Apparent decline in human losses, military operations registered in Middle East: Experts on Arabic studies sum up 2018
YEREVAN, DECEMBER 24, ARMENPRESS. 2018 was quite an important year for the Middle East. Compared to the last seven years an obvious decline in human losses, military operations has been registered, Armen Petrosyan- expert on Arabic studies, told a press conference in Armenpress.
“The year was distinguished with several major events. The first one was the statement of US President Donald Trump according to which Jerusalem has been officially recognized as the capital of Israel. This topic also affected the Palestinian conflict by keeping the tension”, he said.
The main processes in connection with the Syrian conflict started in January when the Olive Branch operation began which ensured the entry of the Turkish troops to Afrin. After that in April Trump announced withdrawing troops from Syria. A similar statement was also made recently. Armen Petrosyan says this time after the statement people will witness concrete actions, but with that scale is unknown yet. In any case, certain steps are already being taken at the moment.
“By the withdrawal of the US troops, that part of the region remains open, but who will full it, is difficult to say. We see tendencies by Turkey”, the expert noted.
As for Armenia’s policy regarding the Middle East, expert on Arabic studies Arpine Hovsepyan noted that Syria has been on the focus. In September it was announced that Armenia is going to send a group of specialists consisting of doctors, demining specialists, to Syria.
“It has been clarified that the group of Armenian specialists will not carry out a combat task, but will only deal with humanitarian issues. The issue of the deployment of the Armenian specialists in Syria has been discussed with almost all partners”, she said. Hovsepyan said at the moment Syria shifts from the active stage of military operations to the reconstruction works. And in this sense new opportunities open for development of economic relations with Syria.
The next key directions of Armenia’s Middle Eastern policy are Egypt and Lebanon. The dialogue with the latter continued in 2018 at the highest level. The leaders of the two countries met three times in past months.
“The Armenian-Lebanese relations are actively developing in military and military-technical fields. In particular, during Armenian acting defense minister Davit Tonoyan’s visit to Lebanon a military cooperation agreement was signed between the two countries which will boost the bilateral relations”, she said.
As for Egypt, Arpine Hovsepyan said at this stage the strengthening of political relations with the country’s leadership remains a priority. This year the foreign ministers of the two countries met and agreed to expand the mutual partnership especially within the frames of international organizations. At the same time the issues relating to the Armenian community of Egypt are under spotlight.
Edited and translated by Aneta Harutyunyan