Armenia: Geopolitical Wonder

If we compare the geopolitics of Armenia to a physical entity, the thing that comes to mind is the bubbling gray muck that gurgles under your feet in Yellowstone National Park. All the tension, hatred, and pain of a downright grim century (and more) boil beneath the surface. Your once great country is now a small landlocked speck, and the people can’t forget. Over a million of your kin were slaughtered by your neighbor, yet most people won’t talk about it. You won a bloody battle for your mountainous brothers and a land you can at least partially lay claim to historically, and yet no one recognizes the newly founded “country.” It’s volatile and mysterious. And it’s surrounded by a bunch of other similarly strange sights from its neighboring countries. Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Iran all have their own steam vents, geysers, and mysterious bubbly soups going on. It’s at that moment that we realize it’s all because the entire region is just like the mega-volcano that lurks beneath the surface of Yellowstone, making the whole wondrous thing possible, and yet threatening utter oblivion at a moment’s notice.

As the New York Times recently wrote, the Caucasus is a place of many problems and high stakes. Hillary Clinton is visiting Armenia today in what appears to be an attempt to give this wrinkly section of the world map a good ironing. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as getting your dress shirt looking nice.

Just this morning the Azeris again violated the long-standing cease fire with Armenia. However this time it wasn’t just some snipers trading shots back and forth across the border. The Azeris attempted to overtake an Armenian position apparently. Three Armenian soldiers were killed and 6 others wounded. They repelled the attack and inflicted their own casualties. All of this happened in the northeastern corner of the country, which is not even near the enclave of Nagorno Karabagh. The attack brings a lot of questions to mind: What were they trying to do? What is the Azeri’s strategy? Why did they do this on the day of Hillary’s visit? Does this affect the big picture? What will happen in the future between these countries?

Perhaps the big volcano will go off at some point. If Azerbaijan and Armenia fall back into war with each other, they will undoubtedly drag some other participants with them. And the other participants are likely to be big players. Russia. Turkey. Iran. I have no idea what would happen, but the instability of the region seems to suggest any war in the Caucasus could have major ripple effects. I hope it doesn’t come to that, but I fear it might some day.


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