After the September 13 Azerbaijani aggression against Amenia, fresh graves are being dug at Yerablur Memorial Military Cemetery and more families are grieving the losses of 207 soldiers and civilians. Now, the battlefield has shifted to the United Nations, while a tenuous ceasefire holds on the ground.

There is still apprehension in Armenia’s political circles and amongst the general populace as the news reports about military flights to Azerbaijan, from Israel and other directions, and concentration of Turkish armed forces on Armenia’s borders.

During the 44-Day War, whose second anniversary — September 27 — is upon us, the international community kept almost a complete silence. However, this time around, there is more interest and alarms are being raised against future escalation. The Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict was on the agenda of two sessions of the United Nations Security Council this past week. As the 77th session of the UN General Assembly began, the battleground moved to New York, first through the speeches delivered by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov, and then by other parties concerned, primarily Iran and Russia.

Pashinyan, in his speech, presented a full picture of the recent aggression, with its grim results, and called for Azerbaijan to sign a comprehensive peace treaty. To this day, Azerbaijan has not responded to Armenia’s call. Instead, Bayramov highlighted the UN resolutions about the conflict, sounding as if the world body had supported uniliteral resolutions against Armenia.

Since the debate was taking place at the UN, Pashinyan did not play up the role of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group, which was created by the UN. That could have scared the hell out of Bayramov, because Baku refuses to recognize the role of the OSCE in the conflict, thereby issuing a direct challenge to the UN.

Bayramov’s speech was crafted in such a way as to cast Armenia as the aggressor, while his nation is cast in the role of the “good guy.” He stated: “After the provocation of the Armenian armed forces on September 12-14, 2022, Azerbaijan is engaged in eliminating the humanitarian consequences and in this context, declared its readiness to unilaterally return the remains of fallen soldiers to Armenia.”

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This means that killing those soldiers was no crime, and that in addition, for returning their bodies, Azerbaijan should be rewarded.

Any rational leader in the audience could draw his or her conclusions that Armenia, as a defeated party from two years ago, would not have any motivation for further provocations.

However, the practice at the UN is that the politicians believe what their political interests dictate and not the simple truth. For example, Bayramov touted the meager level of energy supplied to Europe to gain sympathy as he said, “At the same time, Azerbaijan remains a reliable supplier of energy sources to the international markets.”

Of course, the parties who are the beneficiaries of that energy supply, such as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, will need to believe Bayramov’s narrative.

Bayramov also issued a veiled threat as he stated, “Every time Armenia resorts to serious provocations, avoiding responsibility for making the necessary decisions in order to make a breakthrough at a crucial stage, Azerbaijan is determined to overcome any threats to its sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as the security of its citizens” and ask “Armenia to refrain from further escalation of the situation. Armenia should constructively participate in the normalization process in order to create a stable situation in the region by establishing friendly, neighborly relations.”

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavusoglu endorsed his colleague’s appeal to Armenia, urging that Armenia sign a comprehensive peace treaty with Azerbaijan. For Ankara and Baku, that peace treaty has to be signed at the expense of Armenia’s sovereign territory, which would be gifted to Azerbaijan as war booty.

Most representatives at the Security Council tried to observe strict neutrality. The Chinese representative went so far as to blame both sides for violating the ceasefire, although he added there can be no solution to the conflict without the settlement of the Karabakh problem. Only the representatives of Norway and particularly France indicated plainly that Azerbaijan was the aggressor. The Russian representative, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, prided himself that it was Moscow which helped to bring about the ceasefire, whereas Russia, as Armenia’s strategic ally in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), should not have allowed Azerbaijan to initiate the war in the first place.

Azerbaijani foreign policy establishment and pro-government think tanks are particularly displeased that the US, through its Secretary of State Antony Blinken, US Ambassador to Armenia Lynne Tracy, as well as Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi, have been pointing fingers at Azerbaijan as the aggressor and have been asking them to retreat from Armenia’s sovereign territory and return all POWs.

Meeting along the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi talked to Prime Minister Pashinyan and Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian to his Armenian counterpart, Ararat Mirzoyan, and both Iranian officials restated that any changes to the borders are red lines for Iran.

Iran has troop concentrations on Armenia’s borders to stave off any incursion from Azerbaijan or Turkey. But the Iranian leadership is well aware that while world public opinion is focused on Ukraine, its own territory may become the victim of a surprise attack. Therefore, if Armenia is threatened, we should not expect Iran to get involved, because that will be a trap set up by Turkey, Azerbaijan, Israel and the US. This scenario may look more realistic when we remember how wars in Iraq, Syria, and Libya began: internal dissent was triggered first, as is happening these days in Iran, then the foreign aggression follows.

With all these developments, the atmosphere is extremely tense in Armenia. The political elite is confused and Pashinyan’s party is very cautious with regard to soliciting anyone’s help outside Civil Contract. Three former presidents — Levon Ter-Petrosian, Robert Kocharyan and Serzh Sargsyan — met this week with the Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II to unify the country, but they face all kinds of negative pushback, suggesting they are about to conspire and stage a coup.

Ter-Petrosian was on Petros Ghazaryan’s talk show to shed some light as to why all the former leaders, who are sworn enemies, had come together. He stated that what all the outside parties are asking from Armenia is only known to Pashinyan and that not even his close associates are privy to that knowledge. Whatever document Pashinyan will sign, he said, will be detrimental to Armenia and Pashinyan will be blamed as a traitor. The least he can do, Ter-Petrosian suggested, is to share the information with the former leadership, under strict confidentiality, so that they can offer some wise counsel and possibly find the least awful path, and in that way, the responsibility will be shared by the government and the opposition through a pan national consensus.

Indeed Pashinyan alone cannot hold Armenia’s destiny in his hands and face history.

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