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Turkey has perfected a new, deadly way to wage war, using militarized ‘drone swarms’

By Scott Ritter | RT | November 29, 2020

From Syria to Libya to Nagorno-Karabakh, this new method of military offense has been brutally effective. We are witnessing a revolution in the history of warfare, one that is causing panic, particularly in Europe.

In an analysis written for the European Council on Foreign Relations, Gustav Gressel, a senior policy fellow, argues that the extensive (and successful) use of military drones by Azerbaijan in its recent conflict with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh holds “distinct lessons for how well Europe can defend itself.”

Gressel warns that Europe would be doing itself a disservice if it simply dismissed the Nagorno-Karabakh fighting as “a minor war between poor countries.” In this, Gressel is correct – the military defeat inflicted on Armenia by Azerbaijan was not a fluke, but rather a manifestation of the perfection of the art of drone warfare by Baku’s major ally in the fighting, Turkey. Gressel’s conclusion – that “most of the [European Union’s] armies… would do as miserably as the Armenian Army” when faced by such a threat – is spot on.

What happened to the Armenian Army in its short but brutal 44-day war with Azerbaijan goes beyond simply losing a war. It was more about the way Armenia lost and, more specifically, how it lost. What happened over the skies of Nagorno-Karabakh – where Azerbaijan employed a host of Turkish- and Israeli-made drones not only to surveil and target Armenian positions, but shape and dominate the battlefield throughout – can be likened to a revolution in military affairs. One akin to the arrival of tanks, mechanised armoured vehicles, and aircraft in the early 20th century, that eventually led to the demise of horse-mounted cavalry.

It’s not that the Armenian soldiers were not brave, or well-trained and equipped – they were. It was that they were fighting a kind of war which had been overtaken by technology, where no matter how resolute and courageous they were in the face of the enemy, the outcome was preordained – their inevitable death, and the destruction of their equipment; some 2,425 Armenian soldiers lost their lives in the fighting, and 185 T-72 tanks, 90 armored fighting vehicles, 182 artillery pieces, 73 multiple rocket launchers, and 26 surface-to-air missile systems were destroyed.

A new kind of warfare

What happened to Armenia was not an isolated moment in military history, but rather the culmination of a new kind of warfare, centered on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or drones). Azerbaijan’s major ally in the war against Armenia – Turkey – has been perfecting the art of drone warfare for years, with extensive experience in full-scale modern conflict gained in recent fighting in Syria (February-March 2020) and Libya (May-June 2020.)

Over the course of the past decade, Turkey has taken advantage of arms embargoes imposed by America and others which restricted Ankara’s access to the kind of front-line drones used by the US around the world, to instead build from scratch an indigenous drone-manufacturing base. While Turkey has developed several drones in various configurations, two have stood out in particular – the Anka-S and Bayraktar.

While the popular term for the kind of drone-centric combat carried out by Turkey is “drone swarm,” the reality is that modern drone warfare, when conducted on a large scale, is a deliberate, highly coordinated process which integrates electronic warfare, reconnaissance and surveillance, and weapons delivery. Turkey’s drone war over Syria was managed from the Turkish Second Army Command Tactical Command Center, located some 400km away from the fighting in the city of Malatya in Turkey’s Hatay Province.

It was here that the Turkish drone operators sat, and where they oversaw the operation of an integrated electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) warfare capability designed to jam Syrian and Russia air-defense radars and collect signals of military value (such as cell phone conversations) which were used to target specific locations.

For every $1 in losses suffered by Turkey, Syria lost approximately $5

The major systems used by Turkey in this role are the KORAL jamming system and a specially configured Anka-S drone operating as an airborne intelligence collection platform. The Anka-S also operated as an airborne command and control system, relaying targeting intelligence to orbiting Bayraktar UAVs, which would then acquire the target visually before firing highly precise onboard air-to-surface rockets, destroying the target. When conducted in isolation, an integrated drone strike such as those carried out by Turkey can be deadly effective; when conducted simultaneously with four or more systems in action, each of which is capable of targeting multiple locations, the results are devastating and, from the perspective of those on the receiving end, might be likened to a deadly “swarm.”

The fighting in Syria illustrated another important factor regarding drone warfare – the disparity of costs between the drone and the military assets it can destroy. Turkish Bayraktar and Anka-S UAV’s cost approximately $2.5 million each. Over the course of fighting in Syria’s Idlib province, Turkey lost between six and eight UAVs, for a total replacement cost of around $20 million.

In the first night of fighting in Syria, Turkey claims (and Russia does not dispute) that it destroyed large numbers of heavy equipment belonging to the Syrian Army, including 23 tanks and 23 artillery pieces. Overall, Turkish drones are credited with killing 34 Syrian tanks and 36 artillery systems, along with a significant amount of other combat equipment. If one uses the average cost of a Russian-made tank at around $1.2 million, and an artillery system at around $500,000, the total damage done by Turkey’s drones amounts to some $57.3 million (and this number does not include the other considerable material losses suffered by the Syrian military, which in total could easily match or exceed that number.) From a cost perspective alone, for every $1 in losses suffered by Turkey, the Syrians lost approximately $5.

Turkey was able to take the lessons learned from the fighting in Idlib province and apply them to a different theater of war, in Libya, in May 2020. There, Turkey had sided with the beleaguered forces of the Government of National Accord (GNA), which was mounting what amounted to a last stand around the Libyan capital of Tripoli. The GNA was facing off against the forces of the so-called Libyan National Army (LNA), based out of Benghazi, which had launched a major offensive designed to capture the capital, eliminate the GNA, and take control of all of Libya.

How to capture half a country

The LNA was supported by the several foreign powers, including Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Russia (via Wagner Group, a private military contractor.) Turkey’s intervention placed a heavy emphasis on the integrated drone warfare it had perfected in Syria. In Libya, the results were even more lop-sided, with the Turkish-backed GNA able to drive the LNA forces back, capturing nearly half of Libya in the process.

Both the LNA and Turkish-backed GNA made extensive use of combat drones, but only Turkey brought with it an integrated approach to drone warfare. Observers have grown accustomed to the concept of individual US drones operating freely over places such as Iraq, Yemen, and Afghanistan, delivering precision strikes against terrorist targets. However, as Iran demonstrated this past May, drones are vulnerable to modern air-defense systems, and US drone tactics would not work over contested airspace.

Likewise, the LNA, which made extensive use of Chinese-made combat drones flown by UAE pilots, enjoyed great success until Turkey intervened. Its electronic warfare and integrated air-defense capabilities then made LNA drone operations impossible to conduct, and the inability of the LNA to field an effective defense against the Turkish drone operations resulted in the tide of battle rapidly shifting on the ground. If anything, the cost differential between the Turkish-backed GNA and the LNA was greater than the $1-to-$5 advantage enjoyed by Turkey in Syria.

The big players – the US, Russia & China – are playing catch-up

By the time Turkey began cooperating with Azerbaijan against Armenia in September 2020, Turkish drone warfare had reached its zenith, and the outcome in Nagorno-Karabakh was all but assured. One of the main lessons drawn from the Turkish drone experiences in Syria, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh is that these conflicts were not fought against so-called “poor countries.”

Rather, the Turks were facing off against well-equipped and well-trained forces operating equipment which closely parallels that found in most small- and medium-sized European countries. Indeed, in all three conflicts, Turkey was facing off against some of the best anti-aircraft missile defenses produced by Russia. The reality is that most nations, if confronted by a Turkish “drone swarm,” would not fare well.

And the multiple deployment of drones is only going to expand. The US Army is currently working on what it calls the “Armed, Fully-Autonomous Drone Swarm,” or AFADS. When employed, AFADS will – autonomously, without human intervention – locate, identify, and attack targets using what is known as a “Cluster Unmanned Airborne System Smart Munition,” which will dispense a swarm of small drones that fan out over the battlefield to locate and destroy targets.

China has likewise tested a system that deploys up to 200 “suicide drones” designed to saturate a battlespace and destroy targets by flying into them. And this past September, the Russian military integrated “drone-swarm” capabilities for the first time in a large-scale military exercise.

The face of modern warfare has been forever altered, and those nations that are not prepared or equipped to fight in a battlefield where drone technology is fully incorporated in every aspect of the fight can expect outcomes similar to that of Armenia: severe losses of men and equipment, defeat, humiliation and the likely loss of their territory. This is the reality of modern warfare which, as Gustav Gressel notes, should make any nation not fully vested in drone technology “think – and worry.”

Scott Ritter is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer and author of ‘SCORPION KING: America’s Suicidal Embrace of Nuclear Weapons from FDR to Trump.’ He served in the Soviet Union as an inspector implementing the INF Treaty, in General Schwarzkopf’s staff during the Gulf War, and from 1991-1998 as a UN weapons inspector. Follow him on Twitter @RealScottRitter

November 29, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Influx of foreign fighters to Nagorno-Karabakh could lead to region wide conflict

By Paul Antonopoulos | October 5, 2020

The war in Artsakh, or more commonly known as Nagorno-Karabakh, is becoming increasingly internationalized as foreigners are arriving to fight on both sides of the conflict. Artsakh, despite being internationally recognized as a part of Azerbaijan, has had a de facto independence since 1994 when Armenian forces won a decisive victory. On September 25, it was first revealed that Syrian militants were being transferred to Azerbaijan via Turkey. This was denied by the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry on the same day. It must be noted that the war in Artsakh began only two days after it was exposed Syrians were being transferred. Yet, despite photographs, videos, documents and testimonies made by Syrian militants themselves, the Azerbaijani government maintains the position that there are no foreign mercenaries fighting alongside the Azerbaijani army and that it is Armenian propaganda. All major international outlets have reported that these Syrians are not motivated by jihad, but rather money.

In given testimonies, a Syrian militant said “Jihadi, I swear by Allah don’t come, […] we have been deceived, everything is a lie. This is not a war, this is a meat grinder, people are dying, they cannot get the corpses.” Another Syrian militant said “Two days after the start of the war, everybody wants to return but they do not let us and […] they make us stay here.” This was in reference to Turkish military handlers lying to the transferred Syrian militants about the situation in Artsakh and forcing them to stay and fight.

At the same time though, Armenians from across the diaspora, including those in Greece, the Netherlands and the U.S., have already left or a preparing to go and fight in Artsakh, meaning that citizens of Western countries will be embroiled in this conflict. This also comes as it was revealed that ethnic Greeks are volunteering to go and fight in Artsakh, with one source telling Greek City Times that the first batch of volunteers amount to 30 men, while a former non-commissioned officer claimed to Sputnik Hellas that the number is as high as 500. Whatever the truth may be, it is being widely reported in Greek media that tens if not hundreds of volunteers from Greece are going to Artsakh, motivated by religion and solidarity with Armenians, and without receiving a salary. It has also been revealed that the Greek minority in Armenia, mostly descendants of Greek Genocide survivors, are fighting alongside the Armenian army.

This sets a dangerous precedent as this war is becoming increasingly internationalized and threatens to embroil the entire region in conflict if it cannot be contained. The First Artsakh War (1988-1994) saw Greek and Russian volunteers fight alongside the Armenians. Chechens, Afghan Mujahedeen’s, Turkey’s Gladio Gray Wolves, Ukrainian Far Right militants fought on the side of Azerbaijan in the First War. Foreign fighters in Artsakh is not a new phenomenon. With Armenian-Greeks and ethnic Greeks fighting in Artsakh against Turkish-sponsored Syrian militants and the Azerbaijani military, Athens could potentially be dragged into the conflict unwillingly.

Hikmet Hajiyev, aide to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, told reporters on Friday that Greeks were fighting in Artsakh, describing the volunteers as “mercenaries.” The Greek government has not responded to the statement made by Hajiyev and most likely will not as relations between the two countries remain tense. While accepting the credentials on September 4 from Greece’s newly appointed ambassador to Baku, Nikolaos Piperigos, Aliyev directly told the diplomat:

“I can tell you, and it is no secret, that Turkey is not only our friend and partner, but also a brotherly country for us. Without any hesitation whatsoever, we support Turkey and will support it under any circumstances. We support them [Turkey] in all issues, including the issue in the Eastern Mediterranean.”

The comments by Aliyev are unprecedented when considering the usual formalities of a head of state accepting the credentials of a new ambassador. With these diplomatic tensions already existing between Athens and Baku weeks before Azerbaijan began its offensive against Artsakh, it is unlikely that Greece will try and prevent volunteers from going to Armenia. Some Greek sources claim that many of the volunteers are ex-special forces, meaning it is likely that the Greek military will be indirectly involved to some extent. This also comes as Greek and Cypriot Members of the European Parliament are leading efforts to try and impose sanctions on Azerbaijan for launching a war.

The internationalization of the Artsakh War because of the influx of foreign fighters, especially the Syrian militants, would be a major concern for both Iran and Russia who would be feeling uncomfortable having such radical forces on or close to their borders. The internationalization of the war has the potential to spark conflict across the Caucasus as militants from North Caucasia, particular Dagestan, Ingushetia and Chechnya, could travel to Azerbaijan to fight, and gain invaluable experience to take with them on their return to Russia. Although Russia and Iran have called for a ceasefire and an end to hostilities, they have not made strong efforts to try and end the war, which if not contained and ended soon, could potentially spill over into the North Caucasus or Iran’s northern provinces which is overwhelmingly ethnic Azeri.

The war could also potentially become a part of the wider Greek-Turkish rivalry that already exists in the East Mediterranean, Cyprus and Libya. Greece will not be directly militarily involved, but it is highly probable that there would be constant communication between the Greek military and the volunteers. This comes as Turkey is directly involved in the Artsakh War, not only by transferring Syrian fighters and arms to Azerbaijan, but also using its air force when we remember one of its F-16 fighter jets downed an Armenian Su-25 aircraft last Tuesday.

Without being contained and the front lines having an influx of foreign fighters, there is a real possibility that the internationalization of the conflict through these forces could set the entire region into conflict if a ceasefire agreement is not made quickly.

Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst.

October 5, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | 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

Azerbaijan to perform military drills with Turkey, Georgia

Press TV – May 15, 2016

The Republic of Azerbaijan has declared joint military drills with Turkey and Georgia, a move which is likely to increase tensions with neighboring Armenia prior to talks with Yerevan over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

“To increase the combat capabilities and combat readiness of the Azerbaijan, Turkey and Georgia, we deemed it worthwhile to carry out joint military exercises,” Azerbaijan’s Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov said on Sunday, without specifying when the exercises would be carried out.

At least 46 people have been killed since April 1, when fighting broke out between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Karabakh.

On Friday, Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said an Azeri soldier had been killed by Armenian fire on Thursday.

On the Armenian side, a serviceman died of wounds on Saturday after reportedly being targeted by an Azeri sniper near southwestern Armenian border.

On April 3, Baku announced a “unilateral” ceasefire as a gesture of goodwill, warning, however, that it would strike back if its forces came under attack. Bouts of fighting were reported soon afterward.

The landlocked Karabakh region, which is located in the Azerbaijan Republic but is populated by Armenians, has been under the control of local ethnic Armenian militia and Armenian troops since a three-year war, which claimed over 30,000 lives, ended between the two republics in 1994 through mediation by Russia.

The presidents of the Republic of Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as diplomats from Russia, the US and France, are to meet in the Austrian capital of Vienna on Monday to discuss the situation in the volatile Nagorno-Karabakh.

May 15, 2016 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Azerbaijan’s President Thanks Russia for Deescalating Karabakh Conflict

Sputnik – 08.04.2016

BAKU – Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev thanked Russia on Friday for its efforts in deescalating the conflict in the de facto independent Nagorno-Karabakh Republic during a meeting with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

“Your visit comes amid the deterioration of the situation in the zone of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Unfortunately, for many years we haven’t been able to find a solution there, periodically we are faced with armed provocations of the Armenian side. Another attempt was made in the beginning of this month,” Aliyev said.

“As a result of the efforts a truce has been restored, although it is not always observed, but in general over the last few days, we’ve seen deescalation, and we believe that this is a positive sign,” Alyiev said.

Medvedev said he hopes for long-lasting peace in Karabakh.

“I hope that the peace established at this moment will be long-lasting and the parties will continue discussions on the settlement at the negotiating table,” Medvedev said.

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

Nagorno-Karabakh and the Passover Feast: Hollywood’s Glorification of the Arms Trade

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David Packouz (L) and Efraim Diveroli
By Richard Edmondson | Fig Trees and Vineyards | April 7, 2016

From Ukraine to North Africa to the Middle East, and most recently in the Caucasus with the outbreak of hostilities between Azerbaijan and Armenia, death and destruction are on the prowl in multiple wars, while at the same time international laws governing armed conflict are rapidly being cast onto the rubbish heap.

Many of these wars have been instigated by powers outside the countries in which they are being fought, and the tide of violence threatening to engulf the world now is unprecedented in history. You would think that at such a time, Hollywood would have better taste than to make a movie glorifying the arms trade.

But of course, you would be wrong.

Scheduled for release in August, “War Dogs” is based on the real life story of Efraim Diveroli and David Packouz, two twenty-something Jews who got involved in the arms trade and ended up bidding on Pentagon contracts, in the process scoring deals to supply weapons, ammo, and other military equipment to forces the US was arming in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Their story was told in a 2011 Rolling Stone article which detailed their passion for money-making, recreational drug use, and their predilection for shady business dealings. “Packouz and Diveroli met at Beth Israel Congregation, the largest Orthodox synagogue in Miami Beach,” the story informs us, and then goes on to describe how they landed some lucrative contracts, including one worth $300 million, all while operating a small company known as AEY, a shell company Diveroli’s father had set up. All of this was in the years 2005-2007.

For decades, weapons had been stockpiled in warehouses throughout the Balkans and Eastern Europe for the threat of war against the West, but now arms dealers were selling them off to the highest bidder. The Pentagon needed access to this new aftermarket to arm the militias it was creating in Iraq and Afghanistan. The trouble was, it couldn’t go into such a murky underworld on its own. It needed proxies to do its dirty work — companies like AEY. The result was a new era of lawlessness…

One evening, Diveroli picked Packouz up in his Mercedes, and the two headed to a party at a local rabbi’s house, lured by the promise of free booze and pretty girls. Diveroli was excited about a deal he had just completed, a $15 million contract to sell old Russian-manufactured rifles to the Pentagon to supply the Iraqi army. He regaled Packouz with the tale of how he had won the contract, how much money he was making and how much more there was to be made….

Diveroli, by the way, is the nephew of celebrity rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a staunch supporter of Israel and author of several books, including one entitled “Kosher Sex”–a book in which he “breaks down sexual taboos” while  pioneering “a revolutionary approach to sex, marriage, and personal relationships, drawing on traditional Jewish wisdom.” Boteach has also run inflammatory ads in the New York Times defending Israel, and in 2012 was bankrolled by Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson in an unsuccessful campaign for Congress.

So in other words, while Boteach was doing the TV talk show circuit advising Americans how to improve their sex lives, his nephew Diveroli was finding his niche in the “murkey underworld” of arms trafficking.

Above all, Diveroli cared about the bottom line. “Efraim was a Republican because they started more wars,” Packouz says. “When the United States invaded Iraq, he was thrilled. He said to me, ‘Do I think George Bush did the right thing for the country by invading Iraq? No. But am I happy about it? Absofuckinglutely.’ He hoped we would invade more countries because it was good for business.”

The big $300 million deal they landed found them purchasing stocks of Chinese-made ammunition in the Balkans and transporting them to Afghanistan, but a US embargo against Chinese weapons meant the whole thing had to be carried out clandestinely. The ammo was repackaged in cardboard boxes with no Chinese lettering. But some of the ammo was quite old, a number of the crates were infested with termites, and the two ended up being indicted for fraud and pleading guilty. And now we have a forthcoming Hollywood movie about their endogamic escapades.

It’s tempting to dismiss “War Dogs” as just another piece of Hollywood trash, but of course it comes as millions are coping with the destruction of homes and lives in the bogus war on terror and as whole nations are being torn apart. In Syria, the US has aligned itself with so-called “moderate” rebels, equipping them with vast stocks of weapons, many of which have ended up in the hands of ISIS, while in Yemen, we have assisted Saudi Arabia in an air campaign which, as of January 2016, had resulted in 2,795 killed and 5,324 wounded.  At least 62 civilians were killed by coalition airstrikes in December alone, reports the UN, which was more than twice the number killed in the previous month. Many others have been left homeless.

yemenigirl

A girl drinks from a leaking street pipe in Yemen, where millions now have no access to drinking water

But this hasn’t stopped the US from continuing to fuel the fire, so to speak. According to Defense News, the State Department has facilitated $33 billion worth of weapons sales to its Arab Gulf allies since May of 2015. The weapons–including anti-armor missiles, attack helicopters, and ballistic missile defense capabilities–have been sold to the six countries that make up the Gulf Cooperation Council, or GCC. These would of course be some of the same countries that have been supplying arms to ISIS while also carrying out war crimes in Yemen.

“In addition, the U.S. government and industry also delivered 4,500 precision-guided munitions to the GCC countries in 2015, including 1,500 taken directly from U.S. military stocks — a significant action given our military’s own needs,” said David McKeeby, a spokesman with the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.

How much of this ordnance may have ended up in the hands of not-so-moderate terrorists is unclear, but in December of 2015, Amnesty International published a report entitled “Taking Stock: The Arming of the Islamic State,” which found that the terrorist army “now deploys a substantial arsenal of arms and ammunition, designed or manufactured in more than 25 countries.”

A lot of this was looted or captured from poorly secured Iraqi military stocks, says the report, but illicit weapons transactions also seem to have played a considerable role in building up the ISIS arsenal–and some of the “chain of custody” evidence cited in the report, including a cache of weapons transferred from Croatia to the Free Syrian Army, sounds almost eerily similar to the sort of shady weapons trafficking operation run by Packouz and Diveroli.

Of course there is the old adage about art imitating life, and, on some level the fact that Hollywood would make a film about two Jews and then go on to entitle it “War Dogs” is perhaps not surprising. This, keep in mind, coming at a time when evidence of Israel’s support for terrorists in Syria is as clear as the hand in front of your face. And of course who could forget the lovable Victoria Nuland and her famous “f**k-the-EU” comment, mouthed off at a time when her State Department was busy engineering a coup in Ukraine?

In fact, efforts by Zionist Jews to create instability and instigate wars are getting to be about as common as fireflies on a summer night. They’re not always easy to spot, but you know they’re out there because they occasionally involuntarily light up, as when someone like Nuland gets caught in a taped phone conversation.

And now it looks like certain fireflies have moved into the Caucasus where they seem to be taking advantage of a long-simmering dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh. On April 2, intense fighting broke out followed by a series of charges, counter-charges, claims and counterclaims, made by both sides. According to the Armenians, it started with an offensive launched by Azerbaijani troops using tanks and artillery. Azerbaijan, on the other hand, insists it was responding to large-caliber weapons fire from inside the ethnic Armenian-controlled Nagorno-Karabakh area. So who is telling the truth? Or are both sides lying?

Hard to say for sure, but a couple of knowns are worth mentioning: A) Armenia is closely allied with Russia, and, B) Azerbaijan, too, has ties, including trade ties, with Russia, but it also is closely aligned with Turkey and maintains extensive trade relations with Israel. And the trade with Israel has been especially heavy in the area of military procurement.

Israeli drones, anti-aircraft and missile defense systems have been supplied to Azerbaijan in the wake of a $1.6 billion agreement struck between the two countries in 2012. Israeli companies are also active in the Azerbaijani telecommunications, agriculture, water supply medical technology, and energy sectors. That makes for a lot of sayanim on the ground inside a relatively small country.

Perhaps no surprise, then, that Armenian forces shot down an Israeli drone on April 2–the very day hostilities broke out.

The ThunderB drone is known for its light weight, 62 pounds, and its long flying time–25.5 hours–on a single tank of fuel. It is made by an Israeli company known as BlueBird, which reportedly may be about to be purchased by Elbit Systems.

And then on Tuesday came news of yet another Israeli drone spotted over Nagorno-Karabakh–this one believed to be a Harop drone, made by Israeli Aerospace Industries. The Harop is also known as a “suicide drone” in that rather than firing a missile at a target it simply becomes the missile itself, ramming the target and destroying it.

