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

Multimedia US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police More

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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid