Marie Yovanovitch, Raffi Hovannisian and Regime Change in Armenia - March, 2011

Smelling blood once again, the American embassy in Armenia has been getting active as of late. It is not a surprise to anyone who has been following regional affairs that Washington is seeking a regime change in Armenia. However, it may surprise many that Washington's main problem with Yerevan is not the lack of "democracy" in Armenia but the lack of America in Armenia. For Washingtonian officials, the main problem is that our tiny, poor and landlocked republic in the Caucasus has been a serious geopolitical problem for the Western alliance. Since its independence in 1991, Armenia's presence has been a serious obstacle for Western policymakers.

According to the West, the main problem with Armenia is its historic rivalry with Turks and Azeris, it's good relations with Iran and its strategic alliance with the Russian Federation. These three aforementioned characteristics of the modern Armenian state have turned the fledgling nation into a problematic factor in the Caucasus for political entities such as the European Union, United States, Britain, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Israel.

Had it not been for the Russian military presence in the country, Armenia would have suffered Serbia's and Cyprus's fate (if not worst) a long time ago.

With wide-spread political upheaval and bloodshed gripping the region, Washington officials sense an opportunity in Armenia once again. As a result, the American embassy in Armenia has been ordered to become more active in Armenia's internal affairs, although embassy officials are naturally stating otherwise. Before I further address this issue, I'd like to take a quick look at the freedom and democracy loving American ambassador to Armenia, Marie L. Yovanovitch.
According to her US State Department web-page, Yovanovitch is a graduate of the National War College. She has been working in the Foreign Service since 1986. Not surprisingly, Yovanovitch has been trained to specialize in Russian affairs. According to the non-Washington affiliated Armenian think tank, Voskanapat, her professors have been people like Dr. Stephen Blank, a well known Armenophobe and a Russophobe (and most probably a Turcophile).

Interestingly, Yovanovitch was the Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine between 2001-2004. More interestingly, Ukraine had its "Orange Revolution" in 2004. Interestingly, Yovanovitch was the American ambassador to Kyrgyzstan between 2005-2008. More interestingly, Kyrgyzstan had its "Tulip Revolution" in 2005.
It's very clear that this Marie Yovanovitch character has been Washington's kiss of death in Eurasia.

And for the past two years, Washington has been gracing our very own Armenia with Yovanovitch's wonderful presence. Our little, landlocked, blockaded and impoverished nation surrounded by enemies in one of the most volatile places on earth is now clearly in Washington's sights. Simply put: Washington wants a change of government in Armenia. And as I have mentioned on numerous previous occasions - it's all about Russia and it's all due to oil/gas! Despite its backing by Moscow today, Armenia remains politically vulnerable to Washington's machinations essentially because Armenia has not yet gotten its economic situation in order, especially now that the world is being plagued by an economic crisis (a situation that was in fact created by the financial elite in the West).

Thus, when the masses are hungry (not to mention politically ignorant), they think with their stomachs and not with their brains. History clearly teaches us that when the politically ignorant masses are hungry or disgruntled, they consistently fall victim to manipulation and exploitation by meddling superpowers. Armed with one of the largest US embassies on earth (in other words, one of the largest CIA facilities on earth), Washington has set its sights on Armenia's ignorant, disgruntled and hungry masses. And why should we Armenians be afraid of all this? After all, don't westerners have good living standards and aren't they constantly smiling?

Well, unfortunately, the reality of the matter is that in order for western peoples to continue living good and smiling - lesser nations around the world will have to live in poverty and despair. Death and destruction in foreign lands in the name of wholesale plunder is what makes a global empire like the Western alliance happy, wealthy and powerful. If any of you truly think that the West is going to bring happiness and prosperity to Armenia, you have a serious problem with hallucinations.
Disclaimer: I have no problems with traditional/classical western values or western culture. As a matter of fact, I am an advocate of true western and European values. My primary problem with the modern western world today is its Anglo-American-Jewish political/cultural manifestation. My primary problem with the western world is with its political/financial elite in English speaking countries - an elite that uses the powerful cultural legacy of Europe (as well as its wealth and military) as a tool to derive self-serving gains around the world at the expense of smaller and/or vulnerable nations.
That said, if any of you think that by simply toppling President Serj Sargsyan's government, Armenia will fall into the hands of patriots, you also need to have your heads examined. Despite what some may want to believe, those waiting for and/or promoting a regime change from political sides-lines in Armenia are not Armenian patriots.

Despite what some news "analysts" are claiming, Western officials are not seeking the "Egyptification" of Armenia - but rather the Libyanification or the Iranification of Armenia. And the massive American embassy in Yerevan is not their only asset in the tiny republic with which to attempt a regime change. Washington is also armed with a vast array of propaganda outlets that are well embedded inside Armenian society. Washington has also at its disposal modern networking and organizing tools such as Twitter and Facebook. Washington has the support of a small army of American educated Armenian social/political activists. Washington has the added benefit of relying on Armenia's worthless "political opposition" as well as Levon Petrosian and his self-destructive peasantry. And Washington has the direct services of well positioned professional agents in Armenia such as Richard Giragosian, Vartan Oskanian and last but not least - Raffi Hovannisian.

Speaking of Washingtonian assets in Armenia: Raffi Hovannisian recently began a much publicized hunger strike as a protest against injustice and corruption in Armenia. This selfless patriot, as he is being portrayed, has become the primary person officials in Washington are placing their hopes on. Before I continue, further perspective on the Hovannisian family is due -
Forget the Kardashians, meet the real whores of the Armenian-American society - the Hovannisians: http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2011/03/forget-kardashians-meet-real-whores-of.html
Who will decide Armenia's destiny -- patriots or tyrants? http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2010/11/today-modern-republic-of-armenia-turned.html
They are currently grooming Raffi Hovannisian for the next presidential elections in Armenia. They are carefully crafting for him the persona of a honest and incorruptible patriot that they will later present to the public as Armenia's savior. As they give Raffi a complete PR makeover, watch for the Richard Giragosian and Vartan Oskanian types in the background to provide support and watch for Washington-funded propaganda outlets to disseminate pro-Raffi reports and commentaries. See ArmeniaNow article about Vartan Oskanian's statements posted below. Going forward, if all works out well, if the Armenian public takes the bait, Washington will spare no efforts in promoting Raffi's presidential candidacy. Various other Western assets inside the Armenian diaspora (segments within the ARF and virtually the entire Armenian Assembly of America) will begin supporting Raffi as well. A whole slew of American educated Armenians will begin traveling to Armenia as political or "humanitarian" activists. And since we are living in the 21th century, we can also expect to see a large team of internet personalities (human and otherwise) participating in Raffi praise and worship.
Edit: Just prior to posting this commentary in this blog, I noticed that Vartan Oskanian had already began his mission by calling on the Armenian president to visit Raffi Hovannisian and the American ambassador to Armenia visited Raffi. It is interesting that Yovanovitch's visit did not get much press coverage in Armenia's Western funded press; they are obviously concerned about making Washington's meddling too obvious. I have added relevant articles to this page.
What they have started doing is carefully preparing the field upon which Raffi will be expected to play. They have carried-out these types of operations inside many nations for many years. Thus, they have more than ample experience. When it comes to these types of matters, no amount of money is ever really a problem for the political elite. And having found willing partners inside the Armenian community, they have ample amount of hope. Thus, they have a friendly field of play, they have the faithful players and they have virtually unlimited resources to make it all happen.

Make no mistake about, if their plans are not somehow thwarted, it will be a well coordination and a quite sophisticated campaign. And, as previously suggested, had it not been for certain geopolitical realities - like the Russian military presence in Armenia - it would also have been a well armed effort to oust Serj Sargsyan and replace him with a servant of the Anglo-American-Zionist alliance.

Having lost hope in a discredited and unreliable Levon Petrosian, Washington has clearly placed its hopes on their man, Raffi Hovannisian. If Levon served Western interests indirectly, Raffi serves Western interests directly. Levon Petrosian and company are a homegrown gang of treasonous criminals. Raffi Hovannisian, on the other hand, is essentially a well educated employee of the American Empire. All this may explain why Levon Petrosian has decided not to give Raffi a public podium during his rallies. Levon's gang simply do not want Raffi to steal their role as the leaders of Armenia's so-called opposition. Thus, Armenia's "opposition" forces will be effectively split henceforth. But watch the Western press and their subsidiaries within the Armenian community to gradually begin distancing themselves from Levon Petrosian in the coming months.

Having carefully studied research on Armenian behavioral patters and national/social traits for many years, they are simply betting on the Armenian government to be either passive or heavy handed and they are expecting the Armenian population to simply remain politically ignorant.

If the Armenian government does not put in place countermeasures against Washington's meddling by implementing serious changes in the country (knowing Armenians, I don't see them doing such a thing), if the Armenian population takes Washington's bait (knowing Armenians, I don't see how they wouldn't), there will be serious political unrest in Armenia come election time. It should also be noted that the anti-state operation in Armenia will primarily be an English language driven campaign. They will be massaging and conditioning public sentiments and as the presidential elections nears, they will be significantly increasing the amount of bad news coverage concerning Armenia and, of course, Russia. In other words, brace yourselves, there will be an increase in alarming and disheartening news. The on-going psy-op and the media blitz directed against Armenia will continue and increase in volume.

Due to Armenia's bad geographic and socioeconomic circumstances, as well as the incompetence of its officials and the ignorance of its sons and daughters, Armenia is very vulnerable to political upheaval today. Marie Yovanovitch's bosses are currently trying to take advantage of the situation by attempting to mastermind a revolution in Armenia - and it does not matter to them whether or not it will be a destructive one. What the Western alliance intends to do in the Caucasus region is very clear even to the most casual of observers. As a matter of fact, one must be either deaf, dumb or blind not to understand what they want in Armenia and in the Caucasus. As I have been saying for years, the ultimate end-game is simply to evict Russia from Armenia. And what's so bad about a Caucasus without a Russian presence?

