Monday, December 27, 2004

 

Armenians pledge troops to Iraq

In some very sad Christmas eve news, Armenia's parliament voted to send 46 non-combat troops to Iraq. Now, of course 46 is not a very large number, but, as is pointed out in this AP story, far more than 46 lives are at stake here.
But the proposal had been widely criticized by opposition parties, many Armenians and even the 30,000-strong Armenian community in Iraq, which feared being targeted for attacks if the troops were sent.

"We shouldn't even be sending humanitarian troops to Iraq, because we can't jeopardize the security of Armenians living Iraq, said Viktor Dalakyan, a leader with the opposition party Justice. "Moreover their lives are already being threatened."

In August, an Armenian Apostolic church in Baghdad was hit in a wave of attacks on Iraq's minority Christians that that killed 11 people and injured more than 50.
So what would lead Armenia to risk increasing tensions within Iraq and further expose Iraqi Armenians to violence? Well, in case you didn't notice, Armenia hasn't been doing so well recently. It's a very poor country, and it has put itself in a very bad situation with its neighbors, Azerbaijan and Turkey, with territorial disputes. So, most of Armenia's borders are closed off to trade. Not a good thing for a small, struggling nation's economy. So what does this have to do with Iraq? Well, by sending these troops, even if it means endangering tens of thousands of Iraqi Armenians, "[Armenian President Robert] Kocharian has sought to portray the decision to send troops to Iraq as a way to boost ties with Europe." Yes, boosting ties with Europe, and of course the United States as well, which might mean (depending on the mood of Europe or the US) pressure on Turkey to begin to open borders to trade, which could mean economic support, which essentially means just a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel, a small spark of hope. So the small and powerless nations see fit to act in a way that is almost surely going to have negative repercussions for other people so that they might get a sniff at a glimmer of hope from the rich and the powerful. Merry Christmas everyone!

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