Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

US to pressure partners into enforcing anti-Russia sanctions

RT | January 28, 2023

The US Treasury Department’s top sanctions official will visit Türkiye and the United Arab Emirates next week to warn officials and businesses there that Washington will punish them if they dodge its sanctions on Russia, Reuters reported on Saturday.

Brian Nelson, the department’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, will travel to Oman, the UAE, and Türkiye between Sunday and Friday. Meeting with government officials, businesses and financial institutions, Nelson will caution them that they could lose access to US markets “on account of doing business with sanctioned entities,” a Treasury spokesperson told the news agency.

US officials have repeatedly highlighted Türkiye as a potential hub of sanctions evasion, and unnamed Western officials told the Financial Times in August that they were “deeply concerned” about allegations of trade between Turkish firms and sanctioned Russian entities.

Ankara responded that it “would not allow the breaching of sanctions by any institution or person,” following a phone call in which US Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo seemingly threatened the “success of the Turkish economy” and “the integrity of its banking sector.”

The UAE has also received warnings from Washington, with Adeyemo urging the Emirates’ financial institutions last summer to be “exceedingly cautious” about doing business with other institutions connected to “the Russian financial system.” The Treasury spokesperson told Reuters that Nelson will condemn the UAE’s “poor sanctions compliance” during his visit.

In the last month, the US has sanctioned a prominent Turkish businessman over allegedly laundering money for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and a UAE-based aviation firm over alleged sales to Russia’s Wagner private military corporation. Multiple Emirati companies have also been penalized for evading US sanctions on Iran.

Both Türkiye and the UAE voted at the UN General Assembly last year to condemn Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, but neither has imposed sanctions of their own on Moscow. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has maintained close contact with his colleagues in both Kiev and Moscow, and said from the outset that his diplomatic handling of the conflict would be “balanced.”

With Türkiye and the US also at loggerheads over Ankara’s refusal to sign off on Finland’s and Sweden’s bids for NATO membership, Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin last week affirmed their intent to “develop comprehensive cooperation,” including by increasing the supply of Russian gas to Türkiye.

January 28, 2023 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia, War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments

Saudi Crown Prince defies the US policy against Syria

By Steven Sahiounie | Free West Media | January 22, 2023

In November 2022, Saudi Arabia formally changed its stance on Syria. Saudi Arabia is the political powerhouse of the Middle East, and often shares positions on foreign policy and international issues with the UAE, which has previously re-opened their embassy in Damascus.

“The kingdom is keen to maintain Syria’s security and stability and supports all efforts aimed at finding a political solution to the Syrian crisis,” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan told the November Arab League summit in Algeria.

Syria was suspended from the Arab League in 2011 following the outbreak of conflict instigated by the US, and portrayed in western media as a popular uprising of pro-democracy protesters.

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said, “The developments in Syria still require a pioneering Arab effort. It is necessary to show flexibility from all parties so that the economic collapse and political blockage can be dispelled. Syria must engage in its natural Arab environment.”

The next Arab League summit will be held in Saudi Arabia, and there is a possibility of Syria once again taking its seat at the round table.

On January 16, the Syrian Foreign Ministry agreed to resume imports from Saudi Arabia after over a decade of strained relations, and Syria planned to import 10,000 tons of white sugar. This development signals a new beginning between the two countries.

Saudi and the Syrian tribes

The Arab tribes in the north east of Syria have traditionally had strong ties with Saudi Arabia, and have received support from the kingdom. The tribes have opposed the ethnic cleansing and forced displacement of Arab villages which the US-led YPG militia has conducted for years. Even though Saudi Arabia has been viewed as a US ally in the past, this has changed since the US military has supported the Marxist YPG who have oppressed Syrians who are not Kurdish.

The US occupied oil wells in north east Syria may come under attack by Arab tribes who are demanding their homes, farms and businesses back from the US-supported YPG. Some analysts foresee the US troops pulling out of Syria after the Kurds find a political solution with Damascus.

Turkey and Syria repair relationship

Turkey and Syria have begun steps to repair their relationship, which ended after Turkey supported the US-NATO attack on Syria for regime change, and hosted CIA operations  funneling weapons and terrorists into Syria, under the Obama administration.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad recently demanded the withdrawal of Turkish troops from Syria to begin to repair the relationship.

Russia is brokering the reconciliation between Erdogan and Assad, which began with the Moscow hosted meeting of the three defense ministers, and a meeting between the three foreign ministers is upcoming.

The developments between Turkey and Syria are being watched by Iran. Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said his country was “happy with the dialogue taking place between Syria and Turkey.” Amirabdollahian will travel to Damascus on Saturday for talks with Syrian Foreign Minister Mekdad.

Iran is looking to establish a new role in the recovery process in Syria. President Ebrahim Raisi will visit both Turkey and Syria soon, his first visit to Turkey since taking office two years ago. While analysts see Saudi Arabia and Iran as antagonists, some feel the kingdom will ultimately realize they have to work with Iran in Syria and Lebanon. Iran is part of the region and can’t be excluded from the geo-political sphere.

Saudi Arabian reforms

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) said on April 27, 2021 that the country was undergoing a sweeping reform which would restructure the role of religion in Saudi politics and society. The process began a few years before he became crown prince, but under his leadership it has accelerated. Islamic institutions in the Kingdom have seen changes in procedure, personnel, and jurisdiction. All of these reforms are in line with the future vision of the country.

Some analysts feel the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1960s eventually gave rise to support for domestic religious institutions, and eventually led to funding of religious activities abroad, while religious leaders at home wielded power over public policy.

Vision 2030

Saudi King Salman, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, and his son, MBS have a plan for the country which is known as Vision 2030. MBS is also Prime Minister and Chairman of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs.

The days of unlimited oil and markets are in the decline. Education, training, and employment opportunities are the stepping stones to building a thriving country and MBS is determined to plan for a long future of growth and innovation.

MBS

The Crown Prince is young and has new ideas. He is instituting sweeping reforms to the society which have included more rights and freedoms for women. He has championed projects to place Saudi Arabia as a tourist destination, year round golf and soccer venue, and encouraged cultural arts such as musical productions. MBS is breaking the mold: no longer will Saudi Arabia be a breeding ground for Radical Islam.

Extremist preachers

Saudi Arabia had hosted many extremist preachers. Some were featured on satellite TV channels located in Saudi Arabia, and others were local preachers, authors, or scholars. Some had traveled abroad preaching in pulpits and exporting their hatred and sectarian bigotry.

One of the most famous preachers was Muhammed Al-Arifi, who has had an electronic surveillance device attached to him by Saudi intelligence agents, after they seized all of his social media accounts. His last tweet is said to be on May 6, 2019, when he had 20 million followers, and 24 million likes on Facebook, which ranked him as tenth in the Arab world and in the Middle East. The kingdom is shutting down clerics who are extreme.

In 2014, Great Britain banned Arifi from entering the UK following reports that was involved in radicalizing three young British citizens who went to Syria as terrorists.

A YouTube video in 2013 showed Arifi preaching in Egypt and prophesying the coming of the Islamic State. Egyptian TV reported Arifi meeting with the former Muslim Brotherhood prime minister Hisham Qandil in his office.

Arifi is best remembered for his statement on the media Al Jazeera in which he called for jihad in Syria and supported Al Qaeda.

Adnan al-Arour is another extremist preacher who had appeared regularly on two Saudi-owned Salafist satellite channels. Arour was originally from Syria before settling in Saudi Arabia, and in the early days of the Syrian conflict he would stand up on camera, shake his finger, and call for his followers to ‘grind the flesh’ of an Islamic minority sect in Syria and ‘feed it to the dogs’.

These extremist preachers made it clear that the battles being waged in Syria had nothing to do with freedom or democracy, which the western media was pushing as the goal. The truth was the conflict in Syria was a US-NATO attack for regime change and utilized terrorists following Radical Islam, who fought a sectarian war with the goal of establishing an Islamic State in Syria.

The previous Crown Prince

Muhammad bin Nayef Al Saud (MBN) served as the crown prince and first deputy prime minister of Saudi Arabia from 2015 to 2017. On June 21, 2017 King Salman appointed his own son, MBS, as crown prince and relieved MBN of all positions.

MBN met with British Prime Minister David Cameron in January 2013. He then met with President Obama in Washington, on 14 January 2013. The discussion focused on the US-NATO attack on Syria and its support from Saudi Arabia.

In February 2014, MBN replaced Prince Bandar bin Sultan, then intelligence chief of Saudi Arabia, and was placed in charge of Saudi intelligence in Syria. Bandar had been in charge of supporting the US attack on Syria. Bandar had been trying to convince the US in 2012 that the Syrian government was using chemical weapons. However, research has shown that the terrorists used chemical weapons to push Obama into a military invasion, based on his speech of ‘The Red Line’.

In March 2016, MBN was awarded Légion d’honneur by French President François Hollande, another partner in the US-NATO attack on Syria.

On February 10, 2017, the CIA granted its highest Medal to MBN and was handed to him by CIA director Mike Pompeo during a reception ceremony in Riyadh. MBN and Pompeo discussed Syria with Turkish officials, and said Saudi Arabia’s relationship with the US was “historic and strategic”. Just months later in June MBS would depose MBN and strip him of powers, in a move considered to be “upending decades of royal custom and profoundly reordering the kingdom’s inner power structure”.

US diplomats argued that MBN was “the most pro-American minister in the Saudi Cabinet”. That is what brought MBN down. The days of blindly following the US directives are over in Saudi Arabia. MBS has refused to bow down to Biden when he demanded an increase in oil production. The Vision 2030 that MBS developed does not include financing failed wars in the Middle East for the benefit of the Oval Office. MBS has a strained relationship with Biden, and he wears it as a badge of honor.

Saudi role in the Syrian war

Saudi Arabia played a huge role in the large-scale supply of weapons and ammunition to various terrorist groups in Syria during the Syrian conflict. Weapons purchased in Croatia were funneled through Jordan to the border town of Deraa, the epi-center of the Syrian conflict.

At the height of Saudi involvement in Syria, the kingdom had their own militia in Syria under the command of Zahran Alloush. The Jaysh al-Islam are remembered for parading women in cages through the Damascus countryside prior to massacring them.

In summer 2017, US President Donald Trump shut down the CIA operation ‘Timber Sycamore’ which had been arming the terrorists fighting in Syria. About the same time, Saudi Arabia cut off support to the Syrian opposition, which was the political arm of the terrorists.

Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6, expressed his view at the time that “Saudi Arabia is involved in the ISIS-led Sunni rebellion” in Syria.

Syria has been destroyed by the US and their allies who supported the attack beginning in 2011. Now, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are looking to find a solution which will help the Syrian people to rebuild their lives. Both Turkey and Saudi Arabia have turned away from past policies which found them supporting the conflict in Syria at the behest of the US. There is a new Middle East emerging which makes its own policies and is not subservient US interests.

January 22, 2023 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Türkiye cancels visit of NATO hopeful’s defense minister

RT | January 21, 2023

Ankara has called off the planned visit of Swedish Defense Minister Pal Jonson, his Turkish counterpart, Hulusi Akar, revealed on Saturday. The move comes after members of the Kurdish community held an anti-Turkish protest in Stockholm.

“At this point, the visit of Swedish Defense Minister Jonson to Türkiye on January 27 has become neither important, nor meaningful. Therefore, we have canceled the visit,” Akar told reporters on Saturday. He added that his country was still “evaluating” how Sweden and Finland were fulfilling their obligations to Türkiye amid their bids to join NATO.

“We expect Sweden and Finland to do their homework,” the minister stated.

Jonson tweeted that the ministers “decided … to postpone the planned meeting in Ankara until later.”

Last week, Ankara summoned the Swedish ambassador after an effigy of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was hung upside down on a lamp post in the Swedish capital on January 12. Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom condemned the act as “abhorrent.”

However, the Swedish authorities rejected Ankara’s call for an investigation, saying that the protesters had not violated any laws. The move caused further outrage in Türkiye, which considers Kurdish political and militant groups, such as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), terrorist organizations.

Relations between Sweden and Türkiye deteriorated further after the Nordic country’s police permitted Rasmus Paludan, an anti-Islam activist and leader of a minor far-right Danish party, Stram Kurs (Hard Line), to burn a copy of the Koran near the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm. The police said the act falls under freedom of expression. This prompted the Turkish authorities to summon the Swedish envoy for the second time, local media reported on Friday.

Left-wing Swedish newspaper Flamman launched a competition for the best satirical drawing of Erdogan on Tuesday, with a prize of 10,000 krona ($971). The paper accused the Turkish president of “trying to pressure Sweden to deport Kurds and restrict the freedom of expression.”

The spat takes place as Sweden and Finland hope that Ankara will not block their path to become NATO members. Last year, Türkiye greenlighted the start of the accession process in exchange for the two Nordic countries addressing requests to extradite people with suspected ties to the PKK and similar groups.

Türkiye has since accused Sweden of not fulfilling its obligations under the NATO deal, as the country’s courts rebuffed some extradition bids.

January 21, 2023 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | , , | Leave a comment

Russian military delegation meets with Kurds in northern Syria

The Cradle | January 19, 2023

Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported on 19 January that a meeting was held between a Russian military delegation and Kurdish representatives in the northern Syrian town of Ain al-Arab.

Kurdish sources told the newspaper that the meeting focused on securing Ain al-Arab, also known by its Kurdish name Kobani, as the northern Syrian town is among the principal targets of Ankara’s long-promised ground offensive against Kurdish militants in northern Syria.

According to the sources, the Kurdish representatives were informed by General Alexander Alkous – the Russian general at the head of Moscow’s delegation – that Russia is prepared to support the city in the sectors of health, education, and basic services.

This coincided with a renewal of Turkish military bombardment against positions of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Ain al-Arab on 18 January, reigniting Kurdish fears that the Turkish operation is imminent. It also coincided with a meeting between Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in the US capital.

Al-Akhbar also revealed that the Russian Reconciliation Center is working to recruit volunteers from the Arab tribes across northern Syria, in order to counter US efforts at reviving the Raqqa Revolutionary Brigade, which Washington aims to merge with a ‘restructured’ version of the SDF. The report adds that Ankara, during the 18 January meeting between Blinken and Cavusoglu, expressed a “categorical” rejection of Washington’s plan.

Additionally, Al-Akhbar suggests that Ankara is “sticking to [the] path” of reconciliation with Damascus.

A day before the meeting in Washington, a meeting was held by several EU representatives in Brussels, aimed at confirming “the continuation of the existing EU position, which constitutes a rejection of any normalization with Damascus, a refusal to lift sanctions, and the blocking of attempts to initiate the reconstruction of Syria,” according to Al-Akhbar.

Meanwhile, the sentiment expressed by the US and EU towards Turkish-Syrian reconciliation is shared only by Syria’s armed extremist opposition, led by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).

As a result, HTS and other extremist armed groups have stepped up ambush operations and hit-and-run attacks against Syrian army outposts over the past week. Just yesterday, heavy clashes erupted between the forces of Damascus and extremist militants in the countryside of Aleppo.

January 19, 2023 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

Kurdish delegation visits Damascus as SDF loses faith in Washington

The Cradle | January 17, 2023

Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported on 17 January that a Kurdish delegation representing the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) visited Syria’s capital Damascus today, to engage in dialogue with the Syrian government in light of the potential Syrian-Turkish rapprochement.

According to the report, the SDF “welcomed” Damascus’ insistence that the rapprochement not officially begin until Turkiye guarantees its intention to withdraw from Syria. Quoting the head of the Kurdish Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) foreign relations office, Badran Jia Kurd, who led the delegation, it has a priority “to develop Syrian-Syrian dialogue as an ideal path to a political solution.”

At the same time, however, in continuation of its attempt to foil any chance of Syrian-Turkish reconciliation, Washington is now trying to, in a sense, reform and restructure the Kurdish organization to make it more acceptable to Ankara.

A 12 January report released by Al-Akhbar stated that in an attempt to do this, the US has asked the SDF to disassociate from Turkiye’s sworn foe, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), and clear Raqqa and Deir Ezzor of Kurdish militants so that they could be overseen by ‘local councils’ made up of Arabs.

It is worth noting that the Kurds have expressed reluctance over this US project and have said that despite being willing to negotiate, they cannot accept to make such large concessions.

Proceeding with this plan, the US is currently recruiting Arab fighters to eventually incorporate into the SDF, thereby working to make it somewhat more acceptable to Turkiye. These Arab fighters are being recruited into the Raqqa Revolutionary Brigade (Liwa Thuwwar al-Raqqa), the revived version of a former extremist faction which was allied to Jabhat al-Nusra in 2012, and then fought ISIS alongside the SDF from 2015 to 2018 under US sponsorship before a dispute saw them break apart.

Having been inactive for a few years, Al-Akhbar reported on 20 December 2022 that Washington has brought this group into action once again, giving it the capacity to recruit fighters, and promised its members monthly salaries. Later reports claimed that the US has already begun making payments to the Raqqa Brigade, which it hopes can remerge with the SDF at some point.

Today, Al-Akhbar reports that the Raqqa Brigade is coordinating with the Syrian National Alliance (SNA), a New York-based opposition group made up of Syrian exiles, which is supposed to make up the brigade’s political wing.

However, as Washington scrambles to forge together alliances in an attempt to keep Turkiye and the SDF away from Damascus and closer to each other, the Kurds have expressed wariness over these efforts.

“This vision cannot be viewed positively, given the difficulty of persuading Turkiye to end hostility towards the Kurds in general … the most appropriate solution for the region lies with Damascus,” Kurdish sources close to the SDF have said.

In other news, the armed opposition’s leading faction, the extremist, former Al-Qaeda affiliate, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), has continued to voice its complete rejection of Ankara’s diplomatic turnaround and is currently mobilizing heavy reinforcements.

January 17, 2023 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

Turkiye-Syria talks fuel jihadist relocation to Ukraine

Abdel Hakim al-Shishani, formerly the leader of the foreign ‘Soldiers of the Caucasus’ group in Syria, and now an official member of Ukraine’s international legion (Photo: Atlas News )
The Cradle | January 12, 2023

As the prospect of a rapprochement between Ankara and Damascus becomes more imminent, the most extreme elements of Syria’s armed opposition have been feeling a sting of betrayal, accelerating a trend that, over the past year, has seen many jihadists relocate to Ukraine.

This is especially true for foreign militants, particularly those from Central Asia or the Caucasus.

On 12 January, Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported that after several months of disappearance, the well-known Chechen extremist and leader of the ‘Soldiers of the Caucasus’ militia, Abdel Hakim al-Shishani, has reappeared in Ukraine as a member of Kiev’s so-called ‘international legion,’ established in order to attract and recruit foreign fighters against Russia.

According to the report, there has recently been news of an increased number of foreign fighters leaving Syria to make their way over to the “new battlefield,” reinforced by “Turkiye’s lack of need for ‘jihadists’ on Syrian soil” and its “definite interest … to get rid of them.” This comes following recent talks aimed at reconciling Damascus and Ankara, over which the opposition has already expressed a great distaste for.

The report also highlights a leading role played by Turkish intelligence in facilitating this cross-country transfer of extremists, “at least during the first months of the Russian-Ukrainian war.” This could have been Ankara’s way of disposing of militants from Syria and clearing the way for a solution to the Syrian war (provided it was serious about reconciliation at the time, and still is). According to Al-Akhbar, Shishani himself passed through Turkiye on his way to the “new land of jihad,” just as he initially had on his way to join the war in Syria.

Syrian officials have also suggested Washington’s role in facilitating these transfers to Ukraine, as the US has been involved in the relocation of extremists between Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan.

On 7 January, the official account of Ukraine’s intelligence agency posted a video on Twitter showing Shishani and a group of fighters engaging in clashes with Russian troops in the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. The video essentially serves as propaganda designed specifically to attract extremist militants from Syria to Ukraine.

Shishani’s disappearance coincided with the establishment of recruitment centers in northern Syria designed to send fighters off to Ukraine, as Al-Akhbar reported in March last year.

Soon after the start of the Ukrainian war, hundreds of fighters from ISIS and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), formerly the Al-Qaeda linked Nusra Front, began making their way to Ukraine to take part in a newer, more direct front against Russia.

On 1 March, before these reports began emerging, Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Bashar al-Jaafari, predicted this.

“We, as a state, have evidence that the US military in Syria is transferring terrorists from one place to another, especially members of ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra … So, one should not be surprised, and we do not exclude, that tomorrow ISIS terrorists will be sent to Ukraine,” he said.

If the plan for a restoration of ties between Syria and Turkiye is fruitful, and if Ankara chooses to officially abandon Syria’s armed opposition, which the extremists fear has already happened, then it is a likely possibility that the raging battlefield in Ukraine will emerge as a new safe haven for Syria’s jihadist movement.

January 12, 2023 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

US on alert as UAE seeks to join Turkish-Syrian reconciliation talks

The Cradle | January 8, 2023

During a speech in Ankara on 5 January, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hinted that a meeting with his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad may soon take place, “as part of efforts for peace.” He added that a tripartite meeting between the foreign ministers of Turkiye, Russia and Syria is scheduled to be held in the near future for the first time since 2011.

The upcoming meeting aims to enhance communication after Russian-sponsored talks between the Turkish and Syrian defense ministers were held in Moscow on 28 December. The meeting was the highest-level of official meetings between Ankara and Damascus since the start of the Syrian war.

In a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on 5 January, Erdogan called on the Syrian government to “take the steps to achieve a tangible solution concerning the case of Syria.”

US seeks to establish a middle ground between Ankara and the SDF so as to prevent Turkish-Syrian reconciliation

The Syrian-Turkish rapprochement via declared Russian mediation was paralleled by Emirati-Syrian rapprochement – the latest of which was a “brotherly” meeting aimed at strengthening cooperation and restoring historical relations between Assad and Foreign Minister of the UAE Abdallah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, according to SANA.

Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported that the UAE seeks “to join Russia in sponsoring Syrian-Turkish relations at a high level,” noting that the Emirati foreign minister’s visit to Damascus sought to arrange Turkiye’s participation in the tripartite meeting of Syrian-Turkish-Russian foreign ministers, making it a quadripartite meeting.

The meeting is meant to pave the way for a presidential meeting between Erdogan and Assad in the presence of Putin. Reportedly, the UAE has offered to host this summit, with a possibility of a high-level UAE official being present at the meeting if it will be held in Moscow.

Asharq Al-Awsat added that Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu plans to visit Washington on 16-17 January to brief US officials on the developments of Turkish-Syrian normalization, his meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Faysal Mikdad, and the “roadmap” sponsored by Moscow in the context of security, military, political and economic fields – as agreed upon by the defense ministers as well as the intelligence chiefs in Syria, Turkiye and Russia over the past weeks.

As Turkiye has been launching successive operations against Kurdish groups both on the Turkish-Syrian border as well as within Syria itself under ‘Operation Claw Sword,’ a Western official informed Asharq Al-Awsat that a high-ranking US official will be visiting Ankara in the coming hours as part of efforts to mediate between Turkiye and the SDF in northeastern Syria.

Ankara has demanded that Moscow and Washington commit to the implementation of the bilateral military agreements signed at the end of 2019. The agreements stipulate the withdrawal of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to beyond 30 kilometers from the Turkish border, and from the areas of Manbij and Tal Rifaat, in addition to the withdrawal of all heavy weaponry.

The SDF says that it has fulfilled its obligations, and will not withdraw its police force – known as the Asayish – nor dismantle its local councils, despite Turkiye’s insistence on dissolving all Kurdish military and civil institutions in the area.

Meanwhile, Cavusoglu told media on 29 December that Ankara is willing to withdraw from the territory it occupies in northern Syria and hand it over to Damascus in the event that “political stability” is reached – after cooperation in “neutralizing ISIS members, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the YPG.”

The Saudi newspaper’s report stated that US mediation seeks to reach a “compromise” between the Kurdish groups and Ankara without a new Turkish incursion taking place ahead of the Turkish presidential and parliamentary elections in mid-2023. This mediation seems to be an attempt at circumventing the imminent Syrian-Turkish reconciliation.

Another official source disclosed that Ankara was “uncomfortable with the leaks following the meeting of the Syrian, Turkish and Russian defense ministers in Moscow, and that it had agreed to a full withdrawal.” However, the source confirmed that, “it is true that Ankara and Damascus consider the PKK a common threat, and will work against any separatist agenda, because it is an existential threat to both countries,” adding that the two countries will “work to open the Aleppo-Latakia Highway.”

Following the UAE’s visit to Damascus, which came after the US called on its allies and international partners to refrain from normalizing ties with Syria, Asharq Al-Awsat quoted an official as saying that the US has been the only western country to issue a statement against normalization, and is working alongside Paris, Berlin, and London to assume a united stance against normalization with Syria.

Communication is currently underway for a meeting between the representatives of Paris, Berlin, London, and Washington and UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pederson in Geneva on 23 January. This meeting will take place before Pedersen’s visit to Damascus to meet with the Syrian foreign minister to “confirm the position against normalization, and support the provision of funding for electricity projects within the timeline of early recovery,” stipulated by a resolution for international aid that will be extended before 10 January.

Asharq Al-Awsat said that the UAE has proposed to contribute to the funding of economic and electrical projects in Syria – within the confines of the Caesar Act.

Simultaneously, Jordan, who was the first to open high-level channels of communication with Damascus, is leading efforts alongside other Arab countries to reach a “united Arab position that defines Arab demands in order to make normalization possible.”

The newspaper quoted another western official as saying that Jordan is calling for coordination to put pressure on Damascus to provide political and geopolitical steps for the coming phase in southern Syria, as Amman confirmed that there has been an increase in the smuggling of Captagon, weapons and ammunition across the Syrian border following the start of the normalization process. Additionally, Amman has said that the Iranian presence in southern Syria near the Jordanian border has not diminished, and that there has been an expansion of ISIS activity in the area, according to the official.

Syria’s Arab League membership was suspended in November of 2011 following the start of the Syrian war, and it has been excluded ever since.

January 8, 2023 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 2 Comments

Leaders of Turkey, Syria may meet to discuss peace, stability: Erdogan

Press TV – January 5, 2023

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed the possibility of meeting with his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad in forthcoming talks with Russia to discuss peace and stability in the region and in the Arab country.

Erdogan said on Thursday that a trilateral meeting of the foreign ministers from Turkey, Russia and Syria would first be held to further develop contacts after last week’s landmark talks between the defense ministers of the three countries in Moscow.

“We will bring our foreign ministers together and then, depending on developments, we may come together as the Russian, Turkish, and Syrian leaders. So, our aim is to establish peace and stability in the region,” Erdogan said at a meeting of his Justice and Development (AK) Party in the capital Ankara, without specifying an exact date for the possible meeting.

“Turkish, Russian, and Syrian defense ministers and intelligence chiefs came together in Moscow. Hopefully, the foreign ministers will come together in a trilateral format,” he added.

On December 28, the Turkish, Russian, and Syrian defense ministers gathered in Moscow to discuss counter-terrorism efforts in Syria, and they agreed to continue tripartite meetings to ensure stability in Syria and in the wider region.

The meeting revolved around the Syria crisis, the refugee issue, and joint counter-terrorism efforts against terror outfits in the Arab country.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said a second meeting could take place in mid-January.

Turkey severed its relations with Syria in March 2012, a year after the Arab country found itself in the grip of rampant and hugely deadly violence waged by foreign-backed militants and terrorists, including those allegedly supported by Ankara.

Turkey has for the past 11 years backed armed terrorists that unsuccessfully sought to topple the democratically-elected government of Assad, with Erdogan even calling him a “murderer.”

Since 2016, Turkey has also conducted three major ground operations against United States-backed militants based in northern Syria.

The Turkish government accuses the militants, who are known as the People’s Protection Units (YPG), of bearing ties with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party terrorist group.

Turkey has been launching airstrikes on northern Syria and Iraq since November 20, against, what it calls, hideouts belonging to the PKK.

January 5, 2023 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | Leave a comment

Russia consolidates in East Mediterranean

BY M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | INDIAN PUNCHLINE | DECEMBER 31, 2022

The curtain is coming down on the brutal 11-year old Syrian conflict, which former US President and Nobel Laureate Barack Obama initiated, as the Arab Spring swept through West Asia two decades ago. The United States has suffered yet another big setback in West Asia as the year 2022 draws to a close. The unfolding Turkish-Syrian reconciliation process under Russian mediation is to be seen as a saga of betrayal and vengeance. 

Ankara came under immense pressure from the Obama Administration in 2011 to spearhead the regime change project in Syria. Obama blithely assumed that Turkiye would gleefully serve as the charioteer of “moderate” Islamism for the transformation in West Asia. But Ankara took its time to calibrate its foreign policies to adapt to the Arab Spring before responding to the shifting landscape in Syria.

Erdogan was caught unprepared by the uprising in Syria at a juncture when Ankara was pursuing a “zero-problems” policy with Turkiye’s neighbours. Ankara was unsure how the Arab Spring would play out and remained silent when the revolt first appeared in Tunisia. Even on Egypt, Erdogan made an emotional call for Hosni Mubarak’s departure only when he sensed, correctly so, that Obama was decoupling from America’s  staunch ally in Cairo. 

Syria was the ultimate test case and a real challenge for Erdogan. Ankara had invested heavily in the improvement of relations with Syria within the framework of the so-called Adana Agreement in 1998 in the downstream of Turkish military’s massive showdown with Damascus over the latter harbouring the PKK [Kurdish] leader Ocalan. Erdogan initially did not want Bashar al-Assad to lose power, and advised him to reform. The families of Erdogan and Assad used to holiday together. 

Obama had to depute then CIA chief David Petraeus to visit Turkey twice in 2012 to persuade Erdogan to engage with the US in operational planning aimed at bringing about the end of the Assad government. It was Petraeus who proposed to Ankara a covert program of arming and training Syrian rebels.

But by 2013 already, Erdogan began sensing that Obama himself had only a limited American involvement in Syria and preferred to lead from the rear. In 2014, Erdogan went public that his relations with Obama had diminished, saying that he was disappointed about not getting direct results on the Syrian conflict. By that time, more than 170,000 people had died and 2.9 million Syrians had fled to neighbouring countries, including Turkey, and the fighting had forced another 6.5 million people from their homes within Syria. 

Simply put, Erdogan felt embittered that he was left holding a can of worms and Obama had scooted off. Worse still, the Pentagon began aligning with the Syrian Kurdish groups linked to the PKK.  (In October 2014, US began providing supplies to Kurdish forces and in November 2015, US special forces were deployed in Syria.) 

Indeed, since then, Erdogan had been protesting in vain that the US, a NATO ally, had aligned with a terrorist group (Syrian Kurds known as YPG) that threatened Turkiye’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. 

It is against such a backdrop that the two meetings in Moscow on Wednesday between the defence ministers and intelligence chiefs of Turkey and Syria in the presence of their Russian counterparts took place. Erdogan’s reconciliation process with Assad is quintessentially his sweet revenge for the American betrayal. Erdogan sought help from Russia, the archetypal enemy country in the US and NATO’s sights, in order to communicate with Assad who is a pariah in American eyes. The matrix is self-evident. 

On Thursday, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said: “At the meeting (in Moscow), we discussed what we could do to improve the situation in Syria and the region as soon as possible while ensuring peace, tranquility and stability… We reiterated our respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty rights of all our neighbours, especially Syria and Iraq, and that our sole aim is the fight against terrorism, we have no other purpose.” 

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been counselling Erdogan in recent years that Turkiye’s security concerns are best tackled in coordination with Damascus and that the Adana Agreement could provide a framework of cooperation. The Turkish Defence Ministry readout said the meeting in Moscow took place in a “constructive atmosphere” and it was agreed to continue the format of trilateral meetings “to ensure and maintain stability in Syria and the region as a whole.” 

Without doubt, the normalisation between Ankara and Damascus will impact regional security and, in particular, the Syrian war, given the clout Turkiye wields with the residual Syrian opposition. A Turkish ground operation in northern Syria may not be necessary if Ankara and Damascus were to revive the Adana Agreement. In fact, Akar disclosed that Ankara, Moscow and Damascus are working on carrying out joint missions on the ground in Syria.

The Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu’s willingness right in the middle of the Ukraine war to take the steering wheel and navigate its reconciliation with Syria adds an altogether new dimension to the deepening strategic ties between Moscow and Ankara. For Erdogan too, Syria becomes the newest addition to his policy initiatives lately to improve Turkiye’s relations with the regional states. Normalisation with Syria will go down well with Turkish public opinion and that has implications for Erdogan’s bid for a renewed mandate in the upcoming elections.

From the Syrian perspective, the normalisation with Turkiye is going to be far more consequential than the restoration of ties with various regional states (starting with the UAE) in recent years who had fuelled the conflict. Turkiye’s equations with Syrian militant groups (eg., Syrian National Army and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham), its continued occupation of Syrian territory, Syrian refugees in Turkiye  (numbering 3.6 million), etc. are vital issues affecting Syria’s security.    

The US resents Erdogan’s move to normalise with Assad — and that too, with Russia’s helping hand. It is now even more unlikely to give up its military presence in Syria or its alliance with the Syrian Kurdish group YPG (which Ankara regards as an affiliate of the PKK.) 

But the YPG will find itself in a tight spot. As Syria requests Turkiye to withdraw from its territories (Idlib and so-called operation areas) and stop supporting armed groups, Turkiye in return will insist on pushing the YPG away from the border. (The government-aligned Syrian daily Al-Watan reported quoting sources that at the tripartite meeting in Moscow, Ankara has committed to withdrawing all its forces from Syrian territory.) 

Indeed, the replacement of the YPG militia by the Syrian government forces along the borders with Turkiye would lead to the weakening of both YPG and the US military presence. However, the question will still remain unanswered as regards the place of Kurds in the future of Syria. 

The US State Department stated recently, “The US will not upgrade its diplomatic relations with the Assad regime and does not support other countries upgrading their relations. The US urges states in the region to consider carefully the atrocities inflicted by the Assad regime on the Syrian people over the last decade. The US believes that stability in Syria and the greater region can be achieved through a political process that represents the will of all Syrians.”

Last week’s meetings in Moscow show that Russia’s standing in the West Asian region is far from defined by the Ukraine conflict. Russian influence on Syria remains intact and Moscow will continue to shape Syria’s transition out of conflict zone and consolidate its own long-term presence in Eastern Mediterranean. 

OPEC Plus has gained traction. Russia’s ties with the Gulf states are steadily growing. The Russia-Iran strategic ties are at their highest level in history. And the return of Benjamin Netanyahu as Israel’s prime minister means that the Russian-Israeli ties are heading for a reset. Clearly, Russian diplomacy is on a roll in West Asia. 

Conventional wisdom was that Russia and Turkiye’s geopolitical interests would inevitably collide once the floodgates were opened in Ukraine. Herein lies the paradox, for, what has happened is entirely to the contrary. 

December 31, 2022 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 4 Comments

‘Türkiye agrees to withdraw troops from Syria following Moscow talks’

RT | December 31, 2022

Türkiye has agreed to fully withdraw its troops from northern Syria following tripartite talks involving Moscow, Ankara and Damascus earlier this week, Syrian newspaper Al-Watan has reported.

The three countries’ defense ministers – Hulusi Akar, Ali Mahmoud Abbas and Sergey Shoigu – met in Moscow on Wednesday for the first meeting of its kind since the outbreak of the Syrian conflict in 2011.

According to the paper’s source in Damascus, the negotiations resulted in “Türkiye’s consent to completely withdraw its troops from the Syrian territories that it occupies in the north of the country.”

Ankara and Damascus also expressed a common view that the Syrian-based Kurdish YPG militia, which Turkey associates with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), “are agents of Israel and the US, and pose a grave threat to both Türkiye and Syria.”

Türkiye considers the separatist PKK and allied Kurdish groups to be “terrorist organizations” that threaten its national security. The Turkish military carried out airstrikes against YPG targets in northern Syria in November, with Ankara saying a ground operation in the area was also on the cards.

A special trilateral commission will be created by Russia, Türkiye and Syria to ensure that the agreements reached in Moscow are honored, Al-Watan reported.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told local media on Saturday that “one shouldn’t expect that everything will be solved at once in a single meeting.”

In Moscow, Türkiye “emphasized that we respect Syria’s territorial integrity and sovereign rights, and that our only goal is the fight against terrorism” including the PKK/YPG and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS), he said.

Ankara and Damascus have agreed to continue talks to deepen reconciliation, Akar added. He also suggested that those negotiations could even result in a joint anti-terrorist operation involving the two countries, which would happen “if we can solve our problems related to defense and security, if we can meet our needs.”

The Syrian side had earlier described the meeting in the Russian capital as “positive,” while Russia’s Defense Ministry said the talks had been conducted in a constructive manner and stressed the need for the continuation of such engagement.

December 31, 2022 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ankara willing to withdraw from Syria if ‘stability’ is reached: Turkish FM

The Cradle | December 30, 2022

Turkiye’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told media on 29 December that Ankara is willing to withdraw from the territory it occupies in northern Syria and hand it over to Damascus in the event that “political stability” is reached.

Cavusoglu’s comments came just one day after a high-level meeting in Moscow between the defense ministers of Turkiye, Russia, and Syria, aimed at ensuring “stability in Syria and the region.” This was the first ministerial meeting between Syria and Turkiye since 2011.

Speaking to reporters, the Turkish Foreign Minister also said that it was possible to establish a joint mechanism between Damascus and Ankara aimed at ‘fighting terrorism.’

Cavusoglu also lauded his country’s ‘respect’ for Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, claiming that its occupation is solely based on combatting terror and “securing stability,” something he said the Syrian authorities were incapable of doing.

He went on to say that Turkiye would continue fighting terrorism in Syria, despite the hindrances posed by “political differences” between Ankara and Damascus.

Recently, both the US and Russia have been attempting to mediate a withdrawal of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) from the Turkish border with Syria to prevent a long-promised Turkish ground offensive from taking place. This potential ground offensive comes under the pretext of avenging the deadly 13 October Istanbul blast.

In order to prevent the offensive, Russia has offered a complete pullback of the SDF from the Turkish border, as Ankara has requested.

Although Moscow has been negotiating a potential redeployment of Syrian troops to this area, Washington has been seeking to compromise Russia’s mediation efforts by reviving an inactive Islamist militia in the north of the country – with the intention of placing them on the border, thereby preventing a handover of the territory to Damascus.

From Syria’s perspective, genuine negotiations with Turkiye are unlikely to begin until Ankara accepts a complete withdrawal of its forces from Syria.

Although Washington plans to compromise an eventual return of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) to the Turkish border, Cavusoglu’s latest comments signify a potential Turkish willingness to make concessions.

December 30, 2022 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , | 1 Comment

South Caucasus: A battle of wills and corridors

By Yeghia Tashjian | The Cradle | December 30, 2022

On 12 December, under the pretext of environmentalism, dozens of state-backed “eco-activists” from Azerbaijan blocked the only land corridor connecting Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh.

The blockade created a humanitarian crisis for the 120,000 Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh, cutting them off from the outside world. This is not the first time Baku has taken such a provocative action. Azerbaijan has long been pushing for the creation of the “Zangezur corridor” to connect itself to close ally Turkiye through southern Armenia, thereby cutting off the strategic Armenia-Iran border.

Tehran has opposed this project and has engaged in military exercises on its border with Azerbaijan. In October, the Iranians opened a consulate in the city of Kapan in southern Armenia as a warning to Baku and its regional allies.

Blocking the Lachin corridor

Despite this, Azerbaijan, with the support of Turkiye, has continued to pursue its goal, which has included blocking the road where Russian peacekeepers are stationed in the Lachin corridor connecting Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh.

Map of Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict zones (Photo Credit: The Cradle)

In July 2022, Baku amended a contract with British company Anglo Asian Mining PLC, transferring three new mining sites inside Azerbaijan to the firm. One of these areas is located in the eastern part of Nagorno-Karabakh’s Martakert region, an area rich in gold, copper, and silver mines.

Nagorno-Karabakh’s Armenian population refused Azerbaijan’s efforts to send in monitoring groups, believing the move would give Baku control over the region’s economy and eventually lead to its annexation. In retaliation, Baku sent “environmentalists” to block the only corridor connecting Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh.

Social media users have identified Azerbaijani state employees amid some of these “environmentalists” who periodically try to provoke Russian peacekeepers. The blockade has caused a humanitarian disaster in the region, with thousands of civilians unable to access basic necessities like medication and food via the only road connecting them to the outside world.

To compound tensions, Anglo-Asian Mining sent a letter to leading international organizations and states demanding that the “illegal exploitation” of the mines in Nagorno-Karabakh by Armenians be stopped. And yet Moscow continues to take a passive position, despite being a targeted party in the melee.

The Battle of Corridors

The blockade of the Lachin corridor did not come as a surprise, having been openly discussed in Azerbaijani media.

The only surprise was Russia’s inability to resolve the crisis. Earlier this month, Turkiye’s defense minister Hulusi Akar called on Armenia to “grasp the opportunity and respond positively to Turkiye’s and Azerbaijan’s peace calls” during joint military drills with Azerbaijan near the Iranian border.

He also commented on the “Zangezur corridor,” claiming that it was Baku’s “sincerest wish” to re-establish connections in the region and ensure “a comprehensive normalization throughout the region, including the relations between Azerbaijan-Armenia and Turkiye-Armenia.” Akar also vowed that Turkiye would continue to support Azerbaijan’s “righteous cause” against Armenia.

But on the second day of the protests organized by Azerbaijanis and the blockade on Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijani media outlets made their intentions clear.

They called for the replacement of the commander of the Russian peacekeeping mission in Nagorno-Karabakh, Andrey Volkov, and for the control of the Lachin corridor to be transferred to Azerbaijan, along with the “full restoration of Azerbaijani sovereignty in the territories under the control of the peacekeepers.”

Some Azerbaijani activists also called for the removal of Russian forces and their replacement with UN-mandated forces.

Removal of Russian peacekeepers

It is unclear if Baku itself is willing to employ this language and demand the removal and replacement of Russian peacekeeping forces. According to some Azerbaijani experts, Baku is currently against the withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers by force, as this could lead to the annexation of Nagorno-Karabakh and the ethnic cleansing of Armenian Christians, which could tarnish President Ilham Aliyev’s image in the west and potentially result in US-EU economic sanctions.

Instead, Baku prefers to have the Russians stay, but in a restrictive capacity. It is easier for Azerbaijan to deal with a weak Russia, rather than with the Europeans, as they are familiar with the “Russian mentality,” says one expert. This suggests that Azerbaijan may prefer to continue using the Lachin corridor as a tool for negotiating with Moscow, rather than risking the removal of Russian forces.

Another Azerbaijani expert agreed that the current crisis is essentially between Azerbaijan and Russia – that the latter is unable to fulfill its “peacekeeping mission” and prevent the “Armenians of Karabakh from exploiting the natural resources in the region.”

But he also argues that the crisis is less about the mining and exploitation of resources, and more about pressuring the Russians to open the “Zangezur corridor,” which connects Azerbaijan proper to its Nakhichevan exclave, and lies on Iran’s strategic border with Armenia.

According to the expert, “Azerbaijan wants additional guarantees that it will have a safe connection with Turkiye, in exchange for Karabakh’s safe connection to Armenia.”

The story gets more complicated. In December, Azerbaijani media accused Armenians of inviting Iranian military experts to train Nagorno-Karabakh’s self-defense forces. The reports claim Iranians crossed the Lachin corridor and entered the territories controlled by Russian peacekeepers.

Despite Baku’s continuous barbs and provocations, it appears that Azerbaijan’s goal is not to fully remove or replace Russian peacekeepers, but rather to control their mission, monitor transit in the Lachin corridor, and use the corridor as a pressure card on Yerevan to open a “corridor” in Syunik linking Azerbaijan to Turkiye.

Therefore, from Azerbaijan’s perspective, the future of the Lachin corridor is now tied to the fate of the “Zangezur corridor.”

The view from Tehran

According to Dr. Ehsan Movahedian, researcher and instructor at the Allameh Tabataba’i University of Tehran, “the Republic of Azerbaijan is seeking a new adventure in the Caucasus region, and this issue requires diplomatic steps from the Islamic Republic of Iran and should be warning for the military authorities (in Tehran).”

One Iranian media outlet argues that if Stepanagert (the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh) falls:

“Unpleasant scenarios can be imagined for the South Caucasus region and its surrounding areas, including Iran. Removing an obstacle such as Nagorno-Karabakh paves the way for occupying Armenian territory and changing the map of the region, and in the long term for security attacks on the northwestern regions of Iran.”

The analyst, Mohammad Hossein Masumzadeh, says the only solution to halt Azerbaijan’s aggression “is offensive measures instead of the defensive approach governing the country’s regional policy in order to avoid irreparable risks.”

Some Iranian experts and former diplomats believe that the developments in the South Caucasus are related to domestic developments in Iran, where many ethnic Azeris, backed by Ankara and Baku, have called for separatist aspirations to dismantle the state from within.

Iran is concerned that the spread of Turkish influence on its northern border could impact its domestic politics in the future, as Azerbaijan has openly called for the “unification of Southern Azerbaijan (northern Iran) to the Republic of Azerbaijan.”

These do not appear to be empty threats. On 29 November, the “Organization for the Protection of the Rights of South Azerbaijanis” was established in Switzerland, announcing that it will submit documents and information to international organizations, including the UN, regarding the “rights of people in the Azerbaijani Province of Iran”.

On 2 December, the representative of “South Azerbaijan” at the UN, Araz Yurdseven, defended the idea of the independence of “South Azerbaijan” and accused Iran of committing “murders against the Iranian Azeris.”

Is the region heading for a new escalation?

Interestingly, many European and Azerbaijani experts viewed Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s refusal to sign the final document of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO ) as a sign of Russian weakness, calling it “an unprecedented event that had never happened before.”

The CSTO is a Eurasian military alliance consisting of six post-Soviet states, which include Armenia, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

There are concerns that the region could be headed towards a new escalation. Azerbaijan has recently invited Turkish F-16 fighter jets to the region, which is being viewed as a preparation for conflict. The last time Baku invited the Turkish jets was in 2020, weeks before its war with Armenia.

Azerbaijan is also pressuring Russia to renegotiate the terms of their 10 November 2020 trilateral statement, which states that only Russian peacekeepers are responsible for controlling the Lachin corridor.

Azerbaijan is linking the blockade of the Lachin corridor to the opening of the Zangezur one. If Russia agrees to these concessions, it could lead to the isolation of Armenia, threaten its territorial integrity, and block an Iranian strategic border.

This would also shift the regional balance of power towards Turkiye, as Iran risks acting alone against Turkish-Azerbaijani pan-Turkic aspirations, which could eventually threaten Iran’s national security interests both regionally and domestically.

December 30, 2022 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | Leave a comment