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Azerbaijan won the war in Nagorno-Karabakh but reduced its sovereignty

By Paul Antonopoulos | February 1, 2021

Although Azerbaijan won the war against Armenia, both countries have in fact lost part of their sovereignty.

Azerbaijan won the war and expanded territorially after it captured or received the districts surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh proper that Armenian forces captured in the first war (1988-1994). The status of Nagorno-Karabakh proper remains undetermined but is protected by Russian peacekeepers and is still governed by Armenians.

Despite this territorial expansion, Azerbaijan has in fact partly lost its sovereignty. During the war, reports began emerging that Azerbaijani military leaders were becoming increasingly frustrated with the level of control that Turkey had over their fighting forces. These reports were quickly dismissed and denied by Azerbaijan as Armenian attempts to create division through misinformation. But if this was just misinformation, then there would be no risk of division to begin with, meaning it would not be worth giving attention to, suggesting there was certainly an element of truth to it.

Azerbaijan’s military success lays with two key factors: the Armenian political and military incompetency and lack of will, and Turkey’s contribution with drones, special forces, intelligence and transfer of Syrian jihadists.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan never truly committed to the war effort as Armenian forces were never fully mobilized, powerful Iskander missiles infrequently used, the Armenian Air Force mostly grounded, Armenian diaspora and foreign volunteers rejected from fighting, and local Armenian militias not equipped with enough ammunition, maps and communication devices, nor were the militias assigned commanders – yet this was supposedly a “war for survival,” as Pashinyan termed it.

None-the-less, despite the incompetency of the Armenian leadership, Azerbaijan’s rapid success in Nagorno-Karabakh would not have been possible without significant Turkish support. Even Azerbaijan’s success is limited as it did not achieve its main war aim – the capture of Nagorno-Karabakh.

More importantly, Ankara’s footprint in the country massively expanded through the deployment of more Turkish troops to Azerbaijan, control of more military bases, and the establishment of a joint observation center with Russia in the Agdam region.

As said, reports circulated during the war that divisions in the Azerbaijani military and political circles were emerging between a pro-Turkish faction and another faction in opposition to Turkey’s dominant role in the war effort. These reports have only intensified in recent days as Turkish troops are now deployed in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani politicians and military leaders are beginning to worry about Ankara’s strong influence in the country, with critics commenting that Azerbaijan has become the 82nd province of Turkey. Although Azerbaijan now controls most of the formerly Armenian-held territory, it cannot exercise control over it without Turkish and Russian oversight.

In fact, even Iran has greater opportunities to influence Azerbaijan that it was not able to do before the war. Azerbaijan’s capture of the districts to the south of Nagorno-Karabakh proper means that it shares external borders with only Armenia and Iran. Effectively Iran has great opportunities to be one of the leading foreign investors in the region as Armenia and Azerbaijan have not normalized their relations. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif visited the Nakhichevan exclave of Azerbaijan, the region wedged between Armenia, Turkey and Iran, to boost regional cooperation through new railroad and transportation routes.

In turn, it will be inevitable that Iran will attempt to gain influence through pan-Shi’ism, but this may prove difficult to gain a foothold as pan-Turkism has become the dominant ideology of Azerbaijan because of Turkey’s own soft power manoeuvers. Russia will utilize its influence through its peacekeepers in the region, and also soft power through economic exchanges.

Although Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev will relish his country’s long-awaited victory after his father Heydar Aliyev signed a humiliating ceasefire in May 1994 to conclude the First Nagorno-Karabakh War, the long-term repercussion means that Turkey dominates the Azerbaijani military and wields great political influence over Baku. Also, there is limited Azerbaijani governance in the territories it controls because of Russia’s watchful eye through the deployment of peacekeepers. And finally, we can see much stronger Iranian influence as it aims to penetrate the region through economic and religious means.

Azerbaijani flags may be flying over the captured territories, but it certainly has come at the price of reduced sovereignty – militarily, economically, politically, and perhaps even religiously and culturally.

Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst.

February 1, 2021 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | Leave a comment

MICHAEL MCFAUL’S COUNTERPRODUCTIVE POLICY PROPOSALS

Irrussianality | January 22, 2021

War, said the great Prussian strategist Carl von Clausewitz, is an “interaction.” It is “not the action of a living force upon a lifeless mass, but always the collision of two living forces.” One might say the same thing about international politics. Whatever you do always involves others, who have a will of their own and who act in ways which impede the fulfilment of your plans.

The good strategist doesn’t assume that others will simply comply with his demands. Rather he considers their likely response, and if it is probable that they will respond in a way that harms his own interests, he jettisons his plan and looks for another.

Joe Biden’s victory against Donald Trump in the recent US presidential election has led to a slew of articles suggesting the policies that the new administration should pursue towards Russia. All too often, instead of considering how Russia will respond, they treat it as a “lifeless mass” which can be pushed in the desired direction by pressing the correct buttons. Experience, however, suggests that this is not the case, and the Russian reaction to the proposed policies is not likely to be what the United States desires.

An example is an article by the former US ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul, published this week in the magazine Foreign Affairs. Full of suggestions for ramping up the pressure on Russia, it fails to take into consideration how Moscow is likely to respond to such pressure. Consequently, it ends up proposing a line that if put into practice would probably be entirely counterproductive.

McFaul accuses Russian president Vladimir Putin of leading an “assault on democracy, liberalism, and multilateral institutions,” with the objective of “the destruction” of the international order. From this McFaul concludes that the United States “must deter and contain Putin’s Russia for the long haul.” He then makes several suggestions as to what this policy should involve.

First, he suggests that NATO build up its armed forces on Russia’s border, “especially on its vulnerable southern flank”. Why precisely this is “vulnerable” McFaul doesn’t say, but he does tell us that NATO “needs new weapons systems, including frigates with antisubmarine technologies, nuclear and conventionally powered submarines, and patrol aircraft.”

Second, he argues that America must increase its support to Ukraine. “A successful, democratic Ukraine will inspire new democratic possibilities in Russia,” he says, as if a “successful, democratic Ukraine” is something that can simply be wished into existence. But McFaul wants to do more than just help Ukraine; he also wants to punish Russia. “As long as Putin continues to occupy Ukrainian territory, sanctions should continue to ratchet up,” he says.

Third, McFaul wants the US to get more deeply involved in other countries on Russia’s borders. “Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, and Uzbekistan all deserve diplomatic upgrades,” he suggests. He also recommends that Joe Biden, “should meet with Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya”.

Fourth, McFaul wishes to venture into the world of censorship. America and other Western democracies, “should develop a common set of laws and protocols for regulating Russian government controlled-media,” he says. To this end, he argues that Biden should get social media to “downgrade the information Russia distributes through its propaganda channels.” If a search engine produces a link to RT, “a BBC story should pop up next to it,” he says.

Finally, McFaul says that the United States should bypass the Russian government to forge contacts with the Russian people, so as to “undermine Putin’s anti-American propaganda.” The USA should also train Russian journalists as part of an effort to “support independent journalism and anticorruption efforts in Russia.”

Strategy, as Clausewitz, pointed out, is about using tactics to achieve the political aim. But it is almost impossible to see how the tactics McFaul proposes could help the United States achieve any useful objective. The simple reason is that Russia is hardly likely to react to them in a positive fashion.

Let us look at them from a Russian point of view. How will the Russian government see them?

Sanctions are to “ratchet up” in perpetuity (as they must if they are connected to Russia’s possession of Crimea, which no Russian government will ever surrender); NATO will deploy more and more forces on Russia’s frontier; America will interfere ever more in Russian internal affairs, building up what will undoubtedly be considered a “fifth column” of US-trained journalists and opposition activists; the USA will intensify efforts to detach Russia from its allies and build up a ring up of hostile states around it; and finally, America will launch all-out information warfare to bend the international media to its will.

What does McFaul imagine Russia will do when it sees all this? Put up its hands and surrender? If he does, then it’s clear that in a lifetime studying Russia, he’s managed to learn nothing.

In reality, the response would probably be not at all to his liking. The growing sense of external and internal threat would lead to an increase in repressive measures at home, undermining the very democracy and liberty McFaul claims to be supporting. In addition, we would most probably see Russia increasing its own military forces on its national frontiers; doubling down on its support for the breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics in Eastern Ukraine; and pressing further with its own activities in the information domain.

In short, the Russian response would involve Russia doing all the things that McFaul dislikes, but even more so. It is hard to see how his strategy could be deemed to be a sensible one.

If it was just McFaul, it would probably not matter too much. But he is far from the only person saying these things. The general theme among supporters of the new Biden administration is that Trump was too soft on Russia, and that America needs to take a more robust line. This does not bode well for the next few years.

“Know your enemy and know yourself,” said another great strategist, Sun Tzu. Unfortunately, Americans seem to have forgotten this advice. They would do well to heed it.

January 22, 2021 Posted by | Militarism, Russophobia | , , , , , , | 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

Turkish claims that the PKK is operating in Artsakh set dangerous precedent

By Paul Antonopoulos | September 28, 2020

Conflict sparked up again yesterday in Artsakh, or more commonly known as Nagorno-Karabakh, when Azerbaijan launched an offensive against Armenian forces. Although the Republic of Artsakh is not recognized by any state, including Armenia, and it is still internationally recognized as occupied Azerbaijani territory, it achieved a de facto independence in 1994.

As acting Commissar of Nationalities for the Soviet Union in the early 1920’s, future Soviet leader Joseph Stalin granted the Armenian-majority region of Artsakh to the Azerbaijani Soviet Socialist Republic. The Azeris, the dominant ethnic group of Azerbaijan, are cultural and linguistic kin with the Turks. It is said that the Turks and Azeris constitute “one nation in two states.” The defining difference is that Azeris are Shia Muslims unlike Turks who are mostly Sunni. The Soviets had hoped that by granting Artsakh to Azerbaijan instead of Armenia, they could court the newly founded Republic of Turkey to closely align with Moscow, or perhaps even become a Soviet Republic, by appeasing their ethnic Azeri kin.

In 1921, it was estimated that Artsakh was 94% Armenian. However, according to the 1989 census, Artsakh’s population was approximately 75% Armenian and 25% Azeri. Former Soviet Azerbaijani leader Heydar Aliyev, father of current President Ilham Aliyev, said in 2002: “I tried to change demographics there […] I tried to increase the number of Azerbaijanis in Nagorno-Karabakh and the number of Armenians decreased.” The collapse of the Soviet Union unsurprisingly led to the Artsakh War, which only ended after a ceasefire in 1994 when Armenian forces achieved a decisive victory.

Despite Azerbaijan’s defense budget ($2.267 billion) being about five times larger than Armenia’s, they have failed to capture Artsakh on numerous attempts, particularly during the 2016 April War and another major attempt in July of this year. Azerbaijan’s resumption of hostilities yesterday could be passed off as just another skirmish that will subside in a few days. However, the current conditions are far different and much more dangerous than in previous situations.

Although it is well established that the Turkish economy is struggling, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is maintaining a policy of constant crises in the vain attempt to distract the public from the Turkish lira as it continues breaking new record lows to the US dollar and Euro, even as recently as this morning. As the military provocations and rhetoric of war against Greece and Cyprus in the East Mediterranean begins to subside in Ankara, it only took a few days for a new crisis to emerge.

Reports began emerging last week that Turkey was transferring terrorists from northern Syria to Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani leadership in Baku flatly denied the allegations last week and today. However, despite the denials from Baku, it must be remembered that Ankara openly announced its transfer of Syrian fighters to Libya earlier this year and the Azerbaijani’s have undoubtedly used international terrorists from Afghanistan, Chechnya and Turkey during the first Artsakh war in the 1990’s. Photos, videos and voice recordings have emerged that show Syrian terrorists on their way to or already in Azerbaijan. Vardan Toghanya, the Armenian Ambassador to Moscow, said in a statement today that 4,000 militants from Syria already arrived in Azerbaijan, while according to the Armenian intelligence agency, 80 fighters from Syria have already been killed or wounded.

Turkey’s transfer of militants in support of Azerbaijan, which was also done in the 1990’s, is not what makes the current conflict more dangerous compared to previous battles and skirmishes. Starting from last week, Turkey and Azerbaijan have increased their campaign in claiming that the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), considered a terrorist organization by both Ankara and Baku, was operating in Artsakh. Neither Ankara and Baku provided any evidence for their claims. This sets a dangerous narrative as it could be used as a way for Turkey to “legitimize” a direct intervention against Armenia and in support of Azerbaijan.

Erdoğan justified his invasion and occupation of large areas of northern Syria and northern Iraq in 2018, 2019 and this year on the pretence that they were fighting against the PKK. Although Armenia denies PKK are operating in Artsakh, this will be ignored by Ankara and Baku.

However, unlike Syria and Iraq, Armenia is a member state of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), alongside Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan. A direct Turkish attack on Armenia could activate the CSTO. This would be a dangerous scenario as in turn this could activate NATO in defense of Turkey. It is highly unlikely that the situation in Artsakh will dissolve into a CSTO-NATO faceoff. But the risk still remains, especially if Erdoğan decides to directly intervene under the guise of expelling the PKK from Artsakh.

Just as Erdoğan unleashed a migrant crisis in February and March of this year against Greece, sent Syrian terrorists to Libya in May, conducted a military operation in northern Iraq against the PKK in June, and created a new crisis with Greece by sending warships into its territorial waters in August and for most of September, it appears the new crisis to dominate headlines for the next few weeks will revolve around Artsakh.

Although it is unlikely that Turkey will directly militarily intervene, a dangerous precedent has already been established by pushing the narrative, without publicly available evidence, that the PKK are operating in Artsakh alongside Armenian forces. With the Turkish economy and lira collapsing, Erdoğan in the future may very well use the narrative that the PKK are in Artsakh to foment public furore and distract them from the declining economic situation.

Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst.

September 28, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Iran, China, Russia to partake in Caucus 2020 military drills

Press TV – September 10, 2020

Military forces from Iran, China, and Russia are scheduled to take part in joint military exercises with a number of other countries in southern Russia later this month.

China’s Defense Ministry made the announcement in a news release on Thursday and said troops from Armenia, Belarus, Myanmar, and Pakistan would also participate in the drills, code-named “Caucus 2020.”

The ministry added that the exercises, to be held from September 21 to 26, would focus on defensive tactics, encirclement, and battlefield control and command.

The drills have special significance “at this important moment when the entire world is fighting the pandemic,” the ministry said.

The United States administration has insinuated that the coronavirus was artificially developed in a Chinese lab. China has rejected that insinuation.

Iran, China, and Russia have over the past years increased their military and diplomatic cooperation to counter the United States’ hostile policies and extra-territorial presence in their regions.

Late last year, the three countries held four days of naval exercises code-named the “Marine Security Belt” to promote regional security and peace and safeguard international trade in the Sea of Oman and the Indian Ocean.

September 10, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Armenian-Azerbaijani Clashes And Shifting Balance Of Power In South Caucasus

South Front | July 18, 2020

The Armenian-Azerbaijani tensions have once again turned South Caucasus into a hot point increasing chances of a new regional war.

The key difference with previous military incidents between the two countries is that the point of confrontation shifted from the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh Republic to the Armenian-Azerbaijani state border. Clashes first erupted on July 12 in the area of Tovuz and since then both sides have repeatedly accused each other of provoking the conflict, attacking civilians and declared defeats of the ‘enemy’.

According to the Defense Ministry of Azerbaijan, the fighting started after Armenian forces opened fire on positions of Azerbaijani forces in the Tovuz district. The fighting which included the use of combat drones, artillery, mortars, and battle tanks continued over the following days, including July 17. The Azerbaijani military confirmed that at least 12 personnel, including Major General Gashimov Polad and Colonel Ilgar Mirzaev, were killed. In turn, Kerim Veliyev, Azerbaijan’s deputy defense minister, said that 100 Armenian soldiers were killed, several fortified positions were destroyed and that a UAV was shot down. Armenia, according to Veliyev, is hiding the real number of its casualties.

Azerbaijani media and top leadership describe the current situation as an act of Armenian aggression, and say that Azerbaijani forces are only responding to it. President Ilham Aliyev even called Armenia a “fascist state” adding that “Armenian forces could not enter Azerbaijan in one centimeter of soil and will never be able to do this”.

The Armenian version of events is quite different. According to it, the clashes started after a group of Azerbaijani soldiers violated the Armenian state border in an UAZ vehicle. The defense ministry press service claimed that after the warning from the Armenian side, “the enemy troops returned to their positions”. It added that later Azerbaijani forces attacked an Armenian checkpoint.

As of now, the Armenian military said that it had repelled two ‘offensives’ involving at least 100 soldiers supported by fire of several artillery battalions. These attacks were allegedly actively supported by combat and reconnaissance drones of Azerbaijan. A spokesperson for the Armenian Defense Ministry Artsrun Hovhannisyan said that Azerbaijan lost at least 20 soldiers, a battle tank and other equipment during the clashes. Armenia says that only 4 of its service members were killed.

Both Armenia and Azerbaijan claim that their forces are repelling an aggression of the enemy, which has been attacking it and killing civilians. However, despite the harsh rhetoric, the leaderships of both countries are sending signals that they are not interested in a larger military confrontation.

At the same time, years of war propaganda and historic tensions between the nations push the situation towards a further escalation. A unilateral move towards the cessation of hostilities by leaders of either country would be presented by the other one as a sign of weakness and promoted as an admission of defeat. Taking into account the complicated political and economic conditions in both countries, neither Armenian nor Azerbaijani leaders could afford such a public move. Therefore, de-escalation is possible only through international mechanisms.

The situation is further complicated by the complex diplomatic situation in the region of the South Caucasus. Armenia, alongside Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). The CSTO expressed its concerns over the situation and called on the sides to commit to a ceasefire regime. Nonetheless, the Russia-led security bloc, and Russia itself, demonstrated that in the current situation they will focus on diplomatic measures.

Since the 2018 coup, when Nikol Pashinyan came to power in Armenia, the country has been consistently undermining its relations with the CSTO and Russia by pursuing a quite weak, but apparent anti-Russian and pro-Western foreign policy course. The bright dream of the Pashinyan government is to sell its loyalty to the United States for some coins and commit itself to the way of the so-called ‘European integration’. The issue with this plan is that Washington and its partners need Armenia only as a tool of their geopolitical gains and are not interested in providing it with any kind of military protection or economic assistance. The Pashinyan government is forced to play a double game in an attempt to simultaneously please its ‘democratic’ masters and receive protection and assistance from Russia. This attitude is not a secret for Moscow.

On the other hand, in the event of a large-scale military confrontation, Azerbaijan will be supported by its main ally Turkey, which also has close bilateral ties with Russia. Ankara already declared that it fully supports Azerbaijan and condemned the supposed ‘Armenian aggression’. Thus, in the event of full-scale military confrontation, Armenia will immediately find itself in a very complicated situation, and direct military assistance from the CSTO and Russia will be unlikely.

So, the Armenian chances in a limited military conflict with Azerbaijan and Turkey are at least shaky. Turkey and Azerbaijan fully understand this. By undermining strategic relations with Moscow, and thus the balance of power in the region, Erevan put the entire South Caucasus on the brink of a new regional war.

July 18, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Iran Voices Readiness to Help Ease Tensions between Azerbaijan, Armenia

Al-Manar | July 16, 2020

Iran’s Foreign Ministry expressed the Islamic Republic’s readiness to mediate between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the wake of deadly border clashes between the two countries.

“As soon as clashes erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Iran’s diplomatic apparatus got active to mediate and soothe this tension as the region cannot afford another conflict,” ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told reporters in the northwestern city of Ardabil on Thursday.

He further called on both sides to show restraint, voicing Iran’s readiness to help bring an end to tensions between the two former Soviet republics, Tasnim news agency reported.

The clashes broke out on the volatile Armenia-Azerbaijan border on Sunday and have continued over the past days.

At least 16 people, including four Armenian troops, 11 Azeri servicemen and one Azeri civilian, have been killed in the latest outbreak of hostilities between the two neighbors.

July 17, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Turkey supports Azerbaijan to cause instability in the Caucasus

By Lucas Leiroz | July 16, 2020

The conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia has become increasingly serious. Both countries claim the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and between the late 1980s and early 1990s there was a war between them to decide the control of the region. Tens of thousands of people died in the conflict, which ended in 1994 with a ceasefire agreement, without a winner. The agreement places the Nagorno-Karabakh region as a de facto autonomous republic, remaining de jure as part of Azerbaijan. This agreement gave a break in the massacres but did not prevent the continuation of the territorial disputes between both countries, which until today claim the region, and the situation has worsened even more recently.

On July 12, there was an armed clash in the region, with an uncertain number of victims. Azerbaijani forces accuse Armenia of violating territorial limits. In contrast, the Armenian government blames the opposing country for such violations. Since then, according to Armenian observers, bombings on the border have been reported every 15 to 20 minutes. Data on the dead or injured people remain uncertain.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan accuses Azerbaijan of initiating hostilities and says that no violence will go unpunished, promising to react to every move by the enemy country. Data from the Armenian Ministry of Defense points to records of artillery attacks against Armenian territory in the early hours of July 12, when the fighting was recorded. According to the Armenian government, Armenian troops only retaliated against the attacks received. Pashinyan accuses not only Azerbaijan, but also Turkey of involvement in the attacks.

The charges are not unfounded. Turkey has shown support for Azerbaijan in the dispute, encouraging annexation and not a peaceful resolution of the impasse. The day after the clashes at the border, the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, spoke in defense of Azerbaijan, saying that this country “is not alone” in the conflict. The statement becomes controversial and dangerous amid an escalation of violence, as it connotes not only support from Ankara, but also an interest in intervening in the conflict. Armenia reacted with severe criticism, blaming Ankara for the return of the violence. According to the Armenian government, Turkey has an interest in destabilizing peace in the region to gain greater control and influence over neighboring territories.

In return, the European Union issued a public note calling on both parties to reduce violence and to avoid the use of force. Likewise, the US State Department classified violence in the region as unacceptable and urged both parties to seek a peaceful solution to the dispute. In the same vein, the Russian government has called on both countries for a peaceful resolution, without showing support for either party. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov urged Armenia and Azerbaijan to an immediate ceasefire and to comply with the terms of the Minsk Group, a committee created in 1992 to manage peace in the region. Since both countries are former Soviet republics, the role of Russian diplomacy in managing the conflict is essential, due to the weight of its influence in the region.

It is important to note the difference in the approach of the Russians, Americans and Europeans to the Turkish stance to the crisis. Demonstrating open support for any party in the current phase of the conflict can be crucial to intensify disputes and encourage an increase in violence. Being a military potency, Turkey’s declared support in a conflict in its early stages may encourage the progress of hostilities. In this sense, it is likely that Azerbaijan, with the support of Ankara and possible Turkish intervention, will continue the bombing, assuming strategic advantage and superiority over its opponent. This is the great danger behind the Turkish pronouncement.

