It seems that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has become the Biden Administration’s foreign policy point guard to taunt bullies in the international arena. Her trip to Taiwan in August, challenging China’s ambitions with regard to that island, was followed by her trip to Armenia, to send messages in that difficult neighborhood to Russia and to Iran. Therefore, in this broader picture, the Yerevan visit, although touted as her major mission, is rendered marginal.

However, the timing of the US Congressional visit on September 17, headed by Speaker Pelosi, proved to be lifesaving for Armenia, because by all indications, the Azerbaijan-Turkey tandem was planning to launch a devastating blow to Armenia and achieve what Azerbaijan’s leader Ilham Aliyev was publicly advocating, to open the Zangezur corridor by force.

Azerbaijan’s president has learned from his overlord, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, that you can take risks and challenge allies and escape unscathed.

Assessing the scale of aggression against Armenia, the damage to military and civilian infrastructure was heavy, a result of the flurry of logistical activities between Azerbaijan on one side and Turkey, Israel and Pakistan on the other. Indeed, intense activity, including military flights, preceded the attack on September 13. In particular, Silk Airways, owned by the Aliyev family, has been very busy carrying military hardware from Turkey and Israel. Those flights have been complemented by military air traffic from Pakistan.

To set the stage for a full-scale war, Turkey had concentrated troops on Armenia’s borders and announced joint war games with Azerbaijan in the preceding weeks, replaying the exact same scenario that led to the devastating 2020 war against Armenia.

Azerbaijan, emboldened by its recent territorial gains in Armenia proper as well as Artskah, has been convinced that further turmoil and wars in the region may provide opportunities for future adventures. Azerbaijan in particular has set its sights on Iran’s Azerbaijan province. This plan, of course, is in line with Turkey’s policy of pan-Turanism, and Israel’s policy of containing Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, if necessary, by overthrowing the current regime or dismembering its territory.

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We may dare to speculate that there was a bigger plan at play: to stage a mini-war against Armenia and thus create the cover for a larger-scale war against Iran.

The Biden Administration was on the verge of finalizing the nuclear deal with Iran, when the Israeli delegation arrived in Washington to stall the negotiations, probably threatening to sow discord.

Europe and the US had taken the calculated risk of securing energy from alternative sources in case Russia cut off gas supplies entirely and that included the Iranian prospects.

Incidentally, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s shameful trip to Baku to shower unwarranted compliments on the Azerbaijani autocrat at best will result in the generation of 2 percent of Europe’s annual gas supplies. To do so in the wake of that country’s open advocating for ethnic cleaning and support for attacking a sovereign country is indefensible.

Azerbaijan was resentful when the US designated Ambassador Philip Reeker as that country’s co-chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group. That ran counter to Aliyev’s plans and statements that the Minsk Group has no further role to play, as he had solved the Karabakh impasse by force – trampling on one of the fundamental principles of OSCE’s mission.

President Aliyev had planned his country’s most recent attack carefully to coincide with Mr. Reeker’s trip to Baku, to express his displeasure over the revival of the Minsk Group, which will come to haunt him with the unfinished business of the Karabakh conflict. That attack also intended to overshadow Pelosi’s visit to Armenia.

Pelosi’s two-day visit to Yerevan had its emotional and political dimensions. As for the emotional one, her visit to the Tsitsernakaberd Armenian Genocide Martyrs’ Monument, with tears flowing down her face, sent a powerful message, especially when one is reminded of the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the Biden Administration. She wants American-Armenian voters to remember that a Democratic administration had their backs, at the next US elections.

On the political level, the visit sent a stern warning to Azerbaijan that the laissez-faire days of the Trump era are over, when then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave the green light to Baku at the start of the 2020 war by stating, “We hope Armenians can defend themselves.”

Both Speaker Pelosi and Secretary of State Antony Blinken clearly indicated that the aggressor was Azerbaijan and that Baku had to withdraw its forces from occupied Armenian territories.

Armenians were excited regarding their expectations from the US. When asked if the US can supply arms to Armenia, Ms. Pelosi was very deft and gave an anticipated diplomatic answer: “We are here to find out what Armenia wants,” as if she was not aware that a defeated nation needs both political support as well as modern weaponry.

Pelosi used Armenia as a launching pad to snipe at Russia in reference to the Ukraine war. When she spoke before the Khanjian mural of Vartanank at the Cafesjian Center and referred to brave Christian Armenian warriors defending their nation, rightly or wrongly this was considered by some Armenian analysts an indirect reference to today’s Iran, which they considered a faux pas, especially as the Iranians 1,500 years ago were not even Muslims (and today’s Iran has good relations with Armenia).

One of the fallouts of this visit was to embolden the Western-leaning political forces in Armenia to stage rallies demanding that Armenia leave the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a defense structure headed by Russia that has become a mockery in diplomatic circles as a toothless organization, duping Armenians that they can base their country’s defense on it.

Even the Secretary of the Security Council of Armenia Armen Grigoryan, said openly that Armenia can’t rely on the CSTO for its defense and military needs.

The war in 2020, as gruesome as it was, did not receive much attention on the global political radar. This time around, Pelosi’s visit and the assertive US role in the region have amplified the conflict’s reverberations.

The United Nations Security Council has been debating the issue and Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan just met with his Azerbaijani counterpart, Jeyhun Bayramov, through the good offices of Antony Blinken.

Emotional euphoria has to calm down and give way to sober political planning. The US’s political “invasion” of the Caucasus, traditionally considered Russia’s zone of influence, may still generate some resentment and political repercussions, as expressed in the sarcastic remarks of Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s spokesman. In a call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that a “quiet and businesslike approach” to the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict would bear fruit, calling Pelosi’s actions and visit “loud.”


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