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Socialist Presidential Candidate Arce Wins Bolivia’s Elections

Luis Arce and David Choquehuanca celebrate the results of the elections, La Paz, Bolivia, Oct. 19, 2020.

Luis Arce and David Choquehuanca celebrate the results of the elections, La Paz, Bolivia, Oct. 19, 2020. | Photo: EFE
teleSUR – October 19, 2020

After midnight on Sunday, Bolivian authorities allowed the results of the exit polls to be known. The Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) presidential candidate Luis Arce obtained 52.4 percent of the votes, the Citizen Community (CC) candidate Carlos Mesa got 31.5 percent, and the “We Believe Alliance” candidate Luis Fernando Camacho reached 14.1 percent of the votes.

Bolivia’s president-elect Arce thanked the people for their support and for their peaceful participation in the electoral process.

“We have recovered democracy and hope. We ratify our commitment to work with social organizations. We are going to build a national unity government.”

Previously, the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) spokesperson Sebastian Mitchell made an official statement regarding the absence of definitive data on the elections. He said that mainstream media and exit-polls companies know that Socialist candidate Arce had already exceeded 45 percent of the votes.

“Election observers do not understand if the absence of information results from inefficiency or if the government is implementing a strategy to win two or three days, generate violence, and justify a military intervention,” Mitchell said.

The Bolivian Socialists’ message was categorical and clear: “we call on the community to avoid provocations… let’s end this nightmare we have been living for a year.”

A few minutes before the official information was issued, former President Evo Morales, who remains a political asylee in Argentina, recalled that millions of Bolivians cast their vote peacefully and demanded that the coup-born regime led by Jeanine Añez respect the results.

“Yesterday we denounced that the authorities suspended the presentation of the results of the exit poll companies. That was suspicious,” the Socialist leader said

“Everything indicates that the MAS has won the elections and won a majority of seats in both chambers,” Evo added.


Luis Arce: ‘We Recovered Democracy and Took Back Our Country’

The winner of Bolivia’s elections Luis Arce Monday celebrated the unofficial results of the quick vote-counting as he said, “we will govern for all, we will redirect the change without hate.”

On Sunday night, Bolivian authorities allowed the results of the exit polls to be presented to the public. There it was observed that the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) won the elections with 53 percent of the votes in its favor. In the second place was the right-wing candidate Carlos Mesa, who got the 30.8 percent of the votes.

Minutes after learning of these results, Arce assured the people that “we will restore unity in our country, and we will recover the economy, step by step.”

In the Socialist headquarters in La Paz, the slogans “We are MAS” were heard repeatedly. In several areas of El Alto, La Paz, and Cochabamba, firecrackers were heard as a sign of celebration.

“I want to thank the Bolivian people for their vote. We will work to recover their hopes and expectations,” said Arce, who was accompanied by Vice-President David Choquehuanca.

MAS Senate candidate Leonardo Loza expressed that “we will not be a government of persecution. But there will be no forgetting or forgiving for those who got killed in Senkata and Sacaba during the 2019 coup.”

“MAS had a resounding victory. We have become millions,” Bolivia’s former President Evo Morales stressed.

The coup-born regime’s leader Jeanine Añez acknowledged MAS’ victory and congratulated the Arce-Choquehuanca binomial for having achieved a majority of the votes.

“We still do not have the official count, but the data shows that MAS won. Congratulations to the winners. I ask them to govern with Bolivia and democracy in mind,” Añez tweeted.

So far, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) official vote count has only processed 15.66 percent of the total votes.

October 19, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Why Conflict in Caucasus Is Erdogan’s Revenge for Syria

By Finian Cunningham | Strategic Culture Foundation | October 17, 2020

Turkey’s outsize role in fueling the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan is becoming more apparent. That’s why a peace deal will be hard to cut and indeed the conflict may blow up further into a protracted regional war. A war that could drag Russia into battling in the Caucasus on its southern periphery against NATO proxies.

In a phone call this week with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly backed Moscow’s efforts at mediating a ceasefire in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Notwithstanding, Erdogan appeared to deliver an ultimatum to his Russian counterpart. He said that there must be a “permanent solution” to the decades-long territorial dispute.

Erdogan and his Azerbaijan ally have already made it clear that the only solution acceptable to them is for Armenian separatists to relinquish their claim to Nagorno-Karabakh. Turkey and Azerbaijan – bound by common Turkic culture – have long-called the Armenian-held enclave an illegal occupation of Azerbaijani territory since a border war ended in 1994.

When hostilities flared again last month on September 27 initial reports suggested the clashes were of a haphazard nature with both sides trading blame for starting the violence. However, it has since become clear that the actions taken on the Azeri side seem to have been a planned aggression with Turkey’s full support.

Following a previous deadly clash on July 12-13 involving about a dozen casualties among Armenian and Azerbaijani forces, there then proceeded massive military exercises in Azerbaijan involving 11,000 Turkish troops beginning on July 29. For nearly two weeks into August, the maneuvers deployed artillery, warplanes and air-defense units in what was evidently a major drive by Ankara and Baku to coordinate the armies from both countries to fulfill joint operations. Furthermore, reports indicated that Turkish forces, including F-16 fighter jets, remained in Azerbaijan following the unprecedented military drills.

Alongside the drills, there was also a dramatic increase in military arms sales from Turkey to Azerbaijan. According to Turkish export figures, there was a six-fold increase in weapons deals compared with the previous year, with most of the supply being delivered in the third quarter of 2020 between July and September. The armaments included drones and rocket launchers which have featured with such devastating impact since hostilities erupted on September 27.

A third factor suggesting planned aggression was the reported transport of mercenary fighters from Syria and Libya by Turkey to fight on the Azerbaijani side. Thousands of such militants belonging to jihadist brigades under the control of Turkey had arrived in the Azeri capital Baku before hostilities broke out on September 27. The logistics involved in organizing such a large-scale deployment can only mean long-term planning.

Armenian sources also claim that Azeri authorities had begun impounding civilian vehicles weeks before the shooting war opened. They also claim that when the fire-fights erupted on September 27, Turkish media were present on the ground to give live coverage of events.

It seems indisputable therefore that Turkey and Azerbaijan had made a strategic decision to implement a “final solution” to the protracted dispute with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute.

That’s what makes Russian efforts at mediating a cessation to hostilities all the more fraught. After marathon talks mediated by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov a ceasefire was introduced on October 10. However, within hours the truce unravelled with reports of resumed exchange of fire and shelling of cities on both sides. The main violations have been committed by the Azerbaijani side using advanced Turkish [as well as Israeli] weaponry. Armenian leaders have complained that the Azeri side does not seem interested in pursuing peace talks.

More perplexing is the widening of the conflict. Azerbaijan air strikes since the weekend ceasefire broke down have hit sites within Armenia, extending the conflict beyond the contested enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan has also claimed that Armenian missiles have hit cities within its territory. Armenia flatly denies carrying out such strikes, which begs the question: is a third party covertly staging provocations and fomenting escalation of conflict?

What is challenging for Russia is that it has a legal obligation to defend Armenia as part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (1992). With Armenia coming under fire, the pressure will be on Moscow to intervene militarily.

This would see Russia being embroiled in another proxy war with NATO-member Turkey. But this is not in Syria. It is the Caucasus region on Russia’s southern border. There are concerns among senior Russian military figures that such a scenario is exactly what Turkey’s Recep Erdogan is aiming for. Turkey was outplayed by Russia in the proxy war in Syria. Erdogan and NATO’s plans for regime change in Damascus were dealt a bloody nose by Russia. It seems though that conflict in the Caucasus may now be Erdogan’s revenge.

Moscow may need to seriously revise its relations with Ankara, and let Erdogan know he is treading on red lines.

October 18, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

Russia weighs military cooperation with Iran after arms embargo expiration: Foreign Ministry

Press TV – October 16, 2020

The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman says Moscow will consider military technical cooperation with Iran in line with mutual interests after the expiration of a United Nations arms embargo on Tehran.

“We are convinced that all possibilities stemming from the expiration of the provisions of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231 that are linked with military technical cooperation with Iran will be duly taken into account and used on the basis of mutual benefit and in the interests of the peoples of our two states,” Maria Zakharova said on Thursday.

She was referring to the resolution that endorsed a multilateral 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major world powers, including Russia.

All the parties to the talks about Iran’s nuclear program were aware from the very beginning that there is no link between restrictions on weapons supplies to Tehran and the settlement of issues pertaining to its nuclear program, added Zakharova.

She emphasized that the United Nations Security Council did not impose a weapons embargo on Iran in 2015, but the country “voluntarily undertook a number of restrictions.”

“It was done in the interests of the soonest successful outcome of the talks on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to settle the situation around the Iranian nuclear program,” the Russian diplomat said.

She noted that the term of the corresponding provisions has expired.

Zakharova stressed that Iran was a “reliable partner” for Russia in many areas of cooperation.

On August 14, the UN Security Council almost unanimously refused to support a US-sponsored draft resolution on extending the arms embargo against Iran, which is due to expire on October 18 under the JCPOA.

During the 15-member Security Council vote, the US received support only from the Dominican Republic for its anti-Iran resolution, leaving it far short of the minimum nine ‘yes’ votes required for adoption.

The following month, Washington suffered another embarrassing loss as it failed to trigger the so-called snapback provision in the JCPOA aimed at re-imposing all UN sanctions against Iran.

The UN Security Council member states challenged the US’s rationale that it was still a participant state to the nuclear accord, citing its unilateral withdrawal in May 2018.

Speaking during a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the country will be free to trade weapons as of Sunday after the United States failed in its attempts to secure an extension of the embargo.

Moscow had earlier said “new opportunities” will emerge in cooperation with Iran the UN embargo expires, and that any agreements with Tehran will have “nothing to do with the unlawful and illegal actions of the US administration, which is trying to intimidate the entire world.”

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said late last month that Moscow and Tehran roundly reject efforts by the US to permanently extend an arms embargo against the Islamic Republic.

Speaking at a joint press conference that followed a meeting with his visiting Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif in Moscow, Lavrov added, “We stressed that Moscow and Tehran, like the entire international community, categorically reject US ambitions to impose some kind of indefinite arms embargo.”


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October 16, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

Opposition parties seize power in Kyrgyzstan amid growing geopolitical rivalry in the region

By Jason Melanovski and Clara Weiss | wsws | October 7, 2020

Opposition forces claim to have seized power over much of Kyrgyzstan’s key government agencies and buildings in the capital of Bishkek on Tuesday after protests broke out in the Central Asian country following parliamentary elections on Sunday.

Over 600 were injured and one protester was killed in protests that have seem to have resulted in the removal of President Sooronbai Jeenbekov.

Jeenbekov, who was first elected in 2017, suggested in a phone interview with BBC that he was prepared to step down and “ready to give the responsibility to strong leaders,” but did not specify to which specific figures or forces he was referring to.

Jeenbekov has fled his government offices and accused opposition forces of “trying to illegally seize power” in a brief video statement released Tuesday. His whereabouts remain unknown. On Wednesday, the parliament initiated impeachment procedures against him.

Sixteen political parties took part in the country’s parliamentary elections held on Sunday. Official results suggested that the majority of votes went to the Birimdik party of President Jeenbekov’s younger brother, Asylbek Jeenbekov, and the Mekenim Kyrgyzstan party led by the powerful Matraimov family which has accrued its fortune through its control of Kyrgyzstan’s customs service. Both parties are considered allies of President Jeenbekov and favor close relations with Russia.

Jeenbekov and his allied political parties are also viewed by the opposition as favoring the country’s agrarian south over the more developed and urban north of the country. The parliamentary elections resulted in giving 100 of the 120 seats to representatives from the south who are aligned with Jeenbekov.

A coalition of 12 political parties refused to accept the results, accusing the government of vote-buying.

Despite accusations of electoral fraud, according to preliminary reports from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the “voting process was generally efficient, well-organized and peaceful.” Following the protests on Tuesday, the country’s Central Election Commission announced it had invalidated the election’s results and that new elections would be held.

Having quickly seized power, the opposition announced it had set up its own coordination council and was beginning to negotiate among themselves who would fill the country’s key government positions.

The opposition also released several jailed political figures including former President Almazbek Atambayev, who had been imprisoned on an 11-year sentence for corruption involving a deal with a Chinese company. Sadyr Japarov, who was also released by opposition forces from prison, was named the country’s acting prime minister in an emergency parliamentary session on Tuesday.

The US and EU as well as Russia and China have called for a peaceful resolution of the crisis. The US and Chinese governments have urged non-interference from foreign powers. James Dorsey, a senior fellow at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, noted that the warnings from China and the US were above all meant for each other.

Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet Republic of 6 million people, has been the site of increased geopolitical rivalry over the past two decades. It borders China and is close to Russia and Afghanistan, which was invaded by the United States in 2001.

Prior to the current seizure of power, Kyrgyzstan had seen two of its previous presidents overthrown since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. In 2005, the US staged a “color revolution” in the country, one of several in the former Soviet Union that were aimed at containing the influence of Russia.

The American press used to tout the country as the United States’ closest ally in Central Asia. For many years, Kyrgyzstan even hosted the United States’ only Central Asian airbase in Manas. The airbase served as the first and last stop for American soldiers entering and leaving Afghanistan. Approximately 5.6 million foreign soldiers passed through the base while it was in operation.

The base was closed in 2014 following the election of former President Atambayev in 2011. Atambayev favored realigning the country with Russia and increasing economic ties to its neighbor, China, which has become Kyrgyzstan’s biggest economic investor and trading partner.

According to Chinese government statistics, bilateral trade amounted to $6.35 billion in 2019. China holds $4 billion of the country’s national debt. Kyrgyzstan only has a GDP of a little over $8 billion. The country is also a central component of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Despite the significant economic ties to China, anti-Chinese sentiments in Kyrgyzstan are running high. In 2019, Bishkek became the site of large anti-Chinese protests demanding, among other things, a ban on Kyrgyz-Chinese marriages, and calling for restrictions on the economic influence of China.

The predominantly Muslim country also shares a border with China’s Xinjiang region, which is home to China’s large Muslim minority of the Uygur.

Many Uygurs are ethnic Kyrgyz and have been imprisoned in concentration camps, a situation that has been exploited by the bogus US-led imperialist campaign over human rights abuses against China. In turn, there is a significant Uygur minority in Kyrgyzstan, which is routinely subject to discrimination.

Following the closure of the US Manas airbase in 2014, Kyrgyzstan joined both the Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union and the post-Soviet military alliance of the Collective Security Treaty Organization. Russia also opened its own military airbase within the country, forgiving $500 million in Kyrgyz debt. The US viewed this as further undermining its geostrategic interests in the region as the war in neighboring Afghanistan has been raging on.

Jeenbekov continued for the most part the close relations with China while seeking to make the Kremlin “the main strategic partner” of the country. By contrast, several of the opposition parties that stormed the parliament have been critical of the country’s ties to Russia, claiming they infringed on Kyrgyzstan’s “independence.”

Reports also surfaced on Tuesday that opposition forces had burned down a Russian-operated factory at Kyrgyzstan’s second-largest gold deposit, Jeruy, causing the site’s owners to suspend operations.

Following the factory burning, Russia put its military base on high-alert and called on “all political forces at this critical moment for the republic to show wisdom and responsibility in order to preserve internal stability and security.”

In addition to the ongoing civil war in Eastern Ukraine, the crisis in Belarus, and the outbreak of actual war between a Russian-allied Armenia and a Turkish-backed Azerbaijan, the crisis in Kyrgyzstan represents yet another major challenge to the Kremlin’s geopolitical position in the former Soviet region. … Full article

October 8, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

UN Human Rights Council Passes Dual Venezuela Resolutions

One resolution extends UN cooperation and has Caracas’ consent, while the other extends a controversial Washington-backed mission.

By Paul Dobson | Venezuelanalysis | October 7, 2020

Mérida – The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) passed two resolutions concerning Venezuela on Tuesday.

The first was presented by Peru and endorsed by the right wing governments which make up the Lima Group. It granted a two year extension to a controversial fact finding mission which is investigating the human rights situation in the country. The resolution was passed by 22 votes in favour, three against (including Venezuela), and 22 abstentions.

Amongst those backing it was the center-left government of Argentina, which had previously called for non-intervention in Venezuela’s internal affairs. Influential figures and popular movements from Argentina have since condemned the vote, with the country’s ambassador to Moscow resigning on Wednesday in protest.

The UN’s fact finding mission was constituted one year ago by the UNHRC, with its members Marta Valinas (Portugal), Francisco Cox (Chile) and Paul Seils (UK) presenting their first report at the previous council session in September. The report accused the Caracas government of crimes against humanity through carrying out extrajudicial executions, forced disappearances, arbitrary detentions and torture.

The Maduro government rejected these accusations, and claimed the mission to be“politicised,” “lacking in scientific scrutiny” and that the report was “written from afar.” Days after the report was published, Venezuela presented a counter-report titled “The Truth about Venezuela,” while Attorney General Tarek William Saab also defended the country’s record in matters of human rights.

Hours after the first resolution was passed, a second one presented by Syria, Iran and Turkey was also approved with 14 votes in favour, seven against and 26 abstentions. The second resolution, which was backed by Venezuela, extends the functions of the Venezuela-based office of the UN high commissioner for human rights, as well as promising to “continue UN technical cooperation” with the government.

It also denounced the human rights consequences of Washington’s blockade against the Caribbean country and urged a “constructive dialogue and cooperation with the state” in order to “strengthen its capacity to fulfil its obligations in the matter of human rights,” specifically mentioning efforts to strengthen the judicial system in the country.

Following the two votes, Caracas strongly condemned the Lima Group resolution, vowing that it will “not recognise parallel and unnecessary mechanisms” which express a “cynical concern” for human rights. For his part, Venezuela’s permanent representative at the United Nations, Jorge Valero, added that the resolution “seeks the imposition of monitoring mechanisms which do not have the consent of my country nor my people.”

On the other hand, Caracas celebrated the passing of the Syria-Iran-Turkey resolution, with a Foreign Ministry statement explaining that the resolution “demonstrates the commitment of the Venezuelan state to maintaining dialogue and respectful and constructive cooperation with the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.” Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza also backed the resolution personally, claiming that Venezuela’s commitment to human rights is “absolute.”

Following an inaugural visit to the country in July 2019, the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights set up a permanent two-person office in Caracas.

Since, UN reps have been granted access to prisons and other sites, and have reportedly worked to strengthen the legal system and “the institutional mechanisms for human rights protection.”

Subsequently, a number of detained right wing activists have been released by the government, and authorities have hinted at a shakeup of the contentious FAES special police forces. The High Commissioner’s office has previously called for the FAES to be dissolved. The special forces have also been denounced by many Venezuelan popular movements and leftwing parties.

October 8, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

Guaidó creates a parallel consulate in Brazil

By Lucas Leiroz | October 8, 2020

A “parallel” Venezuelan Consulate in Brazil was condemned in a recent statement by Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza. In late September, supporters of the Venezuelan opposition leader, the self-proclaimed “interim president” Juan Guaidó, announced that they would form a new consulate in Brazil. Basically, the objective is to create a parallel Venezuelan diplomatic representation, which meets the interests of the opposition – which is supported by the Brazilian government. The decision has received strong criticism from the Venezuelan government, which considers it illegal. However, despite the criticism, the consulate is starting its operations this week in the Brazilian state of Roraima – a region strategically chosen because it borders Venezuela.

Jorge Arreaza, head of the Bolivarian government’s foreign relations, reinforced his criticism and published an official statement warning the international community against the activities of the opposition, which he classified as fraudulent. According to Arreaza, there is an attempt to usurp the legitimate consular power of the Venezuelan government – which, in legal terms, is correct, considering that Guaidó is not actually the president of Venezuela.

Guaidó’s initiative in Brazil continues a series of clashes between the government of Jair Bolsonaro and representatives of Nicolás Maduro. Last month, the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared Venezuelan diplomats as “persona non grata” after setting a deadline in April for them to leave the country – which did not happen due to a later decision by the Supreme Court. Now, with the appointment of new “diplomats” by Juan Guaidó, the situation between both countries is even more tense, since the Brazilian government will publicly recognize the role of the opposition’s parallel diplomatic service, while denying maintaining relations with the Venezuelan official diplomacy.

No specific date has been set for the opening of the parallel consulate, and it has just been announced that from this week on the agency would be fully operational. In fact, Guaidó’s “diplomats” are already acting freely in Brazil and even distributing documents to Venezuelan citizens in Brazilian territory. The Maduro government has already stated that such documents have no validity, but the Brazilian government recognizes the actions and cooperates with the oppositionist Consulate. It is also important to emphasize that the employees of the parallel consulate have no diplomatic training, being political militants chosen by Guaidó to represent his interests in Brazil.

Brazil is making a serious mistake in accepting the formation of an illegal consulate in its territory. This represents a total violation of good customs in international relations. Although Brazil is directly opposed to the Venezuelan government, recognizing the legitimacy of an illegal “consulate” and allowing parallel diplomats to act in its territory sets an undesirable precedent in bilateral relations between these states. According to the Montevideo Convention, a State is constituted by the presence of territory, government and diplomatic relations. Therefore, when recognizing a new diplomacy, Brazil is, in practice, recognizing the existence of a Venezuelan State parallel to the Bolivarian Republic. The Venezuelan case, moreover, illustrates an absolutely inappropriate international behavior among the nations that oppose Maduro. To recognize a deputy as president for the simple fact that there was political opposition to the legitimate government had already been a serious violation of international customs. Now, with the creation of parallel consulates, the situation is likely to get even worse, mainly due to the fact that Brazil may not be the only country to receive “Guaidó’s diplomats”.

Interestingly, the inauguration of the parallel Consulate in Brazil takes place a few weeks after the visit of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to four countries in South America. The head of American diplomacy met with Brazilians including Brazil’s minister of foreign affairs Ernesto Araújo and Venezuelan immigrants precisely in the state of Roraima. The secret talks between Pompeo and Araújo still remain obscure. When called by the Senate to clarify the content of the meeting, Araújo gave no details and mentioned only generic aspects of the conversations he had with Pompeo. The other countries visited by Pompeo were Colombia, Guyana and Suriname – countries strategically chosen to form a siege against Venezuela. Considering that Pompeo’s visit to Brazil was most likely decisive for the Brazilian government to agree to cooperate with Guaidó’s parallel diplomacy, it is possible to foresee that sometime soon some of the other countries visited by Pompeo will also announce a similar decision, receiving “diplomatic missions” coming from the self-proclaimed and illegitimate government of Juan Guaidó.

It remains to be seen what the consequences of these acts will be going forward. The parallel consulate is already acting freely in Brazil, consolidating an historic act of violation of Venezuelan state sovereignty perpetrated by the Brazilian government. However, the US – the world power that promotes the crusade against Maduro – has not yet made such a bold decision and does not publicly have “diplomats” in the service of Guaidó. In fact, Brazil is acting as the laboratory of a great experiment, where the limits of the violation of Venezuelan sovereignty are being tested. Depending on the reaction of Caracas and its allies, other countries will receive – or not – such “diplomats”.

Lucas Leiroz is a research fellow in international law at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

October 8, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

Russian Envoy Says Moscow Has No Problem Selling Iran S-400

Al-Manar | October 4, 2020

Russia’s ambassador to Iran said Moscow is open to the delivery of S-400 air defense missile system to Tehran.

In an interview with Resalat daily, Levan Jagarian said Russia has no problem in delivering S-400 missile system to Iran.

The envoy emphasized that the US’ threats would “by no means affect” Russia’s arms cooperation with Iran, according to Tasnim news agency.

“As already announced by the Russian deputy foreign minister, Moscow is not afraid of Washington’s threats, honors its commitments, and is prepared to carefully consider Iran’s proposals for arms purchases after October 18,” Jagarian stated.

He was referring to the date when the UN arms embargo on Iran is going to terminate under the 2015 nuclear agreement and the UNSC Resolution 2231.

Earlier in August, the United Nations Security Council rejected a proposal to indefinitely extend the arms embargo on Iran.

The embargo on conventional arms is due to expire on October 18 under the terms of the Iran nuclear deal, signed in July 2015 and officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

October 4, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 1 Comment

The Time of Troubles in Transcaucasia – Part 2

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | October 3, 2020

Part-1 of the three-part essay is here.

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Berlin on October 2 that the European Union seeks a “constructive dialogue and a positive agenda” with Turkey. She had just returned to the German capital after a 2-day summit meeting of the EU countries in Brussels. Germany played a key role at the summit in steering the EU-Turkey relationship away from a confrontationist path to which it was drifting lately. (See my blog EU marks distance from Indo-Pacific strategy.)

Merkel said, “We had a very long, detailed discussion about our relations with Turkey. We came to the conclusion that we would like to enter into a constructive dialogue with Turkey, we want to have a positive agenda,” adding that the Brussels summit had opened a “window of opportunity” for closer cooperation with Ankara.

Merkel disclosed that talks for closer cooperation between the EU and Turkey in the coming months would focus on migration issues, trade, modernising the Customs Union, and liberalised visa regime. In effect, Merkel has made a huge case for Turkish President Recep Erdogan at a particularly sensitive juncture for the latter when there is growing criticism in Europe regarding his regional policies.

In particular, there has been a nasty incident recently involving the Turkish and French navies in the Eastern Mediterranean. It was a rare, if not unprecedented, incident involving two NATO powers in the 7-decade old history of the western alliance.

Again, the US recently strengthened its military bases in Greece and has repeatedly called for restraint on the part of Turkey over its maritime disputes with Greece and vowed to intervene both politically and militarily in the tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey and France support opposite sides in the Libyan civil war, while the US is aligned with militant Kurdish groups in Syria whom Turkey regards as terrorists. And as conflict erupted in Nagorno-Karabakh, Turkey witnesses the US, France and Russia swiftly drawing close in a phalanx to push back at Erdogan’s robust backing for Azerbaijan, including pledges of military help.

To be sure, Merkel spoke with great deliberation. Before leaving for Brussels, Merkel had addressed the German Parliament where she referred to complaints against Turkey’s human rights records, but went on to praise Turkey’s “amazing and remarkable” performance in hosting refugees, highlighting that Turkey is hosting four million refugees.

Interestingly, Merkel compared Greece to Turkey in a poor light. “We have to weigh very carefully how to resolve the tensions and how to strengthen our co-operation on refugees and on the humane treatment of refugees,” she said and proceeded to condemn the manner in which Turkey’s archetypal enemy Greece is handling the migrant camp in Lesvos (Greece).

With biting sarcasm, Merkel noted, “in recent days we have seen horrible images regarding the treatment of refugees. And not from Turkey, I would like to emphasise, but from Lesvos (Greece), from an EU member state.”

Without doubt, Germany has stood up to be counted as Turkey’s friend at a time when the latter faces growing isolation within the NATO and from the EU.

Seminal events

The well-known American professor at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, Stephen Walt once penned an essay titled Great Powers Are Defined by Their Wars where he pointed out that explaining a great power’s foreign policy is a perennial question for scholars of international politics. He argued that major wars have powerful and long-lasting effects on a nation’s subsequent foreign or military policy.

Prof. Walt explained that wars are seminal events from which a great power’s subsequent behaviour follows, independent of its relative power, regime type or its leadership. In his words, “Those who fight in these wars are often scarred by the experience, and the lessons drawn from victory or defeat will be etched deeply into the nation’s collective memory. The experience of past wars is central to most national identities… If you want to understand the foreign policy of a great power, therefore (and probably lesser powers as well), a good place to start is to look at the great wars it has fought.”

Isn’t it a poignant historical memory for Berlin that the Ottomans were Germany’s allies in two world wars when it was hopelessly isolated by the the western powers?

On the other hand, take Russia and Turkey. Russia fought a series of twelve wars with the Ottoman Empire between the 17th and 20th centuries — one of the longest series of military conflicts in European history — which ultimately ended disastrously for the latter and led to its decline and eventual disintegration.

Russia had often fought the Ottomans at different times, often in alliance with the other European powers. Importantly, these wars helped to showcase the ascendancy of Russia as a European power after the modernisation efforts of Peter the Great in the early 18th century. In the Turkish Muslim psyche, however, Russia has figured as a protagonist which had played an historical role in the weakening of the Ottoman Empire in Central Europe, the Balkans and Transcaucasia.

The Russian conquest of the Caucasus mainly occurred between 1800 and 1864. In that era the Russian Empire expanded to control the region between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea, the territory that is present-day Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia (and parts of today’s Iran and Turkey) as well as the North Caucasus region of modern Russia. Multiple wars were fought against the local rulers of the regions as well as the Ottoman Empire until the last regions were brought under Russian control by 1864 with the expulsion to Turkey of several hundred thousand Circassians.

Then followed the Russo-Turkish War (1877-78) when Russia seized the the province of Kars and the port of Batumi on the Black Sea. In World War I, aligned with Germany, the Ottomans pushed against Russia as far east as Baku (capital of Azerbaijan) but then withdrew, lacking the strength to advance further, and subsequently in the post-war confusion, somehow contrived to regain Kars.

Suffice to say, in 1991 following the collapse of the former Soviet Union, when Transcaucasia became independent as the states of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, a lot of blood-soaked history involving Russia and Turkey provided the backdrop. Incidentally, Erdogan’s family originally hailed from Rize Province in the eastern part of Turkey’s Black Sea region (where he grew up as a child), which was a site of battles between the Ottoman and Russian armies during the Caucasus Campaign of World War I and was occupied by Russian forces in 1916-1918, to be finally returned to the Ottomans under the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in 1918. The Soviet Union returned Rize to Turkey in 1921.   

‘Past is never dead’

Amidst all this, an interesting feature of the flow of history has been that from the days of the Roman Empire, Transcaucasia was usually a borderland between Constantinople (Istanbul) and Persia. Areas would shift from one empire to the other, their rulers would have varying degrees of independence and were often vassals of one empire or the other, depending on the size and proximity of the suzerain’s army. By around 1750 the area was divided between the Turkish and Persian vassals. The western two thirds were inhabited by Georgians, an ancient Christian people, and the eastern third mostly by Azeris, Turkic Muslims. And Russia of course was pushing close to the Black Sea and the Caspian against the Ottoman and Persian empires.

Professor Walt in his essay cited a famous quote from the American novelist William Faulkner, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” Indeed, for Russia, Turkey or Iran, the current developments in Transcaucasia form part of a vast collective event that shapes their perceptions of danger and definitions of heroism, sacrifice, and even their identity.

In fact, the current line-up in the developing situation around Turkey speaks for itself: Germany voices sympathy for Turkey and offers an enhanced partnership; France lambasts Turkey and seeks EU sanctions against Turkey; France alleges Ankara’s dispatch of Syrian fighters to Nagorno-Karabakh; Germany appreciates Turkey’s big hand in addressing the refugee crisis gripping Europe; France coordinates with Russia at the highest level of leadership to pressure Turkey over Nagorno-Karabakh; the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the US join Russia and France’s call for cessation of fighting in Transcaucasia; Iran maintains neutrality and suggests a joint effort with Turkey and Russia to resolve the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Meanwhile, Moscow has shed its initial ambivalence and is stepping into the arena on the side of Armenia, expressing “serious concern in connection with incoming information about the involvement in hostilities of gunmen from illegal armed units from the Middle East” — plainly put, censuring Turkey’s backing for Azerbaijan. And President Vladimir Putin underscores that he is voicing a common stance along with “the presidents of the countries co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group” (Russia, France and the United States). Simply put, Russia’s “competitive rivalry” with Turkey is surging.

Interestingly, Turkish President Recep Erdogan has openly drawn attention to the broader regional and geopolitical context in which the various unnamed powers are jockeying and covertly coordinating to encircle Turkey. Erdogan said on October 2, “If we connect the crises in the Caucasus, in Syria and in the Mediterranean, you will see that this is an attempt to surround Turkey.”

It doesn’t require much ingenuity to figure out the identity of the foreign powers he would have had in mind who are attempting to “surround” Turkey — France, the US and Greece (all NATO powers) and Russia, the scourge of the Ottoman Empire.

October 3, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | Leave a comment

European Union sanctions against Belarus will backfire and deepen Minsk’s ties to Moscow

By Paul Antonopoulos | October 2, 2020

Yesterday, it was agreed upon at the European Council special meeting that Belarus will be sanctioned. However, the scope of the sanctions and the long path to agree on them, demonstrates that the European Union is in a crisis and cannot project its power as it wishes. German Chancellor Angela Merkel described the bilateral agreement on Belarus and the strategic approach to Turkey as a step forward. The chancellor stated that “we had many discussions today on the issues of Belarus and Turkey, Cyprus and Greece. In short, I can say that they were completely successful.”

This comes in the aftermath of the Greek and Cypriot Prime Minister’s continually vetoing any sanctions against Belarus unless the European Council agreed to a strong joint statement against Turkey and for sanctions to be implemented by December if Ankara continues to violate the maritime space of Greece and Cyprus. Diplomatic sources in Athens revealed that despite the insistence of the majority of the European Council to pass a strong statement against Turkey and a pathway towards sanctions, Germany became isolated and had to eventually give up its resistance to stop an appeasement policy towards Turkey.

None-the-less, with Athens and Nicosia satisfied with the European Council’s statement and plan for sanctions against Turkey, the path was now open for Belarusian officials to be sanctioned without veto objections. This is despite Belarus not being a European Union member or candidate state, or threatening military action against EU member states like Turkey does.

“It was a long and difficult debate, because of course Greece and Cyprus demanded their rights as our member states. But we also had a very frank discussion about the need to look at all of our relations with Turkey,” Merkel said with seeming disappointment. “We can say today that there are sanctions against actors in Belarus, which means that the European Union is now taking action against those who oppose the democratic movements. I think this sends a very important signal.”

Minsk announced today the imposition of sanctions against European officials in response to those imposed by the European Union on Belarusian officials. The European Union claims that the officials who have been sanctioned are involved in the alleged suppression of anti-government protests and/or falsifying the August 9 elections in which President Alexander Lukashenko won 80.10% of the vote. Belarus’ foreign ministry said it had drawn up a list of European officials barred from entering the country, but added that the list would not be made public.

The European Union agreed to impose sanctions on some 40 Belarussian officials, however, Lukashenko is not among them. This in itself is a sign of weakness and desperation from the European Union as it strangely does not sanction Lukashenko, who won the election, but only those associated with him.

Lukashenko in recent years has been trying to court the European Union while also resisting further integration with Russia, even clashing with Moscow over gas and oil prices. Although protests against the election result had the appearance of a Ukraine-like colour revolution, the European Union immediately expressed solidarity, burning all bridges that had been built between Minsk and Brussels. This has only pushed Belarus firmly back into Russia’s sphere. The Belarusian President and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin held a meeting for over four hours in Sochi last month, which Russian spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said was “constructive, lengthy and substantive in content.” The meeting also resulted in a $1.5 billion loan for Belarus.

It is evident that the attempted colour revolution failed to materialize, Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya has not amounted much domestic influence and Lukashenko will not be removed from power soon. Rather than attempting to quickly repair relations to bring Belarus back closer to Brussels, the sanctions demonstrates that the European Union is moving forward with its foreign policy blindly and against their own interests.

The problem the European Union has is that if it repairs its relations with Lukashenko, it will mean an acknowledgment of weakness as they were not able to achieve what they wanted in Belarus. This is in the midst of the European Union already being deeply divided between a small German-led bloc and the rest of the Union in policies towards Turkey.

Another conundrum for Brussels is that from Lukashenko’s perspective, the European Union is now untrustworthy. Successive provocations, like having diplomats lay flowers where rioters died and saying Lukashenko is an illegitimate president, has likely created a permanent rift between Minsk and Brussels. Therefore, coupled with newly passed sanctions, the European Union has lost all influence they once might have had on Minsk, and therefore weakened their own interests while strengthening Russia’s by forcing the deepening of Belarus’ ties with Moscow.

With the European Union’s divorce with the United Kingdom becoming uglier, having tense relations with Turkey, and the endless rift it has with Russia – all completely different issues to each other – European policymakers have demonstrated that they are incapable of self-reflection and identifying weaknesses and failures in their foreign policy. For what the European Union wanted to achieve in Belarus, it has been a serious failure. By not sanctioning Lukashenko, Brussels has left a door open to normalize relations. However, from Lukashenko’s perspective, he will likely end his years-long flirtation with Brussels and move to more deeply integrate Belarus with Russia.

Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst.

October 2, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 1 Comment

Why Did Governor Gavin Newsom Veto A “Critical Race Theory” Education Bill?

By Eric Striker – National Justice – October 1, 2020

California Governor Gavin Newsom is an unlikely ally in the fight against the anti-white critical race theory, but yesterday he shocked and confused his colleagues with a surprise veto of Assembly Bill 331.

AB 331, which passed 62 to 12 in California’s State Assembly, would’ve mandated students in the Golden State’s failing high schools to take a “Critical Ethnic Studies” class about the oppression and discrimination faced by one of four minority groups (African-Americans, “Latinx,” Native Americans and Asian-Americans) at the hands of white supremacists. A special emphasis on forcing white students to take these classes was emphasized in the law’s discussion.

While AB 331 was passed in January 2019, Newsom’s veto has the optical misfortune of coinciding with Donald Trump’s current campaign seeking to put an end to critical race theory in federally funded institutions. The bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman Jose Medina, lashed out at his fellow Democrat, calling the Governor’s move “a failure to push back against the racial rhetoric and bullying of Donald Trump.”

So why did he do it?

The answer lies in Newsom’s donors, who also happen to be members of prominent Jewish ethnic lobbies. For example, the American Jewish Committee responded to news of his decision with a “Bravo.”

Jewish groups protested AB 331 because, while they agreed with the anti-white message, they also resented the lack of an exemption for Jewish students. Under the law, Jews would be considered “white” and not allowed to choose Jewish Studies for their credit.

Roselyn Swig, a billionaire heiress, wrote an op-ed reflecting this sentiment four days ago. In the piece, she urges that the bill be altered.

According to Swig, critical race theory is “crucial to ensure a tradition of tolerance, understanding and respect – three of my core values – for future generations, while advancing justice for marginalized communities.” However, she furiously contested that “[An] initial draft of the educational plan had both excluded Jews and antisemitism education, and included anti-Jewish tropes in lyrics and anti-Israel boycotts.”

Swig concluded her open letter by stating that the “interests of the Jewish community are actually aligned with other ethnic studies groups. We should come together to advance our shared values, both in the classroom and beyond, for years to come.”

The proposed ethnic studies curriculum tried to adapt to these demands, but the end result only enraged Jews further. The final version on Newsom’s desk would’ve taught that Jews were beneficiaries of “white privilege,” which doomed it.

While non-white groups who supported the bill will blame Newsom’s own “white privilege” for its failure, the final decision was made outside of the Governor’s office.

Swig belongs to what California media has dubbed Newsom’s “Faithful Eight” — eight wealthy families who have given the Governor millions of dollars to transform him from mediocre dog catcher to a national figure with future presidential ambitions.

Of the Faithful Eight, the Swig’s are joined by four other elite Jewish dynasties: the Guggenheims, the Marcuses, the Fishers, and the Pritzkers.

While California has earned a reputation for its radical left policies, it also suffers from Progressive Except Palestine syndrome. In 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed one of the most draconian and controversial anti-BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) bills in the country.

The lesson for white privilege peddlers who saw AB 331 as a political lay up is simple: real power always strikes back.

October 1, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

The Time of Troubles in Transcaucasia – Part 1

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | October 1, 2020

Three days into the renewed conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh in the Transcaucasian region — also known as South Caucasus — it is becoming clear that the binary narrative dished out by western commentators of this being a Turkish-Russian clash of wills and strategies is either simply naive or purposely deceptive. The point is, Russia and Turkey — and Iran in a somewhat supportive role — are already proactively talking of negotiations involving the warring sides.

September 30 has been a turning point of sorts. Tehran had on the previous day called on Azerbaijan and Armenia to settle the differences peacefully and offered that along with Turkey and Russia, it can help the two countries to resolve their differences.

President Hassan Rouhani since repeated this offer in a phone conversation with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. According to the Iranian account, Pashinyan responded positively that “any tension and conflict would be to the detriment of all countries in the region and welcomed any practical initiative to stop the violence.”

Armenia is a land-locked country and it depends on Iran to provide a vital transportation route to the outside world. On its part, Tehran kept up a warm relationship with Armenia (although its rival Azerbaijan is a Muslim country), even supplying it with natural gas.

Tehran stuck to the friendly track even after the “colour revolution” in Armenia in 2018 and Pashinyan’s steady gravitation to the American camp in the subsequent period, while also remaining a member of the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation. (See my articles in Asia TimesA color revolution in the Caucasus puts Russia in a dilemma dated May 9, 2018 and a second piece dated August 8, 2018 titled Color Revolution in the Caucasus rattles Russian leaders.)

Iran has profound security concerns over Pashinyan’s recent diplomatic exchanges with Israel (at the initiative of the White House), which of course has brought the famed Israeli intelligence apparatus Mossad right on to Iran’s northern borders (in addition to the potential Mossad presence in the UAE, Bahrain and Oman on Iran’s southern flank.)

Turkey too has reason to be concerned over Israel’s activities in Transcaucasia. Israel is virtually piggy-riding the US-sponsored colour revolutions in Transcaucasia. Following the US-sponsored colour revolution in Georgia in 2003, Israel overnight made its appearance in Tbilisi. And the Israel-Georgia ties have since  become very close.

Despite the failure of the colour revolution in Azerbaijan in mid-2005 and the sporadic attempts since then, Israel has developed close “security cooperation” with that country. Further north, Israel has developed special relations with Ukraine,  another progeny of the colour revolution, which also has a president who is an ethnic Jew who is actively involved also in the ongoing colour revolution in Belarus. (The strange part is that notwithstanding the company that Israel keeps in the Black Sea region, which is virulently anti-Russian, it still enjoys exceptionally close ties with Russia!) 

Both Turkey and Iran understand perfectly well why Israel attributes such excessive importance to the three small countries of Transcaucasia (total population 11 million) to establish security presence in that region with a view to create a “second front” against its regional enemies — Ankara and Tehran. (Israel has a record of links with Kurdish separatist groups too who have ethnic links with Transcaucasia.)

Iran openly voiced its disquiet over Pashinyan’s decision to open Armenia’s embassy in Israel , which in turn inspired then National Security Advisor to travel all the way to Yerevan  where he openly took aim at Iran (and Russia.) By the way, the Armenian Diaspora in the US is an influential constituency that Pashinyan cannot ignore, either.

At any rate, demonstrations broke out in front of the Armenian embassy in Tehran soon and senior Iranian officials cautioned Pashinyan. An Iranian commentary wrote, “Tehran’s considerations… must be taken into account… On the other hand, Russia will undoubtedly oppose the idea of using Armenia to promote security and economic influence. It had already severely criticised Israel’s arms deal with Georgia and the Republic of Azerbaijan.”

Clearly, western analysts are obfuscating the US-Israeli nexus at work in Transcaucasia. Both Ankara and Tehran have cause to worry that the US would be using the Israeli proxy in the Transcaucasia region — as has been the case in the Middle East for decades — to weaken and roll back the rising aspirations of the two regional powers.

Turkey-Iran axis in the making

With the destruction of Iraq and Syria and the weakening of Egypt, Turkey (under President Erdogan)  and Iran are the only two authentic regional powers left standing in the Muslim Middle East to defy the US regional strategies and to challenge Israel’s military pre-eminence.

Significantly, the surge of the US-Israeli nexus in Transcaucasia comes in the wake of the recent US-sponsored “peace agreements” between Israel and three Gulf Arab states (UAE, Bahrain and Oman.) Indeed, both Turkey and Iran have reacted strongly to the development in the Gulf.

Just this week, the Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri explicitly warned the UAE that Tehran will view that country as an “enemy” and will act accordingly if Abu Dhabi allowed any Israeli security presence on its soil.

Within a month of the Israel-UAE agreement, Turkish President Recep Erdogan held a video conference with Rouhani where he made a big opening statement that “Turkey and Iran dialogue has a decisive role in the solution of many regional problems. I believe that our cooperation will return to its previous levels as the pandemic conditions alleviate.”

Rouhani responded that Turkish-Iranian relations are built on solid foundations throughout history and the border between the two “friendly and brotherly countries” has always been “the borders of peace and friendship.” He stated that especially in the past seven years, both governments had made great efforts based on bilateral, regional and international cooperation.

Significantly, Rouhani added that the two countries are located in a “sensitive region” of the Middle East and they are “the two great powers of the region. There was hostility and vindictiveness towards both countries. It also exists today. There is no way to be successful against such conspiracies other than by reinforcing friendly relations between the two countries.”

Sure enough, Israel has taken note of the nascent Turkey-Iran axis (which also includes Qatar.) A commentary in the Jerusalem Post noted that in the recent years Turkish-Iranian ties have “grown closer due to joint opposition to the US and also Israel. Iran and Turkey both back Hamas, for instance.” It wryly observed that the Middle Eastern geopolitics built around the Shia-Sunni sectarian strife may have outlived its utility!

Again, the Turkish state news agency Anadolu featured a commentary last week titled New strategic design of Middle East, which pointed out that the peace agreements in the Gulf bring out the schism between the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain one side and Qatar and Kuwait on the other side. (Qatar is an ally of Turkey while Kuwait has friendly ties with Iran.) The commentary noted, “Arab countries seem to have lost both confidence and a sense of unity; when the sense of confidence is seriously damaged, it will be easier to put them at odds, and this regional division, as everywhere, makes Arab countries and their leaders dependent on external forces for their security and existence.”

The Anadolu commentary then warmed up to its main theme, namely, that the so-called “normalisation” agreement between the UAE and Israel “may be a veiled effort not only to expand the imperial space but also to form a bloc against Iran and Turkey in the Middle East.”

“Iran is a non-Arab country and seems an arch-enemy of the US and Israel; Iran collaborates with Russia and China, the US’ arch-rivals, and sometimes with Turkey, which may threaten both the US imperial interest and Israeli security in the region. Hence Iran’s regional power and influence should be jettisoned and driven into a corner.”

“Turkey is a NATO country and seems a close US ally, (but) US policy towards Turkey in the region is ambivalent, unclear, and elusive in the sense that the US still continues to support the (Kurdish) YPG/PKK terrorist group in Syria that has been carrying out terrorist acts against Turkey and killing civilians for decades.”

“Moreover, the US and Israel, though they seem friendly, do not want a strong Turkey because a strong Turkey may influence Arab countries particularly using Islam and then turn them against the exploitation of the Middle East and its oil and resources by neo-imperial powers, yet the US and other imperial powers will never allow Turkey to easily stand on its feet in the region. What they may prefer is that a weak and fragile Turkey, grappling with its internal conflicts, will always serve their purpose.”

In the chronicles of the great game, seldom it is that the protagonists speak up and opt for public diplomacy. The game, historically, is played out quietly in the shade outside the pale of public view. Turkey and Iran have decided otherwise. Can it be a mere coincidence that the conflict in Transcaucasia, a faraway region that borders both Turkey and Iran where Israel is consolidating a security presence against them, erupted in such a backdrop of new alignment that promises to redraw the geopolitics of the Middle East?

October 1, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Russia Warns Against Use of Mercenaries in Karabakh Conflict, Calls for Their Immediate Withdrawal

By Lilia Dergacheva – Sputnik – 30.09.2020

Moscow is concerned about reports of the transfer of illegal armed militants to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement, asserting that Russia is against the move and calls for their withdrawal from the area without delay.

“We are deeply concerned about these processes, which lead not only to an even greater escalation of tensions in the conflict zone, but also create long-term threats to the security of all countries in the region”, the statement says, adding that the ministry is calling on the leadership of both states “to take effective measures to prevent the use of foreign terrorists and mercenaries in the conflict”.

The ministry brought up media reports about militants from Syria and Libya allegedly being transferred to the contested zone in order to participate in the local hostilities.

The clashes between Baku and Yerevan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region – a self-proclaimed republic in Transcaucasia that proclaimed independence from what was then Soviet Azerbaijan – have severely escalated since Sunday, with the sides blaming the aggression on each other and sharing countless videos of destroyed military vehicles.

The conflict dates back to 1991, which saw the Soviet Union collapse. The major military standoff in the region was halted in 1994, as Yerevan and Baku moved to start peace negotiations mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group.

September 30, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | 1 Comment