Think the Afghanistan War Is Over? Armenia Doesn't
With Osama bin Laden dead, Washington may be busy debating an Afghanistan pullout, but some Armenian top-brass appear ready to stick around for awhile.
On May 10, Armenia moved to triple its Afghan contingent to 130 personnel -- a figure that will make the tiny South Caucasus country the second-largest South Caucasus troop contributor to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's Afghan campaign. It follows after NATO groupie Georgia, which tips the scales at 924 personnel.
By comparison, Azerbaijan, the largest and the richest of the Caucasus lot, will now have the smallest number of forces (94) on the ground in Afghanistan.
Competition between the three countries traditionally runs deep; no less so, it would appear, in Afghanistan.
“Armenia should not be in the last place in this regard in the South Caucasus,” argued Defense Minister Seiran Oganian in his May 10 address to Armenia's National Assembly. Some Armenian lawmakers agreed, saying that beefing up Armenia's troop presence in Afghanistan will improve the country's international image.
Armenian troops currently help provide security for an airport in the northern city of Kunduz. Oganian said that Armenia may increase its military presence in Afghanistan to 260 personnel at the next troop rotation.