Leadership: Armenia The Ambidextrous


February 24, 2012:  The U.S. and Armenia have agreed to hold joint military training exercises this April in Rumania. Armenia has 130 troops in Afghanistan and is sending more. Armenia wants to develop better relations with the United States. The week long exercises will enable both countries to improve the ability of their troops to operate together.

Armenia lives in a rough neighborhood and needs all the friends it can get. Neighbors include Georgia (another American ally), Turkey (a NATO member), and Azerbaijan (an ancient enemy). What is odd about all this is that Armenia, formerly part of the Soviet Union, is now a Russian ally and hosts a permanent Russian garrison.

Last month Russia announced that the major military exercise this year, "Caucasus-2012", would be held in Southern Russia (including the Caucasus), Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Armenia and would simulate operations if there were a war against Iran by Israel and the United States. Russia is a staunch ally of Iran.

In the early 1990s, Armenia went to war with Azerbaijan to annex an Armenian majority district (Nagorno-Karabakh) that was separated from Armenia by a strip of Azerbaijan territory (populated largely by Azeris). Although Azerbaijan is larger than Armenia, and has oil, the Armenians are better fighters and the conflict festers, despite a 1994 ceasefire.



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