Turkey to Send Troops to Combat Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh?

By Stephen Lendman

Global Research, October 23, 2020

Like the US, Turkey’s Erdogan pursues interests at the expense of peace and stability.

He favors war for extending Turkey’s borders to further his neo-Ottoman aims.

He, his family members and regime profited earlier from stolen Syrian oil.

He gave ISIS and other terrorists safe haven in Turkish territory, providing them with weapons, other material support, and a launching pad for attacks on Syrian soldiers and civilians.

Turkey under Erdogan is a fascist police state — speech, media and academic freedoms they way they should be banned.

So is dissent. Anyone publicly criticizing or insulting him risks prosecution for terrorism, espionage or treason, including children.

As long as he doesn’t act against US interests, as a NATO member and in other ways, his tyrannical rule and regional destabilizing actions are tolerated — if only barely.

On Wednesday, his Vice President Fuat Oktay said Ankara is ready to send troops to back Azerbaijan’s war on Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh (NK below).

In response to Turkey’s deployment of armed and directed jihadists to combat Armenian forces in NK, the country’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan called on regional countries to unite against them and their Turkish paymaster.

“Regretably (they) have not responded to this reality seriously enough yet,” Pashinyan added.

“It is beyond doubt that the presence of foreign terrorists will pose a threat to the region in the future.”

“The region’s countries must deal with this issue more seriously.”

The Erdogan regime is also involved militarily in NK by providing Baku with command and control services, training of its military forces, and heavy weapons for warmaking.

He and hardliners surrounding him support war, not resolution in NK.

Pashinyan stressed it, saying “the Karabakh question…cannot have a diplomatic solution.”

“Everything that is diplomatically acceptable to the Armenian side…is not acceptable to Azerbaijan…”

Baku’s ruling authorities intend endless war until Armenian forces are driven from NK — no matter the human toll, according to comments from its leadership.Turkey’s Involvement in Nagorno-Karabakh

As Azeri forces advance, civilians in harm’s way are caught in the crossfire.

Unconfirmed reports suggest that they’ve taken control of areas bordering Iran and Armenia’s international border — increasing the risk of conflict spilling into both countries.

Armenia’s Defense Ministry spokesman Artsrun Hovhannisyan accused Azerbaijan of sending “small…subversive groups…into villages and towns, film(ing) themselves there, spread(ing) those images…to feed their society. But, unfortunately, this also affects us.”

While conflict continues, foreign ministers of both warring sides will meet with Trump regime’s Pompeo for talks in Washington on Friday.

Yet on Tuesday, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev said the following:

“We are fighting on our own land, giving martyrs and restoring our territorial integrity. These steps will continue to be taken.”

“Armenia must declare before it is too late that it is withdrawing from the occupied territories. After that the fighting may stop.”

From the above remarks and two failed Russian/Minsk Group arranged ceasefire, Aliyev is unwilling to compromise on his aims in NK.

With support from Turkey, including Erdogan’s willingness to send troops if asked, Aliyev rejects diplomacy while sending his foreign minister to discuss ceasefire with his Russian, French and US counterparts.

According to the Asia Times, Erdogan’s support for Azerbaijan is driven by energy interests in competition with Russia.

An unnamed Erdogan advisor said “Russia is neither an ally, nor an enemy, but we can’t negotiate if we are too dependent on them, especially when it comes to energy.”

“We have vital interests to protect,” including two pipelines from Azerbaijan to Europe, one for oil, the other for gas.

One runs close to NK, the other near northern Armenia, the unnamed advisor close to Erdogan adding:

“We can’t afford losing our sight on what’s going on around our pipelines in the Caucasus, especially in the Tavush region, where there have been several clashes (with Armenia) over the last years.”

The so-called BTC oil pipeline is owned by Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Britain’s BP.

The South Caucasus Pipeline runs from Azerbaijan’s Caspian Sea field to Turkey, and Georgia — soon as well to Italy, Greece and Bulgaria.

Earlier in October, Erdogan accused Armenia of endangering supplies of energy to Turkey and other European countries.

Oil and gas pipelines from Azerbaijan to Europe are only endangered by its preemptive war on Armenia in NK.

No danger would exist if conflict resolution ended weeks of fighting.

Russia also supplies gas to Turkey through Turkstream 1.

Turkstream 2 is under construction, completion expected around yearend.

Azerbaijan will compete with Russia for the European natural gas market.

Moscow prioritizes cooperation with other nations, confrontation with none.

Turkey’s Erdogan prioritizes the advancement of his neo-Ottoman interests.

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Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.The original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Stephen Lendman, Global Research, 2020

AZERBAIJANI FORCES RUSH TO CAPTURE LACHIN CORORIDOR FROM RETREATING ARMENIANS

South Front

The Armenian defense in the southern part of the Nagorno-Karabakh region seems to be collapsing as the advancing Azerbaijani forces are about to reach the strategic Lachin corridor.

On October 23, Azerbaijani troops were filmed near the village of Muradxanlı, which is located in about 15 km from this strategic area. Even if this Azerbaijani unit was just a field recognizance patrol and the main forces of the Turkish-Azerbaijani bloc still have to overcome Armenian resistance to reach the area, the fact of the Azerbaijani presence there marks the hard situation on the frontline for the Armenians.

The Lachin corridor is a mountain pass within the de jure borders of Azerbaijan, forming the shortest route between Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (Republic of Artsakh). The cutting off of Lachin will destroy the remaining hopes of the Armenian side to achieve a military victory in the ongoing war. Meanwhile, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev announced that his forces took full control of the Azerbaijani-Iranian border after capturing the village of Aghband. The Azerbaijani leader also declared that the Armenians lost 21 more settlements in the districts of Zangilan, Fuzuli and Jabrayil.

The Armenian military denies the collapse of its defense lines in the south and claims that Azerbaijani units appearing on video are just sabotage parties. According to the Armenian side, various Azerbaijan troops tried to advance in the western, northern and northwestern directions, but all of these offensive attempts were repelled. The Azerbaijani military allegedly suffered heavy losses.

The Armenian side insists that the towns of Hadrut and Fuzuli are in fact not in the hands of Azerbaijan. It insists that various units of the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan penetrate into different settlements in the front-line zone trying to create panic and make selfies there. These groups, according to Armenian media, are very small and often run away from Armenian troops. The optimism of Armenian officials is at least surprising.

According to reports, Armenian troops left the town of Aghband with almost no resistance to the Azerbaijani Armed Forces supported by Turkish specialists and Syrian militants. This move was likely a result of the need to save personnel and keep at least some reserves needed on other parts of the frontline. The defending of the almost surrounded town makes no sense. Nonetheless, videos and photos appearing online indicate that Armenian sabotage groups are also active in the rear of the advancing Azerbaijani forces. In that area, if they have enough supplies and weapons, they would be able to deliver painful blows to the logistical convoys of the Turkish-Azerbaijani bloc. It is likely that his activity is a formal pretext behind the statements of the Armenian Ministry of Defense that Azerbaijan has not gained full control of the border with Iran.

Forces of Azerbaijan continue to take control of settlements and villages in the south of Karabakh. Most of them are empty as the locals (ethnic Armenians) know well what fate they could face. It seems that the south of Karabakh is already lost for Armenia.

The Azerbaijani advance along the border with Iran through the relatively flat ground (if one compares it with the rest of Karabakh) appears to be a success. Now the Azerbaijani military and its allies are working to fully secure the border with Iran and set conditions for an operation to capture the Lachin corridor. The ability or inability of Azerbaijan to capture Lachin could become another turning point in the war.

Under the current conditions, it seems that a relatively positive outcome of the conflict for Karabakh forces would be possible in the event of the involvement some third power that would provide them with direct military assistance. Nonetheless, this scenario remains unlikely as long as even Armenia, which for years has been using Karabakh as its own protectorate, is not hurrying up to do so. Some Armenian sources even claim that the Pashinyan government oriented towards the West and NATO has just opted to sell the contested region to Azerbaijan under some formal pretext to remove the unresolved territorial disputes factor and open a way towards the further ‘democratic’ transformation of Armenia that it desires so much.

Related News

Intermediate Results And Prospects Of Armenian-Azerbaijani War

South Front

The Armenian-Azerbaijani war, which started on September 27, continues in the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region despite international diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the conflict. Offensive operations of Azerbaijani forces continue at the same time as the Azerbaijani government claims that it is committed to the ceasefire regime. The first humanitarian ceasefire entered force in Karabakh on October 10 and collapsed on the next day, while the second one started on October 18 with the same result. The Armenian side also insists that it is committed to the ceasefire while simultaneously conducting counter-attacks against the advancing Azerbaijani forces.

For the Armenian side, the situation is further complicated by the fact that the current Armenian leadership is not ready to (or does not want to) employ all of its means and forces to fight back the Azerbaijani advance. Instead of this, Armenian forces involved in the conflict are limited to those of the Nagorno-Karakbah Republic.

The government of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has so far limited its support to Karabakh to supplying weapons, sending volunteers (instead of regular forces), complaining in the media and calling on other countries to recognize the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic as an independent state, while Armenia itself has made no steps in this direction.

As of October 19, the situation on the frontline demonstrates that the Azerbaijani-Turkish side has been slowly but steadily taking an upper hand in the war. Azerbaijani forces have achieved a series of tactical successes in the northern and southern part of the region, capturing two dozen small towns and villages. The most important of them are Fuzuli, Jabrayl, Hadrut, Madaghis and Talish. Azerbaijani forces also advanced in the direction of the Khudaferin Reservoir.

Over the past few days, especially heavy clashes were taking place near the town of Hadrut, from which Armenian forces withdrew after Azerbaijan took control of the surrounding heights. Fuzuli experienced a similar fate as the Hadrut heights in fact overlook its countryside as well. The Azerbaijani military extensively uses its advantage in air, artillery and manpower. The advance is also supported by militant groups deployed by Turkey from the northwest of Syria, Turkish special forces and specialists (especially in the field of EW operations, intelligence and air domain warfare).

These factors, especially the air dominance, allowed Azerbaijan to deliver notable damage to Armenian forces destroying multiple pieces of their military equipment, destroying fortified positions and manpower. The outdated air defense forces of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic appeared to be unable to deal with the threat from Azerbaijani military aircraft, while Armenia also seems to be unable to or has no political to will to employ its air defense. Just recently, on October 17, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry released a video of strikes on a S-300 system in Armenia.

At the same time, the Azerbaijani military conducts intense strikes on civilian infrastructure in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Despite the public claims of the Azerbaijani leadership that the conflict has no ethnic grounds and that there is no threat to the Armenian population, in fact, Baku seeks to not only dismantle the self-proclaimed Armenian state, but also to remove Armenians from this territory. The Armenian side responds in a similar manner regularly shelling settlements and towns in Azerbaijan. While some of these strikes may be considered as accidental, as Armenian sources claim, the recent strikes on the Azerbaijani city of Ganja with ballistic missiles are for sure not an accident. According to Azerbaijani authorities, 13 civilians were killed and more than 40 others were injured in the attack on the city. The strike was likely conducted with the Soviet R-17 Elbrus tactical ballistic missile complex, which is in service with Karabakh forces.

It is likely that the Turkish-Azerbaijani bloc will develop its advance further along the Iranian border aiming for the towns of Qobadli and Zengilan. For Azerbaijan, it will be profitable to extend the frontline because it will allow it to use its advantage in air power and manpower. Meanwhile, the terrain in this part of the region is less complex than that in the center or the north. In the event of success, such an advance will allow Azerbaijan to undermine the entire southern flank of Armenian forces deployed in Stepankert and Shusha. This will also create a threat of cutting off the so-called Lachin corridor, a mountain pass within the de jure borders of Azerbaijan, forming the shortest route between Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh. Another direction of the possible advance is Martakert and Agdam. Nonetheless, in this case, even if Azerbaijani forces achieve a success there, a further advance will be more complicated due to the more complex terrain.

The humanitarian ceasefire announced on October 17 seems like another attempt of the Minsk group, led by France, Russia and the United States, to de-escalate the conflict. Nonetheless, the position of the current Armenian government, which was for years undermining its relations with Russia, and the hardcore posture of Azerbaijan and Turkey that have already felt the flavour of potential military victory will likely not allow the parties involved to find a ‘constructive’ solution of the situation. Thus, Ankara and Baku will continue demanding a full surrender of Armenia over the Karabakh question, which the Armenian government (even if it wants to do so) cannot accept because this will lead to the immediate collapse of the Pashinyan regime and instability inside Armenia itself.

Related

Damascus and Moscow Facing the Siege… Economy First! دمشق وموسكو بمواجهة الحصار.. الاقتصاد أولاً!

October 16, 2020 Arabi Souri

Russian Military Presence in Syria - Hmeimim Airbase - Moscow - Damascus

Moscow and Damascus realize after five years of the Russian presence in Syria that if Russia leaves its political and military position in Syria, the consequences will be very dangerous for the region.

Dima Nassif, director of Al-Mayadeen office in Damascus, wrote (source in Arabic) the following piece for the Lebanese news channel about the latest developments in the Russian – Syrian relations in light of the latest visit of the Russian top delegation to Damascus followed by a Syrian delegation visit to Moscow:

The visit of the Syrian Minister of Presidential Affairs to Moscow at the head of an economic delegation, a few days ago, may have slipped from media circulation, despite its close connection with the completion of the Russian-Syrian talks or agreements that were reached during the recent visit of the Russian Deputy Prime Minister Borisov and the Russian delegation. It is possible to build on it to launch a Russian-Syrian partnership paper to confront sanctions, including the US ‘Caesar Act‘.

The crowding of readings and interpretations of the visit of the Russian delegation and the presence of Sergey Lavrov after eight years to Damascus can be interpreted as just a temporary Russian economic bargaining – to cross the psychological barrier left by the American pressure on Moscow, to prevent the return of the political process to Geneva, and to exert Russian internal pressure by a current opposing the policy of Putin in Syria – that final understandings must be reached on the Constitutional Committee before the Syrian presidential elections in June 2021.

This visit, as the results confirm, is no further than full support for the Syrian state politically and economically, as it does not come under the heading of Russian initiatives to barter or compromise Damascus’s positions on the political process, the liberation of Idlib, or even eastern Syria. Lavrov’s presence in Damascus was against the backdrop of the “Caesar Act”, not Astana or any other address.

Among the deficiencies of some in Moscow against Damascus are its rigid positions in the face of Russian proposals, which calls for flexibility in negotiations on the part of the Syrian side, and the easing of some formalities that may be interpreted in the way that the Syrian leadership does not wish to cooperate or make any progress in the political process before the elections, repeating the phrase that there is no agreement without agreeing on everything.

On the other hand, Damascus believes that the political process should be based on a long-term strategy, to avoid the traps that Turkey might place through its groups within the opposition delegation, as President Al-Assad spoke in his recent meetings to Russian media.

