutral.

The Armenian National Security Service (NSS) acts a source of operating and technical support to the regime in power, by way of agent infiltration into immediate circles of protest leaders, collecting intelligence from within about the oppositions situation and action logic. In general, NSS as an organization is always on the winning side. As long as Pashinyan appears to be a legitimate and confident leader of Armenia, NSS will be busy providing him with full information on the current opposition. In case of Pashinyan losing the power game and rejoining the ranks of opposition NSS will gather intelligence on him in exactly the same manner, to inform the new Prime Minister. It is also entirely possible that NSS targets the top hierarchy of AAC as well.

In this situation the premier holds all the cards, acting calmly and confidently. In Armenia we are witnessing a vicious fight between pro-Pashinyan and anti-Pashinyan media. However all this infighting in the Armenian media landscape, especially in social media such as Telegram, reminds me of the Bandar-log monkeys from Kiplings Mowgli Stories. This is an indicator of the various mindsets among Armenias political engineering elites which serve Pashinyan on the one side and his opponents on the other. So far the outlook for Pashinyan is favorable. Of course, some «black swan» may occur. That is, theoretically everything is possible, but as of now Pashinyan looks quite confident and is not afraid to bare his teeth to AAC hierarchs, which also suggests his strong belief in trump cards that he holds.  

Why is it that the West has recently become so harsh in criticizing the Georgian leaders, even though the ruling government keeps the country on a pro-Western course?

Looking into the situation in Georgia, I must make an important remark: the country plays a major role in Azerbaijans energy infrastructure projects. Main oil and gas pipelines run through its territory, and a power cable will be added in future to export electricity to Europe. All the countries of the region are thus interested in Georgias stability, especially Azerbaijan.

The ruling Georgian Dream party has declared EU membership as part of its political program. Without any doubt, this party is not pro-Russian but pro-Georgian, it is a party that prioritizes Georgias national interests. And this same party for the second time (and now with more confidence) has raised the issue of adopting the Law on the Transparency of Foreign Influence, or «foreign agents law» for short. The point is, Georgia has gone through multiple political crises, and the ruling elites of today prefer stability and do not want fringe politicians and parties funded from abroad to do things that Saakashvili and his cohort did when in opposition. All such political shakeups are very detrimental to the Eurointegration agenda.

On the other hand, Bidzina Ivanishvili, the ruling party founder and highly influential Georgian politician, and his followers are technocrats, in the sense that they give priority to national interests and consider political aspects less significant against the background of the Georgian economy. In this regard, bringing foreign funding in Georgia under control is primarily a matter of the countrys national security and stability.

By the way, the Georgian State Security Service fully supports the ruling government, having stated that domestic NGOs receive their funding mostly from the United States and EU. And those NGOs are associated with small but very aggressive parties. Bearing in mind the forthcoming parliamentary election to take place in October, the goals and objectives of the government and the ruling party are focused on minimizing any foreign influence on the expression of the will of Georgian people.

Tbilisi is calculating its risks carefully. Georgia was to become a replica of Ukraine in the South Caucasus. That is, Tbilisi was expected to join the anti-Russian sanctions and start providing extensive military assistance to Ukraine. Of course, all this would have a catastrophic consequences for Georgias economy and overall stability. But Georgian pragmatism did the trick. To their credit, the current leading elites are acting just right to promote national interests.

This is the background for opposition protests, but the opposition here acts in the «early Saakashvili» manner (capturing the parliament, violent coup). But today the Georgian Dream party declares that clean and transparent parliamentary election is a matter of principle for them. No foreign funding will hand a victory to those forces which serve alien foreign will. From this point of view, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze is a pragmatic politician: in his statements he makes a point that the country aims to join the EU by 2030 and that the foreign agents law is designed precisely to ensure the attainment of this goal because it will provide a guarantee from polarization and radicalism for years to come.

The countrys current president Salome Zourabichvili is at odds with the current government and was already blamed for being a foreign agent. What a collision!

The new law will hopefully bring Georgia stability, and the focus on the countrys national interests means pragmatism in economic relations with Russia. This will be sufficient as far as we are concerned because there will be no «second front» against Russia in South Caucasus. I believe this is important for Azerbaijan as well. Assumption of power by radicals is always associated with a risk of domestic destabilization and increased terrorist activity, which in turn creates a tangible threat for normal operation of the vital energy pipelines extending from Azerbaijan through Georgia to global markets.

Will the Georgian Dream government be able to maintain power in the end?

I think it will. One should bear in mind that the ruling party holds the majority in the parliament, enabling them to successfully override President Zurabishvilis veto on the foreign agents law. Of course, as Georgia enters the parliamentary elections period in October, the opposition will makes steps aimed at destabilization and subversion of constitutional order with the view to create chaos. Especially as Western politicians instigate them to do exactly that. A host of Western politicians openly interfere with Georgias domestic affairs. And the foreign ministers of the Baltic states did not hesitate to come and make public speeches at the rallies, stopping short of open calls to assault the parliament. In addition, the USA and EU threatened Georgia with sanctions.

In general, we can talk about instigative activity of Western politicians whose purpose is to whip the current Georgian leaders into line, force them to capitulate so that small but destructive forces in Georgia could have a chance to succeed in the parliamentary election. However, as we have seen so far, the Georgian government remains adamant to resist pressure from the West. This position is worthy of respect because they stand up for Georgias interests and do not want the country to once again fall into the kind of disastrous turmoil that was triggered by the rise to power of Saakashvili and his supporters. 

Church Striving for Power. Bakinsky rabochiy, 01.06.2024. https://br.az/politics/72609/cerkov-rvetsya-k-vlasti/