Armenia's 'husitisation' - who needs it?

10.04.24 10:37

On the 5th of April, 2024, the Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in Brussels. It has become apparent that the EU, primarily represented by France, and the US are including Armenia under their so-called 'security guarantees'. Although France, Iran, and India are actively supplying Armenia with weapons, it is important to avoid any suggestion of a revanchist war on the part of Armenia.


Additionally, there is a risk of conflict within Armenia itself as the U.S. and France have expressed intentions to remove Russian border guards and the Russian military base from Gyumri. As a result, Armenia, which is located right next to the Middle Corridor, an important route for the world economy that runs from China through Central Asia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey to Europe, may become a hotbed of war and instability.


It is rapidly acquiring the features of another state located near international communications, such as Yemen. It is known that world trade and international digital communications are currently being targeted by Yemen's Houthi movement, which is believed to be a proxy of the Islamic Republic of Iran.


Despite controlling the capital Sana'a, the Houthis do not have complete control over Yemen. As a result, most countries do not recognise them as the legitimate authority of Yemen. The Houthi movement is unique in that it is based in the mountainous regions of northern Yemen, including Sana'a, which is predominantly inhabited by Shi'ite Zaydis.


In contrast, the Sunni population predominantly inhabits the entire Yemeni coast. Ideally, if the Houthis confined themselves to their religious area, it would be difficult to supply them with weapons. Additionally, they would not be able to operate on the Red Sea as the Shiite areas of Yemen are landlocked.


However, some influential international forces have granted the Houthis access to the sea. This fact gained international significance after the start of the Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip against Hamas.


The Houthis have declared that they will not permit ships with any connection to Israel to pass through the Red Sea and the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait. They have indiscriminately attacked all ships, resulting in dozens of civilian ships being attacked in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden since mid-November last year. As a result, transit volumes have roughly halved, with only 13% of world trade now passing through the Red Sea. Due to increased risks, only 35 of the previous 70 ships are now crossing the Suez Canal daily. The remaining ships are forced to take a longer route around Africa, resulting in a significant increase in delivery time and cost.


The Houthis have already tried their hand at 'digital terror' by damaging some of the fibre-optic cables that run under the Red Sea, temporarily disrupting global internet traffic.

At the same time, the Houthis' actions are strangely benefiting the US. Europe is becoming more dependent on trade with the United States than with Asia and the Persian Gulf, where cargo used to flow through the Red Sea. And even the damage to the cables by the Houthis ultimately benefits the US, as it gives impetus to the development of the Starlink satellite system by the US company SpaceX, led by Elon Musk.

Europe's economic dependence on the US has already increased since the start of the war in Ukraine, which has reduced the EU's access to cheap Russian energy. And demand for American liquefied natural gas and electricity from French nuclear power plants has risen accordingly. All this provides a partial answer to the question of why the US and France are doing everything they can to "prolong" the war in Ukraine.
Thus, the transit from China through the Russian Federation to the western borders is blocked as a result of the Ukrainian war, the transit through the Red Sea is "in the crosshairs" of the Hussites. But there remains the actively developing Central Corridor through Central Asia, the Caspian Sea and the South Caucasus, through which cargo transit is increasing.

The President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has recently given his approval to an agreement between Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. This agreement aims to simplify customs procedures for goods in transit on the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway. The implementation of this agreement is expected to increase the volume of cargo transported on this railway from China and Central Asia to Europe. It is possible that the throughput capacity of Baku-Tbilisi-Kars may soon be insufficient. Therefore, the resumption of railway traffic along the Zangezur corridor could be relevant and beneficial for the Armenian economy.

However, there may be certain forces that do not want Armenia to live and develop peacefully and harmoniously with its neighbours. They express greater satisfaction with a country that maintains a perpetual state of hostility towards its neighbours, blocking some international communications and exerting control over others. In other words, there is a strong desire for the 'Husitisation' of the Republic of Armenia, even if it means being left with only a 'fragment' of internationally recognised territory, no larger than the percentage of the Houthi-controlled zone in relation to the entire territory of Yemen (approximately one third).
The process of 'Husitisation' could potentially lead to the escalation of a revanchist war and internal turmoil in Armenia. This is particularly concerning as the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), who are currently aiding the Houthis, are prepared to intervene in the conflict at any given moment.

The ongoing conflict between Armenia's 'pro-Western' government and the 'pro-Russian' opposition is intensifying. The potential return of seven occupied villages in the Gazakh region and one in the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic to Azerbaijan could further exacerbate the situation. The opposition factions of the National Assembly of Armenia have proposed an urgent parliamentary session to discuss the delimitation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and the return of villages. It is possible that this issue, where the opposition is more intransigent than the Pashinyan government, or others may trigger an internal crisis in Armenia.



Alexandre Zakariadze

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