Columns of cars crowded in front of petrol stations in Syrian cities two months ago did not allow to feel Russian support to alleviate the consequences of the “Caesar Act” and its impact. Then came the huge losses in forest fires and agricultural lands in the countrysides of Lattakia, Homs, Tartous, and Hama, this was quickly seized by the American embassy in Damascus, calling on the Syrian government to protect its citizens, in a naive attempt and unprofessional rhetoric, to test its ability to incite the incubating environment (of the Syrian state), as Caesar (Act) promised in the folds of its goals, without an American understanding of the peculiarity of this environment, which has stood its positions throughout the war, despite all the living and security pressures on its lives.

Moscow, and with it Damascus, after five years of the Russian presence in Syria, are aware that the consequences of Russia leaving its political and military position in Syria will be very dangerous for the region, as the Russian presence aims to ensure security and make the world order more just and balanced, as President Al-Assad said. Ankara’s transfer of the militants from the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda groups to the Azerbaijan front, and before it to Libya, is only the first sign of the expansion of the Turkish project in the region after its failure in Syria, and it is the basis of Moscow’s involvement in the Syrian war, and will not allow its transfer to its own walls.

Intercontinental Wars – Part 2: The Counterattack

Intercontinental Wars – Part 3 The Open Confrontation

https://www.syrianews.cc/intercontinental-wars-part-3-the-open-confrontation/embed/#?secret=F3H13Q3E96

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ديمة ناصيف 

المصدر: الميادين نت

13 تشرين اول 14:02

تدرك موسكو ومعها دمشق بعد 5 سنوات على الوجود الروسي في سوريا، بأنه إذا ما غادرت روسيا موقعها السياسي والعسكري في سوريا فإن التبعات ستكون خطرة جداً على المنطقة.

تدرك موسكو ومعها دمشق بأنه إذا ما غادرت روسيا موقعها السياسي والعسكري فإن التبعات ستكون خطرة جداً على المنطقة
تدرك موسكو ومعها دمشق بأنه إذا ما غادرت روسيا موقعها السياسي والعسكري فإن التبعات ستكون خطرة جداً على المنطقة

قد تكون زيارة وزير شؤون الرئاسة السورية إلى موسكو على رأس وفد اقتصادي، قبل أيام، قد مرَّت بعيداً من التداول الإعلامي، رغم ارتباطها الوثيق باستكمال المحادثات أو الاتفاقيات الروسية السورية، التي تمّ التوصل إليها خلال زيارة نائب رئيس الحكومة الروسية بوريسوف الأخيرة والوفد الروسي، وبات من الممكن البناء عليها لإطلاق ورقة شراكة روسية سورية لمواجهة العقوبات، بما فيها قانون “قيصر” الأميركي.

ازدحام القراءات والتأويلات لزيارة الوفد الروسي وحضور سيرغي لافروف بعد 8 سنوات إلى دمشق، يمكن تفسيره بأنه مجرد مساومة اقتصادية روسية مؤقتة – لعبور الحاجز النفسي الذي خلّفه الضغط الأميركي على موسكو، ومنع إعادة العملية السياسية إلى جنيف، وممارسة ضغط داخلي روسي من قبل تيار يعارض سياسة بوتين في سوريا – بوجوب التوصل إلى تفاهمات نهائية حول اللجنة الدستورية قبل الانتخابات الرئاسية السورية في حزيران/يونيو 2021.

هذه الزيارة، كما تؤكد النتائج، ليست أبعد من دعم كامل للدولة السورية سياسياً واقتصادياً، فهي لا تندرج تحت عنوان مبادرات روسية تقايض أو تساوم مواقف دمشق حول العملية السياسية أو تحرير إدلب أو حتى الشرق السوري. كان حضور لافروف في دمشق على خلفية قانون “قيصر”، وليس أستانة أو أي عنوان آخر.

ومن مآخذ البعض في موسكو على دمشق، مواقفها المتصلّبة في وجه الطروحات الروسية، ما يستدعي إبداء مرونة في التفاوض من جانب الطرف السوري، والتخفف من بعض الشكليات التي قد تُفسَّر على نحو أن القيادة السورية لا ترغب في التعاون أو إنجاز أي تقدم على صعيد العملية السياسية قبل الانتخابات، وترديد عبارة أن لا اتفاق من دون الاتفاق على كل شيء.

في المقابل، ترى دمشق أن العملية السياسية يجب أن تكون مبنية على استراتيجية مرحلية طويلة الأمد، لتجنب أفخاخ قد تضعها تركيا من خلال مجموعاتها داخل وفد المعارضة، كما تحدث الرئيس الأسد في لقاءاته الأخيرة إلى وسائل إعلام روسية.

ولم تسمح أرتال السيارات المزدحمة أمام محطات الوقود في المدن السورية منذ شهرين بتلمّس الدعم الروسي للتخفيف من تبعات “قيصر” ووطأته، ثم جاءت الخسائر الهائلة في حرائق الأحراج والأراضي الزراعية في أرياف اللاذقية وحمص وطرطوس وحماة، الأمر الذي تلقفته السفارة الأميركية في دمشق سريعاً، لتدعو الحكومة السورية إلى حماية مواطنيها، في محاولة ساذجة وخطاب غير محترف، لاختبار قدرتها على تأليب البيئة الحاضنة، كما وعد “قيصر” في طيات أهدافه، من دون فهم أميركيّ لخصوصية هذه البيئة التي ثبتت على مواقفها طيلة الحرب، رغم كل الضغوطات المعيشية والأمنية على حياتها. 

تدرك موسكو، ومعها دمشق، بعد 5 سنوات على الوجود الروسي في سوريا، أن تبعات مغادرة روسيا موقعها السياسي والعسكري في سوريا ستكون خطيرة جداً على المنطقة، فالتواجد الروسي يهدف إلى ضمان الأمن، وجعل النظام العالمي أكثر عدلاً وتوازناً، كما قال الرئيس الأسد. إنّ نقل أنقرة للمسلحين من المجموعات الإخوانية والقاعدية إلى جبهة أذربيجان، وقبلها ليبيا، ليس إلا أولى ملامح توسع المشروع التركي في الإقليم بعد فشله في سوريا، وهو أساس انخراط موسكو في الحرب السورية، ولن تسمح بانتقاله إلى أسوارها.

Why Conflict in Caucasus Is Erdogan’s Revenge for Syria

Why Conflict in Caucasus Is Erdogan's Revenge for Syria - TheAltWorld

Finian Cunningham

October 17, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

War In Karabakh: Turkish Proxies Are Allegedly Too Scared To Fight Armenians

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October 15, 2020

About 1,000 members of Syrian militant groups deployed by Turkey to support the Azerbaijani advance in the Nagorno-Karabakh region have laid down their arms and refused to participate in hostilities, Armenian media outlets and military-affiliated sources claimed. They insist that Syrian militants were just used as cannon fodder and did not receive their promised money. According to sources loyal to the Syrian opposition, the number of Turkish proxies that died in the war with Armenia has exceeded 110.

Earlier, reports appeared from Syrian sources, claiming that about 400 members of Turkish-backed militant groups deployed in Syria’s northwest had refused to go to Azerbaijan. At least 16 of them were arrested by the so-called Hamza Division for complaining too much and for leaking information to the public.

Meanwhile, the Armenian Defense Ministry released an updated claim on alleged Azerbaijani casualties since the start of the war on September 27. According to this, Azerbaijani forces have lost 5,489 personnel, 541 armoured vehicles, 4 TOS multiple rocket launchers, 19 military planes, 16 helicopters and 176 UAVs. During the last few days, the Armenian military specified, Azerbaijan has lost 3 UAVs, 20 armored vehicles, a plane and has suffered 350 casualties.

Nonetheless, the aforementioned claims did not allow the Armenian military to regain the initiative from the advancing Azerbaijani forces and even the country’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, in his recent national address, admitted that the situation on the frontline is complicated and that the Armenians had retreated from positions in the south and north.

“For 18 days of the war, our heroic troops retreated to the south and north,” Pashinyan said. According to him, Azerbaijani troops also changed their tactics “trying to create confusion in the rear with sabotage groups.” Pashinyan also claimed that “A number of countries with the possibility of strategic deterrence did not properly assess the danger, continuing to consider the issue in the context of the Karabakh conflict and believing that territories in exchange for peace is a solution that can save the situation.”

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that in 2018, Azerbaijan had in the course of negotiations demanded that Armenia give up the seven regions of Nagorno-Karabakh in exchange for peace. According to him, Baku refused to consider the issue of the status of Nagorno-Karabakh as not being part of Azerbaijan.

“In the negotiation process, Azerbaijan has reached the point when it has put a demand for the Armenian people to give up their rights, return five of the seven regions, present specific deadlines for the surrender of the remaining two regions, any status of Nagorno-Karabakh must be determined within Azerbaijan. In addition, the clarification of the status should not have been linked to the process of handing over the territories. The territories were to be surrendered in exchange for peace,” Pashinyan said.

In their turn, the Azerbaijani side remains determined that all of the contested region should be immediately returned to its control and the Armenian Republic of Arstakh there dismantled de-facto employing a military option to achieve this goal.

As of October 15, the Azerbaijani military continued delivering intense artillery and air strikes on Armenian positions across the entire contact line and advancing in the areas of Hadrat and Fuzuli. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev announced that his forces had captured the villages of Garadaghli, Khatunbulag, Garakollu in the Fuzuli district, and Bulutan, Melikjanli, Kemertuk, Teke and Tagaser in the Khojavend district.

Azerbaijani forces have also been trying to fully isolate the town of Hadrut in order to finally turn into reality their earlier claim that it’s under their full control. They also tried to advance on the town of Fuzuli and even reached it, but the attack was repelled by the Armenians. On the other hand, Baku regularly accuses Armenia of ceasefire violations and claims that all its actions are just a response to Armenian aggression.

The humanitarian ceasefire reached by the sides earlier in October helped to stop offensive operations only on distinct parts of the frontline and the war is raging at almost full force in the northern part of Karabakh.

Related

War in Nagorno-Karabakh Is a Gamechanger in Russian-Turkish Relations

By Paul Antonopoulos

Global Research, October 17, 2020

After Turkey downed a Russian jet operating in Syria in late 2015, there was a major risk that the Syrian War could explode into a greater conflict between the two Eurasian countries. The Turkish attack resulted in the death of two Russian servicemen and relations between Moscow and Ankara were again tested in December 2016 when Russian Ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, was assassinated by off-duty police officer Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş. Although Russian President Vladimir Putin accepted the explanation from his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that the assassination was not ordered by the state, Nordic Monitor has published compelling evidence that Altıntaş had strong connections to the so-called Turkish deep state. Despite these major setbacks in Russian-Turkish relations, by the end of 2017 the two countries signed a $2.5 billion agreement for Turkey to acquire the Russian-made S-400 air defence system, considered the most sophisticated of its kind in the world.

As is well-known, this deal resulted in tense relations between Turkey and its NATO allies, and many speculated that with Russian encouragement Ankara would eventually leave the Atlantic Alliance. It is highly unlikely that Turkey will ever leave NATO willingly or be ejected from the organization. Turkey, as a key country connecting East and West and controlling Straits linking the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, knows that it is one of the most important geostrategic countries in the world and can afford to leverage both NATO and Russia to advance its own ambitions.

The Russian-Turkish partnership has seen Ankara acquire the S-400 system, Russia has a critical part in the construction of the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant, and cooperation on significantly reducing conflict in Syria. However, it now appears that Moscow is becoming increasingly frustrated and antagonized by Ankara’s constant escalation of hostilities across Russia’s southern flank and/or areas of interest. Despite Russia and Turkey cooperating in Syria, they support opposing sides in Libya, but this is not considered a major issue between them, or at least not enough to change the course of their bilateral relations. However, the war in Artsakh, or more commonly known as Nagorno-Karabakh, has exposed the fragility of relations between Moscow and Ankara.

Artsakh, despite being an integral part of the Armenian homeland for over 2,500 years and always maintaining an overwhelmingly Armenian majority population, was assigned to the Azerbaijani Soviet Socialist Republic in the early 1920’s. However, in 1989 Armenians in Artsakh demanded unification with the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic. This demand was ultimately rejected by Moscow. However, the final collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992 sparked a war in Artsakh. The Armenians achieved a decisive victory in 1994 and the Republic of Artsakh emerged, although it is still internationally recognized as a part of Azerbaijan.Turkey and Syria Are at War Without a Declaration of War

The OSCE Minsk Group, comprising of France, Russia and the U.S., is the foremost international body attempting to end the decades-long conflict between the de facto independent Republic of Artsakh and Azerbaijan. Although minor wars and skirmishes have been commonplace since 1994, the current war is the most serious escalation, especially when considering the internationalization of the conflict because of Turkey’s transfer of special forces, military advisers, and more importantly, Syrian jihadist mercenaries.

Many within the Syrian government and military have expressed frustration that Russia effectively prevented a Syrian Army offensive at the beginning of the year to liberate more areas of Idlib from Turkish-backed jihadist rule. It is likely that Moscow’s push for a ceasefire in Idlib was to appease Turkey in the hope that it would slowly de-escalate and eventually withdraw from Syria. However, Erdoğan used the lull in the fighting in Idlib to transfer Syrian jihadist mercenaries to fight in Libya. These militants fight on the side of the Muslim Brotherhood Government of National Accords based in Tripoli. They are in opposition to the Libyan National Army, which is based in Tobruk and has ties to Russia.

The transfer of Syrian militants to Libya certainly concerned Moscow, but Libya is not as geopolitically crucial for Russia. However, the transfer of Syrian militants to Azerbaijan brings various terrorists and mujahideen forces right to the very doorstep of Russia in the South Caucasus. Whereas Syrian militants in Idlib and Libya were no real threat to Russia directly, bringing such forces can now easily put them in direct contact with Islamist terrorists based in Dagestan, Chechnya and Ingushetia in Russia’s Caucasus region.

This will likely be a gamechanger in Russian-Turkish relations.

Moscow’s reaction to Turkey transferring Syrian terrorists to Azerbaijan is beginning to reveal itself. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday that Moscow “has never considered Turkey as a strategic ally” and emphasized that Russian military observers should be placed on the line of contact between Artsakh and Azerbaijan. Although Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev repeatedly calls for Turkey to be involved in the Minsk Group or in negotiations, Russia has continually blocked Ankara from being involved in any negotiations.

Russia’s frustration with Turkey can even be felt in the East Mediterranean now. As recently as September 5, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova angered many Greeks when she urged states to be “guided by common sense and take into consideration the geographical peculiarities of a region” when discussing Turkey’s illegal claims against Greece in the East Mediterranean. Zakharova effectively adopted Turkey’s arguments that if Athens enacts its international legal right to extend its territorial waters from six nautical miles to 12, then the Aegean will effectively become a “Greek lake,” and therefore the Turks believe “common sense” has to prevail over this “geographical peculiarity.”

However, only yesterday, it appeared that Moscow now indirectly supports Greece’s position in the East Mediterranean, with the Russian Embassy in Athens tweeting that “Russia’s position as a permanent member of the UN Security Council is the starting point. We consider the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea the ‘cornerstone’ of international maritime agreements. The Convention explicitly provides for the sovereign right of all States to have territorial waters up to 12 nautical miles and sets out the principles and methods for delimiting the [Exclusive Economic Zone]. This also applies to the Mediterranean.”

It was also announced yesterday that Lavrov will be making a working visit to Greece on October 28. Russia’s repositioning on the East Mediterranean issue by firmly supporting a states’ right to extend its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles as permitted by international law, something that Turkey has said would be a “reason for war” if Greece enacts its legal right, is likely part of its retaliation against Erdoğan’s transfer of Syrian terrorists to the doorstep of Dagestan. Although Moscow tolerated Erdoğan’s aggression in Syria, Iraq and Libya, by threatening war on Armenia, a Collective Security Treaty Organization member state, and transferring militants to the border of Dagestan, Turkey has overstepped Russia’s patience and this can be considered a gamechanger in their bilateral relations.

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This article was originally published on InfoBrics.

Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst.

TURKEY THREATENS ARMENIA WITH DIRECT MILITARY INTERVENTION IN KARABAKH WAR

As of October 13, clashes between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces continue in the southern part of the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region, while on the other parts of the frontline Baku and Yerevan limited their military activity to exchange of artillery and aerial strikes. The humanitarian ceasefire signed by the sides in Moscow formally remains in force, but the terms of the ceasefire are not fulfilled by both sides.

The main point of instability is the town of Hadrut, which Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev announced to have been ‘liberated’ from ‘Armenian occupants’. However, Armenian forces apparently forgot to read his tweet and withdraw from the area. So, now, the Azerbaijani leader is forced to explain what’s going on.

On October 12, he sated that a large group of Armenian special forces attacked the town to make a few selfies for Armenian propaganda, but the attack was repelled. “Although from a strategic point of view, it does not matter so much for Armenia. They just take such a step to go there and take a selfie or report to their population. The Azerbaijani Army neutralized this large group,” Aliyev stressed.

The Armenian military says that the town is still in the hands of its forces and that it has successfully repelled another Azerbaijani attack there.

Turkey has been openly threatening Armenia with a joint Turkish-Azerbaijani advance if it does not surrender the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region to Azerbaijan. Meanwhile, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said that “Baku cannot wait for justice for another 30 years” claiming that “Turkey is ready to support the fair position of the Azerbaijani side.” According to Akar, if the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh is not resolved in the near future, then the next step will be “the Azerbaijani-Turkish movement aimed at returning their land.”

Sources affiliated with Turkish-backed militant groups in Syria say that Ankara has been preparing a new deployment of militant groups’ members to Azerbaijan to support its war with Armenia. If the numbers of 1,500-2,000 fresh militants that are set to come to Azerbaijan are confirmed, this will not only make the estimated number of Turkish proxies deployed there from 4,000-6,000, but also confirm that Ankara is set to use its influence to motivate Azerbaijan to opt for the scenario of a further escalation.

Likely, the Turkish leadership seems the war in Karabakh as an important turning point, which, in the event of military success, will turn into the leading power in the Southern Caucasus and give additional momentum to its geopolitical expansion. It will also boost the popularity of Recep Tayyip Erdogan that positions himself as the leader of the Turkic world and a de-facto Sultan of his own Neo-Ottoman Empire.

According to the Armenian side, the Turkish military is already directly involved in the war. In particular, the presence of Turkish F-16s, Turkish special forces, military advisers and Turkish-backed Syrian militants in Azerbaijan are hardly deniable facts.

It is interesting to observe how for example the main version from Turkish and Azerbaijani sources about the Turkish F-16 jets switched from public denial of their presence to claims that they are not involved directly in the conflict and are just needed to deter Armenian aggression. Reports from the ground and the diplomatic posture of the sides indicate that Azerbaijan, supported by Turkey, is preparing a new military push against Armenian forces in the Nagorno-Karabakh region to consolidate and expand its initial gains before the winter.

Related News

President Assad Interview with Sputnik TV and the Full Interview Transcript

President Bashar Assad interview with Russian Sputnik

Syrian President Bashar Al Assad gave a couple of interviews to Russian media commemorating the Russian fifth year of military intervention in Syria aiding the Syrian army combating US-sponsored terror.

In this interview with the Russian Sputnik TV addresses a number of current topics including the Turkish instigation of the current escalations in Nagorno-Karabach, Erdogan’s use of foreign and Syrian mercenary terrorists in his interventions in Syria, Libya, and now between Azerbaijan and Armenia, the Trump’s plot to assassinate him, his take on the US elections and expectations of the new US president in regards to US meddling in Syria, COVID 19 and the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, and the military and political relations between Syria and Russia.

President Assad also addressed the Israeli occupation of the Golan, the Iranian presence in Syria, and the US and Turkish occupation of parts in eastern and northern Syria.

On the upcoming US elections and Trump’s nomination or a Nobel Peace Prize, President Assad: ‘There’s no president in the USA, there’s a CEO who implements the will of the board: the lobbyists for major corporations, those are the banks, armaments, oil… etc.’

President Assad also answered a question whether he intends to run for the coming Syrian presidential elections next year, and about the Syrian army’s need for modern weapons including S400 or advanced versions of S300 air defense systems.

Sputnik TV has been releasing short clips of the interview, here they released what’s believed to be half of the interview on their French YouTube channel with French subtitles.

We’ve added English subtitles to this part of the interview based on the transcript provided by SANA for people who prefer to read and people with hearing disabilities in the following video followed by the transcript of the full interview, both parts

Syrian President Bashar Al Assad gave a couple of interviews to Russian media commemorating the Russian fifth year of military intervention in Syria aiding the Syrian army combating US-sponsored terror.

In this interview with the Russian Sputnik TV addresses a number of current topics including the Turkish instigation of the current escalations in Nagorno-Karabach, Erdogan’s use of foreign and Syrian mercenary terrorists in his interventions in Syria, Libya, and now between Azerbaijan and Armenia, the Trump’s plot to assassinate him, his take on the US elections and expectations of the new US president in regards to US meddling in Syria, COVID 19 and the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, and the military and political relations between Syria and Russia.

President Assad also addressed the Israeli occupation of the Golan, the Iranian presence in Syria, and the US and Turkish occupation of parts in eastern and northern Syria.

On the upcoming US elections and Trump’s nomination or a Nobel Peace Prize, President Assad: ‘There’s no president in the USA, there’s a CEO who implements the will of the board: the lobbyists for major corporations, those are the banks, armaments, oil… etc.’

President Assad also answered a question whether he intends to run for the coming Syrian presidential elections next year, and about the Syrian army’s need for modern weapons including S400 or advanced versions of S300 air defense systems.

Sputnik TV has been releasing short clips of the interview, here they released what’s believed to be half of the interview on their French YouTube channel with French subtitles.

We’ve added English subtitles to this part of the interview based on the transcript provided by SANA for people who prefer to read and people with hearing disabilities in the following video followed by the transcript of the full interview, both parts:https://videopress.com/embed/PQWtLurT?preloadContent=metadata&hd=1The video is also available on BitChute.

Question 1: Mr. President, thank you very much for giving us this opportunity to have this interview at these days when we remember that five years ago the Russian assistance came to Syria. So, after five years of the Russian military operation, nowadays can you say that the war in Syria now is over?

President Assad: No, definitely not. As long as you have terrorists occupying some areas of our country and committing different kinds of crimes and assassinations and other crimes, it’s not over, and I think their supervisors are keen to make it continue for a long time. That’s what we believe.

Question 2: And what moments of the heroism of the Russians do you recall and keep in your heart? Which of them do you consider worth telling to your grandchildren, let’s say?

President Assad: There are so many, and I remember some of them, of course. After five years of this cooperation between the Syrian and the Russian army in a vicious war, I think heroism is becoming a collective act; it’s not individual, it’s not only a few cases of heroism that you remember. For example, if you think about military aircraft pilots – the air force, Russian pilots kept flying over the terrorists on a daily basis, risking their lives, and you had a few aircrafts that had been shot down by the terrorists. If you talk about the other officers, they are supporting the Syrian army not in the rear lines, but in the front lines and as a consequence you had martyrs. What I’m going to tell my grandchildren someday is not only about this heroism, but I’m also going to talk about these common values that we have in both our armies that made us brothers during this war; these noble values, faithful to their causes, defending civilians, defending the innocent. Many things to talk about in this war.

Question 3: And what moment does symbolize for you a turning point during this conflict, during this war?

President Assad: It’s been now nearly ten years since the war started, so we have many turning points that I can mention, not only one. The first is in 2013 when we started liberating many areas, especially the middle of Syria, from al-Nusra. Then in 2014, it was in the other direction when ISIS appeared suddenly with American support and they occupied a very important part of Syria and Iraq at the same time; this is when the terrorists started occupying other areas, because ISIS was able to distract the Syrian Army from fulfilling its mission in liberating the western part of Syria. Then the other turning point was when the Russians came to Syria in 2015 and we started liberating together many areas. In that stage, after the Russians came to Syria to support the Syrian Army, I’d say the turning point was to liberate the eastern part of Aleppo; this is where the liberation of other areas in Syria started from that point. It was important because of the importance of Aleppo, and because it was the beginning of the liberation – the large-scale liberation, that continued later to Damascus, to the rest of Aleppo recently, and other areas in the eastern part of Syria and the southern part. So, these are the main turning points. If you put them together, all of them are strategic and all of them changed the course of this war.

Question 4: I now will turn to some actual news, and we in Russia follow what now is happening in the region of the Armenian and Azerbaijanian conflict, and definitely Turkey plays a role there. Is it negative or positive, that is not for me to judge, but I would like to ask you about Turkey’s and Erdogan’s policies. So, in recent years, Turkey has been trying to maximize its international influence. We all see its presence in Libya, its intervention into Syria, territorial disputes with Greece, and the now open support to Azerbaijan. What do you think about that kind of behavior of Ankara and Erdogan personally, and should the international community pay more attention to this sort of neo-Othmanism.

President Assad: Let’s be blunt and clear; Erdogan has supported terrorists in Syria, and he’s been supporting terrorists in Libya, and he was the main instigator and initiator of the recent conflict that has been going on in Nagorno-Karabakh between Azerbaijan and Armenia. So, I would sum his behavior as dangerous, for different reasons. First of all, because it reflects the Muslim Brotherhood behavior; the Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist extremist group. Second, because he’s creating war in different areas to distract his own public opinion in Turkey from focusing on his behavior inside Turkey, especially after his scandalous relations with ISIS in Syria; everybody knows that ISIS used to sell Syrian oil through Turkey under the umbrella of the American air forces and of course the involvement of the Turks in selling this oil. So, this is his goal, and this is dangerous. So, whether the international community should be aware or not, the word “international community” in reality is only a few countries: the great powers and rich countries, and let’s call them the influencers on the political arena. The majority of this international community is complicit with Turkey in supporting the terrorists. So, they know what Turkey is doing, they are happy about what Turkey is doing, and Turkey is an arm for those countries in fulfilling their policies and dreams in this region. So, no, we cannot bet on the international community at all. You can bet on international law, but it doesn’t exist because there’s no institution to implement international law. So, we have to depend on ourselves in Syria and on the support of our friends.

Question 5: So, more about this conflict. There were reports that some terrorists from the groups that were fighting previously in Syria are now being transferred to this conflict zone between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Can you confirm that? Do you have any information about fighters going from Syria to…?

President Assad: We definitely can confirm it, not because we have evidence, but sometimes if you don’t have evidence you have indicators. Turkey used terrorists coming from different countries in Syria. They used the same method in Libya; they used Syrian terrorists in Libya, maybe with other nationalities. So, it’s self-evident and very probable that they are using that method in Nagorno-Karabakh because as I said earlier, they are the ones who started this problem, this conflict; they encouraged this conflict. They want to achieve something and they’re going to use the same method. So, we can say for sure that they’ve been using Syrian and other nationalities of terrorists in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Question 6: Let’s turn now to the relations between our countries, Russia and Syria. Are there any plans for your contacts or meetings with President Putin?

President Assad: We have regular contact, mainly over the phone, whenever something new happens or whenever there is a need for these conversations. Of course, we’re going to talk in the future, we’re going to meet in the future, but that depends on the political situation regarding Syria. And as you know now because of the Coronavirus the whole world is paralyzed, so in the near future I think the conversation will be on the phone.

Question 7: And will you raise the question of the new credits for Syria? For new loans?

President Assad: In our economic situation, it’s very important to seek loans, but at the same time, you shouldn’t take this step without being able to pay back the loan. Otherwise, it’s going to be a burden, and it’s going to be a debt. So, it has two aspects. Talking about loans is in our minds, and we discussed it with our Russian counterparts, but we have to prepare for such a step before taking it seriously, or practically, let’s say.

Question 8: Recently, the delegation from Russia came, and Vice Prime Minister Borisov was here. Is now Syria interested in buying anti-aircraft systems like S-400 or demanding for additional S-300?

President Assad: Actually, we started a plan for upgrading our army two years ago, and it’s self-evident that we’re going to do this upgrade in cooperation with the Russian Ministry of Defense, because for decades now, our army depends fully on Russian armaments. But there are priorities, it’s not necessarily the missiles, maybe you have other priorities now regarding the conflict on the ground. So, there’s a full-scale plan, but we have to move according to these priorities. Usually, we don’t talk about the details of our military plans, but in general, as I said, it’s upgrading the army in every aspect of the military field.

Question 9: You definitely follow the presidential campaign in the United States. And do you hope that the new US President, regardless of the name of the winner, will review sanctions policies towards Syria?

President Assad: We don’t usually expect presidents in the American elections, we only expect CEOs; because you have a board, this board is made of the lobbies and the big corporates like banks and armaments and oil, etc. So, what you have is a CEO, and this CEO doesn’t have the right or the authority to review; he has to implement it. And that’s what happened to Trump when he became president after the elections –

Journalist: He used to be CEO for many years before.

President Assad: Exactly! And he is a CEO anyway. He wanted to follow or pursue his own policy, and he was about to pay the price – you remember the impeachment issue. He had to swallow every word he said before the elections. So, that’s why I said you don’t expect a president, you only expect a CEO. If you want to talk about changing the policy, you have one board – the same board will not change its policy. The CEO will change but the board is still the same, so don’t expect anything.

Question 10: Who are this board? Who are these people?

President Assad: As I said, this board is made up of the lobbies, so they implement whatever they want, and they control the Congress and the others, and the media, etc. So, there’s an alliance between those different self-vested interest corporations in the US.

Question 11: So, Trump pledged to withdraw American troops from Syria but he failed to do that. Now he’s been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Do you think if he manages to bring American troops home, is he going to be awarded that Nobel Peace Prize?

President Assad: He’s nominated?

Journalist: He is nominated.

President Assad: I didn’t know about this. If you want to talk about the nomination for peace, peace is not only about withdrawing your troops; it’s a step, it’s a good step, and it’s a necessary step. But peace is about your policy, it’s about your behavior. It means to stop occupying land, to stop toppling governments just because they are not with you, to stop creating chaos in different areas of the world. Peace is to follow international law and to support the United Nations Charter, etc. This is peace, this is when you deserve the Nobel Peace Prize. Obama had this prize; he had just been elected and he hadn’t done anything. The only achievement he had at that time maybe, was that he moved from his house to the White House, and he was given a Nobel Prize. So, they would give it to Trump for something similar. I don’t know what is it, but definitely not peace.

Question 12: So, Trump acknowledged recently that he intended to eliminate you personally, and that the Pentagon Chief Mattis persuaded him not to do so. Did you know about that at that time, and were some measures undertaken to prevent it?

President Assad: Assassination is American modus operandi, that’s what they do all the time, for decades, everywhere, in different areas in this world, this is not something new. So, you have to keep it in your mind that this kind of plan has always existed for different reasons. We have to expect this in our situation in Syria, with this conflict, with the Americans, they occupy our land, and they are supporting the terrorists. It’s expected; even if you don’t have any information, it should be self-evident. How do you prevent it? It’s not about the incident per se – it’s not about this plan regarding this person or this president, it’s about the behavior. Nothing will deter the United States from committing these kinds of vicious actions or acts unless there’s an international balance where the United States cannot get away with its crimes. Otherwise, it’s going to continue these kinds of acts in different areas, and nothing would stop it.

Question 13: And were there any other attempts on you during your presidency?

President Assad: I didn’t hear of any attempt, but as I said, it’s self-evident that you have many attempts, or maybe, plans to be more precise. I mean, let’s say, were they active or on hold? Nobody knows.

Question 14: Now I turn back to the situation in Syria, and will you run for presidency in the year 2021?

President Assad: It’s still early to talk about it because we still have a few months. I can take this decision at the beginning of next year.

Question 15: Interesting. And have you congratulated Mr. Alexander Lukashenko with his inauguration in Belarus, and do you probably see similarities between political technologies that were used by the UK and the US to support Belarusian opposition, and those methods that were used against Syria and against the Syrian state in information war?

President Assad: I did send a congratulation letter to President Lukashenko and that’s normal. With regards to what’s happening in Belarus: regardless of the similarities between the two countries – Syria and Belarus – or the differences, regardless of whether you have a real conflict or an artificial one in a country, the West – as long as it hasn’t changed its hegemonic policy around the world – is going to interfere anywhere in the world. If you have a real problem in your country, whether it’s small or big, it’s going to interfere. And if it’s domestic, they’re going to make it international just to interfere and meddle in your affairs. If you don’t have problems, they’re going to do their best to create problems and to make them international again in order to meddle in your affairs. This is their policy.

So, it’s not about what’s happening in Belarus. Like any other country, Syria, Belarus, your country, every country has their own problems. Does the West have the right to interfere or not? That’s what we have to oppose. So, going back to your question, yes, it’s the same behavior, it’s the same strategy, it’s the same tactics. The only difference is the branding of the products, different headlines. They use certain headlines for Russia, others for Venezuela, another one for Syria, and so on. So, it’s not about Belarus; it’s about the behavior of the West and it’s about their strategy for the future, because they think with the rise of Russia, with the rise of China, with the rise of other powers around the world, this is an existential threat for them, so the only way to oppose or to face this threat is by creating chaos around the world.

Question 16: So, you have already mentioned the Coronavirus and it affected all humankind. Was someone from the government infected, or maybe you personally?

President Assad: Thank God, no. And I don’t think anyone from our government has been infected.

Question 17: That’s good news. And would you personally like to take the Russian vaccine?

President Assad: Of course, in these circumstances, anyone would love to be vaccinated against this dangerous virus. But I think it’s not available for the international market yet, but we’re going to discuss it with the Russian authority when it’s available internationally to have vaccines for the Syrian market. It’s very important.

Journalist: Yes, and Russians have already suggested that it can be available for our international partners…

President Assad: They said in November it could be available.

Question 18: So, you will be asking for the Russian vaccine?

President Assad: Yes, definitely, it’s a necessity at these times.

Question 19: And in what amount?

President Assad: That depends on how much is available and we have to discuss the amount that we need with the health authority in Syria.

Question 20: So, you are going to have negotiations in detail with the Russian authorities.

President Assad: Definitely, of course. Everybody in Syria is asking about the Russian vaccine and when it’s going to be available.

Question 21: Now, on the backdrop of the pandemic outbreak, does the public demand to change the constitution still exist? Because Coronavirus created a new paradigm in the world, and certainly in politics. So, the problems and the Geneva talks cast doubts on the question of whether the need to change the constitution still exists. What do you think about that?

President Assad: No, there’s no relation between the Coronavirus and the constitution. We changed the constitution in 2012 and now we are discussing the constitution in the Geneva talks. We had a round of negotiations nearly one month ago. So, the Coronavirus delayed those rounds, but it didn’t stop them.

Ultimately, the Geneva negotiations are a political game, it’s not what the public – the Syrians, are focused on. The Syrian people are not thinking about the constitution, nobody is talking about it. Their concerns are regarding the reforms we need to enact and the policies we need to change to ensure their needs are met. This is what we are discussing at the moment and where our concerns are, and where the government is focusing its efforts.

Question 22: So, you say that the Geneva talks should continue, and the constitution on the agenda, and still there should be more discussions?

President Assad: Yes, of course. We started and we’re going to continue in the next few weeks.

Question 23: Will Syria decide to conduct a trial against the White Helmets, and do you think that there should be a sort of international investigation on their activities, probably under the UN umbrella?

President Assad: When there is a crime, you don’t take the knife or the weapon to trial, you send the criminal to trial. In this case, the White Helmets are just the tools or the means – the weapon that’s been used for terrorism. They were created by the United Kingdom, supported by the United States and of course France and other Western countries, and used directly by Turkey. All these regimes are the real father and mother of the White Helmets, so they have to be held accountable even before the White Helmets themselves. Now, the question is do we have international laws to pursue such procedures? No, we don’t. Otherwise, the United States wouldn’t get away with its crimes in Iraq for example, in Yemen, or in different areas. Not only the United States, but also France, the UK and different countries, and the US in Syria. But you don’t have these institutions that could implement such laws, as I mentioned earlier. So, no, we have to focus more on the perpetrators, the real perpetrators, the real supervisors. They are the Western countries and their puppets in the region.

Question 24: But should probably any step be undertaken concretely toward the White Helmets? Because they are still active?

President Assad: Yes, of course, they are criminals. I’m not saying anything different. Before they were the White Helmets, they were al-Nusra; there are videos and images of all those criminals, so they have to be tried in Syria. But when you talk about the White Helmets as an institution, it’s made by the West. So, they are criminals as individuals, but the White Helmets is a Western institution – an extremist terrorist organization – based on the al-Nusra organization.

Question 25: You say that the presence of the US and Turkish army in Syria is illegal. What will you do to stop it?

President Assad: It is an occupation and, in this situation, we have to do two things: the first is to eliminate the excuse that they’ve been using for this occupation, which is the terrorists – in this case ISIS. Most of the world now know that ISIS was created by the Americans and is supported by them; they give them their missions, like any American troops. You have to eliminate the excuse, so, eliminating the terrorists in Syria is priority number one for us. After that, if they, the Americans and the Turks, don’t leave, the natural thing that will happen is popular resistance. This is the only way; they won’t leave through discussion or through international law since it doesn’t exist. So, you don’t have any other means but resistance and this is what happened in Iraq. What made the Americans withdraw in 2007? It was because of the popular resistance in Iraq.

ISIS, the Bombshell Interview to Impeach Obama

https://www.syrianews.cc/isis-the-bombshell-interview-to-impeach-obama/embed/#?secret=Fa36QPsTx4

Question 26: So, what do you think about the agreement between the US and the Syrian Kurds in terms of extracting oil? And will you undertake any measures against it?

President Assad: This is robbery, and the only way to stop this robbery is to liberate your land. If you don’t liberate it, no measure will stop them from doing this because they are thieves, and you cannot stop a thief unless you put him in prison or you deter him somehow by isolating him from the area where he can commit his robbery. So, the same thing has to be done with those thieves. They have to be expelled from this region; this is the only way. And the Syrian government should control every part of Syria, so the situation will return to normal.

Question 27: How do you assess the situation in Idlib? How is Syria going to resolve the problem of expelling terrorists from there, and how many of them fight now there, how many terrorists, to your assessment?

President Assad: Since 2013, we adopted a certain, let’s say, methodology in dealing with these areas where the terrorists control mainly the civilians or the cities. We give them the chance to give up their armaments and in return, they are granted amnesty from the government; that has succeeded in many areas in Syria. But if they don’t seek reconciliation, we have to attack militarily, and that’s what happened in every area we have liberated since 2013. This methodology applies to the areas where there were national reconciliations and the fighters were Syrian. However, Idlib is a different case; most of the foreigners in Syria are concentrated in Idlib, so they either go to Turkey – this is where they came from or came through, or they go back to their countries or they die in Syria.

Question 28: In Europe?

President Assad: Mainly in Europe. Some of them came from Russia, from Arab countries, from so many countries around the world. All those Jihadist extremists wanted to come and fight in Syria.

Question 29: So, now this area is under the, let’s say, the supervision and the common operations by Russians, by Turks, sometimes by Americans. Do you see that this cooperation is efficient, and how this experience can be used in the future?

President Assad: No, I don’t think it’s efficient for a simple reason: if it was efficient, we wouldn’t have gone to war recently in many areas in Aleppo and Idlib. Because the Turkish regime was supposed to convince the terrorists in that area to withdraw and pave the way for the Syrian Army and the Syrian government and institutions to take control, but they didn’t. Every time they give the same commitment; they haven’t fulfilled any of their promises or commitments. So, no, I wouldn’t say this cooperation was effective, but let’s see. They still have another chance to withdraw the terrorists north of the M4 in Idlib. This is their latest commitment in agreement with the Russian side, but they haven’t fulfilled it yet. So, let’s wait and see.

Question 30: Do you consider the possibility of negotiations with Israel in terms of, you know, stopping the hostile activities? And is it possible that in the future Syria will establish diplomatic relations with Israel, as several Arab countries did recently?

President Assad: Our position is very clear since the beginning of peace talks in the nineties, so nearly three decades ago, when we said peace for Syria is about rights. Our right is our land. We can only have normal relations with Israel when we have our land back. It’s very simple. So, it is possible when Israel is ready and Israel is not ready. It has never been ready; we’ve never seen any official in the Israeli regime who is ready to move one step towards peace. So, theoretically yes, but practically, so far, the answer is no.

Question 31: So, this news from other Arab countries who have established recently, I thought probably can be an impetus for Syria and Israel to start negotiations, but as I understand there are no negotiations between your countries underway at the time.

President Assad: No, there is none, nothing at all.

Question 32: You have already mentioned the enforcement of your armed forces. What are the obstacles for it? Do you see any obstacles for enforcing your armed forces?

President Assad: When you talk about big projects, you always have obstacles, but you can overcome these obstacles; nothing is impossible. Sometimes it could be financial, sometimes it could be about priorities, sometimes it could be about the situation on the ground. This is the only obstacle. Otherwise, no, we don’t have any obstacles. We are moving forward in that regard, but it takes time. It’s a matter of time, nothing more.

Question 33: Some international players say that Iranian withdrawal from Syria is a precondition for the economic restoration of the country and cooperation with the Syrian government, of the Western governments and probably the businesses. Will Syria agree with this condition, and will it ask Iran to withdraw, if ever?

President Assad: First of all, we don’t have Iranian troops and that’s very clear. They support Syria, they send their military experts, they work with our troops on the ground, they exist with the Syrian Army. But let’s take one practical example: nearly a year ago, the Americans told the Russians to ” convince the Iranians that they should be 80 kilometers away from the border with the Golan Heights” that is occupied by the Israelis. Although there were no Iranian troops, the Iranians were very flexible, they said “ok, no Iranian personnel will be south of that line” and the Americans said that if we can agree upon this, we are going to withdraw from the occupied eastern part of Syria on the borders with Iraq called al-Tanf. Nothing happened, they didn’t withdraw. So, the Iranian issue is a pretext for occupying Syrian land and supporting terrorists. It’s used as a mask to cover their real intentions. The only way for them to implement what they are saying is when Syria becomes a puppet state to the United States. That’s what they want, nothing else. Everything else they talk about is just lies, false flag allegations. So, I don’t think there’s any real solution with the Americans as long as they don’t want to change their behavior.

Question 34: And the last question: is there anything that you are proud of, and anything that you are sorry for doing or not doing?

President Assad: During the war?

Journalist: During your presidency.

President Assad: You have to differentiate between the policies and between the implementation. In terms of policies, from the very beginning, we have said we’re going to listen to the Syrian people and that’s why we reformed the constitution in 2012. We have said we’re going to fight the terrorists and we are still doing that after ten years. We have said that we have to preserve our independence – national independence and that’s what we are fighting for, and we have to make alliances with our friends. So, regarding these policies, I think we were right. Not trusting the West? We were right on many fronts. In terms of implementation, it’s about the tactics, it’s about many things that you may say were wrong. For example: were the reconciliations wrong? Because in some areas those people who had amnesty, didn’t go back to the rule of law. So, you can say this is wrong, but in reality, those reconciliations were very important steps. I don’t think that in the policies we were wrong. You have many mistakes regarding the implementation anywhere and sometimes on a daily basis.

Journalist: Ok, Mr. President, our time is running out, so again, thanks a lot for this frank and lengthy interview.

President Assad: Thank you. Thank you for coming to Syria.

Journalist: Thank you very much

End of the interview transcript in English.Related Videos

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موسكو تقطع الشكّ باليقين و واشنطن تخرج بخفي حنين…!

محمد صادق الحسيني

القوقاز روسية إيرانية مشتركة لا مكان فيها للغرباء ولا نفايات الصهاينة أو الإرهابيين…!

وأردوغان يخسر المعركة، وإيران تحبط الإنزال الإسرائيلي التكفيري خلف خطوطها…!

هكذا تلخصت نتائج غزوة الأطلسي لجنوب القوقاز، وتقطعت السبل بجسور عبورهم التي تخيّلوها وخططوا لها من البحر الأسود إلى بحر الخزر…!

تخبّط أذربيجان، وصمود أرمينيا، وتعقل إيران، أفرز حصاداً روسياً لغير صالح أميركا والأطلسي، وضاعت طموحات أردوغان بين قره باغ ونقچوان والطرق السريعة التي تحمل غاز القوقاز الجنوبي…!

انتهت اللعبة بدخول بوتين شخصياً على الخط بتفويض إيراني وإكراه تركي، بدعوته الطرفين المتنازعين الى موسكو للتفاوض ومن ثم ترتيبات وقف إطلاق نار ستحمل في طياتها حضور روسي عسكري (مراقبين أو ما شابه ذلك) إلى حين البتّ في أصول النزاع بعيداً عن توظيف ثلاثي الإرهاب الأميركي الأطلسي العثماني الذي ظنّ للحظة انّ بإمكانه إعادة إطلاق سيناريو سوري في القوقاز…!

في هذه الأثناء وتعزيزاً للتفوّق الروسي والثلاثي الشرقي الصاعد فقد وضعت روسيا اليوم صاروخ تسيركين الأهمّ والأخطر في تاريخ الصناعات الصاروخية في العالم في الخدمة، أيّ بتصرف القوات البحرية والجوية الروسية…!

وصاروخ تسيركين هذا لمن لا يعرف تبلغ سرعته 12 ألف كلم في الساعة أيّ 12 مرة أسرع من الصوت، ويتمّ إطلاقه من الجو ومن البحر مدمّرات وغواصات، وليس بإمكان أيّ رادارات اكتشافه أو التقاطه فضلاً عن إسقاطه لأنه يتحرك بشكل طبقي ولولبي بشكل سريع جداً، وتتمّ حمايته بشبكة من أنظمة الدفاع التي تجعل منه غير قابل للاصطياد من جانب العدو مطلقاً…!

ويستطيع تدمير حاملة طائرات مع مرافقاتها خاصة عندما تطلق منه عدة صليات مرة واحدة…!

وهكذا يكون العالم قد تقدّم خطوة إضافية باتجاه خروج الأميركي من أحادية القوة التي لا تقهر، فيما دخل ثلاثي طهران موسكو بكين سباق الجلوس على عرش العالم رغم أنف الامبرياليين وأذنابهم الذين يتهاوون الواحد بعد الآخر…!

لا تغرنكم استعراضاتهم التلفزيونية ولا حتى أصوات مدافعهم الصدئة والبالية والمهترئة، فهي ليست سوى مناورات لقتال تراجعي تقهقري لقوة غزو فاشلة تحاول العودة الى قواعدها بأقلّ الخسائر الممكنة…!

عالم تتكسر موجاته على شواطئ بحارنا، فيما عالم تتشكل قدراته في جغرافيا آخر الزمان…!

بعدنا طيّبين قولوا الله…

مقاتلو الفصائل المسلحة السورية: انكشاريو «السلطنة» التركية الجديدة!

د. عدنان منصور

في الأول من هذا الشهر، وفي كلمة له مع بداية العام التشريعي الجديد للبرلمان التركي، أعلن الرئيس رجب طيب أردوغان، تمسّك بلاده بمحافظة إدلب، وعدم التخلي عنها لأسباب عديدة، منها حماية البلاد من تسلل الإرهابيين، وتوفير الأمن للنازحين المدنيين في المنطقة!

وقال إنّ هدف تركيا، هو وقف الهجمات، وجعل المنطقة والحدود التركية آمنة.

كلام أردوغان في البرلمان التركي، جاء بعد توقف المفاوضات على مستوى الخبراء العسكريين بين روسيا وتركيا، والتي اقتصرت حتى الآن، على جولة واحدة جرت يومي 15 و16 أيلول من الشهر الفائت، حيث رفض الأتراك بشكل مطلق وحاسم، الاقتراح الروسي القاضي بسحب القوات التركية من أربع نقاط رئيسة من جنوب طريق اللاذقية ـ حلب، والذي يُعرف بـ M4.

تركيا قرّرت الحفاظ على قواتها بحكم الأمر الواقع، والاستمرار في احتلال أجزاء في العراق وسورية وليبيا، والتواجد في لبنان (من خلال القوات الدولية اليونيفيل)، وفي مالي وجمهورية أفريقيا الوسطى ضمن بعثة الأمم المتحدة العاملة فيهما، والإصرار على بقائها العسكري في شمال سورية، لا سيما في محافظة إدلب، بذريعة وجود تنظيمات إرهابية كداعش، وفصائل كردية عديدة أبرزها:

حزب العمال الكردستاني PKK، و«قسد” (قوات سورية الديمقراطية)، وغيرها، ما يهدّد بزعم أنقرة أمن واستقرار تركيا.

لكن أن تقوم تركيا، بنقل مقاتلين سوريين وغير سوريين، من الفصائل المسلحة الإرهابية إلى ليبيا، وقبلها الإتيان بعناصر إرهابية من أنحاء العالم للقتال ضدّ النظام السوري، وبعد ذلك إرسال جماعات أخرى منهم الى ميادين القتال في أذربيجان، ونشرهم على جبهة الحرب الأرمينية ـ الأذربيجانية، فهذا يسقط بالكامل الحجج التركية الواهية من أساسها في محاربة الإرهاب، ويكشف مدى النفاق، وزيف ادّعاءات القيادة التركية، من أنّ قواتها المحتلة لأراض سورية، تهدف الى محاربة الإرهاب، وتأمين سلامة تركيا وحدودها.

لقد تحوّل المقاتلون الإرهابيون، الى فصائل في يد تركيا، تديرهم، وتحرّكهم، وتأمرهم، وتوجههم، وتستخدمهم أينما كان، وكيفما تشاء، تحوّلهم الى “انكشاريين” من طراز جديد، يقاتلون خارج بلدانهم من أجل مصالحها وأهدافها التوسعية، ومصالحها الاستراتيجية، وهم ينفذون سياساتها، ويزيدون من شهيّتها التوسعية خارج حدودها.

يأتي هذا في الوقت الذي تعزز فيه تركيا من احتلالها العسكري لإدلب وحواضرها، بأكثر من عشرة آلاف آلية عسكرية متنوعة، بالإضافة الى الحشود العسكرية التي انتشرت في الآونة الأخيرة.

هل يعلم مقاتلو الفصائل الإرهابية المسلحة، الذين ارتموا في أحضان تركيا وغيرها، أنهم ليسوا إلا أداة في خدمة العثماني الجديد، يؤدّون فريضتهم له، جاعلين أنفسهم له مطية يركبها في أيّ وقت، مقابل حفنة من المال، يدفعها لهم كمرتزقة؟! مال يخضع للعرض والطلب حسب المهمات الموكولة إليهم، والأماكن التي سيتواجدون فيها وفق أوامر سيدهم.

أين هي “وطنية” و”عروبة” الفصائل المسلحة السورية التي ارتمت في أحضان التركي، والتي حاربت النظام السوري منذ سنوات، وما هي حجتها اليوم عندما ترى المقاتلين والإرهابيين، ينغمسون في حروب لا شأن لهم بها. إلا لكون سيدهم التركي يريد منهم ذلك! هذه الفصائل تثبت مرة أخرى وبشكل قاطع، أنها ومنذ اليوم الأول لاندلاع القتال في سورية، ما كانت إلا مجموعات عميلة، مأجورة، تحرّكها قيادات مرتزقة مدفوعة الثمن من الخارج. وها هي اليوم. تحارب نيابة عن تركيا، بدماء عربية، تزجّ نفسها، وتنغمس في أتون حرب لا ناقة لها ولا جمل.

فليفهم المواطن العراقي والسوري واللبناني والليبي، وكلّ مواطن عربي، تورّط في الصراع الإقليمي، وغرزت أقدامه في المستنقع السوري والتركي. انّ تركيا التي تحمل في الشكل، شعارات براقة، ليست في الحقيقة إلا وسيلة لتطلّ منها على العالمين العربي والإسلامي، لنسترجع الماضي، “وأمجاد” السلطنة العثمانية، التي عانت منها الشعوب التي رزحت تحت نيرها، وحصدت منها الويلات، والكوارث والفقر، والظلم والاستبداد.

السلطان العثماني الجديد يطلّ برأسه مجدّداً، يحارب بمرتزقته من “الانكشاريين” الجدد، الذين جلبهم من هنا وهناك، ليوسّع دائرة نفوذه على امتداد العالم الإسلامي، عله يظفر بقيادته، ويتوّج نفسه “خليفة”، حامياً له، و”راعياً صالحاً للحرمين الشريفين في مكة والمدينة!

وزير سابق

Video: A Conspiracy Against Armenia? The Role of the Pashinyan Government

By South Front

Global Research, October 07, 2020

South Front 6 October 2020

The Armed Forces of Azerbaijan supported by Turkey continue their large-scale offensive to capture the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region from Armenian forces. Following the gains of the previous days, when Azerbaijani forces captured the towns of Talish, Jabrayil and Mataghis, they developed momentum in the Jabrayil district capturing the villages of Shikhali Agali, Sari jali, and Mezre, and several other hill tops, according to the country’s president Ilham Aliyev.

Currently, Azerbaijani forces are working to consolidate their gains and conduct artillery and air strikes on positions of the Armenians preparing for a further offensive. So, the Azerbaijani advance slowed down due to weather conditions. The bad weather in the area complicates the usage of combat drones and aviation.

Meanwhile, forces of the Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh Republic announced that they had carried out ‘powerful’ retaliation strikes on territory of Azerbaijan. Armenian sources insist that after the strikes, several hundred thousand residents of different cities of Azerbaijan have been fleeing in panic to Baku. The Armenian military claimed that Azerbaijan paid a heavy price for the recent gains. According to it, Armenian forces inflicted to the ‘enemy’ 3154 casualties and destroyed 368 armoured vehicles, 4 rocket launchers, 124 UAVs, 17 military planes and 14 helicopters. The Armenian side emphasizes that Azerbaijani forces have been extensively bombing civilian targets, including the largest Karabakh city, Stepanakert. Azerbaijan denounces these claims as blatant propaganda.Video Player

The ongoing Azerbaijani advance is not only supported by Turkey and involves Turkish military specialists, special forces and military equipment, but also became another case of the employment of Turkish-backed Syrian militants.Video: Azerbaijan-Turkey Alliance Is Taking “Upper Hand” in War with Armenia

On October 5, Russia’s state-run news agency RIA reported citing its own sources that at least 93 Turkish-backed militants had been killed since the start of the war on September 27. The report added that at least 450 more militants were deployed to the combat zone last weekend. This was reportedly the third batch of Syrian militants deployed to the area.

The Turkish-Azerbaijani bloc has been taking an upper hand in the battle against Armenian forces. The decisive role belongs to the air dominance and the numerical superiority of the Azerbaijani side. The only current advantage of Armenian forces is the low quality of Azerbaijani infantry and Turkish-backed Syrian militants involved in the ground advance as well as the low planning and management skills of the ground phase of the Azerbaijani operation.

Azerbaijani infantry and motorized units marching towards fortified positions of Armenians become an easy target for counter-attacks, artillery and missile strikes. This reminds one of the approaches employed by Turkey in Syria and Libya, when Ankara was sending waves of cannon fodder (consisting of members of various militant groups) to capture positions of the ‘enemy’, while Turkish special forces, artillery and air power were doing the main job.

Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of Armenia are not employing all the variety of means and measures that they have to fight back the advancing Azerbaijani military. Despite the loud propaganda about the Armenian key role in resisting to the ‘terror alliance’ of Turkey and Azerbaijan, the Pashinyan government has no political will to recognize the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and go for a full-scale war to defend Armenian population there.

Thus, the participation of the official Armenian military in supporting forces of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (as it remains a de-facto independent state with its own military forces) are limited as of now. This raises reasonable questions regarding the real goals of the Pashinyan government. Experts say that in fact what it aims is to achieve are the goals of his government’s foreign patrons in the Washington establishment thus losing Karabakh and using this as a pretext to break its remaining ties with Russia and push the country towards its integration with NATO.

On October 5, Pashinyan publicly admitted that the situation on the frontline is “complicated” and called on servicemen demobilized a year ago to rejoin the Armed Forces. The prime minister said that he was calling them not to a simple service, but to the battle “between life and death”. Pashinyan also declared that he is confident in Armenian victory.

Nonetheless, the mobilization of reservists showcases that the real situation is much more complicated than everyone wants to admit. Moreover, just fresh troops, without modern weapons, experienced commanders and instructors, will not be able to turn the tide of the conflict. In the worst case scenario, this may just increase casualties on the Armenian side.

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لماذا إيران ليست مع أذربيجان…!؟

محمد صادق الحسيني

بصراحة واختصار لأنّ أذربيجان مع الشيطان…!

هذا هو جواب الذين يتساءلون، لماذا لا تقف إيران الى جانب أذربيجان، بما انّ أذربيجان دولة مسلمة وشيعية ولديها أراض محتلة لدى أرمينيا (غير قره باغ التي هي إقليم حكم ذاتي مستقل، فهناك أراض سيطرت عليها أرمينيا خلال حرب ١٩٩٤، منها بلدة جبرائيل التي زعمت أذربيجان انها استرجعتها اخيراً) فلماذا إذن إيران لا تقف معها وتساندها…!؟

سؤال مهمّ نحاول الإجابة عنه هنا بكلّ موضوعية ومسؤولية وإليكم البراهين:

١– انّ إيران تقف بقوّة مثلها مثل كثير من الدول الى جانب هذا الحق للشعب الأذربيجاني، والذي ضمنه لها أيضاً قرار أممي اعترفت به معظم دول العالم.

٢– انّ جمهورية أذربيجان الحالية تعتبر واحدة من الدول الغارقة في الفساد والمتحالفة تحالفاً عميقاً مع الكيان الصهيوني قلباً وقالباً منذ إعلانها دولة مستقلة بعد انهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي السابق، ويتحكم في قرارها نحو ٤٠ مليونير يهودي من الأقلية القليلة جداً الأذربيجانية لكنها التي تحيط بالرئيس الحالي الهام علييف، وهي التي توفر له حالياً الجسر الجوي الصهيوني من مسيّرات وتسليح متعدّد الأهداف، بالإضافة إلى تدريب مرتزقة أجانب وإرسالهم إلى باكو..!

٣– انّ جمهورية أذربيجان الحالية تلعب دوراً قذراً وخطيراً جداً تجاه الجمهورية الإسلامية حيث تحتضن ومعها تركيا مجموعات من الانفصاليين الأذربيجانيين الإيرانيين (من القسم الأصلي لأذربيجان الذي لا يزال في حضن الدولة الأمّ بعد انفصال جمهورية أذربيجان الحالية مع أرمينيا وجورجيا التي كانت أراضي إيرانية تمّ سلخها عن الوطن الأمّ في نهاية الحرب الثانية بين روسيا القيصرية وإيران القاجارية عام ١٨٢٨).

وهم الذين تحضّرهم الآن حكومتا أنقرة وباكو ليلعبوا دوراً تخريبياً على الحدود الإيرانية، بهدف تمزيق وتجزئة إيران وإشعال حرب قوميات فيها، في حال نجحتا في توسيع نطاق حرب القوقاز الحالية واستدراج إيران إليها…!

٤– انّ أذربيجان دولة قرارها ليس بيدها، والحرب الحالية التي يتمّ تسعيرها تحت غطاء حق قره باغ في الحكم الذاتي ضمن نطاق جمهورية أذربيجان كما تنصّ المقررات الدولية واسترجاع أراض محتلة لها، إنما تمّ شنّها بأمر عمليات أميركي ودعم جزء من الأطلسي وبرأس حربة أردوغانية خبيثة هدفها التحشيد ضدّ روسيا وإيران والصين، ومحاولة استنساخ سيناريو سوري من خلال عمليات نقل وتثبيت عصابات إرهابية تكفيرية من جنسيات ذات أصول سوفياتية وصينية وقوقازية في كلّ جمهوريات القوقاز وفي مقدّمها أذربيجان، بهدف السيطرة على منابع النفط والغاز والطرق الاستراتيجية التي تعيق عمليات الدفاع لثلاثي القوة الصاعد المناهض للأحادية والهيمنة الأميركية أيّ روسيا والصين وإيران في أيّ مواجهة مرتقبة.

وهي عملية هيّأت لها تركيا بنقل مستشاريها الى باكو قبل اندلاع النزاع الحالي تحت عنوان مناورات مشتركة وأبقتهم هناك، بالإضافة الى القيام بعمليات نقل واسعة لمجموعات إرهابية من سورية بتمويل قطري.

٥– انّ حكومة باكو تلعب دور المطية والأداة الطيعة بيد أردوغان الذي سيستخدمها في أيّ مقايضات مستقبلية دولية بين القوى المتصارعة في البحرين الأسود والخزر وكذلك شرق المتوسط حيث تحاول أنقرة أخذ موقع لها مستجدّ هناك، في ظلّ تحشيدات الناتو والأميركي اللذين يقاتلان قتالاً تراجعياً بعد هزائمهما المتكرّرة أمام أسوار وبوابات عواصم محور المقاومة تاركين المجال لأدواتهم الصغار ليملأوا الفراغ…!

٦– انّ سياسة الجمهورية الإسلامية الخارجية لا تقوم مطلقاً على قواعد طائفية او مذهبية في كافة الملفات الدولية والإقليمية، وإنما على قواعد العدالة والقانون الدولي ونصرة المستضعفين أينما كانوا، ومقاومة الظلم والهيمنة والتسلط من اي طرف جاؤوا…

اخيراً لا بدّ من القول بأنّ الطغمة الحاكمة حالياً في أذربيجان هي من بقايا الحزب الشيوعي السوفياتي السابق والتي باتت الآن منقسمة على نفسها بين الرئيس الهام علييف المشهور بالفساد والذي ربط مصالحه الشخصية بأنقرة واستلحاقاً بالغرب من بوابة تل ابيب، فيما زوجته مهربان التي تشغل موقع نائب الرئيس في الجمهورية والتي تترأس جمعية الصداقة الأذربيجانية الروسية وهي التي قلدها الرئيس بوتين أعلى وسام للصداقة في موسكو قبل أشهر، تتمايز عنه بعض الشيء في ميلها نحو موسكو، وهي التي أطاحت بوزير خارجية بلادها ورئيس هيئة الأركان قبل مدة بعد اتهامهما بتغليب مصالح الخارج على مصالح الداخل، ما اعتبر زعزعة للأمن القومي الأذربيجاني!

أما حكاية دعم إيران لجمهورية أرمينيا المسيحية في المقابل فهي حكاية منقوصة التداول…

فإيران لا تصطفّ مع أرمينيا ضدّ أذربيجان في الصراع حول قره باغ، وإنما تحترم وتقدّر دور جمهورية أرمينيا باعتبارها دولة مستقلة تمارس سياسة متوازنة في القوقاز، ولا تساهم مطلقاً في زعزعة استقرار المنطقة، تماماً كما هو دور المواطنين الأرمن الإيرانيين الشرفاء الذين كانوا ولا يزالون يلعبون دوراً ايجابياً في الدفاع عن سلامة واستقرار واستقلال ووحدة أراضي بلدهم ووطنهم إيران، رغم حمايتهم وحبهم وعشقهم لوطنهم الأمّ أرمينيا.

لتجدنّ أشدّ الناس عداوة للذين آمنوا اليهود…

ولتجدنّ أقرب الناس مودة للذين آمنوا الذين قالوا انا نصارى… وانهم لا يستكبرون…

المعيار إذن هو الموقف من مقولة الاستكبار والمستكبرين.

سئل الإمام علي: كيف تعرف أهل الحق في زمن الفتن، فقال: اتبعوا سهام العدو، فإنها ترشدكم إلى أهل الحق.

بعدنا طيّبين قولوا الله…

AZERBAIJANI-TURKISH ALLIANCE IS TAKING UPPER HAND IN WAR WITH ARMENIA

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Azerbaijani-Turkish Alliance Is Taking Upper Hand In War With Armenia
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Azerbaijan is slowly but steadily gaining an upper hand in the war with Armenia for the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region.

As of October 5, the Azerbaijani military, supported by Turkish military advisers, specialists and intelligence, captured the towns of Jabrayil, Mataghis and Talysh after heavy clashes with Armenian forces. Azerbaijani sources also report the control over multiple villages including Ashagi Abdulrahmanli, Mehdili, Chakhirli, Ashagi Maralyan, Sheybey and Kuyjagh. On the other hand, the Armenian side confirmed that it lost ‘some positions’ but did not provide details claiming that the situation on the frontline has been rapidly changing.

Stepanakert, the capital of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, other populated areas and civilian targets in the region have become a target of regular rocket, artillery and drone strikes. The Azerbaijani military extensively uses cluster munitions, heavy artillery, rocket launchers and even Israeli LORA theater quasiballistic missiles while simultaneously accusing Armenia of intentionally striking civilian targets in Azerbaijan.

For example, on October 4, the government of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic announced that Armenian forces had destroyed the military air base near Azerbaijan’s Ganja. This air base, according to the Armenian side, hosted F-16 fighter jets from Turkey. Azerbaijan indirectly confirmed the incident but insisted that Armenian strikes hit Ganja city only. In its own turn, the Armenian military denounced the Azerbaijani claim saying that only the military base that was hit.

In the comments from October 4, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev claimed that Azerbaijani forces are “chasing” Armenians like “dogs” and demanded the full withdrawal of Armenian forces, the Armenian recognition of Karabakh as a sovereign Azerbaijani territory and an official apology from Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to the Azerbaijani nation.

On top of this, Aliyev emphasized that a military solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh question is on the table and criticized 28 years of unsuccessful negotiations. In his remarks, Aliyev apparently cosplayed Turkish neo-Ottomanist President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that over the past years has been used to employ rhetoric of this kind and provide a hard power-based realpolitik in the Greater Middle East. Turkey is a natural strategic ally of Azerbaijan and extensively backs it in its war with Armenia.

A day earlier, on October 3, the Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan made his own address regarding the war saying that Nagorno-Karabakh has been fighting against “an Azerbaijani-Turkish terrorist attack, the volume and scale of which is unprecedented.” He said that the Azerbaijani operation is controlled by “150 high level Turkish military officers” and claimed that the end of the current conflict can only be victory on the Armenian side. As for now, it does not look that this forecast is realistic.

The ongoing Armenian-Azerbaijani war has likely become the first military conflict of such a scale between two state actors of a comparable power. After the first week of war, it was already clear that the final number of casualties will be counted in the thousands.

While so far the Azerbaijani side has not demonstrated any miracles in ground warfare, it has once again demonstrated a successful employment of the concept of the wide-scale usage of unmanned aerial vehicles: reconnaissance, aerial targets, loitering munitions and drones carrying bombs and missiles. This allows the Azerbaijani side, with an apparent help from Turkey, to successfully detect, uncover and strike Armenian artillery and fortified positions. Regardless the reality of Armenian claims about the supposed usage of Turkish F-16 jets to cover the employed UAVs, the Azerbaijani side has gained full control over the air dimension.

In its own turn, Armenia had time to conduct extensive engineering work preparing a wide network of fortified positions across the region. This allows Armenian forces to keep their positions in many areas despite the air dominance of Azerbaijan. Up to 80% of casualties on both sides are a result of rocket, artillery or air strikes.

Nonetheless, forces of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republics and Armenian units (which Erevan calls ‘volunteers’) are an underdog in the event of a large-scale prolonged conflict with the Azerbaijani-Turkish bloc, even if Armenia openly enters the conflict. Therefore, the outcome of the war will significantly depend on the ability of Azerbaijan (with help from Turkey and its mercenaries/militants) to use its air and numerical advantage to develop the advance and make some gains while the regional diplomatic situation allows this. The balance of power could also change if some third party would intervene in the conflict to put an end to the violence. Such an action could become a response to some irrefutable evidence of ethnic cleansing of the Armenian population in the areas of Azerbaijan or the increasing deployment of members of various Middle Eastern terrorist groups to the region.

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AZERBAIJANI FORCES PUSH TO SEIZE LARGEST KARABAKH CITY. DRONES STRIKE TARGETS INSIDE ARMENIA

Azerbaijani Forces Push To Seize Largest Karabakh City. Drones Strike  Targets Inside Armenia - YouTube
Video

On October 2, the Armenian-Azerbaijani war entered its 5th day. Forces of the Azerbaijani military, supported by Turkey, continued their attempts to capture the contested Nagorno-Karabakh Region and to dismantle the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, which is overwhelmingly populated by Armenians.

Intense artillery duels and Azerbaijani airstrikes are being reported across the entire frontline in Karabakh, and even near some parts of the Azerbaijani-Armenian border. Nonetheless, the main clashes still take place in the districts of Fizuli and Jabrayil, where Azerbaijan have achieved their main gains capturing several positions from the Armenians. The Azerbaijani artillery together with Turkish-made and Israeli-made combat drones played a key role in the tactical successes of Azerbaijan on the battlefield.

On October 1, the Armenian military even claimed that 4 Azerbeijani combat drones entered Armenian airspace and 3 of them were shot down, allegedly by the S-300 system. Additionally, the Armenian Defense Ministry claimed that its forces had shot down three Azerbaijani fighter jets and two helicopters. The Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan dismissed the Armenian claims, calling them “complete nonsense and fake news.”

It insists that the Armenian side uses claims about attacks on its territory in an attempt to trigger the Collective Security Treaty Organization pact and obtain direct military support from Russia in the conflict in Karabakh, which formally is not its territory. What is even more strange, despite the 5 days of open war, the Armenian leadership has still not started the process for the recognition of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic or the official integration of the region into Armenia. Therefore, it has no even theoretical legal grounds to request CSTO help in a conflict on its territory.

Meanwhile, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, known for its anti-Assad and pro-militant stance in the Syrian conflict, reported that dozens of Turkish-backed Syrian militants had been killed, injured or went missing while fighting against Armenian forces in Karabakh. According to the SOHR, 28 of them were killed and 62 others were injured or went missing. The report alleges that at least 850 Turkish-backed Syrian militants were deployed there. It should be noted that, according to Armenian estimates, their number is about 4,000. France and Russia also expressed their concern regarding the moving of militants to the region. In turn, Azerbaijani and Turkish media and officials insist that Armenia deploys members of Kurdish armed groups, considered to be terrorists by Ankara, to the combat zone. Nonetheless, these claims have not so far been supported by any evidence.

The self-styled Neo-Ottoman Empire of President Recent Tayyip Erdogan is on a full-scale propaganda offensive to instigate an Armenian-Azerbaijani war.

On October 1, the United States, Russia and France released a joint statement condemning the violence in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, calling on the sides to accept a ceasefire and return to the negotiating table. In response, President Erdogan made a fierce statement slamming the OSCE and claiming that Azerbaijan should continue its military push to capture the Nagorno-Karabakh region and thus the war with Armenia.

“I would like to declare that we are together with our brothers in Azerbaijan in their struggle for the liberation of their occupied land. The path to lasting peace in this region lies through the withdrawal of Armenia from all the spans of the Azerbaijani lands occupied by them,” Erdogan said addressing the Turkish Parliament. “Especially the so-called Minsk trio America, Russia, France and their seeking of a ceasefire in the face of this negative situation, which has been reflected these days because they have neglected this problem for nearly 30 years, is above all not acceptable,” he added.

In the best traditions of Turkish public diplomacy, Erdogan simultaneously accused Armenia of triggering the military escalation. Meanwhile, Turkish state media reported that during the recent phone call Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov that Turkey sees no reason for a ceasefire in Karabakh for as long as the region remains in the hands of Armenian forces.

Earlier, the Turkish leadership at the highest level declared that it is ready to provide any help, including military, to Baku. The Armenian side claims that Turkey is in fact participating in the war on the side of Azerbaijan.

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What’s at stake in the Armenia-Azerbaijan chessboard

What’s at stake in the Armenia-Azerbaijan chessboard

October 01, 2020

By Pepe Escobar, posted with permission and first posted at Asia Times

Few geopolitical hot spots across the planet may rival the Caucasus: that intractable, tribal Tower of Babel, throughout History a contentious crossroads of empires from the Levant and nomads from the Eurasian steppes. And it gets even messier when one adds the fog of war.

To try to shed some light into the current Armenia-Azerbaijan face off, let’s crisscross the basic facts with some essential deep background.

Late last month Ilham Aliyev, Azerbaijan’s proverbial “strongman”, in power since 2003, launched a de facto war on the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh held by Armenia.

At the collapse of the USSR, Nagorno-Karabakh had a mixed population of Azeri Shi’ites and Armenian Christians. Yet even before the collapse the Azerbaijani Army and Armenian independentists were already at war (1988-1994), which yielded a grim balance of 30,000 dead and roughly a million wounded.

The Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh declared independence in 1991: but that was not recognized by the “international community”. Finally there was a ceasefire in 1994 – with Nagorno-Karabakh entering the gray area/no man’s land of “frozen conflict”.

The problem is that in 1993, the United Nations had approved no less than four resolutions – 822, 853, 874 and 884 – establishing that Armenia should withdraw from what was deemed to be roughly 20% of Azerbaijani territory. This is at the core of Baku’s rationale to fight against what it qualifies as a foreign occupation army.

Yerevan’s interpretation though is that these four resolutions are null and void because Nagorno-Karabakh harbors an Armenian-majority population who wants to secede from Azerbaijan.

Historically, Artsakh is one of three ancient provinces of Armenia – rooted at least in the 5th century B.C. and finally established in 189 B.C. Armenians, based on DNA samples from excavated bones, argue they have been settled in Artsakh for at least 4,000 years.

Artsakh – or Nagorno-Karabakh – was annexed to Azerbaijan by Stalin in 1923. That set the stage for a future powder keg to inevitably explode.

It’s important to remember that there was no “Azerbaijan” nation-state until the early 1920s. Historically, Azerbaijan is a territory in northern Iran. Azeris are very well integrated within the Islamic Republic. So the Republic of Azerbaijan actually borrowed its name from their Iranian neighbors. In ancient history, the territory of the new 20th century republic was known as Atropatene, and Aturpakatan before the advent of Islam.

How the equation changed

Baku’s main argument is that Armenia is blocking a contiguous Azerbaijani nation, as a look in the map shows us that southwest Azerbaijan is de facto split all the way to the Iranian border.

And that plunges us necessarily into deep background. To clarify matters, there could not be a more reliable guide than a top Caucasus think tank expert who shared his analysis with me by email, but is insistent on “no attribution”. Let’s call him Mr. C.

Mr. C notes that, “for decades, the equation remained the same and the variables in the equation remained the same, more or less. This was the case notwithstanding the fact that Armenia is an unstable democracy in transition and Azerbaijan had much more continuity at the top.”

We should all be aware that “Azerbaijan lost territory right at the beginning of the restoration of its statehood, when it was basically a failed state run by armchair nationalist amateurs [before Heydar Aliyev, Ilham’s father, came to power]. And Armenia was a mess, too but less so when you take into consideration that it had strong Russian support and Azerbaijan had no one. Back in the day, Turkey was still a secular state with a military that looked West and took its NATO membership seriously. Since then, Azerbaijan has built up its economy and increased its population. So it kept getting stronger. But its military was still underperforming.”

That slowly started to change in 2020: “Basically, in the past few months you’ve seen incremental increases in the intensity of near daily ceasefire violations (the near-daily violations are nothing new: they’ve been going on for years). So this blew up in July and there was a shooting war for a few days. Then everyone calmed down again.”

All this time, something important was developing in the background: Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who came to power in May 2018, and Aliyev started to talk: “The Azerbaijani side thought this indicated Armenia was ready for compromise (this all started when Armenia had a sort of revolution, with the new PM coming in with a popular mandate to clean house domestically). For whatever reason, it ended up not happening.”

What happened in fact was the July shooting war.

Don’t forget Pipelineistan

Armenian PM Pashinyan could be described as a liberal globalist. The majority of his political team is pro-NATO. Pashinyan went all guns blazing against former Armenian President (1998- 2008) Robert Kocharian, who before that happened to be, crucially, the de facto President of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Kocharian, who spent years in Russia and is close to President Putin, was charged with a nebulous attempt at “overthrowing the constitutional order”. Pashinyan tried to land him in jail. But even more crucial is the fact that Pashinyan refused to follow a plan elaborated by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to finally settle the Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh mess.

In the current fog of war, things are even messier. Mr. C stresses two points: “First, Armenia asked for CSTO protection and got bitch slapped, hard and in public; second, Armenia threatened to bomb the oil and gas pipelines in Azerbaijan (there are several, they all run parallel, and they supply not just Georgia and Turkey but now the Balkans and Italy). With regards to the latter, Azerbaijan basically said: if you do that, we’ll bomb your nuclear reactor.”

The Pipelineistan angle is indeed crucial: for years I have followed on Asia Times these myriad, interlocking oil and gas soap operas, especially the BTC (Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan), conceived by Zbigniew Brzezinski to bypass Iran. I was even “arrested” by a BP 4X4 when I was tracking the pipeline on a parallel side road out of the massive Sangachal terminal: that proved British Petroleum was in practice the real boss, not the Azerbaijani government.

In sum, now we have reached the point where, according to Mr. C,

“Armenia’s saber rattling got more aggressive.” Reasons, on the Armenian side, seem to be mostly domestic: terrible handling of Covid-19 (in contrast to Azerbaijan), and the dire state of the economy. So, says Mr. C, we came to a toxic concourse of circumstances: Armenia deflected from its problems by being tough on Azerbaijan, while Azerbaijan just had had enough.

It’s always about Turkey

Anyway one looks at the Armenia-Azerbaijan drama, the key destabilizing factor is now Turkey.

Mr. C notes how, “throughout the summer, the quality of the Turkish-Azerbaijani military exercises increased (both prior to July events and subsequently). The Azerbaijani military got a lot better. Also, since the fourth quarter of 2019 the President of Azerbaijan has been getting rid of the (perceived) pro-Russian elements in positions of power.” See, for instance, here.

There’s no way to confirm it either with Moscow or Ankara, but Mr. C advances what President Erdogan may have told the Russians: “We’ll go into Armenia directly if a) Azerbaijan starts to lose, b) Russia goes in or accepts CSTO to be invoked or something along those lines, or c) Armenia goes after the pipelines. All are reasonable red lines for the Turks, especially when you factor in the fact that they don’t like the Armenians very much and that they consider the Azerbaijanis brothers.”

It’s crucial to remember that in August, Baku and Ankara held two weeks of joint air and land military exercises. Baku has bought advanced drones from both Turkey and Israel. There’s no smokin’ gun, at least not yet, but Ankara may have hired up to 4,000 Salafi-jihadis in Syria to fight – wait for it – in favor of Shi’ite-majority Azerbaijan, proving once again that “jihadism” is all about making a quick buck.

The United Armenian Information Center, as well as the Kurdish Afrin Post, have stated that Ankara opened two recruitment centers – in Afrin schools – for mercenaries. Apparently this has been a quite popular move because Ankara slashed salaries for Syrian mercenaries shipped to Libya.

There’s an extra angle that is deeply worrying not only for Russia but also for Central Asia. According to the former Foreign Minister of Nagorno-Karabakh, Ambassador Extraordinary Arman Melikyan, mercenaries using Azeri IDs issued in Baku may be able to infiltrate Dagestan and Chechnya and, via the Caspian, reach Atyrau in Kazakhstan, from where they can easily reach Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.

That’s the ultimate nightmare of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) – shared by Russia, China and the Central Asian “stans”: a jihadi land – and (Caspian) sea – bridge from the Caucasus all the way to Central Asia, and even Xinjiang.

What’s the point of this war?

So what happens next? A nearly insurmountable impasse, as Mr. C outlines it:

1. “The peace talks are going nowhere because Armenia is refusing to budge (to withdraw from occupying Nagorno-Karabakh plus 7 surrounding regions in phases or all at once, with the usual guarantees for civilians, even settlers – note that when they went in in the early 1990s they cleansed those lands of literally all Azerbaijanis, something like between 700,000 and 1 million people).”

2. Aliyev was under the impression that Pashinyan “was willing to compromise and began preparing his people and then looked like someone with egg on his face when it didn’t happen.”

3. “Turkey has made it crystal clear it will support Azerbaijan unconditionally, and has matched those words with deeds.”

4. “In such circumstances, Russia got outplayed – in the sense that they had been able to play off Armenia against Azerbaijan and vice versa, quite successfully, helping to mediate talks that went nowhere, preserving the status quo that effectively favored Armenia.”

And that brings us to the crucial question. What’s the point of this war?

Mr. C: “It is either to conquer as much as possible before the “international community” [in this case, the UNSC] calls for / demands a ceasefire or to do so as an impetus for re-starting talks that actually lead to progress. In either scenario, Azerbaijan will end up with gains and Armenia with losses. How much and under what circumstances (the status and question of Nagorno-Karabakh is distinct from the status and question of the Armenian occupied territories around Nagorno-Karabakh) is unknown: i.e. on the field of battle or the negotiating table or a combo of both. However this turns out, at a minimum Azerbaijan will get to keep what it liberated in battle. This will be the new starting point. And I suspect that Azerbaijan will do no harm to the Armenian civilians that stay. They’ll be model liberators. And they’ll take time to bring back Azerbaijani civilians (refugees/IDPs) to their homes, especially in areas that would become mixed as a result of return.”

So what can Moscow do under these circumstances? Not much,

“except to go into Azerbaijan proper, which they won’t do (there’s no land border between Russia and Armenia; so although Russia has a military base in Armenia with one or more thousand troops, they can’t just supply Armenia with guns and troops at will, given the geography).”

Crucially, Moscow privileges the strategic partnership with Armenia – which is a member of the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) – while meticulously monitoring each and every NATO-member Turkey’s movement: after all, they are already in opposing sides in both Libya and Syria.

So, to put it mildly, Moscow is walking on a geopolitical razor’s edge. Russia needs to exercise restraint and invest in a carefully calibrated balancing act between Armenia and Azerbaijan; must preserve the Russia-Turkey strategic partnership; and must be alert to all, possible US Divide and Rule tactics.

Inside Erdogan’s war

So in the end this would be yet another Erdogan war?

The inescapable Follow the Money analysis would tells us, yes. The Turkish economy is an absolute mess, with high inflation and a depreciating currency. Baku has a wealth of oil-gas funds that could become readily available – adding to Ankara’s dream of turning Turkey also into an energy supplier.

Mr. C adds that anchoring Turkey in Azerbaijan would lead to “the creation of full-fledged Turkish military bases and the inclusion of Azerbaijan in the Turkish orbit of influence (the “two countries – one nation” thesis, in which Turkey assumes supremacy) within the framework of neo-Ottomanism and Turkey’s leadership in the Turkic-speaking world.”

Add to it the all-important NATO angle. Mr. C essentially sees it as Erdogan, enabled by Washington, about to make a NATO push to the east while establishing that immensely dangerous jihadi channel into Russia: “This is no local adventure by Erdogan. I understand that Azerbaijan is largely Shi’ite Islam and that will complicate things but not render his adventure impossible.”

This totally ties in with a notorious RAND report that explicitly details how “the United States could try to induce Armenia to break with Russia” and “encourage Armenia to move fully into the NATO orbit.”

It’s beyond obvious that Moscow is observing all these variables with extreme care. That is reflected, for instance, in how irrepressible Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, earlier this week, has packaged a very serious diplomatic warning: “The downing of an Armenian SU-25 by a Turkish F-16, as claimed by the Ministry of Defense in Armenia, seems to complicate the situation, as Moscow, based on the Tashkent treaty, is obligated to offer military assistance to Armenia”.

It’s no wonder both Baku and Yerevan got the message and are firmly denying anything happened.

The key fact remains that as long as Armenia proper is not attacked by Azerbaijan, Russia will not apply the CSTO treaty and step in. Erdogan knows this is his red line. Moscow has all it takes to put him in serious trouble – as in shutting off gas supplies to Turkey. Moscow, meanwhile, will keep helping Yerevan with intel and hardware – flown in from Iran. Diplomacy rules – and the ultimate target is yet another ceasefire.

Pulling Russia back in

Mr. C advances the strong possibility – and I have heard echoes from Brussels – that “the EU and Russia find common cause to limit Azerbaijani gains (in large part because Erdogan is no one’s favorite guy, not just because of this but because of the Eastern Med, Syria, Libya).”

That brings to the forefront the renewed importance of the UNSC in imposing a ceasefire. Washington’s role at the moment is quite intriguing. Of course, Trump has more important things to do at the moment. Moreover, the Armenian diaspora in the US swings drastically pro-Democrat.

Then, to round it all up, there’s the all-important Iran-Armenia relationship. Here is a forceful attempt to put it in perspective.

As Mr. C stresses, “Iran favors Armenia, which is counter-intuitive at first sight. So the Iranians may help the Russians out (funneling supplies), but on the other hand they have a good relationship with Turkey, especially in the oil and gas smuggling business. And if they get too overt in their support, Trump has a casus belli to get involved and the Europeans may not like to end up on the same side as the Russians and the Iranians. It just looks bad. And the Europeans hate to look bad.”

We inevitably come back to the point that the whole drama can be interpreted from the perspective of a NATO geopolitical hit against Russia – according to quite a few analyses circulating at the Duma.

Ukraine is an absolute black hole. There’s the Belarus impasse. Covid-19. The Navalny circus. The “threat” to Nord Stream-2.

To pull Russia back into the Armenia-Azerbaijan drama means turning Moscow’s attention towards the Caucasus so there’s more Turkish freedom of action in other theaters – in the Eastern Mediterranean versus Greece, in Syria, in Libya. Ankara – foolishly – is engaged in simultaneous wars on several fronts, and with virtually no allies.

What this means is that even more than NATO, monopolizing Russia’s attention in the Caucasus most of all may be profitable for Erdogan himself. As Mr. C stresses, “in this situation, the Nagorno-Karabakh leverage/’trump card’ in the hands of Turkey would be useful for negotiations with Russia.”

No question: the neo-Ottoman sultan never sleeps.

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Syrian mercenaries suffer heavy losses against Armenian troops: report

By News Desk -2020-10-01

BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:40 A.M.) – The Syrian mercenaries, who were sent to the Karabakh region to fight on behalf of Azerbaijan, have suffered significant losses over the last 48 hours, as their death toll continues to rise.

According to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the Turkish-backed Syrian mercenaries have suffered heavy losses in the Karabakh region, as 28 fighters have been killed and 60 more have been wounded in clashes with the Armenian forces.

The SOHR report corroborated a claim made by Syrian fighter to the BBC on Wednesday about being deceived during their recruitment to Azerbaijan.

The first Syrian casualties were reported on Wednesday morning, when local activists in northern Syria began reporting about the losses of fighters from the Turkish-backed militant groups.

However, their deployment to Azerbaijan took a turn for the worse this week, when heavy clashes broke out between the Azerbaijani military and Armenian forces.

In an interview with the BBC, a Syrian fighter named ‘Abdullah told the news agency that their forces were deployed to the front-lines and threatened with imprisonment if they refused to go.

Its should be noted that despite the claims about the Syrian casualties, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense maintains that no foreign fighters are currently fighting in their ranks.

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Armenian-Azerbaijani War Rages In South Caucasus

Video: Armenian-Azerbaijani War Rages in South Caucasus - Global Research
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On September 27, a new regional war in South Caucasus arose from the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Pro-Armenian forces captured the region in the early 90s triggering an armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Further development of the hostilities and the expected offensive by pro-Azerbajian forces were stopped by a Russian intervention in May of 1994. As of September 2020, the Nagorno-Karabakh region and nearby areas are still under the control of Armenian forces, de-facto making it an unrecognized Armenian state – the Republic of Artsakh (more widely known as the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic).

The 2018 political crisis in Armenia the led to a seizure of power in the country by de-facto pro-Western forces led by current Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan which did not strengthen Armenian positions over the territorial dispute. The double standard policy of the Armenian government, which was de-facto conducting anti-Russian actions but keeping public rhetoric pro-Russian, also played its own role. For years, Russia has been the only guarantor of Armenian statehood and the only force capable to rescue it in the event of a full-scale Azerbaijani-Turkish attack. Nonetheless, the Armenian leadership did pretty well in undermining its strategic partnership with its neighbor.

On the other hand, the political and economic situation in Azerbaijan was more stable. Baku also was able to secure good working relations with Russia. Together with the developing strategic partnership with Turkey, a natural historical ally of the country, and the strengthening of Turkish positions in the Greater Middle East, led to an expected attempt by Azerbaijan to restore control over the contested territories.

The Azerbaijani advance started on in the morning of September 27 and as of September 28, the Azerbaijani military said that it had captured seven villages and several key heights in the Fuzuli and Jabrayil areas. The military also announced that Azerbaijan captured the Murov height of the Murovdag mountain range and established fire control of the Vardenis-Aghdar road connecting Karabakh with Armenia. The Ministry of Defense said that this will prevent the transportation of additional troops and equipment from Armenia along the route in the direction of the Kelbajar and Aghdar regions in Karabakh.

The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry also claimed that over 550 Armenian soldiers were killed and dozens pieces of Armenian military equipment, including at least 15 Osa air defense systems, 22 battle tanks and 8 artillery guns, were destroyed. All statements from the Armenian side about the casualties among Azerbaijani forces were denounced as fake news.

Azerbaijan calls the ongoing advance a “counter-offensive” needed to put an end to Armenian ceasefire violations and to protect civilians. President Ilham Aliyev signed a martial law decree and vowed to “restore historical justice” and “restore the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan” Turkey immediately declared its full support to Azerbaijan saying that it is ready to assist it in any way requested, including military support.

In its own turn, the Armenian military admitted that Azerbaijan captured some positions near Talish, but denied that the Vardenis-Aghdar road was cut off. According to it, at least 200 Azerbaijani soldiers were killed, 30 armored vehicles and 20 drones were destroyed. The Armenian Defense Ministry also said that it has data about Turkish involvement in the conflict, the usage of Turkish weapons and the presence of mercenaries linked to Turkey. Earlier, reports appeared that Turkey was deploying members of its Syrian proxy groups in Azerbaijan. Arayik Harutyunyan, the President of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, openly stated that the republic is at war with both Azerbaijan and Turkey.

The Washington establishment that helped Pashinyan to seize power is also not hurrying up to assist its ‘new friends’ in Armenia. They see the Nagorno-Karabakh region as a point of possible conflict between Russia and Turkey (which is useful to promote the US agenda in the Greater Middle East). The instability in South Caucasus, close to the borders of Russia and Iran, also contributes to the geopolitical interests of the United States. Therefore, the Pashinyan government should not expect any real help from the ‘democratic superpower’.

On the other hand, the direct involvement of Russia and thus the Collective Security Treaty Organization on the side of Armenia is unlikely until there is no direct attack on its territory. Moscow would intervene into the conflict both politically and militarily, but only as far as necessary to prevent a violation of Armenia’s borders. Russia would not contribute military efforts to restore Armenian control over Nagorno Karabakh should the region be captured by Azerbaijan.

If the regional war between Azerbaijan and Armenia develops further in the current direction, Armenia could loose at least a part of its positions in the contested region. In the worst-case scenario for the Armenian leadership, Azerbaijan, with help from Turkey, will have a real chance to restore control over the most of the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region.

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RIPPLE EFFECTS: GREECE AND TURKEY OPEN NEW NORTHERN FRONT ON LIBYAN CONFLICT

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 25.07.2020 

Ripple Effects: Greece And Turkey Open New Northern Front On Libyan Conflict

Greece’s navy has declared a state of heightened alert and deployed ships to the Aegean Sea in response to a Turkish vessel conducting seismic surveys for energy exploration purposes close to a disputed maritime area.

On Tuesday the Greek foreign ministry issued a formal protest to Turkey following the announcement that a Turkish drilling ship would conduct explorations in the maritime area south of the Greek island of Kastellorizo in the south eastern Aegean. The foreign ministry also released a statement:

We call on Turkey to immediately cease its illegal activities, which violate our sovereign rights and undermine peace and security in the region.”

Following Turkey’s rejection of the protest, the Greek Navy has sent ships to patrol in the area.

“Navy units have been deployed since yesterday in the south and southeastern Aegean,” a navy source told AFP, declining to give further details.

Athens has stated that Turkish surveys in sections of the Greek continental shelf constitute an escalation of the tension in the region where the two countries dispute the boundary of their respective maritime areas. LINK

Experts cited in media reports have interpreted Turkey’s conduct as designed to test Greece’s determination to defend its interests in the eastern Mediterranean region, and believe that the Turkish leadership’s moves may also be linked to the Libyan conflict. According to this interpretation of the latest developments, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan apparently seeks to “test” the reaction of his opponents. LINK

A report in Xinhua suggests that Greece’s response is to draw even closer to Egypt. Greece and Egypt have been holding negotiations over the demarcation of an exclusive economic zone in the eastern Mediterranean, however the boundaries of the area they are discussing overlaps with the area which was subject to a maritime agreement signed by Turkey and the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord in Libya late last year (the two parties also signed a military agreement pursuant to which Turkey has sent thousands of fighters and a large amount of weapons and supplies to the Government of National Accord).

Ripple Effects: Greece And Turkey Open New Northern Front On Libyan Conflict

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi received a phone call from Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Thursday, during which they discussed regional issues, with a focus on the Libyan crisis.

According to the Xinhua report, Sisi expressed Egypt’s opposition to “illegitimate foreign intervention” in Libyan domestic affairs, citing that they would further exacerbate the security conditions in Libya in a way that affects the stability of the entire region, said Egyptian presidential spokesman Bassam Rady in a statement.

For his part, the Greek prime minister also voiced rejection of foreign interference in Libya, while highlighting the political course as a key solution for the Libyan issue.

He hailed Egypt’s “sincere efforts” that seek a peaceful settlement to the Libyan crisis, according to the statement.

Over the past few years, the Egyptian-Greek ties have been growing closer, with their growing enmity with Turkey also resulting in them developing a similar position on Libya. The talks between Sisi and Mitsotakis took place just a few days after the Egyptian parliament approved a possible troop deployment in Libya to defend Egypt’s western borders with the war-torn country. LINK

A perceptive analysis of the emerging Turkey-Libya (Tripoli) relations published last month remains just as salient to describe the situation today:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gambled big in Libya and won big – so far. This victory portends important changes in the politics of the Mediterranean, for Turkey has succeeded not only in demonstrating its determination to become the dominant player in the Eastern Mediterranean, but also in showcasing its military prowess and wherewithal. The latter might precipitate a deeper conflict and crisis in the region, extending north toward Greece.

Erdogan threw his support behind the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) against General Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), which had besieged the GNA’s capital, Tripoli. Haftar suffered a humiliating defeat as Turkish drones, troops, navy vessels and some 10,000 Syrian fighters transported by Ankara to Libya stopped him in his tracks and then forced him to abandon bases and territory. A last-minute call for a ceasefire by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi was rejected by the victorious GNA, which has set its aims at capturing other towns, including the critical port city of Sirte.

Indirectly, this was also a defeat for the countries that had backed Haftar: Egypt, the UAE and Russia. The UAE had contributed military equipment and the Russians non-state mercenary forces.

Turkey’s Libya expedition has to be seen from two perspectives. First, the GNA concluded a deal with Ankara that delineated their respective Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) in such a way that it divides the Mediterranean Sea into two sections. Turkey’s purpose is to hinder efforts by Egypt, Cyprus, Israel and Greece to export natural gas, either through a pipeline or on LNG vessels, to Europe. Turkey has aggressively interfered with efforts by these to drill for gas. Ankara claims that most of the waters around Cyprus actually belong to Turkey or to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, a country recognized only by Turkey.

However, more important than simply preventing Eastern Mediterranean gas exports is the underlying strategy driving this push against Haftar. From the moment he assumed power in 2003, Erdogan has striven to elevate Turkey’s international role to that of a regional, if not global, power. Initially, his strategy was one of “zero problems with neighbors,” which served to emphasize Turkey’s soft power. The primary driver, however, was the desire for Turkey to assume a hegemonic position over the Middle East. This policy foundered and was essentially buried by the Arab Spring.

What has replaced it is a more aggressive and militarized posture that takes the fight to perceived enemies. That could mean anyone and everyone, since Turks tend to see most countries as a threat, even if they are allies. LINK

While Turkey has bet big and won big so far, it appears that the period of relatively easy victories is over and its aggressive moves are going to face more resistance in future. As Turkey continues to shows no sign of moderating its expansionist claims and manoeuvres, the region is now moving irrevocably towards a catastrophic military clash as Turkey and Egypt have drawn incompatible ‘red lines’ in Libya, with the coastal town of Sirte likely to be the detonator (or possibly the Jufra airbase to the south).

An international agreement promoted by the UN in 2014-2015 established an executive body and a legislative body to govern Libya and pave the way for a more permanent arrangement. However, fundamental disagreements between the two quasi-State organizations resulted in a complete split, with the executive arm becoming the ‘UN-backed’ Government of National Accord based in Tripoli and the House of Representatives relocating to Tobruk (thus the legislative arm is also ‘UN-backed’, though this detail is usually omitted from mainstream media reports).

Turkey has allied itself with the Government of National Accord (GNA), Egypt has allied itself with the House of Representatives (and its armed forces, the Libyan National Army – the LNA – headed by Khalifa Haftar). More generally, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Russia are invariably reported as supporting the LNA, while the GNA is mainly backed by Turkey and Qatar.

Following the drastic changes on the battlefield over the last two months as the GNA swept the LNA from its positions around Tripoli following a failed attempt to capture the Libyan capital, both Turkey and Egypt have committed themselves to positions that are in direct conflict, indicating that a major armed clash is inevitable unless there is a major diplomatic breakthrough or one of the two sides accepts a humiliating backdown.

Specifically, Turkey and the Government of National Accord are demanding that the Libyan National Army (which recently gave Egypt permission to send its armed forces into Libya) withdraw from the two areas (Sirte and Jufra) and have expressed their determination to take the areas by force if necessary. The Libyan National Army and Egypt have stated that any attempt to capture the two areas will result in Egypt entering Libya in force, which would result in a direct confrontation between Turkey and Egypt. While Egypt has the advantage of sharing a long land border with Libya, in the event of a major conflict air and maritime power could be decisive.

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Time is Not on Our Side in Libya

Photograph Source: Abdul-Jawad Elhusuni – CC BY-SA 3.0

by VIJAY PRASHAD

JULY 22, 2020

Ahmed, who lives in Tripoli, Libya, texts me that the city is quieter than before. The army of General Khalifa Haftar—who controls large parts of eastern Libya—has withdrawn from the southern part of the capital and is now holding fast in the city of Sirte and at the airbase of Jufra. Most of Libya’s population lives along the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea, which is where the cities of Tripoli, Sirte, Benghazi, and Tobruk are located.

Haftar, who was once an intimate of the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), is now prosecuting a seemingly endless and brutal war against the United Nation’s recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli and led by President Fayez al-Sarraj. To make matters more confusing, Haftar takes his legitimacy from another government, which is based in Tobruk, and is formed out of the House of Representatives (HOR).

Ahmed says that the quiet is deceitful. Militias continue to patrol the streets along the Salah al-Din Road near where he lives; the rattle of gunfire is anticipated.

On July 8, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres made a statement that could have been delivered at any point over the last decade. “Time is not on our side in Libya,” he announced. He laid out a range of problems facing the country, including the military conflict, the political stalemate between the GNA and the HOR, the numbers of internally-displaced people (400,000 out of 7 million), the continued attempts of migrants to cross the Mediterranean Sea, the threat from COVID-19, and the “unprecedented levels” of “foreign interference.”

The UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution to send a Fact-Finding Mission to Libya to investigate human rights violations in this war, including the mass graves found in Tarhouna. The credibility of the Council is in doubt. An earlier Commission of Inquiry on Libya set up in 2012 to study war crimes in 2011-2012 was shut down largely because the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) refused to cooperate with the investigation. A second inquiry, set up in March 2015, closed its work in January 2016 with the political deal that created the Government of National Accord.

Guterres did not mention the NATO war in 2011. I am told that he wants to appoint a joint Special Representative with the African Union and he would like a full review of the UN mission. All that is well and good; but it is short of what is necessary: an honest look at the NATO war that broke the country, fomenting a conflict that seems without end.

Foreign Interference

Statements about Libya drip with evasion. These terms—“foreign interference” and “foreign-backed efforts”—are dropped into conversations and official statements without any clarification. But everyone knows what is going on.

I ask Rida, who lives in Benghazi (now under the control of General Haftar), what she makes of these phrases. “We all know what is going on,” she tells me via text. “The government in Tripoli is backed by Turkey and others; while Haftar is backed by Egypt and others,” she writes.

At the core, she says, this is a dispute between two regional powers (Turkey and Egypt) as well as a contest between the Muslim Brotherhood (Turkey) and its adversaries (Egypt and the United Arab Emirates). Wrapped up in all this are contracts for offshore drilling in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, which additionally involved Cyprus and Greece.

It is not enough that this is a regional conflict. There is accumulating evidence that General Haftar is being supported by armed mercenaries (from Russia and Sudan) and by arms shipments from France, while the United States seems to have hedged its bets with support to both sides in the conflict.

Last year, General Haftar’s forces moved swiftly toward Tripoli, but were eventually rebuffed by the intervention of Turkey (which provided the Tripoli government with military aid as well as Syrian and Turkish mercenaries).

In late December, Turkey formally signed a military and security agreement with the Tripoli-based GNA, which enabled Turkey to transfer military hardware. This agreement broke the terms of the UN resolution 2292 (2016), recently reaffirmed in UN resolution 2526 (2020). Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have openly been supplying Haftar.

Now, the forces of the Tripoli government have moved to the central coastline city of Sirte, which has emerged as the key hotspot in this contest.

The Tobruk government, which backs General Haftar, and a pro-Haftar tribes council urged Egypt’s General Abdul Fatah El Sisi to intervene with the full force of the Egyptian armed forces if Sirte falls to the Turkish-backed government. Egypt’s military drill—called Hasm 2020—came alongside the Turkish navy’s announcement of maneuvers off the Libyan coast—called Navtex.

This is a most dangerous situation, a war of words escalating between Turkey and Egypt; Egypt has now moved military hardware to its border with Libya.

Oil

Of course, oil is a major part of the equation. Libya has at least 46 billion barrels of sweet crude oil; this oil is highly valued for Europe because of the low costs to extract and transport it. Countries like the UAE, which are pushing the embargo of Libyan oil, benefit from the withdrawal of Libya, Iranian, and Venezuelan oil from already suppressed world oil markets. Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) has stopped oil exports since January; from about 1.10 million barrels per day, Libyan oil production fell to nearly 70,000 barrels per day.

Neither Haftar nor the Government of National Accord in Tripoli can agree on the export of oil from the country. Oil has not left the country for the better part of the past six months, with a loss—according to the NOC—of about US$6.74 billion. General Haftar controls major oil ports in the east, including Es Sider, and several key oil fields, including Sharara.

Neither side wants the other to profit from oil sales. The United Nations has intervened to try and resolve the differences, but so far there has been limited progress. The entire conflict rests on the belief that either side has that it could win a military victory and therefore take the entire spoils; no one is willing to compromise, since any such agreement would mean a de jure partition of the country into its eastern and western halves with the oil crescent divided between the two.

Demilitarized Zone

UN Secretary-General Guterres has surrendered to reality. In his recent statement on Libya, he listed a series of “de-escalation efforts, including the creation of a possible demilitarized zone”; this “demilitarization zone” would likely be drawn somewhere near Sirte. It would effectively divide Libya into two parts.

Neither Ahmed nor Rida would like their country to be partitioned, its oil then siphoned off to Europe, and its wealth stolen by oligarchs on either side. They had misgivings about Muammar Qaddafi’s government in early 2011; but now both regret the war that has ripped their country to shreds.Join the debate on FacebookMore articles by:VIJAY PRASHAD

Vijay Prashad’s most recent book is No Free Left: The Futures of Indian Communism (New Delhi: LeftWord Books, 2015).

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