Wikileaks on Armenia and The Caucasus

Creative Commons/ by Lidia Ilona

Whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks has released 250,000 diplomatic cables sent by U.S. embassies to Washington, with amazing revelations on the world’s superpower’s diplomatic supergames around the world.

They include reports of some Arab leaders — including Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah — urging the U.S. to attack Iran and end its nuclear weapons program. Other concerns include the security of Pakistani nuclear material that could be used to make an atomic weapon, the widespread use of computer hacking by China’s government. The released reports also indicate the very close relationship between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Italian counterpart Silvio Berlusconi and alleged links between the Russian government and organized crime.

Five of the word’s largest newspapers – El Pais, Le Monde, Der Spiegal, Guardian and the New York Times have received Wikileaks data and published an array of stories, which are already making headlines around the world.

Most interesting on Armenia and Karabakh

Surprisingly, the most interesting information on Armenia and Karabakh comes from a Wikileaks cable summerizing Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Bill Burns’ hour-long meeting with Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev. Here are some selected extracts:

6. (C) Aliyev noted that at Sochi, President Sargsian had inserted a proposal for specifying a definite date for a referendum or plebiscite on NK final status. This, Aliyev argued, undermined the entire framework of the agreement, which is premised on an eventual referendum ) with no definite timeframe ) in exchange for legalizing “the illegally established regime in NK.”” He also noted that Armenia is vulnerable to isolation because it is dependent upon remittances from its diaspora, as well as imports of gas and electricity. “After 18 years of negotiation, we have tested all options. If this phase (of Minsk Group talks) ends, what is next?” the President asked aloud.

7. (C) In response to U/S Burns’ question about the Russian role in the NK talks, Aliyev responded that he was convinced that Medvedev’s efforts have been sincere. He said that Medvedev has personally met with the Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents five times. Thus any failure to make progress on this issue will damage Medvedev’s credibility. He said that at Sochi, Medvedev tried to persuade Sargsian to achieve a breakthrough. He added, however, that it was strange that with so much pressure from Moscow and Lavrov’s visit to Yeveran, the Armenians not only resisted progress, but actually backtracked on previously-agreed items. In response to a question, Aliyev said that he believes that PM Putin has his own separate opinion about the desirability of an NK resolution. “I have no evidence, but I can feel this,” Aliyev remarked.

8. (C) Aliyev said that he considers Medvedev “a modern, new-generation intellectual,” surrounded by people whom he does not control. He said that he has personally witnessed Medvedev taking decisions that then required further approval before they were implemented, referring specifically to a border demarcation agreement that he had agreed with Medvedev only to have it stymied by “”others,”” presumably in the prime ministerial office. He added, “Many high-ranking officials don’t recognize (Medvedev) as a leader.” He said that there are signs of a strong confrontation between the teams of the two men, although not yet between Putin and Medvedev personally. “We have a saying in Azeri, ‘Two heads cannot be boiled in one pot'” (crude street slang suggesting that two leaders are spoiling for a fight).

9. (C) U/S Burns stressed that the U.S. believes that progress on the Turkey-Armenia protocols could create political space for Sargsian to be more flexible on NK. He continued that the reverse was also true, that a failure of the Turkey-Armenia process would almost certainly result in serious negative consequences for the NK process. Aliyev said that NK progress would require a minimum of five or six months. He suggested that the entire Turkey-Armenia protocol ratification process be delayed until after April 24. He said that the “Sword of Damocles” of Armenian Remembrance Day is hanging unhelpfully not only over the Turkey-Armenia process, but also now the NK progress. “If there were no deadline, maybe we could see how to combine our efforts (to resolve NK).”

19. (C) Unprompted by U/S Burns, Aliyev spelled out the reasons Azerbaijan decided to sell gas to Russia last year, noting that “”Moscow had asked” and offered a good price for gas that was surplus anyway. But the real reason, Aliyev confided, was that the sale illustrated to “our Turkish friends” that they will not be allowed to create a gas distribution hub. “Aliyev made clear his distaste for the Erdogan government in Turkey, underscoring the “naivete” of their foreign policy and the failure of their initiatives, including the loss of support for Turkey among traditional international friends because of Ankara,s hostility to Israel. He noted that in his view, there had never been any merit to the notion of a “moderate Islamist” government in Turkey, and that Erdogan,s insistence on promoting Hamas and Gaza ) when other Arab countries were notably silent on these issues ) had brought Turkey no benefits.

Armenia in alleged arms transfer to Iran

One of the most interesting Wikileaks cables about Armenia is undoubtedly the 24 December, 2008 letter from U.S. Deputy Secretary Negroponte to Armenia’s President regarding a 2003 Armenian Arms procurement for Iran.