The situation, however, must be analyzed in a complete context. Turkey has shown interest in increasing its regional and international geopolitical relevance and, for this purpose, it has called for bold and provocative acts, such as, for example, its role in the Syrian War and the recent conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque, which provoked outcries all over the world for being an unnecessary attack on the memory of Greek Christianity, provoking the resurgence of religious tensions in the region that had not existed for a long time.

In fact, Erdogan has clear plans to constitute a neo-Ottoman geopolitical projection, regaining power and influence at a regional level throughout the territory where the Ottoman Empire, predecessor of the modern Turkish state, operated in the past. Relations between Turks and Armenians, in this sense, do not have a good record and are alive in Armenian memory with the ethnic-religious genocide perpetrated against Christian Armenians in the early 20th century.

In this sense, Turkish interest in creating an area of ​​instability that favors its regional influence can be costly. Russia, as the regional power with the greatest historical influence in the Caucasus, must counterbalance Turkish advances through diplomacy, while Erdogan must be internationally pressured to avoid any intervention in the dispute between neighboring countries.

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

July 16, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Color Revolution in the Caucasus rattles Russian leaders

Armenia’s new Prime Minister has targeted Moscow’s confidantes in a corruption crackdown and angered the Kremlin by making overtures to NATO

By M.K. Bhadrakumar | Asia Times | August 8, 2018

No two “color revolutions” have been the same, although the anatomy may bear similarity. This explains why Russia continues to face a problem in calibrating its response to emerging revolutionary tides in its backyard.

Russia fumbled in Georgia (2003) and Ukraine (2004 and 2014), but digested the ‘color revolutions’ in Kyrgyzstan in 2005 and 2010. Of course, circumstances were different: Kyrgyzstan is a landlocked country.

The Moscow elite’s eternal dilemma has been that, when the defining moment came, the West invariably injected geopolitics into color revolutions in the post-Soviet space in a concerted strategy to encircle Russia with an arc of hostile states.

In this complex backdrop of historical uncertainty, Russia is unsure whether it made an error of judgment apropos the “Velvet Revolution” in Armenia, which shot a 42-year-old former journalist and previously uninspiring opposition politician, Nikol Pashinyan, to power. After a meteoric three-week rise he became prime minister in May.

The Velvet Revolution bore traits of a color revolution – although traces of outside interference were indistinguishable. Even as Pashinyan rode the revolutionary wave, Moscow chose not to cast aspersions on his stated agenda, that cleaning up the Augean stables in his country was his sole objective and his mission had no foreign-policy overtones.

Moscow’s approach probably ended up helping him climb the ladders of power, with the entrenched ruling party in Armenia meekly stepping aside to make way for him as the new prime minister.

Pashinyan pledges loyalty

Moscow appeared to accept at face value Pashinyan’s pledges of fealty. President Vladimir Putin was the first foreign leader to congratulate Pashinyan on May 8 when the ruling party elected him as the new head of government in a parliamentary vote.

Putin said: “I hope that your performance as the head of government will contribute to efforts to further strengthen friendly, allied relations between our countries, partnership within the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Eurasian Economic Union and the Collective Security Treaty Organization.”

Pashinyan nicely played along. Indeed, his first face-to-face with Putin in Sochi, only six days later on the sidelines of the summit meeting of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), had an effusive tone.

Pashinyan thanked Putin for what he called Moscow’s “balanced position” during the color revolution and reassured the Kremlin of the immutability of the Armenian-Russian “strategic alliance”.

In the presence of reporters, he told Putin that “the strategic alliance relations between Armenia and Russia” required “no discussion” and “there is a consensus on this issue in Armenia. I think that nobody in our country has or will cast doubt on the strategic importance of Armenian-Russian relations.”

Russia maintains a military base in Armenia.

Putin wished him success and said he hoped that bilateral ties “will develop just as steadily as they have up to now.” Putin added that Russia “views Armenia as our closest partner and ally in the region” on both economic and security issues.”

Moscow confidantes targeted

One week into the Velvet Revolution, it all seemed as if the Russian-Armenian alliance couldn’t be in better shape. But then, the sky began getting overcast and a stillness began descending in the air.

On May 10, Pashinyan began what appeared as a shake-up of the administration. It quickly snowballed into a veritable purge aimed at systemic change. He also launched a crackdown on public corruption, which has since made him a cult figure.

In a matter of three months his administration caught up with the two ex-presidents, Robert Kocharyan and Serzh Sargsyan, and the influential mayor of Yerevan Taron Margaryan, who were all Moscow’s confidantes in Yerevan.

