By Emil Danielyan
The Armenian Communist Party (HKK) denounced on Friday government plans to send military personnel to Iraq, warning that Armenia’s involvement in the U.S.-led “imperialist” occupation may antagonize the Islamic world.
“The dispatch of a group of Armenian servicemen and medical staff to Iraq can not stem from the interests of Iraq and the neighboring Arab nations,” the HKK said in a statement. “Armenia must in no way and under no circumstance participate in the conspiracy games of superpowers.”
The Armenian government has agreed to commit a small unit of demining troops and several military doctors for the U.S.-led occupation force that toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein and is now struggling to stabilize Iraq. The Foreign Ministry told RFE/RL on August 20 that the army personnel will be flown to Iraq after Armenian and U.S. officials work out final logistical details of the operation. A spokeswoman said they will contribute to the country’s post-war reconstruction.
But the Communists warned that Yerevan risks becoming “the West’s stooge” and drawing the anger of Muslims around the world. Their statement branded Iraq’s occupation as an example of “American imperialism” and praised the continuing armed resistance to U.S. troops as a “national liberation struggle.”
The HKK is the first Armenian political group to openly voice its opposition to President Robert Kocharian’s intention to join the U.S.-led multinational force in Iraq. The staunchly pro-Russian party’s opinion is unlikely to carry much weight with the Armenian leadership now that it is not represented in the country’s parliament for the first time in its history. The HKK got less than 3 percent of the vote in the May parliamentary elections.