“Dear Mr. President:

We value our positive relationship with your government, as we explore a range of shared interests, especially an agreement on Nagorno Karabakh and normalization of Armenia’s relations with Turkey. At the same time, we are dismayed by a serious and, indeed, deadly – arms re-export case.

Secretary Rice, Assistant Secretary Fried, Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza, and Ambassador Yovanovitch have raised with you our deep concerns about Armenia’s transfer of arms to Iran which resulted in the death and injury of U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

Notwithstanding the close relationship between our countries, neither the Administration nor the U.S. Congress can overlook this case. By law, the transfer of these weapons requires us to consider whether there is a basis for the imposition of U.S. sanctions. If sanctions are imposed, penalties could include the cutoff of U.S. assistance and certain export restrictions.

To avoid such sanctions, it is essential that you present compelling evidence that your government is now in partnership with us to ensure such transfers do not occur in the future.

To convince the United States that this will not happen again, we seek a written agreement from Armenia, memorializing its intent to implement measures that will prevent Armenia from becoming a source of weapons for Iran or other states or groups involved wit terrorism and/or weapons proliferation.

[read more on specific measures proposed here]


John D. Negroponte”

S) Background: In 2003, Armenia facilitated Iran’s purchase of rockets and machine guns. In 2007, some of these weapons were recovered from two Shia militant attacks in which a United States soldier was killed and six others were injured in Iraq. The Secretary discussed our concerns with President Sargsian on the margins of the UN General Assembly, but he denied any transfer occurred. The direct role of high-level Armenian officials and the link of the weapons to an attack on U.S. forces make this case unique and highly troubling. These transfers may provide a basis for sanctions pursuant to U.S. legal authorities. We propose a series of steps that Armenia will need to take to prevent future transfers, which will be weighed in the consideration of sanctions. We hope to use the threat of sanctions as a tool to generate Armenian responsiveness so that we will not be forced to impose sanctions measures.

For a great review of interesting cables on Armenia and the Caucasus check out ianyanmag. Also, thank you Arshakuni, for the link and the hint!


27 thoughts on “Wikileaks on Armenia and The Caucasus

    • What do you mean by ‘propaganda tool’? Wikileaks has been a major pain for the US administration for some time now.

      The most surprising of all this is the fact that the vast majority of the government documents are classified and thus out of the reach of the citizens through the ‘Freedom of Information Act’. When you have such a situation, marking documents as secret loses its meaning. Before reading the docs I was inclined to see the release of state secrets as treason but after the fact it’s clear that most of the information has been available in the media for some time.

      It’s kind of like the ‘Russian Spy Ring’ that used to report things to the FSB that were available on Yahoo News :).

      • Propaganda is like rat poison. 95% of it is tasty, healthy food. But the purpose is to get you to swallow the poison. The same is true of the WikiLeaks document dump. The bait are all these old stories which we already knew about, used to convince us that the entire pile is “tasty, healthy food,” except that it isn’t. Buried in the pile of delicious, albeit past the expiration date morsels are the bits of poison which the US Government knows you will no longer accept at face value from the controlled media, but hope you will eat if handed to you by a con artist posing as hostile to the government.

        So, given that 95% of the current WikiLeaks is really old news, as a public service I will point out the bits of poison that Julian hopes you will eat.

        1. Iran is bad so you should all want to kill them.

        2. Saudi Arabia is bad because they are funding Al Qaeda so you should all want to kill them.

        3. North Korea is bad because they gave really long range missiles to Iran for Iran to put their nuclear warheads in, so you should all want to kill them.

        4. China is messing with your computers, so you should all want to kill them.

        That about sums it up.

        Funny thing about rat poison. After a while the rats learn to eat the food and leave the poison behind.


      • Full article here:

        Bottomline, according to the article the wikileaks affair is a red herring, a distraction from the real truth to be hidden which can be potentially explosive, which truth, 911 an inside job?

        Possibly it is a form of controlled leaking. The ruling powers have an interest in controlling the opposition media.

        Not my opinion, just the authors :)

  1. bayc et 250k documentic vor leak e arvel tvyal pahin released-a vrode menak 226 haty :D asum en menak haykakan despanatuni het 2000 namak ka vor petqa release arvi

  2. It is a funny world. Many of them remind me the gossips of my old neighbours Anush and Hripsime around a cup of coffee. Well if Anush and Hripsime were talking about the recent quarrel and marriage in the neighbourhood the Diplomats talk about a marriage in Daghestan, quarels between Putin and Medvedev or Gaddafi’s fear from long flights.
    90% dont give any value to taxpayers for the taxes they pay. 10% is the fun. These cables should be published in Facebook right when they are produced so that everybody can have fun. It is unfare that only diplomats should have the laugh.

    • Yes payqar, seems to me more like distraction and intentional leaking. This will keep peopl entertained for some months, meanwhile they proceed printing money like toilet paper and complete their global take over by bailing out this and that economy from extreme debt. The real problem is the failed economy, not wikileaks which already we knew most of the content from mainstream media!

    • I will have to disagree. The cables show that absolutely everything is intelligence.

      I think a lot of persons do similar intelligence – you try to gather as much information as possible about the people you deal with to make the interaction smoother. Gossip is an integral part of this information gathering.

      • but what’s the point? I mean people can live happier lives without this crap. A neighbourhood can live healthier lives without Anush and Hripsime. Anush and Hripsime can live happier lives if they do something good than gossip and interfere in their neighbours’ lives.

          • It sounds that you justify the ends of intel gathering. I personally dont see anything good in it. As for these cables they are just diplomatic chit-chats. If this is on what billions are spent then what a waste.

    • What you are calling “gossip” is the detail work that is esssential to gathering intelligence. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of those you are dealing with, whether “allies” or “opponents” (which shift, anyway), help the diplomatic corps decide how to best frame requests or demands — Where’s their Achilles’ heel? Where can pressure be applied? What do you never, ever mention if you want cooperation? And of course, a great deal of diplomatic work is preventing things from happening, which is less showy but most of the time more important.

      Anyway, there’s a lot more to come, and if they’re mostly subtle revelations rather than earth-shattering ones, that’s probably better on balance. Certainly there seem to be enough tidbits to digest already.

      • why to apply pressure, why to find the Achilles’ heel? why to mame and destroy?
        I read many of the subject titles and some of the cables. There is one pattern,- pattern of theft and extortion. Leave the details (even the oil), look at it as one big picture. And when you look at it “unconventionally” it becomes obviouse that these diplomats are typical criminals. They dont produce anything of value. They are specialists of lie, theft and extortion.
        This is one rotten system. Pointless for a average citizen who is going to live 80-90 years and die. Why humans are so attracted to anything bad?
        Before disagreeing with me please show me one single cable that truly promotes humanism, beautiy and peace. I could find none.

        • First, well, you’re describing a heaven of a world that doesn’t exist, where, if the average citizen makes no trouble, no one will trouble him, no one will cheat him, his life will only be happiness, and of course he would not cheat anyone himself. That world has never existed on earth! If it did, people would read only Dante’s “Paradise” and not bother with the “Inferno,” and no one would have any interest at all in “The Lord of the Rings”. So if you are going to have an effective strategy against your opponent, you need all the knowledge you can glean, otherwise, the opponent wins. At least you want to fight to a draw if possible. Otherwise, they’re the masters and you’re the slave.

          Secondly, the WikiLeaks cables are by nature going to be at least slightly controversial material; otherwise, they wouldn’t be leaks at all. If you look carefully, though, you will see people with good intentions trying to make their voices heard. They’re soft, though, against the more colorful tidbits. For example, this Prince Andrew in Bishkek cable has a good discussion about Kyrgyz corruption and some voices in the room push for rule of law to help investments there. But the discussion also shows how difficult that is when so many others are willing to do whatever is easiest to win the bids.

          Even the ribald masterpiece “Caucasus Wedding” cable has a few paragraphs at the end describing how Russia uses unresolved land claims to keep power in the Caucasus. Even though meant for the North Caucasus, it has broader resonance, I think you would agree. There are some lessons in the cables, it’s not all fluff and gossip.

          As to your question, “Why humans are so attracted to anything bad?” Good luck with that one! :)

          • What I describe is not heaven. I dont think heaven exists, but reality does. This is real. And this is a very realistic reality. A bad trip. So bad that the opposite sounds impossible.
            These leaks show that how money is wasted on the upkeep of useless diplomatic community. In most cases they dig a hole and then try to cover it, mostly leaving innocent bodies behind them, in the whole. It is addictive, I bet they even forget the purpose of their existence, their mission. Look at Russia, they built an empire but the people outside of Moscow and some inside it barely survive. What’s the purpose, what’s the mission? They have a land but no people to live on it. Isn’t this crazy?
            The same for the USA. Democracy my arse.

    • There are some more funny stuff on UK Royal family, Kazakhstan, some Arab princes etc.
      There are still many to come, so it’s hard to come to a final conclusion, however as I said above so far this whole thing is just a joke that can be published in comics form. Maybe it is the aim, to discredit the current global political setup.
      Over 251.000 cables, not something to leak by a single person. This is a massive work. Hosting wikileaks is another big project. And we still not sure if these cables were retouched to fit specific aims.

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