Then, on July 27, Pashinyan struck hard by implicating the incumbent Secretary-General of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) Yuri Khachaturov on charges dating back to his past assignment as Chief of the General Staff of Armenia under Sargsyan. The general is presently based in Moscow as the head of the Russia-led alliance.

That was when Moscow sat up.

On July 31, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow was “concerned” that Armenia’s new leadership was making politically motivated moves against former leaders. Lavrov said: “The events of the last few days… contradict the recent declarations of the new Armenian leadership that it was not planning to pursue its predecessors on political grounds.”

Lavrov added: “Moscow, as an ally of Yerevan, has always had an interest in the stability of the Armenian state, and therefore what is happening there must be of concern to us.”

He disclosed that Moscow had repeatedly raised its concerns with Yerevan and expected a “constructive” response. These remarks amount to a rebuke.

NATO outreach spurs Russian warning

Meanwhile, what probably rung alarm bells in Moscow was that Pashinyan also began making overtures to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). On the sidelines of the alliance’s summit on July 12 in Brussels, to which he was invited, Pashinyan said: “It would be very useful if NATO will send a strong message to Azerbaijan that any attempt to solve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict using force will meet a strong reaction from the international community.”

In effect, he invited the Western alliance to get involved in the Southern Caucasus, which Russia traditionally regards as its sphere of influence.

While in Brussels, Pashinyan met the leaders of Germany, France, Canada among others, apart from a having a brief conversation with US President Donald Trump. Importantly, he began stressing the centrality of NATO as a forum for Armenia’s interactions with Georgia.

On August 2, the influential Moscow daily Kommersant wrote that Pashinyan’s moves had “driven a wedge into Moscow’s relations with Yerevan and may set the two countries at loggerheads even more”. The daily noted, citing Russian security officials, that the charges laid against CSTO Secretary General Khachaturov caused “outrage” in Moscow, because it “deals a blow to the image of the Russian-led military and political bloc”. It hinted at Western interference.

Equally, Moscow has taken exception to Armenia’s participation in the NATO exercises currently underway in Georgia. (Armenia is a member of the CSTO.)

In a hard-hitting statement on Friday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said the NATO exercise in Georgia aimed to “project power pressure, chiefly over South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Russia” and can only result in an “escalation of tensions.” Zakharova regretted that “Georgia’s neighboring countries are involved in these drills on various pretexts.”

On Monday, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Georgia’s accession to NATO may trigger “a terrible conflict” and lead to catastrophic consequences. He closely echoed Putin’s stern warning last month: “We will respond proportionally to aggressive moves that pose a direct threat to Russia. Our [NATO] counterparts who bet on rising tensions, are trying to bring, say, Ukraine and Georgia into the alliance’s military orbit but they should think about the possible consequences of such an irresponsible policy.”

Clearly, Moscow’s preference would have been that Pashinyan pragmatically keeps Armenia in Russia’s orbit – and NATO out of the Caucasus. But the Velvet Revolution has mutated and Moscow’s dismal experience is that in such defining moments, environmental pressures cause changes to the genetic structure of color revolutions, resulting in variant DNA forms.

August 8, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

Israeli Parliament Votes Against Bill Recognizing Genocide of Armenians

Sputnik – February 15, 2018

The Knesset on Wednesday voted against a draft law implying the recognition of the genocide of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, Israeli media reported Wednesday.

According to the Jerusalem Post newspaper, the legislative body rejected the bill proposed by the Yesh Atid party.

The media outlet added that Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid stressed that Israel should recognize the genocide of Armenians, as the Jewish people had also survived a similar calamity, the Holocaust.

According to different estimates, over million of Armenians were killed or starved to death by the Ottoman Empire during and after World War I.

urkey has repeatedly denied accusations of committing mass murder of Armenians, claiming that the victims of the tragedy were both Turks and Armenians.

Armenia insists on the recognition of the Armenian genocide by the Ottoman Empire by the international community. The Armenian genocide has already been recognized by Russia and numerous EU countries, as well as the European Parliament.

February 15, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

EU launches new ‘single resource’ website to counter ‘Russian propaganda’

RT | September 12, 2017

An EU agency, specifically tasked with fighting what the West terms ‘Russia propaganda,’ has launched its new website to provide Europeans with “a single resource” to “enlighten” them about alleged “pro-Kremlin propaganda.”

The site was launched in English, German and Russian. It’s part of the ongoing “EU vs disinformation” campaign waged by the EU’s East Stratcom Task Force.

“Today we launch our new website http://www.euvsdisinfo.eu, providing you with a single resource on addressing the challenge of pro-Kremlin disinformation,” a statement on the website says.