According to Gordon Duff, senior editor at Veterans Today, the key to understanding the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict is to recognize “that Azerbaijan is a client state of Israel and the CIA.” He adds that Azerbaijan has as well become “the regional operating center for Google Idea Groups,”  which he refers to as the “shadow CIA.”

Google Ideas was formed in 2010. At that time Google CEO Eric Schmidt tapped the State Department’s Jared Cohen to direct the new venture, dubbed as a “think/do tank.” In late 2015, Google was reorganized under a parent company called Alphabet, Inc., and in February of this year Google Ideas was rebranded as “Jigsaw”–although it is still run by Cohen and still affiliated with Google.

Cohen, by the way, is also an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and during his years with the State Department (2006-2010) he worked closely with Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton, and became a strategic advisor in US policy toward Iran. Jigsaw’s mission is to “use technology to tackle the toughest geopolitical challenges, from countering violent extremism to thwarting online censorship to mitigating the threats associated with digital attacks,” says Schmidt.

Sounds nice, but a purview of Jigsaw’s website–fittingly kind of creepy and dark-looking–suggests that virtually all of the “activists” it has provided support to seem to be from countries with governments the US seeks to overthrow. And indeed, in 2012 Wikileaks released a cache of emails concerning Cohen’s activities in the Middle East, including one, apparently written by Cohen himself, in which he discusses efforts to stir up trouble in Iran:

I wanted to follow-up and get a sense of your latest thinking on the proposed March trip to UAE, Azerbaijan, and Turkey. The purpose of this trip is to exclusively engage the Iranian community to better understand the challenges faced by Iranians as part of one of our Google Ideas groups on repressive societies. Here is what we are thinking: Drive to Azerbaijan/Iranian border and engage the Iranian communities closer to the border (this is important because we need the Azeri Iranian perspective).

So here, it seems, we have Cohen basically setting up shop on the Iran-Azerbaijan border. It should be noted that both Azerbaijan and Armenia border Iran, while Azerbaijan also shares a border with Russia. A conflict breaking out in this region could easily spill over into Russia or Iran–both of which have called for the two warring parties to adhere to a 1994 ceasefire agreement.

But of course, such a spillover would advance certain geopolitical interests. For one thing, it would pose a dilemma for Russia at a time when it is engaged in Syria. Sergei Zheleznyak, vice speaker of the Russian state Duma, has voiced the view that a “third force” is behind developments in Nagorno-Karabakh. According to the Russian News Agency Tass :

“It is clear that the force that continues to fan the flames of war in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Caucasus dissatisfied with the peacekeeping and counter-terror success of Russia and our allies in Syria is interested in the speedy exacerbation of the protracted conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region,” the parliamentarian wrote on his Facebook page on Saturday.

According to Zheleznyak, “neither Azerbaijan nor Armenia essentially need this exacerbation now.” He noted that “there is every likelihood that this provocation has been organized by a third force,” adding that “information on its presence is beginning to leak out.” In view of this, he drew attention to the fact that “at night in the mountains it is enough to have a few trained armed persons who know the opposing sides’ balance of forces to provoke them to open reciprocal ‘reprisal’ fire.”

Most people probably assumed Zheleznyak, in talking about a “third force,” was referring to Turkey–and certainly Turkey’s downing of a Russian jet in Syria factors into the equation. But another element that perhaps figures even more prominently is the “clash of civilizations” that hardcore Zionists have long salivated over the thought of.

We might theorize that ISIS was created with a two-fold objective: one was to break apart Syria and bring about the overthrow of Bashar Assad, while the other was to jockey into existence a clash of civilizations between Christians and Muslims. In both of these objectives it has failed. Assad is still standing, and while the rise of ISIS certainly inflamed anti-Muslim sentiments in the West, it has not resulted in the all-out war between Christianity and Islam that would have played so well into the hands of the Jewish state.

But where the ISIS plan failed, the conflict in the Caucasus could well succeed. Armenia is predominantly a Christian state, while Azerbaijan is mostly Muslim. A war between these two could galvanize public opinion in the region along religious lines. Regional political alignments and the history of the Armenian genocide are also to be considered. Turkey, though sharing a border with Armenia, has openly sided with Azerbaijan. Russia, on the other hand, has remained officially neutral. However, an RT report filed April 5 shows journalist Murad Gazdiev reporting from inside Armenian Karabakh trenches.

genocide

Armenian Genocide–young girls crucified on crosses

So where is Israel in all of this? Officially it doesn’t seem to be saying much about it, but in May of 2015, the Jewish Daily Forward published an article entitled, “Why Israel’s Alliance with Azerbaijan is so Shortsighted.” The writer, Christopher Atamian, takes the Jewish state to task over its refusal to recognize the Armenian genocide as well as for its lucrative arms contract with Azerbaijan, a country he refers to as an “authoritarian regime that is fueling regional conflict.”

“This is the same country that attempted to wipe out the entire Armenian population of Nagorno Karabakh in 1991 before losing a bloody war against the Armenians,” he adds.

What he leaves unspoken, of course, is that Israel’s refusal to recognize the Armenian genocide is tantamount to holocaust denial. More than 1.5 million Armenians were massacred from the years 1915 to 1922, and the Jewish state’s silence on the matter became a particularly hot-button issue last year on the genocide’s 100th anniversary.

Zheleznyak, the Duma vice speaker, seems for his own part to be offering sage advice to both parties in the current conflict, noting that Russia’s president as well as its government agencies “urge Armenia and Azerbaijan to cease fire and not to allow to draw them into someone else’s insidious game, as long as it is still possible.”

“As long as it’s still possible” is of course the key question. The more people die, the further recede the possibilities of the regional players not getting trapped or caught up in the “insidious game”–and the greater  grow the chances of the conflict’s becoming the parabolic curve that ignites World War III.

Should that come to pass, maybe Diveroli and Packouz will vie for ringside seats–although it doesn’t appear they’ll especially want to sit next to each other. According to the article in Rolling Stone, the two had a major falling out.

“Listen, dude, if you f**k me, I’m going to f**k you,” one of them warned during an argument over money.

“Whatever,” replied the other.

One wonders why they didn’t name the movie “War Pigs” rather than “War Dogs.” Perhaps it wouldn’t have been kosher enough.

In the past year in Israel we’ve seen an arson attack on a Palestinian home which left a mother, father and their 18-month-old baby dead; we have seen a video of Jewish settlers dancing and celebrating the attack by stabbing a photo of the baby; we have observed continued expropriation of Palestinian land in the West Bank, including one of the biggest land grabs in recent years–579 acres near the Dead Sea; and more recently we have seen a second video showing an Israeli soldier executing a wounded Palestinian with a gunshot to the head.

The execution video showed Israeli soldier Elior Azaria pump a bullet into the head of 21-year-old Abdul Fattah Sharif, as he lay on the ground wounded and barely moving. The murder took place on Purim, the Jewish holiday which celebrates the massacre of thousands of Gentiles, as told of in the Book of Esther. The next holiday on the Jewish calendar is Passover, coming up on April 22-23. The significance of Passover is laid out in twelfth chapter of Exodus:

On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn–both men and animals–and I will bring judgement on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.

This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord–a lasting ordinance… And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’

It seems that both Purim and Passover are in essence celebrations of the deaths of non-Jews. Suppose Gentiles observed holidays each year in which we celebrated Jewish deaths? What do you suppose would be said of it?

Whatever one’s views of Judaism may be (there are some admirable sentiments expressed in the Old Testament as well as some repellent ones), Zionism has morphed from the simple idea of a homeland for a specific group of people into a supremacist ideology that has had appalling consequences–not only for its victims but also even for its adherents, dehumanizing them to a degree never thought imaginable.

Zionism is the great Passover feast that has become a celebration of war.

April 8, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Film Review, Mainstream Media, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict Escalated: In Pursuit of Hidden Agenda

By Pyotr ISKENDEROV – Strategic Culture Foundation – 06.04.2016

The sudden aggravation of the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh is fraught with serious consequences. The warring sides, as well as the OSCE (the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) Minsk Group, have to realize that the situation may get out of hand and entail irreversible consequences against the will of the belligerents.

Armenian First Deputy Defense Minister David Tonoyan said in a statement made at the Sunday (April 3) briefing with foreign defense attaches that Armenia is ready for any scenario as the events unfold, «including direct military assistance to the security of the Nagorno-Karabakh republic».

The statement indicates that things will never be the same as before, especially after Turkey, Pakistan and some other countries have voiced their support for Azerbaijan. Once made public, the statements cannot be taken back. The development of events suggests that some forces pursue a hidden agenda in an effort to unfreeze the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and make the escalation irreversible.

In recent years, the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh worsened from time to time, but it never escalated to large-scale operations involving aviation and heavy equipment. Moreover, decisions to start combat actions can not be taken in absence of state leaders. Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and Armenia’s President Serzh Sargsyan were in Washington when the situation escalated overnight on April 2.

The outside factors probably play a much bigger role than it may seem at first glance.

Evidently, some countries, like Russia, for instance, have no interest in the escalation of the conflict in the Caucasus. Moscow plays the leading role in the crisis management efforts. It has always strived for developing mutually beneficial ties with both Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The aggravation of the conflict creates a problem for the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Unlike Azerbaijan, Armenia is a member of the CSTO, which is to defend it if attacked. But the organization has no obligations to defend the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh. Article 4 of the Treaty states «If an aggression is committed against one of the States Parties by any state or a group of states, it will be considered as an aggression against all the States Parties to this Treaty. In case an act of aggression is committed against any of the States Parties, all the other States Parties will render it necessary assistance, including military one, as well as provide support with the means at their disposal through an exercise of the right to collective defense in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter».

The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh is not covered by the Treaty, but the broad interpretation of its text may lead to misunderstanding inside the CSTO between Russia and Armenia on the one hand, and Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan on the other hand.

Obviously, the bloodshed does not meet the interests of Armenia and Azerbaijan. Nevertheless, outside forces have entered a «window of opportunity» to incite Baku.

Now who gains as a result of Azerbaijan’s involvement in the conflict? There are at least three parties to benefit.

Turkey tops the list. Having suffered a defeat in Syria and in face of growing impact of the Kurdish factor, Erdogan could go as far as sparking the Caucasian hotbed to entangle Russia. His plans may envision provoking a confrontation between the Russian Federation and NATO. If so, he could have given certain assurances and guarantees to Azerbaijan’s President Aliyev during his visit to Turkey on March 15.

Director of US National Intelligence James Clapper warned about possible escalation of the conflict in February.

The information was confirmed by the fact that the air forces of Azerbaijan and Turkey held March 7-25 joint military exercises TurAz Shahini-2016 in the Turkish province of Konya as part of the TurAz Qartali program of military cooperation. The exercises were held in accordance with the annual plan of joint training events that kicked off last September.

The United States, or, to be more precise, the circles in Washington interested in keeping up tensions in the relationship with Moscow, is the second party, which has a stake in the conflict’s flare up. The goal is to weaken the Collective Security Treaty Organization and create snugs on the way of post-Soviet space integration. Sparking a conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh is the best way to do it.

The third party interested in the conflict is the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, especially Qatar. This country has close ties with Turkey. It challenges Saudi Arabia as the leader of the organization. Besides, there are heightened tensions between the Gulf Cooperation Council members and Iran. Iranian Azerbaijanis account for 15-16% of the country’s population. Tehran has had good relations with Erevan ever since early 1990s. Like Russia, it has no interest in inciting the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Qatar and Turkey enjoy special relationship. They are known for tacit support of Muslim Brotherhood. It would be logical to surmise that both countries coordinate policies on the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute.

Azerbaijan and the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh said on April 5 they were halting hostilities after four days of intense fighting.

The world community pins great hopes on the ability of the OSCE to prevent the worst from happening .

April 7, 2016 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Armenian-Azeri Tensions Just Got Alarming: Here’s Why It’s Happening (I)

By Andrew KORYBKO | Oriental Review | April 4, 2016

The unprecedented upsurge in violence along the Line of Contact between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh has raised universal concern that a larger conflict might be brewing, with some analysts seeing it as an outgrowth of Turkey’s destabilizing anti-Russian policies over the past couple of months.

As attractive as it may be to believe such that Azerbaijan is behaving as a total puppet of the West, such an explanation is only a superficial description of what is happening and importantly neglects to factor in Baku’s recent foreign policy pivot over the past year. It’s not to necessarily suggest that Russia’s CSTO ally Armenia is to blame for the latest ceasefire violations, but rather to raise the point that this unfolding series of militantly destabilizing events is actually a lot more complex than initially meets the eye, although the general conclusion that the US is reaping an intrinsic strategic benefit from all of this is clearly indisputable.

Instead of beginning the research from a century ago and rehashing the dueling historic interpretations that both sides have over Nagorno-Karabakh, the article at hand begins at the present day and proceeds from the existing on-the-ground state of affairs after the 1994 ceasefire, whereby the disputed territory has de-facto been administered as its own unrecognized state with strong Armenian support in all sectors. There’s no attempt to advocate one side or denigrate the other, but rather to objectively understand the situation as it is and forecast its unfolding developments.

In keeping with the task at hand, it’s essential that the point of analytical departure be an overview of Armenia and Azerbaijan’s latest geopolitical moves in the year preceding the latest clashes. Afterwards, it’s required that an analysis be given about the limits to Russia’s CSTO commitment to Armenia, which thus helps to put Russia’s active diplomatic moves into the appropriate perspective. Following that, Part II of the article raises awareness about the US’ Reverse Brzezinski stratagem of peripheral quagmire-like destabilization along the post-Soviet rim and how the recent outbreak of violence is likely part and parcel of this calculated plan. Finally, the two-part series concludes with the suggested appeal that Armenia and Azerbaijan replace the stale OSCE Minsk Group conflict resolution format with a fresh analogue via their newly shared dialogue partner status under the SCO.

Not What One Would Expect

Over the past year or so, Armenia and Azerbaijan’s geopolitical trajectories haven’t exactly been moving along the course that casual commentators would expect that they would. Before beginning this section, it’s necessary to preface it with a disclaimer that the author is not referring to the average Armenian or Azeri citizen in the following analysis, but rather is using their respective countries’ names interchangeably with their given governments, so “Armenia” in this instance refers to the Yerevan political establishment while “Azerbaijan” relates to its Baku counterpart. This advisory note is needed in order to proactively prevent the reader from misunderstanding the author’s words and analyses, since the topic is full of highly emotionally charged elements and generally evokes a strong reaction among many, especially those of either of the two ethnicities.

Armenia:

The general trend is that the prevailing geopolitical stereotypes about Armenia and Azerbaijan are not as accurate as one would immediately think, and that neither country adheres to them to the degree that one would initially expect. It’s true that Armenia is a staunch and loyal Russian CSTO ally which maintains a presence of 5,000 troops, a handful of jets and helicopters, a forthcoming air defense shield, and possibly soon even Iskander missiles there, but it’s been progressively diversifying its foreign policy tangent by taking strong strides in attempting to reach an Association Agreement with the EU despite its formal Eurasian Union membership.

This has yet to be clinched, but the resolute intent that Yerevan clearly demonstrated in May 2015 raises uncomfortable questions about the extent to which its decision-making elite may have been co-opted by Western influences. The author was so concerned about this eventuality that he published a very controversial analysis that month explaining the various ploys by which the West has sought to woo Armenia over to its side, including the shedding of crocodile tears for its genocide victims during their centenary remembrance commemoration.

As is the established pattern which was most clearly proven by Ukraine, the more intensely that a geostrategically positioned country flirts with the West, the more susceptible that it is to a forthcoming Color Revolution attempt, so it’s unsurprising in hindsight that the “Electric Yerevan” destabilization was commenced just one month after the Armenian President was publicly hobnobbing with so many of his Western “partners”. That anti-government push was a proto-manifestation of what the author later described in an unrelated work as “Color Revolution 1.5” technologies which seek to use “civil society” and “anti-corruption” elements as experimental triggers for testing the catalyzation of large-scale regime change movements. The geopolitical end goal in all of this, as the author wrote in his “Electric Yerevan” piece cited above, was to get Armenian nationalists such as Nikol Pashinyan into power so that they can provoke a continuation war in Nagorno-Karabakh that might conceivably end up dragging in Russia. They thankfully didn’t succeed in this, and the sitting Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan has repeatedly underscored that Armenia does not want to see a conflict escalation in the disputed territory.

Strangely, despite the regime change attempt that the West tried to engineer against Armenia, Sargsyan still declared in early 2016 that “Armenia’s cooperation and development of relations with the EU remain a priority for Armenia’s foreign policy” and “expressed gratitude to the EU for their assistance in carrying out reforms in Armenia.” Also, the EU’s External Action Service reports that the two sides formally relaunched their negotiation process with one another on 7 December with the aim of reaching a “new agreement (that) will replace the current EU-Armenia Partnership and Cooperation agreement.”

An EU analyst remarked in March of this year that he obviously doesn’t believe that it will be identical to the Association Agreement that the EU had offered to Armenia prior to its Eurasian Union ascension, but that of course doesn’t mean that it couldn’t share many similarities with its predecessor and create geopolitical complications for Yerevan’s economic alliance with Moscow. It must be emphasized at this point that while the Armenian state is still closely linked to Russia on the military-political level and formally part of the Eurasian Union, it is provocatively taking strong economic steps in the direction of the EU and the general Western community, disturbingly raising the prospect that its schizophrenic policies might one day engender a crisis of loyalty where Yerevan is forced to choose between Moscow and Brussels much as Kiev was artificially made to do so as well (and possibly with similar pro-Western urban terrorist consequences for the “wrong choice”).

Azerbaijan:

On the other hand, while Armenia was bucking the conventional stereotype by moving closer to the West, Azerbaijan was also doing something similar by realigning itself closer to Russia. Baku’s relations with Washington, Brussels, Ankara, and even Tel Aviv (which it supplies 40% of its energy to via the BTC pipeline) are well documented, as is its geostrategic function as a non-Russian energy source for the EU (particularly in the context of the Southern Corridor project), so there’s no use regurgitating well-known and established facts inside of this analysis. Rather, what’s especially interesting to pay attention to is how dramatically the ties between Azerbaijan and the West have declined over the past year. Even more fascinating is that all of it was so unnecessary and had barely anything to do with Baku’s own initiative.

What happened was that Brussels started a soft power campaign against Baku by alleging that the latter had been violating “human rights” and “democratic” principles, which resulted in Azerbaijan boldly announcing in September 2015 that it was cancelling the planned visit of a European Commission delegation and considering whether it “should review [its] ties with the European Union, where anti-Azeri and anti-Islam tendencies are strong.” For a country that is stereotypically seen as being under the Western thumb, that’s the complete opposite of a subservient move and one that exudes defiance to the West. Earlier that year in February 2015, Quartz online magazine even exaggeratedly fear mongered that “Azerbaijan is transforming into a mini-Russia” because of its strengthening domestic security capabilities in dealing with asymmetrical threats.

While Azerbaijan’s resistance certainly has its pragmatic limits owing to the country’s entrenched strategic and energy infrastructural relationship with the West over the past couple of decades, it’s telling that it would so publicly rebuke the West in the fashion that it did and suggests that the problems between Azerbaijan and the West are deeper than just a simple spat. Part of the reason for the West’s extreme dislike of the Azerbaijani government has been its recent pragmatic and phased emulation of Russia’s NGO security legislation which aims to curb the effectiveness of intelligence-controlled proxy organizations in fomenting Color Revolutions. Having lost its influence over the country via the post-modern “grassroots-‘bottom-up’” approach, it’s very plausible that the US and its allies decided to find a way to instigate Nagorno-Karabakh clashes as a means of regaining their sway over their wayward Caspian ‘ally’.

Amidst this recent falling out between Azerbaijan and the West and even in the years preceding it, Moscow has been able to more confidently position itself as a reliable, trustworthy, and non-discriminatory partner which would never interfere with Baku’s domestic processes or base its bilateral relations with the country on whatever its counterpart chooses to do at home. Other than the unmistakable security influence that Russia has had on Azerbaijan’s NGO legislation, the two sides have also increased their military-technical cooperation through a surge of agreements that totaled $4 billion by 2013. By 2015, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reported that Azerbaijan’s total arms spending for the five-year period of 2011-2014 had increased by 249%, with 85% of its supplies coming from Russia.

In parallel to that, it also asserted that Russia’s weapons exports to Europe for 2011-2015 increased by 264%, “mainly due to deliveries to Azerbaijan”. It’s plain to see that Russia isn’t treating Azerbaijan as though it were an unredeemable Western puppet state, but is instead applying a shrewd and calculated military balancing strategy between it and Armenia. While unconfirmed by official sources, the head of the Political Researches Department of the Yerevan-based Caucasian Institute Sergey Minasian claimed in 2009 that Russia was supplying its Gyumri base in Armenia via air transit permission from Azerbaijan after Georgia banned such overflights through its territory after the 2008 war. If this is true, then it would suggest that Russian-Azeri strategic relations are at their most trusted level in post-independence history and that Baku has full faith that Moscow will not do anything to upset the military balance in the Southern Caucasus, which of course includes the paranoid fear that some Azeri observers have expressed about Russia conspiring with Armenia to wage another war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Strategic Calculations and CSTO Limits

Russia And Armenia:

Everything that was written above likely comes as a complete shock to the casual observer of international affairs because it flies in the face of presumed “logic”, but this just goes to show that the prevailing geopolitical stereotypes about Armenia and Azerbaijan are inaccurate and do not fully reflect the present state of affairs. The common denominator between the two rival states is their evolving relationship with Russia, which as was just described, appears to be progressively moving in opposite directions. Again, the author does not intend to give the impression that this reflects popular sentiment in either country or its expatriate and diaspora communities, especially Armenia and its affiliated ethnic nationals, since the general attitude inside the country (despite the highly publicized “Electric Yerevan” failed Color Revolution attempt) and for the most part by its compatriots outside of it could safely be described as favorable to Russia. This makes Yerevan’s pro-Western advances all the more puzzling, but that only means that the answer to this paradox lies more in the vision (and possible monetary incentives) of the country’s leadership than the will of its people. Still, the situation is not critical and has yet to approach the point where the pragmatic and trusted state of bilateral relations is endangered.

Russia And Azerbaijan:

That being said, to many conventional observers, Russia’s close military cooperation with Azerbaijan might seem just as peculiar as Armenia’s intimation of a forthcoming pro-Western economic pivot, but that too can be explained by a strategic calculation, albeit one of a much more pragmatic and understandable nature. Russia has aspired to play the role of a pivotal balancing force between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and truth be told and much to the dismay of many Armenians, it did approve of UNSC Resolutions affirming Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity along its internationally recognized borders, specifically the most recent 62/243 one from 2008 which “Reaffirms continued respect and support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan within its internationally recognized borders” and “Demands the immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of all Armenian forces from all the occupied territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan”.

Nagorno-Karabakh map

Nagorno-Karabakh map

Geopolitical Consistency:

What’s happening isn’t that Russia is “betraying Armenia” like some overactive nationalist pundits like to allege, but that it’s maintaining what has been its consistent position since the conflict began and is abiding by its stated international guiding principle in supporting territorial integrity. Key to this understanding is that the conception of territorial integrity is a guiding, but not an irreversible, tenet of Russian foreign policy, and the 2008 Russian peace-enforcement operation in Georgia that led to the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and the 2014 reunification with Crimea prove that extenuating circumstances can result in a change of long-standing policy on a case-by-case basis. This can be interpreted as meaning that Moscow at this stage (operative qualifier) does not support the independence of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, but to be fair, neither does Yerevan, although the Armenian state just recently repeated its previously stated position that it could recognize the Armenian-populated region as a separate country if the present hostilities with Azerbaijan increase. Therefore, the main condition that could push Armenia to recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent state and possibly even pressure Russia to follow suit would be the prolonged escalation of conflict around the Line of Contact.

The Unification Conundrum:

As much as some participants and international observers might think of such a move as being historically just and long overdue, Russia would likely have a much more cautious approach to any unilateral moves that Armenia makes about recognizing the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh. To repeat what was earlier emphasized about Russia’s political approach to this conflict, this would not amount to a “betrayal” of Armenia but instead would be a pragmatic and sober assessment of the global geostrategic environment and the likely fact that such a move could instantly suck Russia into the war. As it stands, Russia has a mutual defense commitment to Armenia which makes it responsible for protecting its ally from any aggression against it, however this only corresponds to the territory that Russia internationally recognizes as Armenia’s own, thereby excluding any Armenian forces and passport holders in Nagorno-Karabakh.

If Armenia recognizes Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent state, it would likely initiate a rapidly progressing process whereby the two Armenian-populated entities vote for unification, which would then place Russia in the very uncomfortable position of having to consider whether it will recognize such a unilateral move by its ally and thereby extend its mutual defense umbrella over what would by then be newly incorporated and Russian-recognized Armenian territory. On the one hand, Moscow wouldn’t want to be perceived as “betraying” its centuries-long Armenian ally and thenceforth engendering its unshakable hate for the foreseeable future, but on the other, it might have certain reservations about getting directly involved in the military conflict as a warfighting participant and forever losing the positive New Cold War inroads that it has made with Baku.

Russian-Azeri relations, if pragmatically managed along the same constructive trajectory that they’ve already been proceeding along, could lead to Moscow gaining a strategic foothold over an important Turkish, EU, and Israeli energy supplier and thus giving Russia the premier possibility of indirectly exerting its influence towards them vis-à-vis its ties with Baku. In any case, the Russian Foreign Ministry would prefer not to be placed on the spot and in such a zero-sum position where it is forced to choose between honoring its Armenian ally’s unilateral unification with Nagorno-Karabakh and abandoning its potential outpost of transregional strategic influence in Azerbaijan, or pursuing its gambit to acquire grand transregional influence via Azerbaijan at the perceived expense of its long-standing South Caucasus ally and risk losing its ultra-strategic military presence in the country.

The Nagorno-Karabakh Question is thus a quandary of epic and far-reaching geostrategic proportions for Russia, which is doing everything that it can to neutrally negotiate between the two sides in offsetting this utterly destabilizing scenario and preventing it from being forced to choose a disastrous zero-sum commitment in what will be argued in Part II to likely be an externally third-party/US-constructed military-political dilemma. Furthermore, both Armenia and Azerbaijan want to retain Russian support and neither wants to risk losing it, which also explains why Azerbaijan has yet to unleash its full military potential against the Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh and why Armenia hasn’t unilaterally recognized Nagorno-Karabakh or made an effort to politically unite with it. Conclusively, it can be surmised that the only actor which wants to force this false choice of “either-or” onto Russia is the US, which always benefits whenever destabilization strikes Moscow’s periphery and its Eurasian adversary is forced into a pressing geopolitical dilemma.

To be continued…

Andrew Korybko is the American political commentator currently working for the Sputnik agency.

April 4, 2016 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

The American Aggression Enablement Act and the US’ Eurasian Thrust (II)

By Andrew KORYBKO | Oriental Review | August 1, 2014

Part I

Part II: Destabilization by Design

The second thrust of the US’ aggression in Eurasia is the purposeful destabilization of Russia’s interests in the Near Abroad. Specifically, the AAEA’s provisions would lead to an endangered security situation for Belarus, mayhem in Moldova, and an aggravation of the Nagorno-Karabakh situation between Azerbaijan and Armenia. All of these work against Russian interests and place Moscow on the strategic defensive.

Bunkering in Belarus:

One of the US’ designs is to bunker Belarus in and surround it with offensive NATO military capabilities. American aggression against Belarus is old news, going back most sensationally to the mid-2000s when Condoleeza Rice declared the country to be the “last dictatorship in Europe”, thereby putting its head on the chopping block for regime change. Although unsuccessful in overthrowing the government via a Color Revolution, Washington still pumps millions of dollars into the country to support “democracy” (likely in the same vein and with the same intended result as it did in Ukraine with its $5 billion investment). If the AAEA’s goal of placing permanent NATO bases in Poland and the Baltics comes to fruition, as well as the goal of Shadow NATO integration of Ukraine, Belarus could very well find itself almost surrounded by hostile forces pressuring it to accede to their demands. Making the situation even more high-risk, Belarus and Russia have a mutual security agreement via the CSTO, meaning that any act of force against Belarus will be treated as an act against Russia itself. This remarkably raises the stakes of NATO’s power play and increases the chance of direct conflict with Russia.

Moldovan Meltdown:

Transnistria (colored green) and Gagauzia (red) are seeking peaceful divorce with Moldova since 1991.

Flying largely under the radar of most analysts, Moldova is prime for a full-scale meltdown as it is rushed into Western institutions. First and foremost, the country already signed the EU Association Agreement in late June and, for the first time in its history, will be sending a representative to the upcoming NATO summit in September. Although nominal neutrality is a hallmark of the country’s constitution, this does not mean that it cannot enter Shadow NATO via major non-NATO ally designation or potentially enact a ‘referendum’ to change this statute.

What is critical here is that there are two ticking time bombs in Moldova that will likely go off as Western ‘integration’ proceeds at record speed; Transnistria and the lesser-known Gagauzia. The former is the renowned frozen conflict from the 1990s where Russia still has over a thousand troops stationed. It voted to join the Russian Federation in 2006 but to no avail. In May, Deputy PM Dmitry Rogozin was harassed by Moldovan security after he visited Transnistria to collect signatures in favor of reunification with Russia. His plane was forced to land in Chisinau after Ukrainian and Moldovan authorities restricted their airspace to him, creating a diplomatic incident which would be unthinkable to do to a Western politician, let alone of such stature. Moreover, the territory is currently experiencing a blockade by both Moldova and Ukraine. Transnistria does not accept the authority of Chisinau and sees no attraction to the EU, instead preferring the Russian-led Eurasian Union. These radically divergent paths, coupled with NATO’s ambitions and Russia’s existing military position, place Moldova on the brink of destabilization.

Not only that, but Gagauzia is also a simmering issue waiting to boil over. Ari Rusila conducted research on this relatively unknown entity back in April and found that, just like Transnistria, it too is moving closer to Russia. Just as fast as Moldova is moving westward, Gagauzia appears to be moving eastward, and it is asserting its self-determination with every step of the way. He writes that it held a February 2014 referendum to join the Customs Union and that it also voted to place independence on the table if Moldova loses or surrenders its sovereignty. These two options could be taken to mean joining the EU or merging with Romania, and if Gagauzia officially moves away from the centralized Moldovan state, it could lead to military reprisals by Chisinau. All that it takes to set off the two Transnistrian and Gagauzian time bombs is to shove Moldova into the EU and NATO, both of which are already being fast-tracked by the West.

Asphyxiating Armenia:

Lost in the mix of the more headline-grabbing aspects of the AAEA, the legislation also mandates that the US increase its military cooperation with Azerbaijan and provide the same amount of security assistance to it, in league with NATO, as it would to the major non-NATO allies and Balkan states. This is an exceptionally important detail that mustn’t be overlooked by any observer. Armenia, Azerbaijan’s bitter rival, made the fateful decision to turn its back on the EU and move towards the Eurasian Union, much to the ire of Brussels. Hillary Clinton, speaking on behalf of the State Department in late-2012, made known her country’s intention to “figure out effective ways to slow down or prevent” Eurasian integration, signaling that Armenia, after having made its decision to move in this direction, will now be targeted just like Ukraine was.

2222_wm&91;1&93;_waAzerbaijan and Armenia are locked in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict which, although frozen, threatens to heat up at any moment. By throwing its hat squarely behind Azerbaijan, the US is showing that it is not a neutral party to the conflict and cannot be trusted within the OSCE Minsk Group. The move for a more clearly defined and open US-Azeri military alliance has been a long time in coming, however. The US has been using Azerbaijan as a geostrategic energy outpost between Russia and Iran since the 1990s, and the creation of the BTC pipeline only increased its significance in the eyes of Western decision makers. Baku is also close friends with Israel, supplying about 40% of its oil, and it has been rumored to host Israeli drone bases for use against Iran. The Jerusalem Post also reports that Israel sells “hundreds of millions of dollars worth of arms” to the country, further cementing their military-strategic relationship.

Armenia, on the other hand, has a mutual security guarantee with Russia through the CSTO, just like Belarus does. It is a traditional Russia ally and even hosts the 102nd military base outside the capital of Yerevan. Armenia has been blockaded by both Turkey and Azerbaijan since the early 1990s, and the vast majority of its foreign trade must move through Georgia before going to Russia or to other countries via port. With Georgia trying to join the EU, the scenario could arise where costly tariffs are enacted against outside (Armenian) goods entering the Union, even if they are only transiting through, further strangling the already weakened Armenian economy and promoting social unrest. To put things into perspective, Azerbaijan’s defense budget is larger than the entire state budget of Armenia, and Azeri President Aliyev has a track record of threatening military force to retake Nagorno Karabkah.

In sum, any renewed outbreak of war between Azerbaijan (now close to becoming a US military ally) and Armenia (protected under Russia’s defense umbrella) would be a de-facto US-Russian proxy war that could quickly draw in both powers. What’s more, Azerbaijan closely cooperates with Turkey, with whom it has close ethnic, cultural, and linguistic ties, and Ankara’s involvement in any future conflict could quickly draw in the entire NATO alliance. By cozying up so closely with Azerbaijan and working to asphyxiate Armenia, the US is pushing itself closer to a direct conflict with Russia.

Concluding Thoughts

It has been definitively established that the US’ so-called ‘Russian Aggression Prevention Act’ is nothing more than Orwellian Doublespeak for an American Aggression Enablement Act. Aside from the more well-known aspects of the proposal, the lesser-known ones are just as significant in throwing America and its NATO clique closer to war with Russia. By rabidly expanding NATO at all costs via indirect means, the US is plainly showing that it does not care whatsoever for Russia’s security concerns. In fact, it wants to push the envelope and expand NATO in as many simultaneous directions as it can. The swallowing of the Balkans, the staging ground of Russia’s strategic South Stream project, and the movement to incorporate Sweden and Finland into NATO are Washington’s way of imposing full dominance over the continent’s last nominally neutral areas, a move which will surely lead to a determined Russian push back, especially as regards the defense of Serbia and NATO expansion into Finland.

Furthermore, the AAEA aims to threaten Russian interests in Belarus, Moldova, and Armenia, three countries where Moscow has deployed troops and two of which are mutual security partners. This is a calculated attempt at weakening Russia’s position in the Near Abroad and continuing to place it on the strategic defense. All together, everything within the American Aggression Enablement Act clearly shows that the US has strapped up its boots and is eager to go on the offensive against Russia. The ‘Reset’ was nothing more than an underhanded way to buy the necessary time to organize this campaign against all of Russia’s interests on its western flank, and it appears to be in full swing. If it passes into law, the bill will be seen in hindsight as the one action which single-handedly ushered in the ‘New Cold War’ and could quite possibly revert Europe back to the powder keg that it once was 100 years ago.

August 2, 2014 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel and Azerbaijan: A Strategic Alliance

By Mohamad Bdeir | Al-Akhbar | March 6, 2013

Since its early days, Israel has followed a strategy of courting alliances with neighboring non-Arab states. As such, Azerbaijan is fast becoming a key ally of the Zionist state.

Early last year, media reports revealed a massive $1.6 billion weapons deal between Azerbaijan and Israel, considered one of the largest sales in Israel’s history.

At the time, then head of the Mossad, Danny Yatom, openly encouraged the sale of weapons “to countries that are friendly to us in order to better confront Iran.”

In addition to selling weapons and containing Iran, Israel is also interested in Azerbaijan’s oil, which today constitutes 40 percent of its consumption, with plans for a pipeline connecting the two countries by way of the southeastern Turkish city of Ceyhan.

The relationship between Israel and Iran’s northern neighbor goes back over two decades, shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. At that time, nearly 100,000 Azeri Jews emigrated to Israel, prompting Tel Aviv to quickly find ways to develop strong ties with this strategic country.

For its part, Baku calculated that it too can benefit from such a relationship in two key areas: Israeli technology, particularly in defense and agriculture; and the support of the Zionist lobby in Washington to counterbalance Armenian influence on the Nagorno-Karabakh territorial dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

A few days ago, the Israeli daily Haaretz published a report from Baku that quoted a presidential advisor as saying that in his government’s view, “Iran is the problem, and not Israel…Tehran doesn’t like our cooperation with Israel,” adding that there is “a large number of Israelis of Azeri origin with whom we continue to work.”

The report makes it clear that many in Baku are more than willing to sacrifice their relationship with Iran in favor of closer ties to Israel.

The newspaper, for example, quotes an Azerbaijani MP as follows: “There are a lot Jewish friends of Azerbaijan, and they are helping us in Washington,” noting that “Muslim Azerbaijan supports Israel, while Christian Armenia supports Iran.”

Oil also figures large in the growing relationship between the two countries, as Azerbaijan has become Tel Aviv’s largest oil supplier.

Before the Islamic revolution, Iran was Israel’s key source of oil. After the fall of the Shah, Tel Aviv turned to Mexico for three decades to supply it with more expensive oil, given the distance between the two countries.

As ties with Baku improved, Azerbaijan quickly became Israel’s main oil supplier through a pipeline that runs through Georgia to the Turkish port of Ceyhan.

According to Haaretz, Turkey reaps sizeable financial benefits from this route – a key factor in sustaining Israeli-Turkish economic ties, despite diplomatic tensions between the two countries since the Mavi Marmara massacre in 2010.

In this vein, the Haaretz report reveals that for some time now Baku has invested quite a bit of diplomatic effort in bridging the differences between its two close allies, Turkey and Israel, but with little success so far, given the hardline stance of former Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman.

March 6, 2013 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

New Report Revives Speculation On Azerbaijan-Israel Cooperation Against Iran

By Joshua Kucera | EURASIANET | September 30, 2012

When Foreign Policy magazine reported this spring that Israel was in talks with Azerbaijan over the use of the latter’s airfields in order to carry out an attack on Iran, the bombshell report was vociferously denied by officials in Baku and derided by regional analysts. Azerbaijan would seem to not have any interest in such cooperation, and the Foreign Policy report was correctly described as “Washington-centric.”

But now Reuters has come out with the same story, but their sources are Azerbaijani and Russian:

[T]wo Azeri former military officers with links to serving personnel and two Russian intelligence sources all told Reuters that Azerbaijan and Israel have been looking at how Azeri bases and intelligence could serve in a possible strike on Iran.

“Where planes would fly from – from here, from there, to where? – that’s what’s being planned now,” a security consultant with contacts at Azeri defense headquarters in Baku said. “The Israelis … would like to gain access to bases in Azerbaijan.”

….

Rasim Musabayov, an independent Azeri lawmaker and a member of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said that, while he had no definitive information, he understood that Azerbaijan would probably feature in any Israeli plans against Iran, at least as a contingency for refueling its attack force:

“Israel has a problem in that if it is going to bomb Iran, its nuclear sites, it lacks refueling,” Musabayov told Reuters.

“I think their plan includes some use of Azerbaijan access.

“We have (bases) fully equipped with modern navigation, anti-aircraft defenses and personnel trained by Americans and if necessary they can be used without any preparations,” he added.

The same skepticism applies now as applied with the Foreign Policy piece: it’s very hard to imagine what Azerbaijan would gain from participating in an Israeli strike on Iran. Azerbaijan has its own serious problems with Iran, but they’re pretty separate from Israel’s and have little to do with the nuclear program. And participating in an Israeli attack would just open Azerbaijan up for retaliation, for which Baku is not at all prepared.

What could be worth it to Baku? This is 100 percent speculation, but what if Israel were able to provide something totally game-changing vis-a-vis Nagorno Karabakh? Taking Karabakh back from the Armenians who control it now is Azerbaijan’s top priority by far, and Baku may find it worthwhile to risk Iranian retaliation if it could get Karabakh. I have no idea what that game-changing something Israel might be able to provide, but it’s the only way I can see this making any sense. No doubt we’ll hear a lot more about this.

September 30, 2012 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 2 Comments