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Syrian Conflict

Syrian Conflict

The Situation in Syria Is Complicated at Times
- How may the attack on Syria by the United States impact on the conflict? Why do a number of U.S. NATO allies refuse to participate in a probable military operation against Syria?
- The consequences of the U.S. intervention are completely predictable: the situation is definitely complicated. The fact is that during those three years an alternative was not formed to Bashar al-Assad and the opposition failed to prove that in the event of a change of power it would be able to assume the responsibility of providing security. That is why the United States and its ally-states do not rush to undertake military intervention. In addition, the United States and its allies had to confront extensive public resistance. The events in Syria followed the ones in Iraq and Afghanistan. This experience showed the failure of military intervention to address a similar issue. And since military operations are a heavy burden for ordinary taxpayers, they put pressure on decision makers to prevent military intervention, In both camps - both anti-Bashar forces led by the United States, and the forces led by Russia and China, supporting Bashar, realize that the military operation is fraught with dangerous consequences in the region and beyond: the wave could reach Europe.
- Who does Armenia support in the confrontation between Russia and the United States and why? What should the position of Armenia be in the Syrian conflict and why?
- In view of the recent developments regarding the Customs Union, it can be assumed that Armenia is prone to pro-Russian orientation, although in the Syrian conflict it is not an issue for Armenia who to support. Armenia does not matter in this conflict. Of course, in Syria there is/was a large Armenian community, and from this point of view, Armenia has a lot to do. According to various sources 80,000-100,000 Armenian citizens lived mainly in Aleppo before the conflict. Today, again according to various sources, only 30,000 people are left in the besieged the city without any essentials. During a discussion with experts from and representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia, it was proposed to use all the channels (formal and informal) to discuss the security of Syrian Armenians. But we have to admit that today many opportunities have been missed as the situation has significantly aggravated.
The thing is that radical Islamist groups are capable of many things, up to the destruction of the Christian population, and in these circumstances there is a big threat to religious and ethnic minorities. Aleppo is surrounded by the armed opposition, and if the city is not liberated by governmental forces, the human toll will increase. On the other hand, a new wave of influx of Syrian Armenians into Armenia may begin after the restoration of security, who unlike those who came in the first wave, will come in without any material means – empty-handed. In this case, the Armenian authorities will be forced to face a new challenge.
According to the data of the Ministry of Diaspora of Armenia, the incoming citizens of Syria are 7,000 people. Part of them moved to Armenia prior to or in the first year of the Syrian conflict, and it was with a certain financial capital. Because of this, they are able to quickly organize their business. There were those who had preliminarily purchased an apartment here, and, in fact, their arrival went unnoticed to Armenia.
The official position of Armenia is neutrality. Armenia has no right to interfere in the internal affairs of another state, but in order to protect the interests of the Armenian community it should work with all the parties caught up in the conflict.
- What impact does the conflict in Syria have on Armenia?
- This influence is conditioned by the influx of Syrian Armenians in Armenia and the level of readiness to accept them. Their main problem here is the search for home and work. The best part is now engaged in the service sector: food, pharmaceutical and auto repair business. As I understand it, in Armenia they are currently engaged in the same business as in Syria.
I cannot refer to statistics, showing what specific areas Syrian Armenians excelled in especially in Armenia, since there is no such study at all. But if you try to judge by the estimates of my Syrian friends ( these estimates, by the way, may be very subjective), in general, people had much more expectations from their historical motherland than they received.
Yes, on an expedited basis Syrian Armenians were given citizenship as a form of support, tax and customs quotas were reduced for them, but in fact - all this is not the support that could satisfy the immigrants and which they dreamed to get from Armenia. It is true that the Armenian authorities initiated the construction of a residential complex "New Aleppo," but it cannot meet the needs of Syrian Armenians. According to some reports the price per square meter in this district is worth about 200-250 thousand drams (about 500-600 U.S. dollars).
- Can Armenia be dragged into a conflict in the future? Are there any forecasts about the prospects of the impact of the conflict in Syria on the development of international relations in the future?
- In international relations, there have already been some changes. Today, Russia has returned to its Middle East policy, which it was left behind during the post-Soviet period. It has now a significant weight and influence on the processes, taking place in the region.

The Crisis in Syria Has a Moral Impact on Azerbaijan
- How may the attack on Syria by the United States impact on the conflict? Why do a number of U.S. NATO allies refuse to participate in a probable military operation against Syria?
- The recent developments in Syria can be viewed in the following order: the use of chemical weapons,   preparations for the U.S. military operation in Syria, Russia's initiative to transfer the control over Syrian chemical weapons to the international community, make it impossible to launch active U.S. military operations against Syria in the coming months.
The analysis of media reports shows that the process of establishing control over chemical weapons will take several months and will involve a number of stages. For example, the newspaper Commersant writes about four stages: "the first stage - Syria joins the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) , the second stage - Damascus declares the storage and production of chemical weapons , the third stage - it allows OPCW inspectors in, the fourth stage - it decides together with the inspectors how and by whom the chemical weapons will be destroyed." According to Western sources, the plan was agreed with Presidents Obama and Putin at the G20 summit in St. Petersburg.
The Italian weekly Panorama informs about some plan for 2014, which provides for the transfer of power to the interim military council from among the opposition- minded members of the Alawite community which Assad belongs to. The latter will leave the country and thereby will create conditions for a peaceful resolution of the Syrian conflict. This is a plausible interpretation, which fits into the chain of recent events around Syria.
Against this background, the refusal of many NATO countries to participate in the U.S. operation against Syria is due to several factors. Firstly, the West showed in this manner that the operation is not civilization and religious, and secondly, there was no need for concentration of force against a small country weakened, and thirdly, the Islamic factor in Europe, and fourthly, the threat of influx of Syrian refugees in Europe (up to 2,000,000).
- Who does Azerbaijan support in confrontation between Russia and the United States and why? What should the position of Azerbaijan be in the Syrian conflict and why?
- You cannot say that the U.S. and Russia are opposed to each other in the Syrian conflict. The recent events or the denouement of the plot reversely show the cooperation between the two countries to dismantle the Assad regime. Undoubtedly, each party has its own interests associated with Syria. These interests are both in Syria, or lie outside it, for example, the market for energy or weapons, the zone of Eurasia, where countries compete with each other. And Syria here is just a small change.
In this big policy role countries such as Armenia and Azerbaijan are negligible, or it is not there at all. But the impact of the Syrian crisis on the South Caucasian countries is there. And it is in two planes - the power and the civil society. The authorities in Azerbaijan are sensitive to the situation in Syria due to the fact that another authoritarian regime akin to Baku is being killed. And the defeat of the Assad regime in Azerbaijan perceives its own failure as the accelerated approach to the end of authoritarianism in general. The public in Azerbaijan and Armenia sympathize with the tragedy of the Syrians because of the fact that both countries have experienced inter-ethnic wars with considerable human and material losses. Besides, in Armenia they worry about the large Armenian community in Syria, while in Azerbaijan we are concerned about the bloodshed among Muslims. However, these two completely different planes of power and the society in the Syrian drama have a common interest – to stop the bloodshed. This is manifested in the approach and policy of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Syria.
- What impact does the conflict in Syria have on Azerbaijan?
- A couple of nuances can be called regarding this matter. I would say that at this stage the Syrian crisis has a moral influence on Azerbaijan and humanitarian influence on Armenia. In Azerbaijan, the opponents of the regime believed that the fall of Assad before presidential elections in Azerbaijan on October 9 will inspire the disaffected citizens to fight against the government and will play an important role in the outcome of the election. For Armenia, which has faced a high rate of migration out of the country due to its poor economy, the arrival of Syrian Armenian refugees is straining the already difficult humanitarian situation.
- Can Azerbaijan be dragged into a conflict in the future? Are there any forecasts about the prospects of the impact of the conflict in Syria on the development of international relations in the future?
- The single expectations that Azerbaijan and Armenia can be drawn into the conflict in Syria are not grounded. The two countries do not border with Syria, they do not have any economic interests there, are not tied with Syria by any military and political commitments. The countries are not included in military- political blocs that could oppose each other in Syria. The exception is only anecdotal evidence of the participation of Azerbaijani and Armenian citizens in the Syrian conflict for probably religious, political and financial reasons.
But the Syrian crisis as a link in the chain of the continuing Arab Spring, of course, indirectly, has an impact on the two South Caucasus countries. It's a fact - the revolutionary developments in the East are inexorably approaching the borders of the Caucasus, and they will cover the region as soon as the step over to Iran at the next stage of revolutionary change in authoritarian regimes.



30 January, 2014
Right after the New Year, the citizens of Armenia were shocked by the gas and electricity bills for December.

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