“This website is part of a campaign to better forecast, address and respond to pro-Kremlin disinformation,” it says further.

The webpage features a “searchable database of disinformation cases” and “interactive statistics” on the number of alleged disinformation cases, as well as on countries that are most frequently mentioned in what is perceived as “pro-Kremlin propaganda.”

Even though a disclaimer on the page says the Disinformation Review “focuses on key messages carried in the international information space, which have been identified as providing a partial, distorted or false view or interpretation and/or spreading key pro-Kremlin messaging,” it seems to be focusing solely on the latter.

The group also runs pages on Facebook and Twitter that are also aimed at revealing “manipulation and disinformation in pro-Kremlin media.” Its Facebook page called “EU vs Disinformation” was created in June 2016 while its “EU Mythbusters” Twitter page has been active since November 2015.

Both social media pages use a slogan that bears a striking resemblance to RT’s “Question More” catchphrase. “Don’t be deceived. Question even more,” it reads.

The East Stratcom Task Force was formed as part of the European External Action Service (EEAS) in early 2015 to tackle what the EU perceives as Russian propaganda. The EU said the group was tasked with countering disinformation about the Union and its policies in the “Russian language space.”

The EU’s “eastern European partners” – the former Soviet republics of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine – were designated as their target audience.

In early 2017, the group received extra personnel and additional funding. The move came ahead of national elections in several European countries, including France, the Netherlands and Germany.

In November 2016, the European Parliament also adopted a non-legislative resolution which called for the EU to “respond to information warfare by Russia” and listed RT and the Sputnik news agency as one of the most dangerous “tools of hostile propaganda.”

Written by a Polish member of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group, Anna Fotyga, the report alleged that Moscow aims to “distort the truth, provoke doubt, divide the EU and its North American partners, paralyze the decision-making process, discredit the EU institutions and incite fear and uncertainty among EU citizens.”

The document went even further, placing Russian media organizations alongside terrorist groups such as Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

President Vladimir Putin said at the time that the EU Parliament’s resolution demonstrates “political degradation” in regard to the “idea of democracy” in the West.

The move was also criticized by the Russian envoy to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, who said the EU tries to “erase the perception of Russia as an indispensable part of the European civilization from the public conscience” and to “create a wall of alienation and mistrust between our peoples.”

September 12, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top General Warns That NATO Wants to Turn Post-Soviet Space ‘Into Another Syria’

Sputnik – 08.09.2016

A top Russian general has voiced his frustration over NATO’s lack of cooperation with a Russian-led alliance involving countries from the former Soviet space, saying that the Western alliance doesn’t seem to want countries in the former USSR to ally with one another, allowing NATO pick them off one by one at their leisure.

Speaking at a press conference in Moscow on Wednesday, Col. Gen. Nikolai Bordyuzha, secretary general of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a military alliance involving six post-Soviet states, including Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, had some harsh words for Russia’s NATO partners.

The North Atlantic Alliance, he said, has been consistently opposed to any military integration between Russia and its partners in the CSTO, and the reason is that NATO wants to deprive these countries of their collective security guarantees.

“Why do you think NATO does not cooperate with the CSTO?” the general asked. “It’s simple – they have no need to support processes of [defense] integration. This way, things will be like in Syria, and nobody will be able to let out a peep. The country is being pounded, and there’s no one to help them, since it didn’t have any allies. And this is the situation they want to create for us as well,” Bordyuzha said, referring to the members of the CSTO.

Furthermore, the officer warned that the Western media has been engaged in what he called campaign of information warfare against the CSTO. “They will tell lies all day, every day. Everything that is being said about the CSTO is presented in a way that’s the opposite to how things are in reality,” Bordyuzha noted. “This is done, for example, in order to ensure that Tajikistan was not together with Russia,” he added.

Ultimately, Bordyuzha suggested that the Western political, media and military effort’s “most important task is to splinter our unity, to separate our nations into our own ‘national apartments’, and to dictate their terms to everyone individually.”

In this scenario, the officer emphasized that while the CSTO has absolutely no plans to fight a war of aggression against NATO, neither does it fear an attack by the Western alliance. “That’s why the CSTO exists,” Bordyuzha quipped.

The Collective Security Treaty Organization, formed in 1992, shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, integrates the defense capabilities of six former Soviet republics, including Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Afghanistan and Serbia became observers to the organization in 2013. Former members include Azerbaijan, Georgia and Uzbekistan.

Signatories to the alliance are not able to join other military alliances, and aggression against one member is considered aggression against all.

The CSTO holds yearly command exercises and drills to improve coordination between its states militaries, the most recent being Cooperation-2016, which took place last month in Russia’s Pskov region.

September 8, 2016 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment