Since its origin Armenia had been closely related with the country of Mesopotamia, and recent movement in the development of relations between Iraq and Armenia will be an important aspect of our foreign policy. Iraq is trying to return to some sovereign countries and play a more important role in the Near East like in the previous decades.
The Arab world had four leaders for a long time: Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Currently deadly threat is posed to the existence of the first three as sovereign states, to say nothing about the role of leaders with claims to the role of regional great powers.
From the point of view of geopolitics and more or less influential great powers, the Arab world is not organized and needs a revision of internal and foreign relations. The Arab politicians and experts have understood this. For the first time in modern history they are trying to overcome local ambitions and work out agreed solutions being posed to such serious threat.
The war with Israel, the civil war in Lebanon, the war between Iran and Iraq, Iraq’s aggression against Kuwait do not compare to the threat of “revolutionary” events in Arab states. In this situation everyone came to understand and feel that this drastic weakening of the Arab world began with the liquidation of Iraq as a sovereign state and Arabs cannot regain their former strength (though it was nothing special) without regaining Iraq’s sovereignty.
Due to some historical, social and political reasons the Iraqi elite was ambitious, and together with Cairo Baghdad was viewed as the political center of the Arab world. No doubt after the end of the first stage of war in Iraq the American experts did not have a clear understanding of the future of this country and most importantly whether they would be able to restore its territorial integrity. In 2005-2008 the Americans stated bluntly that Iraq may save its integrity with assistance from outside but one could feel lack of confidence and weak arguments.
It is clear that the United States is reluctant to demonstrate to the Arabs that their intervention led to split of this country. After 2008 scenarios of future Iraq were worked out in detail, considering a decentralized federation or establishment of three states joined in a union or certain obligations. At the same time, Barack Obama’s policy of shift of responsibility on partners and rivals primarily in the near East envisaged less interference in the Iraqi situation and all the three leading communities of the country set to consider the political perspective of separation.
At the same time, while the Kurdish state has basically separated from the country, the Shiite and Sunnite communities have suddenly expressed interest in political coexistence. Such factors as continuous existence in one and centralized state, economic factors and issues of national and community security may have played a role.
One can assume that the Arab experts (including those based in Europe and the United States) that the leading Sunnite Arab states have swayed the Sunnite leaders of Iraq to overcome the split. Besides, the present Iraqi government with a Shiite majority have demonstrated their ability of successful development of relations with Arab states, the West, Iran and Russia.
At the same time, Iraq is exposed to new threats coming from the Kurdish “belt”, as well as Turkish expansion. Iraq is Turkey’s main geoeconomic and geopolitical goal primarily due to the huge economic potential, as well as the necessity of presence in this country to prevent further strengthening of the Kurdish state and the influence of Iran.
Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan are demonstrating rapprochement and mutual understanding angering Baghdad which has felt the danger of Turkish regional expansion after a lasting period of illusions relating partnership with Turkey.
The United States and its partners France and the United Kingdom support Iraq’s opposition to Turkish expansion and create a source of oil in the north of the country of global character, independent from Baghdad, the Shiite community, and from the Arab politics, at the same time. The independence of this source of oil is related with the bypassing Turkish oil pipes in the Strait of Hormuz and the Suez Canal with an outlet of energy infrastructures to the Syrian-Lebanese coast of the Mediterranean Sea.
Iran does not hide its intentions to support Shiites in opposing the influence of the United States and the West, Arab states, as well as Turkey. Hence, a long-term game is played, planned for decades which is the period when Northern Iraq will run out of its oil resource.
In this situation Baghdad needs to enlarge its international relations including the countries of the second circle located farther from Iraq but within the boundaries of the Greater Near East. In this regard Armenia is viewed by Iraq as a country on good terms with Russia and the United States, Iraq’s western neighbors Syria and Lebanon, strategic relations with Shiite Iraq, as well as Kurds.
For Armenia Iraq is a country with a major economic potential whose oil resources have offset the importance of Caspian oil having mutual claims with Turkey and strategic relations with Iran. Iraq is located 10-12 hours of ride from Armenia, two hours of flight, and Iran will always promote transportation between Iraq and Armenia. The mutual interest between these states may grow due to the development of the “Kurdish project” and emergence of a new format of the Kurdish state. One way or another, Iraqi Kurdistan is located in the political, legal and economic field of Iraq and relations with Northern Iraq depend on the relations with Baghdad. Iraqi Kurdistan still feels a threat from Turkey and besides the United States, Iraq remains the real defender and provider of security of Iraq.