By Ruzanna Khachatrian
Armenia’s parliament ratified on Tuesday an intergovernmental agreement with Kuwait paving the way for the dispatch of Armenian military personnel to Iraq which is expected later this year.
The agreement, signed in February, regulates the status of Armenian servicemen in the oil-rich Gulf state which has served as the main transit point and logistical base for the U.S.-led occupation force in Iraq. It commits the Armenian government to paying a “just and reasonable compensation” in the event of any damage inflicted by its troops on the Kuwaiti people and infrastructure.
Officials confirmed that the agreement is part of the ongoing preparations for deploying a small non-combat unit of the Armenian army in Iraq. “The agreement needs to be considered in the context of the Armenian armed forces’ participation in the process of Iraq’s post-war reconstruction,” Samvel Nikoyan, deputy chairman of the National Assembly’s foreign relations committee, told fellow lawmakers on Monday.
Nikoyan said it is “extremely important” for Yerevan to clarify its international rights and obligations before sending the contingent to the region.
The Armenian military plans to send 30 trucks and up to 50 doctors, demining experts and drivers. The chief of the army staff, Colonel-General Mikael Harutiunian, said last week that the deployment will go ahead “in the course of this year” despite the continuing deterioration of the situation in Iraq.
The deployment will require a separate approval by the parliament as was the case with the dispatch of a platoon of Armenian peacekeepers to Kosovo last January.