News / Middle East

    Iran, Armenia Find Solidarity in Isolation

    Iran and Armenia Find Solidarity in Isolationi
    X
    March 12, 2013 8:32 PM
    While the West seeks to isolate Iran over its disputed nuclear program, landlocked Armenia seeks to build relations with its neighbor without violating international sanctions. James Brooke reports from Yerevan.
    Iran and Armenia Find Solidarity in Isolation
    James Brooke
    While the West seeks to isolate Iran over its disputed nuclear program, landlocked Armenia seeks to build relations with its neighbor - without violating international sanctions.  

    In all of Christian Armenia, there is only one mosque: "The Iranian Mosque," restored 15 years ago by Iran.

    The mosque offers classes in Persian and is an essential landmark for visiting Iranian VIPS, like Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He came to Yerevan 15 months ago to meet with Armenia's President Serj Sarkisyan.
     
    The West seeks to isolate Iran, believing its nuclear program is being used to build a nuclear bomb. Iran denies the charge.  But Armenia is positioned between two historic enemies - Turkey to the west and Azerbaijan to the east. Armenia has no trade or diplomatic ties with the two nations. Instead, it trades north with its Christian neighbor, Georgia. Now it is trying to expand trade and investment to the south, with Iran.

    "Armenia is the only neighbor of Iran where the regime or the government in Iran feels quite comfortable, and is actually keen to increase relations,” says Richard Giragosian, director of the Regional Studies Center, a Yerevan think tank. “From the Armenian perspective, there is a shared sense of isolation, where both Iran and Armenia feel surrounded by either hostile or rival states and feel under blockade or sanctions."
     
    • Built in the 1760s by a Persian ruler of Armenia, Yerevan's "Blue Mosque" was renovated in the 1990s with financing from Iran, Feb. 25, 2013. (V. Undritz/VOA)
    • The Prayer Hall under the blue dome, Yerevan, Armenia, Feb. 25, 2013. (V. Undritz/VOA)
    • At the madrasa, or Koranic school, at the Blue Mosque, Persian is also taught, Yerevan, Armenia, Feb. 25, 2013. (V. Undritz/VOA)
    • At the Blue Mosque's museum, vessels and dishes speak of the centuries of Persian influence in Armenia, an overwhelmingly Christian nation, Yerevan, Armenia, Feb. 25, 2013. (V. Undritz/VOA)
    • Iranian trucks drive north through Armenia's winding, mountainous roads, Feb. 21, 2013. (V. Undritz/VOA)
    • A memorial sign for an Iranian trucker who missed a curve on Armenia's main road link to Iran, Feb. 21, 2013. (V. Undritz/VOA)
    • Iranian truckers stop to check snow chains on tires before crossing Armenia's 1,800 meter high Tukh Manuk Pass, Feb. 21, 2013. (V. Undritz/VOA)

    Looking for alternatives

    Iran and Armenia are linked by a narrow border - a 35-kilometer long stretch of the Aras River.
     
    A two lane mountain road links Armenia with Iran, a nation with an economy and a territory about 50 times the size of Armenia's.
     
    With the highway slow and often dangerous, Armenians look for alternatives.
     
    Iran expert Gohar Iskandaryan says a top priority is to extend Armenia's Soviet-era railroad south.
     
    "Once Armenia can find investments, we can connect our railway to the Iranian rail network and have access to the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf," says Iskandaryan, an Iran expert at the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia.

    One bright spot
     
    Six years ago, Armenians started to heat their homes with gas coming through a new pipeline from Iran.  Now Armenia wants to build an oil pipeline from Iran and two hydroelectric power plants on their shared river border.
     
    But Iskandaryan says sanctions over Iran's nuclear program could block funding for these projects.
     
    "This is not only Armenia's choice,” she says. “It's an issue for the big powers - the United States and Russia."
     
    While sanctions have hurt Iran's economy and cut trade with Armenia, Giragosian sees one bright spot.
     
    "The Iranian government has actually banned the import of luxury items which includes laptops, makeup and cosmetic products, to even chocolate,” said the think tank director. “Therefore, it will only encourage the rise or emergence of somewhat of a black market where Iranians coming to Armenia for tourism purposes begin to start to acquire these now-prohibited consumer items." Some Iranian tourists to Armenia are looking for more than lipstick.

    Arayik Vardanyan, executive director of Armenia’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, says they are buying apartments. “Many Iranians are coming,” says Vardanyan. “And that could mean that they are searching in advance for places they can leave to if war breaks out.”

    The ebb and flow between Iranians and Armenians goes back almost 3,000 years to the construction of Erebuni, a hilltop fortress that gave its name to Yerevan.  If modern-day leaders have their way, these two ancient neighbors will continue trading and visiting, paying little heed to the outside world.

    You May Like

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Ray from: Los Angeles
    March 13, 2013 7:03 PM
    A healthy thriving Iran is required for Armenia's survival. Anyone who objects should open a book and read the geographical history of Armenia, or shut up. Also, both Iran and Armenia have a very long history together (some good, some bad).

    Some countries claim Iran breeds terrorists...They breed assassins (Just like the CIA, MOSAD, MI6, etc). So what is the difference between an American drone dropping a bomb killing scores of "innocent" people, vs a terrorist attaching a bomb to themselves and detonating it in a crowded marketplace?

    The answer is NOT A SINGLE THING. They are both designed to achieve a hidden agenda which many claim to understand, yet they do not have a clue.

    The Zionist controlled media has everyone brainwashed. All they do is portray Middle Easterners as terrorists, barbarians. They show Arabs shooting AK's into the air dancing. lol..I bet if you grab a camera and go down to the Red Neck infested areas of the USA, you will see people shooting in the air and dancing too. The Zionists were showing Arabs celebrating, singing, dancing immediately after the 9/11 event, but those videos were fabricated to make YOU the viewer become hateful towards these people. Once you build up enough HATE, you then start supporting the hidden agenda without even noticing. The key ingredients to winning a war is to have the people stand beside their governments decision. In order for the war to become popular, the Zionist media masters fabricated video after video, showing guys with turbans and AK's shooting at "American" peacekeepers, until the American general public said "We Want War."

    The Iranians are civilized people who are demanding a piece from the same pie that all other developed countries eat from. But since these Greedy Zionists want the world to themselves, here we are sitting in the middle of this hidden agenda with our thumbs up our ***, asking ourselves "what is going on in this world."

    Long story short...Iran is a good country. A bit old fashioned and TOO much religion, but a good country.

    REMOVE RELIGION FROM THE WORLD, AND YOUR PROBLEMS ARE SOLVED.

    by: George from: USA
    March 12, 2013 10:45 PM
    The big powers are trying to destroy Iran's economy. Turkey and Azerbaijan are trying to do the same to Armenia. So, here is an excellent opportunity for both Iran and Armenia to improve their economic conditions by trading with each other.

    Let the big power fume or huff and buff. Who cares? They should not even publicly announce all trade between them. When the world is unfair, you don't have to show all your cards.

    by: Kerim
    March 12, 2013 7:28 PM
    Is it not funny that the Armenian lobby in the US still presents Armenia as a US ally? The fact nonetheless remains the same: Armenia has allied itself with US rivals/enemies of Russia and Iran, while Azerbaijan has taken the side of West and Israel. I wonder how long it will take before the Armenian lobby stops being effective in obfuscating the facts, making black look white and white black. Still, I am sure the professionals in the US foreign affairs circle can tell their friends from the friends of US enemeies.
    In Response

    by: Kerim
    March 18, 2013 1:43 AM
    So, Mary, let me get this straight. You can represent your Armenian perspective out of love of country and truth, and everybody else who does it for their side is a paid professional. Sounds pretty arrogant and silly to me.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    March 13, 2013 10:42 PM
    @Mary This is them at their best
    In Response

    by: Mians
    March 13, 2013 9:33 PM
    If Azerbaijan is US and Israel's ally then why it hasn't cut its ties with Iran, are you going to deny the fact that Iran still serves as the shortest route from Azerbaijan to Nakhijevan? Everyday hundreds of trucks pass the Azerbaijani-Iranian border towards Nakhijevan. Stop trading via Iran and show your loyalty to the West and Israel.!!
    In Response

    by: Mary from: USA
    March 13, 2013 2:14 PM
    Kerim,
    You comment on anything and everything having to do with Armenia(ns). You are so predictable in your statements. Is this your Azeri assigned professional job?

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora