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

US Gives Malaysia Questionable Upgrade in Human Trafficking Ranks

Malaysia’s upgrade seen as removing barrier to country’s participation in the US-led 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership More

Turkey, US Try to Establish Buffer Despite Differences

Coalition airstrikes in proposed zone would aim to drive out Islamic extremists, allowing targeted area to come under sway of anti-Assad rebels More

Video US: Millions Exploited by Vast Fortunes of Human Trafficking

State Department's annual report calls exploitation 'modern slavery,' brutalizing girls, women into prostitution and forcing men, women and children into low-wage jobs across the globe 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.
US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Wini
X
July 28, 2015 12:21 AM
The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs