A Sigh of Relief


By Edmond Y. Azadian

Against the backdrop of bloodbaths raging in Syria and Iraq, the drumbeat of a looming new war was too much for the international community to bear. Finally the United Nations Security Council’s unanimous vote on September 27 arrived just in time to bring a sigh of relief to the war-weary world.

The UN vote was the work of responsible leadership on all fronts to avert another disaster in the Middle East.

All of the participants — from the east and west — will enjoy the peace dividends of that historic vote. Armenia being in the proximity of that region will also become one of the beneficiaries of this new development.

What has come to be known as the Arab Spring is a sinister process of dismantling stable and prosperous countries in the Middle East to eliminate all real and presumed threats to Israel. Iraq and Libya were destroyed under the false pretenses of bringing democracy to those countries. The aftermath of those debacles is too obvious for any statesman to draw the right conclusions.

During the trigger-happy administration of Bush-Cheney, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not need too much arm-twisting in Washington to draw the US into disastrous adventures.

After $3 trillion was wasted on war and the sacrifice of 4,500 of the bravest of the brave in the US military, with 50,000-plus maimed and wounded, President Obama paused for a moment before committing the US to another war.

Contrary to news media fabrications, the war in Syria is far from being a civil war, since foreign mercenaries are engaged to establish another Islamist state in the Middle East. The US and the West had been contributing to that goal inadvertently by helping fundamentalist mercenaries.

The bloodshed already afflicting the region and the prospect of another Al Qaeda regime sobered up the statesmen on all fronts to seek a diplomatic solution to the artificial Syrian problem.

Despite the fact that President Obama was elected on the premise and promise of bringing peace to the world, he was pushed into a corner, threatening to attack Syria with Tomahawk missiles.

The budget debate and other domestic concerns forced the White House to reach out across the aisle to garner votes, and hawkish legislators like John McCain raised the price of that support by illegally entering the Syrian territory, ushered by hired guns, to sort out the good terrorists from the bad.

Thus Obama hypothetically drew the red line in the sand, making use of chemical weapons as casus belli. That proviso provided the opportunity to Saudi Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, master of international intrigue, Turkey’s Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Israeli intelligence to stage the August 21 chemical weapons attack to justify US retaliation.

It took the creative diplomacy of US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to craft a consensus deal at the UN to save the day.

The UN resolution calls for dismantling all of Syria’s chemical weapons under its supervision.

The resolution blames no particular party for the August 21 incident, meaning that the Russians, as well as the West, had presented strong evidence to cancel each other out. The resolution does not automatically activate Article 7 of the UN Charter, which calls for military action in case of non-compliance.

These two cases are considered victories for Lavrov’s diplomatic skills, at the same time, providing a face-saving device for President Obama, a reluctant warrior.

The 68th UN General Assembly brought another breakthrough when Obama had a 15-minute phone conversation with the newly-elected President of Iran Hassan Rouhani. The standoff between the US and Iran over the latter’s nuclear ambitions, was dramatically eased.

Against a negotiated settlement of the issue, Iran is seeking the removal of international sanctions which had crippled its economy.

Iran being Armenia’s important trading partner, its relations were frowned on by the West, while Pakistan, a staunch US ally challenged the sanctions entering into an energy deal with Tehran. Not only Armenia will breathe easily in trading with Iran, but a danger of war on its borders will be averted.

Therefore, it is no surprise that Armenia’s Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian welcomed the breakthrough and congratulated his Iranian counterpart Mohammed Javad Zarif for the resumption of G5+1 negotiations.

All of the member representatives of the UN Security Council profusely praised the diplomatic efforts of Kerry and Lavrov for making the prospect of peace a real deal.

Kerry gave credit to Lavrov who took up his challenge of eliminating chemical weapons and worked out the agreement with the Syrian government.

The Middle East correspondent of London’s Independent, Robert Fiske, reported that during their negotiations in Moscow, when Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem complained that Syria would be giving away its most potent deterrent against Israel, Lavrov assured him by stating: “We are your deterrent.”

Keeping all the components of the Syrian crisis in perspective, it reminds us of the Cuban Missile Crisis which had pushed the world to the brink of nuclear war.

Reviewing the Cuban Missile crisis, here is what Wikipedia says about it: “Khrushchev told Mikoyan of his idea of shipping Soviet missiles to Cuba. Mikoyan was opposed to the idea, and was even more opposed to giving the Cubans control over the Soviet missiles. In early November 1962, at the height of Cuban Missile Crisis, the Soviet leadership dispatched Mikoyan to Havana to help persuade Castro to cooperate in the removal of the nuclear missiles and bombers the Soviet Union had placed on the island. Just prior to beginning negotiations with Castro, Mikoyan was informed about the death of his wife, Ashkhen, in Moscow; rather than return there for the funeral, Mikoyan opted to stay and sent his son Sergo there instead.

Castro was adamant that the missiles remain but Mikoyan, seeking to avoid a full-fledged confrontation with the United States, attempted to convince him otherwise. He told Castro, ‘You know that not only in these letters but today also, we hold to the position that you will keep all the weapons and all the military specialists with the exception of the ‘offensive’ weapons and associated service personnel, which were promised to be withdrawn in Khrushchev’s letter [of October 27.]’ Castro balked at the idea of further concessions, namely the removal of the Il-28 bombers and tactical nuclear weapons still left in Cuba. But after several tense and grueling weeks of negotiations, he finally relented and the missiles and the bombers were removed in December of that year.”

The same Wikipedia article says about Lavrov: “Lavrov was born in Moscow on March 21, 1950 to an Armenian father from Tbilisi and a Russian mother from Georgia.”

It turns out that two Armenians emerge as peacemakers at the verge of international crises.

The world will benefit from the skills of these two diplomats. In the case of the UN vote, the prospect of a Geneva 2 Conference is becoming reality.

At this time there are more than 10,000 Armenians from Syria living in Armenia, hoping to return to that prosperous community once normality is restored in that country.

Very few people have realized, and will realize in this case, that the diplomatic genius of two Armenians has come to save the world from catastrophe.

On the other hand, the sad commentary is that Armenians excel when they are in the service of foreign powers.

Yet at this point the peace prospect is the most redeeming factor giving a chance to the world to enjoy a sigh of relief.