Well, to properly understand the answer this question, the reader must first understand the nature of superpower politics and the intricate game of chess that is played by them. The following links to previous posts from this blog are some good examples of the "Great Game" that is currently being played by Western powers and Russia in the Caucasus and beyond -
The New "Great Game": Oil Politics in the Caucasus and Central Asia: http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2010/11/some-see-expulsion-of-washingtonian.html

Russia's Fight For Control of Russia's energy:
http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2010/11/moscow-currently-satisfies-about-13-of_07.html
Keep Armenia isolated, George Friedman: http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2010/11/arye-gut-israeli-jewish-expert-in.html

The Impact of the Russia-Georgia War on the South Caucasus Transportation Corridor:
http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2010/08/following-is-paper-produced-by-georgian.html


The Sino-Russian Alliance: Challenging America's Ambitions in Eurasia: http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2009/02/sino-russian-alliance-challenging.html
Having lost the allegiances of Georgia and Azerbaijan in the south Caucasus a long time ago, having on its hands a two decade Western encouraged Islamic insurgency in the north Caucasus - Armenia has been Moscow's last foothold in the crucially important region. If it loses the Caucasus, Moscow will eventually lose its political and economic influences from the Black Sea to China. Moreover, losing control over the Caucasus will also make Moscow vulnerable to the spread of Islamic/Turkic movements deep within the Russian mainland. With Russia out of the south Caucasus, the Western alliance and its regional supporters would be able to forge ahead with their plans to exploit the region's vast energy potential without Russian meddling and then gradually set their eyes on Russia's natural wealth itself.

Energy wars will be the main story of this century essentially because oil and gas reserves are running-out in the north Atlantic and in the Middle East. While it may still be too early to tell, direct Western meddling in Africa and the Middle East in recent years may be a last-ditch effort to exploit the regions' remaining reserves. But looking at the distribution of Western military in recent years, gaining a direct access to Central Asian energy reserves is most probably what they are ultimately planning for. Within this geopolitical picture, Armenia's current government is one of the major obstacles standing in the way of the West's energy exploitation agenda - their other problems being political turmoils in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. What's at stake here is trillions of dollars in energy wealth as well as gaining the dependence of energy starved major economic powers such as China and India.

By expelling Russians from the Caucasus, the Western alliance and their regional client states can enjoy the benefits of having a direct and unhindered access to the strategic core of the Eurasian continent.

With Russia evicted from the south Caucasus, due to its deep-rooted problems with politically and financially more valuable Azerbaijan and Turkey, the Armenian state almost automatically becomes an insignificant obstacle standing in the way of Western financial interests. Fully exposed to ruthless corporations and cutthroat officials of the Western political order, what will happen to the Armenian nation-state in such a situation is anybody's guess. Under such a scenario, it is very probable that Sunni Wahhabism (the most militant form of Islam) and pan-Turkism will become the Caucasus region's most powerful political and cultural forces. Under such a scenario, Armenia's relations with Iran will surely be adversely impacted as well.

Anyone that deeply understands the Caucasus realizes that the region has very powerful Turkic and Islamic tendencies. In a certain ironic sense, the Caucasus today is merely one Western-leaning Armenian government away from becoming a Turkic-Islamic cesspool. Russia has been, is and will continue being the only political entity in existence that can stop the Caucasus from becoming a Turkic-Islamic playground.

Having had some military experience, having studied international relations for many years, having studied history for many years, having observed the Russian Federation for many years and having a good knowledge of how the Anglo-American-Zionist alliance operates around the world - I don't want to sound like an alarmist, but it is my belief that the Armenian state will collapse if the Western alliance ends up victorious in the Caucasus.

The Western experiment many of our foolish compatriots want to see take place in Armenia will ultimately prove suicidal for our fledgling nation. At the very least (a best case scenario in my opinion), with a Western victory in the Caucasus, Armenia will automatically lose all of Artsakh and the Armenian diaspora's favorite family pastime for decades, Armenian Genocide recognition pursuit, will be a thing of the past. Moreover, with Moscow out of the picture, Yerevan will be taking its marching or rather bending-over orders from places like Washington, London, Brussels, Tel Aviv, Tbilisi, Ankara and Baku.
 
Without Russian boots on the ground in Armenia, Yerevan has absolutely no political value in the Caucasus!

What I just outlined above is not a wild theory - nor is it fear mongering. The geopolitical picture I am presenting here is the most logical and the most plausible scenario for Armenia - if the Western alliance is victorious in the Caucasus. And make no mistake about it, what I outlined above is exactly what the the West is seeking. Nevertheless, this is what I personally believe, and this is the source of my militantly pro-Russian attitude when it comes to regional political affairs. Personally, I think the West will try its best in Armenia but it will fail. Armenians may not be very bright when it comes to serious political affairs - Armenians do, however, have a keen sense of survival. Unfortunately, the pursuit of Western political agendas in the Caucasus will continue keeping Armenia politically vulnerable and economically stagnant. The real reason why the Caucasus has been in a dire situation for the past twenty years has been the battle being waged between the West and Russia for its control. This is why I keep hoping for Pax-Russicana.

Armenia needs political evolution not a Western sponsored revolution!

If their unholy plan does somehow succeed, that is if they do somehow manage to topple the current political establishment in Armenia, I hope that the Russian GRU is planning yet another October 27.

I'm pretty sure that such a contingency plan is already in place. When it comes to serious political affairs, nothing is left to chance. I believe Kremlin officials will do anything and everything in their power to stop a Western-leaning government from taking control in Yerevan. As a result, a Western success in Armenia may have severe consequences for the Armenian nation. Therefore, instead of our republic being hurt as a result of shortsighted and foolish political experiments - I much rather have the instigators of a revolution cut-down if need be.

On somewhat of a related note: our proud diaspora in the United States (the one that boasts of having a powerful political lobby in Washington) should know that every time an Armenian soldier gets killed by an Azeri sniper on the front-lines in Artsakh - Washington may be somewhat responsible. Rumors have been circulating for some time that Azerbaijani military sharpshooters are getting their training by American military specialists (as well as NATO, via Turkey naturally). Here is some evidence -
All this underscores the urgent need for American-Armenians to wake up! Stupidity and apathy in politics are luxuries our compatriots in America can no longer afford if they truly care about the Armenian homeland in the Caucasus.

On a related note: Matthew Byrza (the US former representative to the OSCE Minsk Group who happens to be married to a Turk) and Paul Goble (the Russophobic mastermind of the infamous Goble Plan that envisioned severing Armenia from Iran) are two ranking American officials that have taken jobs in Azerbaijan. These servants of the Anglo-American-Zionist alliance are pretty good indicators of which side of the political fence Washington is on. Despite the best efforts of our worthless lobbying groups in the United States, Washington will continue seeing Armenia as an obstacle to its regional economic (read energy exploitation) interests.
 

In final analysis, anyone that pushes a Washingtonian political agenda in Armenia is a traitor to the Armenian nation. It does not matter whether they do so knowingly or unknowingly because such an agenda will ultimately prove destructive for Armenia. In best of times, these types of dangerous people (as I said, regardless of their intentions) would have to stand in front of a firing squad. I hope Armenia's best of times are yet to come.

We can't continue expecting Russians to bail us out of serious geopolitical predicaments.
Armenians need to take the responsibility of being responsible about the Armenian state. The current ruling administration in Armenia needs to wake-up from its slumber and realize what is occurring around them. Armenian officials need to understand that the best way to defeat the machinations of the Western alliance in Armenia is for them to take governance of the country much more seriously. I fully realize that this is easier said than done, especially considering the fact that we are talking about Armenians who have a propensity to be unruly and shortsighted. The Armenian leadership and their backers in Moscow need to take socioeconomic matters in Armenia much more seriously. The people need to see real changes on the ground, not just talk. Until the government does this, until the masses see or feel real change, the Armenian state will continue being at risk for a Western inspired revolution.

I hope that president Serj Sargsyan's new appointments in government and
the new measures he is currently implementing in the country are genuine steps towards real progress. Time will tell. But time may not be on Armenia's side.

 

I reiterate: Armenia has become one of the main targets of the Western alliance. Consequently, regardless of what we think about Armenia's current authorities, they are in fact the safest choice we have today. President Sargsyan is the lesser of all the political evils that currently exist in the country. And regardless of what we may personally think about Russia or Russians, Russia remains Armenia's only life insurance policy in the south Caucasus. 

Therefore, before you go to sleep tonight say a little prayer and thank God that Moscow's national interests and Armenia's national interests continue to converge, and pray it continues converging for the foreseeable future. And if you don't believe in God (as many there days apparently don't), at the very least say a little prayer to Vladimir Putin. Just realize that without Russian boots on the ground in the south Caucasus, our impotent and one-dimensional diaspora wouldn't be lamenting only the lose of Western Armenia today - they would also be lamenting the lose of Artsakh and most probably the lose of Armenia as well. For Armenian speakers, the following are some excellent interviews concerning political affairs in Armenia and Libya -
Arevordi 
March, 2011


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Yovanovitch Calls for Democratization in Armenia

http://asbarez.com/App/Asbarez/eng/2011/03/0303yova.jpg

Marie Yovanovitch, the U.S. ambassador in Yerevan, on Thursday repeated her emphatic calls for Armenia’s democratization, saying that they are in tune with the Armenian constitution and President Serzh Sarkisian’s public statements. In an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian service, Yovanovitch argued that the rule of law, democratic elections and civil rights are enshrined in the constitution. “Those are the rights of the Armenian people, as written in your constitution,” she said. The diplomat again referred to a December speech in which Sarkisian called for a “consistent introduction of European standards into all areas of our state, public and economic lives.”

In that speech, the president also warned that Armenia’s existing political order could lead to “stagnation” without a “deepening of democracy.” “He is the president of the country, and we certainly agree with that kind of prescription,” Yovanovitch said. Yovanovitch also stood by her view, expressed in a February 28 speech at Yerevan State University, that the monopolization of political authority and economic resources is harmful for the country. “If you have only one source of ideas, decision-making, resources, inevitably you’re going to be stale and stagnant … We think that’s true on the economic side, we think it’s also true on the political side,” she said. Armenia, continued Yovanovitch, should therefore have a transparent government that is “listening to the people and is accountable to the people.” “We think those governments in countries are really the strongest and make the best partners for the United States,” she stressed.

Source: http://asbarez.com/93837/yovanovitch-calls-for-democratization-in-armenia/

Yovanovitch Rules Out U.S. Role In Armenian Political Process

Armenia -- U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch at a news conference in Yerevan, 23Mar2011.


The United States is closely monitoring political developments in Armenia but has no intention to mediate between its rival political factions, the U.S. ambassador in Yerevan, Marie Yovanovitch, said on Wednesday. "How the internal political process in Armenia works, discussions between various parties or actors, I think that’s something for Armenians to work out among themselves,” she said. “I don’t think there is really a role there for the U.S. government.”

Yovanovitch spoke amid what appears to be mounting political uncertainty in the country stemming from a new campaign of antigovernment protests launched by the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) last month. At the same time, there have been some indications that the HAK and President Serzh Sarkisian’s administration are ready to negotiate over some opposition demands. A representative of Sarkisian’s Republican Party described opposition actions as “prudent” last week.

“I know there is a lot of speculation about that [dialogue,]” Yovanovitch told a news conference at the NATO Information Center in Yerevan. “If, in fact, the internal political process in Armenia was less tense, shall we say, that’s something that we would only applaud.” In that context, she welcomed last week’s release of two more HAK loyalists who were imprisoned following Armenia’s disputed 2008 presidential election. “We encourage that process to continue to move forward,” she said.

Speaking at Yerevan State University late last month, Yovanovitch urged the Armenian authorities to hold free elections, respect civil liberties and embark on other “deep and difficult” reforms. In particular, she stressed the importance of “ensuring that peaceful, lawful assemblies will not be harassed or broken up.” Yovanovitch’s speech, delivered ten days after the start of the HAK campaign, did not go down well with some pro-government politicians and commentators. It was construed by them as an expression of support for the opposition alliance led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian.

Pro-opposition media outlets, for their part, portrayed the speech as an indication that the United States will now press harder for Armenia’s democratization. Yovanovitch stood by her statements and said they simply reflect Washington’s support for transparent and accountable governance around the world. “Ultimately, it’s for the people of each country to decide whether its government is moving forward and governing in an accountable way,” she said.

Source: http://www.azatutyun.am/content/article/2347772.html

Hovannisian Discusses Hunger Strike, His Vision of Future


Heritage Party founder and leader, Raffi Hovannisian, is on the seventh day of a hunger strike he began on March 15, urging the authorities to organize snap elections. Our sister publication, the Armenian Weekly’s contributor Christian Garbis, met up with Hvannisian, who discussed the aim of the hunger strike as well as a broad range of issues related to Armenia’s political future. Since the beginning of the strike, Hovannisian has received visitors, well wishers and supporters at his outpost on Liberty Square. However, when during an Armenian National Congress rally Thursday, the group’s leader Levon Ter-Petrosian and other leaders did not approach or acknowledge his presence, a political rift came to forefront, which Hovannisian describes as politically motivated.

Among those who visited Hovannisian were members of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Parliamentary bloc Lilit Galstian, Ardzvig Minasyan, and Vahan Hovannesian, as well as ARF Eastern US Central Committee chairperson Antranig Kasbarian. Numerous other party leaders, politicians, and activists also stopped by Hovannisian’s bench. They included Armenia’s Justice Minister Hrayr Tovmasyan, and singers Roupen Hakhverdyan, Forsh, and Vahan Artsruni

“All of Armenia’s citizens who care for their country and want change, including the youth—and there have been a lot of young people coming here from university in the last couple of days—to get them empowered and to convey the message that if there’s no fundamental solution to our national crisis today, we are just postponing the inevitable, and that inevitable is an abyss and a potential violent situation in Armenia. So it’s up to us…in this square and elsewhere, we have to raise our voice,” Hovannisian told Garbis.

Read the entire interview here.

Source: http://asbarez.com/94307/hovannisian-discusses-hunger-strike-his-vision-of-future/

Ter-Petrosian Cites ‘Christian Morality’ for Snubbing Hovannisian

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Armenian National Congress leader Levon Ter-Petrosian explained Tuesday that his lack of support for Heritage party leader Raffi Hovannisian’s hunger strike stemmed from his strict Christian principles. “Christianity to me is primarily a moral code [of conduct],” the radical opposition newspaper, Haykakan Zhamank, on Tuesday quoted Ter-Petrosian as explaining his snub. “This code categorically rejects the blatant display of virtues—piety, charity, humility—including a public display of fasting. When a virtue is put on exhibit, it ceases to be a virtue.”

Hovannisian, who began a hunger strike in Liberty Square, demanding the snap polls in Armenia on March 15, was snubbed by Ter-Petrosian and other Armenian National Congress leaders last Thursday, when after leading a rally to Liberty Square ignored Hovannisian, despite reports that upon entering Liberty Square the crowd of protesters began chanting “Raffi, Raffi…”
 
Hovannisian saw this as a politically calculated step from Ter-Petrosian and claimed that the first president of the republic was back-peddling from his convictions, upon which the Armenian National Congress was created. Ter-Petrosian continued his explanation by quoting a prominent Armenian Church figure from the fifth century, Hovhan Madakuni, who said: “Satan destroys a person that’s fasting who puts himself above others and wants to make his actions public for others to admire his courage.”
“If Raffi Hovannisian went on a hunger strike with specific political demands, instead of showing off, I would welcome that and express my full support,” added Ter-Petrosian.

Source: http://armenianow.com/news/politics/28442/hovannisian_reply_ter_petrosyan

Yovanovitch Visits Hovannisian


US Ambassador to Armenia, Marie Yovanovitch on Monday visited Heritage Party founder and leader Raffi Hovannisian, who has been on a huger strike for 14 days to demand snap elections in Armenia. Hovannisian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that they discussed his health condition, the state of human rights and the overall political situation in the country. He said he reaffirmed his view that the Armenian authorities must embrace “radical solutions.”

RFE/RL reported that the ambassador’s visit was construed by Hovannisian as a call for an end to his sit-in in Yerevan’s Liberty Square. “The ambassador urged me silently, not with words,” said Hovannisian. Asked whether the US envoy urged Hovannisian to stop the hunger strike, Heritage Party parliamentary bloc chairman, Stepan Safaryan said that ambassadors representing democratic states are well aware of the notion of civil society and realize that Raffi Hovannisian made the decision and will decide on his future actions himself. “No ambassador will make an appeal to start or stop hunger strike,” he said, reported news.am.

Hovannisian made clear that he will continue the hunger strike because the authorities have still not showed readiness to address his concerns. He downplayed “courtesy visits” to Liberty Square by parliament speaker Hovik Abrahamian and other senior pro-government lawmakers, reported RFE/RL. Hovannisian said he is still awaiting “substantive proposals” from the authorities. “If they will have something to say in the coming days or weeks, I would love to listen to them,” he said.

Asked whether he expects President Serzh Sarkisian to state that he is ready to call snap elections, Hovannisian replied, “I have no such expectation. But I am ready to listen to any word uttered in good faith and reflecting the interests of the state from any official, be it the current president or an ordinary citizen,” according to RFE/RL. Earlier German Ambassador and EU envoy visited Raffi Hovannisian as well.

Source: http://asbarez.com/94444/yovanovitch-visits-hovannisian/

Oskanian: President should visit Hovannisian

Oskanian: President should visit Hovannisian

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs (1998-2008) Vartan Oskanian has released a statement in which he calls on President Serzh Sargsyan to visit opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian, who is on his eighth day of hunger strike in protest of Sargsyan’s government. In his appeal, Oskanian says Hovannisian is expressing widespread “lack of hope”. Oskanian also reminds that Sargsyan, as Prime Minister in 2007, paid a humanitarian visit to a popular boxer who was fasting for political reasons. Following is the former MFA’s statement:

“Today, I once again visited Raffi Hovannisian, former Foreign Minister of the Republic of Armenia and founder of the Heritage Party, who has been on a hunger strike for the past eight days. In speaking with him, it becomes clear that the leader of one segment of the opposition is determined to continue this political protest as an expression of his disagreement with current policies. Nevertheless, with every passing day, the hunger strike is affecting his health – the effects of which are visibly apparent. “Undoubtedly, Raffi Hovannisian is expressing the frustration and lack of hope in the future that exists in a significant portion of the population of Armenia.

“Taking into consideration that in 2007, during his tenure as Prime Minister of Armenia, the current president visited and encouraged famous Armenian boxer Israel Hakobkokhyan to end his hunger strike founded on political concerns, I believe that the president should take the same initiative and reach out to Raffi Hovannisian. This step would contribute to the improvement of the internal political realities, as well as provide a way out of the current situation.”


Related news:

Armenia: Little Hope of More Democracy

Analysis: Opposition warns of “social rebellion” and prepares for next rally
Sense of being surrounded by threats impedes creation of fairer society.

Although there is still more than a year to go until the next parliamentary election, opposition parties in Armenia are already calling their followers onto the streets. There is plenty of popular dissatisfaction with the status quo, driven by rising prices and widespread poverty. But experts say the scope for channelling that into real change is limited by Armenia’s difficult relationships abroad, which its current leaders can always cite as justification for tough controls at home.

Armenia is still officially at war with Azerbaijan, and its troops garrison the self-proclaimed republic of Nagorny Karabakh, so ruling politicians can play the national security card if their authority is threatened. This has allowed them to fend off demands for democratic reforms. The government’s authoritarian tendencies, and its insistence on supporting Karabakh, has won support from big businesses keen to keep their monopolies safe from the Azerbaijani and Turkish competitors who might flood in if a peace deal was signed.

Opposition parties seeking to harness popular resentment of the government believe there is a limit to what people will put up with in the name of national security. “One fine day, a people who have nothing to lose and who have been driven to extreme suffering, might cease to care about the views of opinion of parliament, and even about Karabakh,” Armenian National Congress, ANC, leader Levon Ter-Petrosyan told a rally of supporters last month.

Experts say, however, that most people are not prepared to abandon their fellow-Armenians in Karabakh, and fear a possible repeat of the conflict with Azerbaijan. This plays into the government’s hands. “It’s clear the Armenian public has a keen sense of the danger of new war with Azerbaijan. That means that both the public and the opposition are more restrained than they might be], and that citizens have to opt for political stability over democratisation in many areas,” Garik Keryan, head of politics in Yerevan State University’s international relations faculty, said.

Commentators say the government tolerates political freedoms as long as they do not interfere with its grip on power, while the opposition movement remains divided among competing personalities. People who attend opposition protests are often there because they are against the government rather than actively drawn to the opposition. Ter-Petrosyan’s ANC fails to make much ground because he alienated many people in his time as Armenian president in the 1990s.

“Look what this government has driven me to. I have a law degree and I’m driving a taxi. They’re forcing people to team up with Levon,” Artur, a 29-year-old Yerevan resident said. “I remember the days of Levon’s government – it was terrible then. But what else can you do? These politicians are just humiliating us.”

Ter-Petrosyan has ruled out a swift attempt to win power, comparing his political strategy to a game of chess. That has led many analysts to argue that he is not interested in changing the political set-up radically, just in putting himself and his followers at the head of it. Political battles in Armenia are often more about competing individuals than different ideologies.

“The ANC probably a few tens of thousands of supporters, and the Heritage party has fewer, since it isn’t as well-organised,” public relations expert Samvel Martirosyan said. “Heritage more closely resembles a collection of individuals.”

The divisions among opposition groups were graphically evident on March 17, when Ter-Petrosyan was taking part in a protest meeting in central Yerevan and went past Heritage leader Raffi Hovhannisyan without acknowledging the fact that the latter had been staging a hunger strike for the past two days. Arman Vardanyan, chairman of the Union of Young Politicians of Armenia, said recent remarks made by Ter-Petrosyan, 66, might indicate he was considering stepping down as ANC leader. But finding a replacement of similar standing would be difficult.

“Ter-Petrosyan was making it plain he didn’t intend to stand in the next [2013] presidential election. But in my opinion, no newcomer is going to be able to present a serious challenge to the current president, Serzh Sargsyan,” Vardanyan said.

He predicted that the ANC would win around 25 per cent of the seats in parliament in the May 2012 election, while the Heritage Party and Dashnakutsyun, a party now in opposition but formerly part of the ruling coalition, would probably struggle to surpass the five per cent threshold needed to gain any seats at all. The result, Vardanyan said, would be that the ruling coalition would maintain its grip on power, and there would be little progress towards a more democratic system.

Keryan ascribes Armenia’s failure to build a more open political system in the two decades since independence to economic problems, the Karabakh war and its legacy of isolation in the region, and the continuing influence of Russia. “For 20 years, Armenia has seen its security as depending on its strategic partnership with Russia,” he said. “This could change only if there were major geopolitical changes in the region, and those changes haven’t happened.”

Last year, the two countries agreed to extend the stay of Russian troops in Armenia. An official strategy paper on national security reaffirms that a continued Russian presence in the South Caucasus is crucial for Armenia. While the document also talks about greater cooperation with NATO members, most analysts say the authorities would never stray too far from Moscow.

Meanwhile, a rapprochement with Turkey which has emerged over recent years appears to have ground to a halt. With no change to the external environment, observers say there is little impetus to move away from the current system dominated by a small political elite and by oligarchs with vested economic interests. “There is a privileged caste which is not only able to bypass the law but which uses the state to pursue its own ends,” Arman Rustamyan, a member of parliament from the opposition Dashnakutsyun party, said.

Hovsep Khurshudyan, an expert from the Armenian Centre for National and International Studies, said that despite the government’s declared intention of pursuing reforms, “the economy remains in the hands of a few families which also have political influence”. “The government is unable to force the big oligarchs to pay taxes, so it’s forced to place the whole tax burden on small and medium-sized businesses and on ordinary citizens, who will soon refuse to put up with this, or will emigrate,” Khurshudyan added.
Vazgen Manoukyan, who heads of the Public Council, a government advisory body set up by President Sargsyan in 2009, told IWPR that while Armenia had a democratic constitution, there were problems in practice with elections, freedom of speech and the judicial system. “The parliamentary and presidential elections of 1990 and 1991 were democratic, but 1995 and 1996 saw a huge step backwards, and the tradition of electoral fraud has continued since then, albeit with some modification,” he said.

Manoukyan said free speech was marred by the removal of the A1+ TV channel from the airwaves some years ago, the judicial system was far from perfect, and economic domination by the oligarchs had curbed both market competition and the growth of democratic institutions.

Source: http://iwpr.net/report-news/armenia-little-hope-more-democracy

Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media

http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2011/3/17/1300366341951/General-David-Petraeus-008.jpg

The US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites by using fake online personas to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda. A Californian corporation has been awarded a contract with United States Central Command (Centcom), which oversees US armed operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, to develop what is described as an "online persona management service" that will allow one US serviceman or woman to control up to 10 separate identities based all over the world.

The project has been likened by web experts to China's attempts to control and restrict free speech on the internet. Critics are likely to complain that it will allow the US military to create a false consensus in online conversations, crowd out unwelcome opinions and smother commentaries or reports that do not correspond with its own objectives. The discovery that the US military is developing false online personalities – known to users of social media as "sock puppets" – could also encourage other governments, private companies and non-government organisations to do the same.

The Centcom contract stipulates that each fake online persona must have a convincing background, history and supporting details, and that up to 50 US-based controllers should be able to operate false identities from their workstations "without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries". Centcom spokesman Commander Bill Speaks said: "The technology supports classified blogging activities on foreign-language websites to enable Centcom to counter violent extremist and enemy propaganda outside the US."

He said none of the interventions would be in English, as it would be unlawful to "address US audiences" with such technology, and any English-language use of social media by Centcom was always clearly attributed. The languages in which the interventions are conducted include Arabic, Farsi, Urdu and Pashto. Centcom said it was not targeting any US-based web sites, in English or any other language, and specifically said it was not targeting Facebook or Twitter.

Once developed, the software could allow US service personnel, working around the clock in one location, to respond to emerging online conversations with any number of co-ordinated messages, blogposts, chatroom posts and other interventions. Details of the contract suggest this location would be MacDill air force base near Tampa, Florida, home of US Special Operations Command. Centcom's contract requires for each controller the provision of one "virtual private server" located in the United States and others appearing to be outside the US to give the impression the fake personas are real people located in different parts of the world.

It also calls for "traffic mixing", blending the persona controllers' internet usage with the usage of people outside Centcom in a manner that must offer "excellent cover and powerful deniability". The multiple persona contract is thought to have been awarded as part of a programme called Operation Earnest Voice (OEV), which was first developed in Iraq as a psychological warfare weapon against the online presence of al-Qaida supporters and others ranged against coalition forces. Since then, OEV is reported to have expanded into a $200m programme and is thought to have been used against jihadists across Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Middle East.

OEV is seen by senior US commanders as a vital counter-terrorism and counter-radicalisation programme. In evidence to the US Senate's armed services committee last year, General David Petraeus, then commander of Centcom, described the operation as an effort to "counter extremist ideology and propaganda and to ensure that credible voices in the region are heard". He said the US military's objective was to be "first with the truth". This month Petraeus's successor, General James Mattis, told the same committee that OEV "supports all activities associated with degrading the enemy narrative, including web engagement and web-based product distribution capabilities".

Centcom confirmed that the $2.76m contract was awarded to Ntrepid, a newly formed corporation registered in Los Angeles. It would not disclose whether the multiple persona project is already in operation or discuss any related contracts. Nobody was available for comment at Ntrepid. In his evidence to the Senate committee, Gen Mattis said: "OEV seeks to disrupt recruitment and training of suicide bombers; deny safe havens for our adversaries; and counter extremist ideology and propaganda." He added that Centcom was working with "our coalition partners" to develop new techniques and tactics the US could use "to counter the adversary in the cyber domain".

According to a report by the inspector general of the US defence department in Iraq, OEV was managed by the multinational forces rather than Centcom. Asked whether any UK military personnel had been involved in OEV, Britain's Ministry of Defence said it could find "no evidence". The MoD refused to say whether it had been involved in the development of persona management programmes, saying: "We don't comment on cyber capability."

OEV was discussed last year at a gathering of electronic warfare specialists in Washington DC, where a senior Centcom officer told delegates that its purpose was to "communicate critical messages and to counter the propaganda of our adversaries". Persona management by the US military would face legal challenges if it were turned against citizens of the US, where a number of people engaged in sock puppetry have faced prosecution. Last year a New York lawyer who impersonated a scholar was sentenced to jail after being convicted of "criminal impersonation" and identity theft.

It is unclear whether a persona management programme would contravene UK law. Legal experts say it could fall foul of the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981, which states that "a person is guilty of forgery if he makes a false instrument, with the intention that he or another shall use it to induce somebody to accept it as genuine, and by reason of so accepting it to do or not to do some act to his own or any other person's prejudice". However, this would apply only if a website or social network could be shown to have suffered "prejudice" as a result.

• This article was amended on 18 March 2011 to remove references to Facebook and Twitter and add a comment from Centcom, received after publication, that it is not targeting those sites.

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/mar/17/us-spy-operation-social-networks

US launches cyber spy operation




In order to undertake the massive operation in cyberspace, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) has purchased software designed to create and control false online personas from California-based company Ntrepid, The Huffington Post reported on Thursday. The software would allow each user to be in command of 10 personas. Each persona is "replete with background, history, supporting details, and cyber presences that are technically, culturally and geographically consistent.”The users controlling the false personas would be hidden in a variety of ways, including randomizing the IP addresses they accessed the software with, traffic mixing or blending web traffic with that outside of CENTCOM. The US cyber espionage operation will enable false online personas, also known as sock puppets, to seem like real people when they monitor online discussion blogs, message boards and more. The online persona project is thought to be completely under the sway of Operation Earnest Voice, which watches over CENTCOM's Information Operations.

According to CENTCOM commander James N. Mattis, the project "seeks to disrupt recruitment and training of bombers; deny safe havens for our adversaries; and counter extremist ideology and propaganda." Meanwhile, the spyware would not be used in America, or by American owned companies or major social network services such as Facebook and Twitter, the CENTCOM said. "We do not target US audiences, and we do not conduct these activities on sites owned by US companies," CENTCOM spokesman Commander Bill Speaks said.

Source: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/170623.html

Vafa Guluzade: Armenian would reach Kura River in 1994 [if it were not for the West’s support of Baku]


Former advisor to Azerbaijani president Heydar Aliyev Vafa Guluzade said that the Armenian troops would have occupied major part of Azerbaijan in 1994, if it were not for the West’s support of Baku. Guluzade said in an article published by Yeni Musavat paper and placed on Caucasus-Online website that the oil factor was the decisive one in the 1994 agreement on ceasefire in Karabakh. Otherwise, the Armenian troops would have reached Kura River and Kurdamir in the central part of Azerbaijan, what would have jeopardized Azerbaijan’s existence as a state. “Only the interest of the U.S. towards Azerbaijan prevented implementation of these plans,” said Guluzade. He believes that energy resources and transit opportunities of Azerbaijan have secured the West’s interest towards the country, what has protected the country’s independence. “Azerbaijan’s independence would have been formal, if it were not for the American interests. Right the oil factor has secured Azerbaijan’s importance for the western states. Oil, gas and transit potential of Azerbaijan increase its role for the West and allow withstanding Russia,” Guluzade said, adding that greater integration with the West would only strengthen Baku’s international positions.

Source: http://www.panarmenian.net/eng/world/news/64772/Vafa_Guluzade_Armenian_troops_would_reach_Kura_River_in_1994

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