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Regional geopolitics

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  • Re: Regional geopolitics

    Եգիպտոսի տարածքային ջրերում հայտնաբերվել են բնական գազի հսկայական պաշարներ
    http://www.lragir.am/armsrc/politics-lrahos68746.html

    Եգիպտոսի Նավթի և բնական ռեսուրսների նախարարի մամուլի քարտուղար Մահֆուզ Ալ-Բունին հայտարարել է, որ երկրի տարածքային ջրերում հայտնաբերվել է բնական գազի հսկայական հանքավայրեր: Այս մասին հայտնում է Ասոշիեյթիդ Պրեսը:

    Ալ-Բունիի խոսքով, հանքավայրերի պահուստները կարող է պարունակեն 123 միլիարդ խորանադ մետր գազ և մոտ 1.6 միլիոն բարել գազային կոնդենսատ: Մոտավոր գնահատականներով հանքավայրի օրական արդյունաբերությունը կարող է կազմել մինչև 40 միլիոն խորանարդ մետր գազ:

    Հանքավայրերի հիմնական գազակիր շերտերը գտնվում են Եգիպտոսի հյուսիսում` Ռաս Ալ-Բարից 3 կմ հեռավորության վրա: Այս շրջանում ծովի խորությունը մոտավորապես 11 մետր է: Հանքավայրը հայտնաբերել են British Gas ընկերության դուստր ձեռնարկությունները:

    Comment


    • Re: Regional geopolitics

      THE CAUCASUS: "GEORGIA-AZERBAIJAN: AN AMBIGUOUS ALLIANCE

      Politkom.ru
      July 17 2012
      Russia

      [Translated from Russian]

      by Candidate of Historical Sciences Sergey Markedonov, Visiting Fellow
      at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Washington,
      D.C., USA

      On 16 July [ 2012] Vano Merabishvili, the head of Georgia's government,
      made a working visit to Baku. In the capital of Azerbaijan, he
      was given a presidential reception. The leaders and high-ranking
      officials of the two Caucasus-states regularly visit one another. And
      at first glance there is no special mystery about the Georgian prime
      minister's trip. But a considerable number of circumstances prevent
      us from considering Merabishvili's visit an ordinary protocol event.

      Above all, this is the first foreign trip by the current prime minister
      of Georgia in his new capacity. Vano Merabishvili took his current
      office slightly more than two weeks ago. After the dissolution of
      the Soviet Union, the institution of prime minister underwent a
      complicated and contradictory evolution in post-Soviet Georgia. In
      the process the real significance of the post of premier depended on
      the totality of many factors in which formal legal topics by no means
      played a paramount role. Merabishvili obtained the appointment to the
      post of head of the government while he was head of the republic's
      MVD [Ministry of Internal Affairs], a structure that from 2004 to
      2012 was one of the crucial support bases of Mikheil Saakashvili's
      political regime.

      For some time now, Merabishvili has been called the "gray cardinal"
      of Georgian politics and in effect the head of the government. In
      reality, along with Giga [Giorgi] Bokeria, the secretary of the
      Security Council, Minister of Justice Zurab Adeishvili, and Tbilisi
      Mayor Giga Ugulava, the current premier is part of the group of people
      closest to the person of the president of Georgia. It is precisely
      this "magnificent five" group that plays a defining role in making
      crucial domestic and foreign policy decisions. And the appearance of
      Merabishvili in public politics is associated with Georgia's entering
      the period of the election run-up battles. Already in October 2012,
      the country is to undergo the parliamentary campaign. The presidential
      election will take place next year. At the same time, there is an
      important condition in the Georgian political task. A third term as
      president is blocked for Saakashvili. The West is not as willing to
      show the same degree of political "tolerance" towards Georgia that
      it demonstrated towards Azerbaijan. But the Western rigour is not
      so straightforward. The United States and its allies in NATO are not
      willing to see Saakashvili as president for a third time. But so far
      neither Washington nor Brussels has announced that it is impossible
      for the current head of the republic to continue political activity
      in a different capacity. And naturally certainly no one has said that
      one of the representatives of the "magnificent five" cannot become
      the president of Georgia.In that way the question of preserving the
      "commanding heights" specifically for this informal institution
      will be the main "prize" of the coming election cycle. The title of
      the positions in this case will not play a decisive role. Mikheil
      Saakashvili can duplicate the path of his sworn enemy Vladimir Putin
      and become head of the national government. Nor is his transfer to
      work as the speaker of parliament out of the question. And within
      the framework of this plan, Vano Merabishvili should play one of the
      chief roles. He has already made announcements of the domestic policy
      priorities of the work of the government (which in current conditions
      is becoming the "political cabinet") and touched on those themes that
      were left in the shadows for years (social policy and agriculture).

      The time for defining foreign policy goals and tasks has come.

      And in this context the first foreign visit of the "political premier"
      must not be underestimated. All the more so since Azerbaijan's
      significance for Georgia's foreign policy and economy is extremely
      important. But of course, one should treat Mikheil Saakashvili's
      rhetorical exercises cautiously. However, one should hardly consider
      it a chance occurrence that the president of Georgia called Azerbaijan
      an extremely important guarantor of Georgian national independence
      and even proposed that Baku start thinking about the construction of
      a common confederative future. Actually many power engineering and
      transport projects-link the two countries. They are the geopolitical
      pipeline Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipe,
      and the Baku-Akhalkalaki-Tbilisi-Kars railroad project, which was
      symbolically launched in November 2007. In the process the Georgian
      section of the railroad became a subject of concern and guardianship by
      the Azerbaijani side. But not only power engineering and communications
      link Baku and Tbilisi. Both Azerbaijan and Georgia are experiencing
      difficulties with securing territorial integrity. At one time it was
      specifically this fact that united the two Caucasus states within the
      framework of GUAM [Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova], although
      this structure never did show its effectiveness. In both Tbilisi and
      Baku, they treat Russia's role in the geopolitical processes in the
      Greater Caucasus with dissatisfaction and apprehension. But unlike
      Georgia, Azerbaijan is trying to follow a more balanced policy. Taking
      into account the fact that the West is interested in cooperation
      with Russia and will not drastically aggravate relations with Moscow
      for the sake of Georgian or Azerbaijani benefit. And bearing in mind
      the consideration that unlike Russian-Georgian relations, the factor
      of Yerevan also is present in the case of Baku (it is specifically
      Armenia rather than the Russian Federation that is Azerbaijan's chief
      strategic enemy in the region).

      And the West (once again unlike Russian-Georgian topics) is not willing
      to consider the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as Moscow's "intermediary
      war" with a new independent state, and certainly not with the United
      States and its allies.

      Be that as it may, the national traumas from ethno-political conflicts,
      as well as the existence of de facto formations on the territories of
      Azerbaijan and Georgia that are de jure recognized, force the political
      elites of the two states to speak of a strategic alliance. A bust of
      Geydar Aliyev has been installed in the Georgian capital in the very
      centre of the city (in old Tbilisi), which arouses harsh criticism
      from the opposition to President Saakashvili. But the weakness of
      the Georgian oppositionists (as well as the strength and power of
      the police, which until recently were headed by Vano Merabishvili)
      permits him to ignore these feelings. And during the Azerbaijani
      president's reception on 16 July, the Georgian premier in every way
      demonstrated the invariability of the Georgian choice in favour of
      a strategic alliance with Azerbaijan.

      Rhetoric is all well and good, but then begin the numerous
      disagreements and differing interpretations that suggest that Baku and
      Tbilisi are still a long way from complete mutual understanding. In
      the first place, no treaty on demarcation and delimitation of the
      border has been signed between them to this day. By the way, Russia
      and Azerbaijan conducted demarcation and delimitation, although the
      quality of them (in particular the problem of the Lezgin enclaves
      of Khrakhoba and Uryanoba) still produces ambiguous evaluations and
      disputes. In May of this year, an incident took place between Tbilisi
      and Baku because of the deployment of Azerbaijani border troops on the
      territory of the Davit Garaja Monastery Complex (19 cave monasteries).

      In addition to its interesting history (the first monastery here was
      founded back at the start of the sixth century), Davit Garaja also
      has a relevant political ring for new Georgia. In the 1980s Georgian
      activists conducted rallies there against the artillery range of
      the Soviet Army that neighboured it. But as often happened during
      the period of acquiring independence (and not only with Georgia),
      the departure of the "empire of the Kremlin" was not accompanied
      by liberation from problems but the replacement of one set of
      contradictions and acute problems by another.

      In the case of the two Caucasian republics, the main challenge was
      conducting the delimitation and demarcation of the Georgian-Azerbaijani
      border. As of today 66 per cent of the border (it makes up a section of
      480 kilometres) has been reconciled by the parties. But another third
      remains unresolved. At one time Tbilisi proposed that Baku leave the
      entire Davit Garaja for Georgia, but keep the important strategic
      heights neighbouring it for Azerbaijan. But the Caspian republic
      did not go for that option, seeing an "exchange of territories" in
      it. Against the background of the Nagorno-Karabakh national trauma,
      it would be extremely difficult to demand excessive amenability
      from Baku. However, for Georgia too the problems are no less in
      these terms. In late May 2012, the parties were able to settle
      the border incident over the monastery complex. In the process
      the representatives of official Tbilisi even announced that "third
      countries" were interested in inflating the Georgian-Azerbaijani
      tension. More than a transparent hint! Be that as it may, the problem
      of disputed territories remains on the bilateral menu.

      In the second place, no matter how much Georgia and Azerbaijan talk
      about the commonality of the separatist threat, Tbilisi cannot look
      at the "Armenian question" through "Azerbaijani eyes." One need
      not even look especially for evidence of this. Two days before Vano
      Merabishvili's visit to Baku, Georgia's Minister of Foreign Affairs
      Grigol Vashadze was in Yerevan, where he held a meeting with his
      Armenian counterpart Eduard Nalbandian. And according to Vashadze,
      today Armenian-Georgian relations "are at a very high level." At the
      same time, during the visit issues that "upset the Armenian public"
      were examined. It is, of course, above all a matter of the status of
      the Armenian community in the Georgian region of Samtskhe-Javakheti and
      the "church issue." The day before Grigol Vashadze's visit to Yerevan,
      Armenia's ambassador to Georgia made an official visit to the region
      mentioned and held a meeting with the authorized representative of
      the Georgian president Ivane Tsiklauri. Let us not forget that the
      population of the unified region of Samtskhe-Javakheti is 238,000
      people, of which 53 per cent are Armenians, while in such districts
      as Akhalkalaki they make up 91.3 per cent of the population, and in
      Ninotsminda District - 89.6 per cent. All this makes Tbilisi work
      more cautiously in selecting approaches to regional politics.

      In the third place, an important topic in relations between Baku and
      Tbilisi is the status of the Azeri community inside Georgia. Ethnic
      Azeris live close together in the region of Kvemo Kartli (four
      districts with centres in Gardabani, Balnisi, Dmanisi, and Marneuli).

      Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, conflict-ridden situations
      related to land relations, the resettlement policy of the Georgian
      authorities, and issues of education in the native language and
      representation in power have arisen more than once on the territory of
      Kvemo Kartli. And although unlike the Armenians of Javakheti, politics
      is not the main topic in the complaints and demands of the Azeris (they
      are more interested in social problems), their status and position is
      far from ideal. And it is naive to think that this problem does not
      bother Baku. No matter what anybody says on the official level. In
      that way Tbilisi's desire to step up the Azerbaijani vector of foreign
      policy is even more understandable. But rhetoric and reality, as
      has happened more than once, do not coincide in every respect. And
      Baku has its own interests that by no means coincide with Georgia's
      approaches in every way. And the Georgian leadership is not willing
      to equate its own Caucasus policy with Azerbaijani priorities (just
      take the Armenian direction). But no matter what interests anybody
      has, the foreign policy debut of the new Georgian premier has taken
      place. And it occurred specifically in Baku.

      [Translated from Russian]
      Last edited by Vrej1915; 07-21-2012, 01:57 AM.

      Comment


      • Re: Regional geopolitics

        Report Unveils MI6 Involvement in Bomb Blast in Damascus

        15:18 | 2012-07-21



        TEHRAN (FNA)- Britain's Foreign Intelligence Service (MI6) played an
        active role in Wednesday's blast in Syrian national security
        headquarters in Damascus which targeted the country's ministers, a
        website unveiled.


        Nahrain Net quoted unknown sources of some Persian Gulf states as
        disclosing that MI6 has had active cooperation with armed Wahhabi
        elements in Syria and Lebanon since a few months ago in order to
        conduct terrorist attacks on military and non-military bodies and
        assassinate senior Syrian army officials as well as attacks on Syria's
        vital oil and power facilities.

        The sources added that officials from the British Embassy in Kuwait
        have increased their meetings with Takfiri Wahhabi Salafi elements in
        recent months, Nahrain Net reported.

        The sources revealed that Salafi elements in turn introduced Syrian
        Wahhabi elements living in Kuwait to two MI6 officers, who are active
        under the guise of diplomats at the British Embassy in Kuwait.

        The Nahrain Net reported that these meetings provided MI6 with links
        with Syrian extremist Wahhabis. These relations are all aimed at
        leading Syrian terrorists by the US and British spy agencies to target
        people or places which the MI6 proposes.

        Earlier, a member of the central committee of the Syrian Ba'ath party
        had also said that the deadly terrorist blast in Damascus was not
        possible without intelligence assistance by the US, Israel and a
        number of Arab states.

        "The intelligence services of the enemies of Syria have always been
        active in Damascus in a bid to hit a blow at Syria's popular
        government and today's operations were not possible without (foreign)
        intelligence support for the terrorists," Khalaf al- Meftah told FNA
        on Wednesday.

        The report came after an explosion inside the Syrian national security
        headquarters in Damascus targeted ministers from President Bashar
        al-Assad's government who were meeting with defense officials on
        Wednesday, killing three of the most senior members of President
        Assad's inner circle, including his brother-in-law.

        The Syrian Army said Defense Minister and his deputy, Asef Shawkat,
        were both killed in the explosion. Shawkat, Assad's brother-in-law,
        also held the title of deputy chief of staff.

        According to Syrian TV, former Defense Minister Hassan Turkmani, who
        headed Assad's 'crisis cell' that coordinated the government's
        response to the 16-month unrests, was also killed in the blast.

        Other ministers and military officials were seriously wounded in the
        explosion, according to state media.

        Syrian State TV reported that Interior Minister Mohammed al-Shaar and
        National Security Department head Major General Hisham Ikhtiar
        sustained injuries.

        Meantime, latest reports said on Friday that Ikhtiar has died of his wounds.

        Comment


        • Re: Regional geopolitics

          Turkish Politician Discloses Secret Washington-Ankara Agreement against Syria

          15:47 | 2012-07-21


          TEHRAN (FNA)- A key member of Turkey's Labor Party strongly criticized
          the Ankara government for its stance on Syria, and disclosed a secret
          agreement between Turkey and the US against Syria.


          In a press statement, Vice-Chairman of Turkey's Labor Party Hasan
          Besri Uzbi lashed out at Turkish President Abdullah Gul for his stance
          on developments in Syria, and noted that Gul is "provoking Syrian
          terrorist into committing crimes".

          According to the statement published in Turkish Ulusal website, Uzbi
          said his party will file a lawsuit with Turkey's judicial authorities
          against Gul to try him in the country's Supreme Court.

          He stated that his party has "clear evidence" substantiating that
          Abdullah Gul has provoked terrorist moves and war in Syria and signed
          secret agreement with the US, adding that the issue is enough for
          trying Gul in the court.

          Uzbi noted that the single case is enough for trial of Gul, and
          stressed that the Turkish president ignored his humanitarian task
          after terrorist attack targeted officials of the neighboring state.

          The remarks came after an explosion inside the Syrian national
          security headquarters in Damascus targeted ministers from President
          Bashar al-Assad's government who were meeting with defense officials
          on Wednesday, killing three of the most senior members of President
          Assad's inner circle, including his brother-in-law.

          The Syrian Army said Defense Minister and his deputy, Asef Shawkat,
          were both killed in the explosion. Shawkat, Assad's brother-in-law,
          also held the title of deputy chief of staff.

          According to the Syrian TV, former Defense Minister Hassan Turkmani,
          who headed Assad's 'crisis cell' that coordinated the government's
          response to the 16-month unrest, was also killed in the blast.

          Other ministers and military officials were seriously wounded in the
          explosion, according to state media.

          The Syrian state TV reported that Interior Minister Mohammed al-Shaar
          and National Security Department head Major General Hisham Ikhtiar
          sustained injuries.

          Meantime, latest reports said on Friday that Ikhtiar has died of his wounds.

          Comment


          • Re: Regional geopolitics

            Turkey-Iraq pipeline attack cuts oil flows

            July 21, 2012 - 12:39 AMT

            PanARMENIAN.Net - Turkish authorities are blaming sabotage for a fire
            on a pipeline carrying petroleum from Iraq to Turkey's Mediterranean
            coast that cut oil flows late on Friday, July 20 NTV television said,
            according to Reuters.

            The fire on the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline erupted near the town of Midyat
            in southeastern Turkey, it said, citing the provincial governor.

            No one was immediately available at the governor's office or at the
            state pipeline operator Botas to confirm the report.

            The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a Kurdish separatist group, has
            claimed responsibility for attacks on the 960-kilometre link, which
            carries about a quarter of Iraqi oil exports, in the past.

            Comment


            • Re: Regional geopolitics

              Assad rebuilds fighting command, retaliates against Turkey
              DEBKAfile Exclusive Report July 22, 2012,

              President Bashar Assad quickly recovered from the blow he suffered with the loss of his four top allies last Wednesday, July 18. Within 24 hours, he had put in place a new command for fighting the rebels headed by his younger brother Gen. Maher Assad, commander of the 4th Division, DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources report exclusively. He also appointed Gen. Ali Mamloukh to head the General Security Service; Gen. Hafez Makhlouf, military commander of Damascus; and Gen. Ali Hassan, new chief of the Alawite Shabiha militia.
              Gen. Fahad Jassim al-Freij was sworn in as Defense Minister Thursday.
              Despite a wave of desertions, the Syrian army was soon back on the job, showing no signs of shock or wavering at the command level.
              Within 48 hours the army had driven the rebels out of the Maidan district of Damascus. And while some media focused on the rebels’ capture of two Syrian-Iraqi crossings Saturday, our sources report that Assad and his new command had already moved on and were busy with a tactical move in retaliation against Turkey for the assassinations at the top of Assad’s inner circle: They opened the door to an influx of rebels of the Turkish PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) from Iraq into Syria’s northern Kurdish regions, with permission to set up bases of operation along the Turkish border.
              This step had three immediate consequences:
              1. By giving the armed Turkish Kurds' separatist movement bases of attack against Ankara, the Assad regime was able to pacify Syria’s own 2-3 million-strong Kurdish minority (ten percent of the population) and make sure their towns in the north did not join the Syrian uprising.
              2. By guaranteeing his own Kurdish minority’s loyalty, Assad released the troops posted there to fight Syrian rebels on other fronts.
              3. While acting as hosts for the rebel Free Syrian Army commands which are campaigning against Damascus, Turkey is itself exposed to a new strategic threat from its southern border with Syria.
              DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the flow of Turkish Kurdish fighters into northern Syria has advanced the local Kurdish separatist drive led by the Syrian Democratic Union Party. Friday, July 20, PYD and PKK fighters from Iraq joined forces to seize control of two Syrian-Turkish border towns, Afrin and Ayn-al Arab.
              Assad calculated that semi-autonomous status achieved by Syrian Kurds in Syria would act as a shot in the arm for the PKK on the other side of the border and encourage their raids on Turkish government and military targets in support of their demand for like status in Turkey.
              DEBKAfile update: The PKK were quick on the draw: Friday, they blew up the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline carrying about a quarter of Iraq’s oil exports at the southeastern Turkish town of Midyat near the Syrian border.
              Assad has therefore begun exacting revenge on Turkey for the assassinations which cut down his inner circle.
              -------

              Two hours for Syrian chemical weapons to reach Lebanon. Four armies prepared
              DEBKAfile Exclusive Report July 22, 2012,

              The IDF, the Turkish and Jordanian armies and US Middle East forces have switched to preparedness mode in the last few hours in case the Syrian chemical weapons arsenal starts moving west toward Lebanon,DEBKAfile’s military sources report. Acting in unison, those armies are on the ready for instantaneous action because it would take no more than two hours to cover the distance from Syria to the Hizballah-controlled Bakaa Valley of east Lebanon. Their arrival there, unless thwarted, would mean a war on Hizballah.
              Therefore Israeli and US military chiefs prefer to stop the arsenal in its tracks before it moves across the border. This would call for surgically precise, rapid action against a target going to extreme lengths to stay concealed.
              In the view of a senior US military source quoted by DEBKAfile, the risk is solid but it comes from a different direction. He stressed that “President Assad has not decided to hand over his chemical weapons to Hizballah, nor has Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah decided to accept them.”
              The chemical stockpile is kept at the al-Safira base northwest of Damascus in the care of the president’s personal guard unit which takes orders from Bashar Assad and no one else. If the heads of that guard saw the regime suddenly collapse – as it was expected to do last Wednesday when assassins murdered the men closest to the president - the American official says, “It is impossible to predict how they will act or what use they will make of the weapons systems under their guard.”
              “They may decide to sneak out of Syria to Lebanon and take with them the entire arsenal as insurance for their safety and future,” he suggested.
              According to our military sources, the arsenal which could be spirited across to Lebanon contains a lot more than chemical weapons. It also includes Scud C and Scud D surface missles capable of delivering chemical warheads and also the Russian-made advanced Pantsyr-S1 (NATO codenamed SA-22 Greyhound) anti-air missiles, which have been guarding the chemical stocks.
              This background accounts for the words used by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak Sunday, July 22, to make their intentions clear:
              “Israel would have to act if the Syrian regime collapsed without changing and if there’s a risk Syria’s chemical weapons and missiles could fall into the hands of military groups,” such as Hizballah or al Qaeda, Netanyahu said.
              Asked if Israel would act alone, he said that Syria’s stockpile was a “common concern” – hinting at the coordination in place between the Israeli, Turkish and Jordanian armies and US regional forces.
              Barak was more specific: “I’ve ordered the Israeli military to prepare for a situation where we would have to weigh the possibility of carrying out an attack against Syrian weapons arsenals.” He told reporters.
              ”The state of Israel cannot accept a situation where advanced weapons systems are transferred form Syria to Lebanon.”

              Comment


              • Re: Regional geopolitics

                Syria troops hit back at rebels in Damascus and Aleppo

                http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-18943316

                Government forces have hit back at rebel-held areas in Syria's two biggest cities - Damascus and Aleppo.

                Sustained assaults were launched on Sunday against the north-eastern Damascus suburb of Barzeh, and against Mezzeh, in the west of the city.

                Some reports from activists said troops regained control of Mezzeh, killing about 20 people suspected of helping the rebels.

                Fighting was also said to be continuing in the country's second city, Aleppo.

                The government counterattack in Syria follows a week in which rebels made major advances, taking control of several parts of Damascus, seizing border crossings and claiming an attack that killed four top security officials, including the defence minister and President Bashar al-Assad's brother-in-law.

                Systematic
                The offensive against Mezzeh involved more than 1,000 troops and allied gunmen, backed by armoured vehicles, tanks and bulldozers, according to residents and activists quoted by the Reuters news agency.


                Government troops are trying to regain rebel strongholds one by one
                Government forces "executed" at least 20 men in the area, some activists told the agency by telephone.

                The attack on Barzeh, in the north-east of Damascus, was carried out by the army's fourth division, commanded by the president's brother Maher, using tanks and armoured personnel carriers, the Syrian Observatory reported.

                Earlier on Sunday, state media said that all "terrorists" - as the government calls the rebels - had been "cleansed" from Qabun, a district east of Barzeh. State television showed extensive destruction.

                The BBC's Jim Muir in Beirut says government forces seem determined to drive the rebel Free Syrian Army completely out of Damascus and are setting about it quite systematically.

                Reports from activists in Aleppo said there were clashes overnight from Saturday to Sunday between the Free Syrian Army and security forces.

                They said a building in the Seif al-Dawla district collapsed under tank fire.

                State TV played down the scale of the violence, saying troops were merely hunting down "terrorists".

                The commander of FSA forces in Aleppo province, Col Abdul Jabbar Mohammed Aqidi, vowed to "liberate" the whole city, called on government troops to defect and vowed to protect members of the president's minority Alawite sect.


                The Midan district of Damascus has seen heavy fighting
                There were also reports of violence in the eastern city of Deir al-Zour on Sunday. Witnesses told Reuters that it was being attacked with artillery and rockets from helicopter gunships.

                BBC sources in Syria also confirmed that rebels were now in control of the Bab al-Salam border crossing with Turkey. Turkey is not allowing non-Syrian nationals through so the border remains effectively closed.

                Early on Monday, Qatar's Prime Minister, Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, said a meeting of Arab League foreign ministers in his country had offered President Bashar al-Assad safe passage out of Syria if he stepped down quickly.

                He also said the gathering had urged the Free Syrian Army rebels and the opposition to form a transitional government.

                And according to a report in the Wall Street Journal on Sunday, the United States has been trying to persuade Iraq to close its air space to flights between Syria and Iran in order to stop arms and oil shipments from reaching Syria. The West suspects Tehran of supplying arms to President Assad.

                On Sunday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that at least 19,106 people had been killed since March 2011. The UN said in May that at least 10,000 people had been killed

                Comment


                • Re: Regional geopolitics

                  http://edition.cnn.com/video/?hpt=hp...tal-attack.itn

                  http://edition.cnn.com/video/?hpt=hp...tal-attack.itn
                  Last edited by Vrej1915; 07-22-2012, 09:37 PM.

                  Comment


                  • Re: Regional geopolitics

                    http://www.todayszaman.com/newsDetai...?newsId=287532


                    Netanyahu: We want to restore relations with Turkey



                    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has maintained that Turkey and Israel are looking for ways to normalize political relations, saying, “We want to restore relations with Turkey.”

                    As the crisis in Syria aggravates and instability in the region looms, Israel has started to send warm messages, the first of which came from Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman last week, to Turkey in an effort to mend significantly damaged diplomatic relations. Relations between the two countries have been strained since 2010, when Israeli troops killed nine civilians of Turkish origin in cold blood during a raid of the Mavi Marmara vessel in international waters as it headed to the Gaza Strip to deliver humanitarian aid supplies. Noting that restoring the once-excellent political relations is of great importance for the two countries, and the region, Netanyahu said, “Both countries should look for opportunities to achieve that.” ........
                    Politics is not about the pursuit of morality nor what's right or wrong
                    Its about self interest at personal and national level often at odds with the above.
                    Great politicians pursue the National interest and small politicians personal interests

                    Comment


                    • Re: Regional geopolitics

                      TURKEY AND GREATER AZERBAIJAN: A CARD TO PLAY?

                      http://www.gmfus.org/archives/turkey...-card-to-play/
                      July 24 2012

                      THE GERMAN MARSHALL FUND OF THE UNITED STATES.

                      On the surface, Turkey's relations with the countries of the South
                      Caucasus seem clear enough. Its relations with Azerbaijan are
                      excellent, and the two work in partnership on many issues. Georgia
                      maintains a close relationship with Turkey, and the two share a busy
                      border marked by prolific and growing trade.

                      Only Armenia remains a problem mostly because of the conflict over
                      Nagorno-Karabakh.

                      The political, economic, and cultural relations between Turkey
                      and Azerbaijan have flourished for the last two decades. When five
                      independent Turkic states emerged from the dissolution of the Soviet
                      Union, Turkey immediately recognized all of them.

                      Among these, the closest geographically and linguistically was
                      Azerbaijan.

                      It seems quaint now, but when Turkish diplomats first visited Baku,
                      many returned with the impression that the Azerbaijanis were speaking
                      "broken Turkish." Despite ethnic and cultural proximity, ignorance
                      of the Turkic peoples trapped in the USSR ran deep in Turkish society.

                      Time and circumstances have changed this reality. Today, when the
                      president of Azerbaijan visits Ankara, or when Turkey's prime minister
                      visits Baku, assertions that Turkey and Azerbaijan are really "one
                      nation with two different states" are commonplace. Is this just
                      rhetoric or is there something behind it? Turkish policy toward
                      Azerbaijan is not just about promoting business and trade, which,
                      though successful, are nowhere near the levels Turkey enjoys with, say,
                      Russia or Germany. Beyond the growing commercial relationship, Turkey
                      is trying simultaneously to promote broad-based cultural cooperation
                      that draws these Turkic peoples closer. It seems keenly aware that
                      buying from or distributing energy for these countries will not by
                      itself create strong political partnerships. This is where ethnic,
                      cultural, and linguistic kinship provide a special lift, facilitating
                      discussions of political and diplomatic issues well beyond energy
                      and business.

                      The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh represents a singular challenge
                      for Turkish policy toward the South Caucasus. An escalation of this
                      conflict could impede or derail Turkey's carefully orchestrated
                      approach to the post-Soviet Turkic world. The ceasefire agreement
                      signed between Azerbaijan and Armenia 17 years ago is wearing thin,
                      and there is no permanent solution in sight. Both sides advance
                      stubborn arguments, and both are building their military power. In
                      Baku, particularly, voices demanding a military solution are growing
                      louder. Public opinion sampling in Azerbaijan consistently registers
                      Nagorno-Karabakh as the issue of most concern, with current polling
                      showing that concern reaching nearly 70 percent. One can assume with
                      some confidence that eventually Azerbaijan will have to act. If war
                      breaks out, Ankara will have little choice but to support Baku.

                      Failing in this, Turkey would lose its credibility not only among
                      Azeris, but among other Turkic peoples and republics.

                      Today, the Armenian republic has a population of less than 3 million.

                      More Armenians are living in diaspora than in Armenia: approximately
                      2.2 million in the Russian Federation, 1.4 million in the United
                      States, 450,000 in France, and smaller concentrations elsewhere.

                      Azerbaijan has approximately 9.5 million inhabitants, of whom 90
                      percent are ethnically Azeris. This large imbalance means that Armenia
                      will be at a deep disadvantage without receiving foreign support.

                      Russia may be eager to interfere in such conflict, as it did in
                      Georgia, with the expectation of subduing Azerbaijan to gain a stronger
                      hand in the region's energy competition.

                      But this could not be done easily, and it would risk a larger
                      conflict with Iran, or more precisely, with that part of Iran that is
                      predominantly Azeri. Iran's Azeri population is large and restive. The
                      Treaty of Turkmenchai, which established the border between Iran and
                      Tsarist Russia 184 years ago, remains in force, but it was severely
                      threatened in September 1941 when the Soviet army intervened in Iran,
                      prompting Iranian Azerbaijanis to seek independence.

                      The Azerbaijan National Assembly was convened in December 1945, and
                      its authority lasted until December 1946, collapsing after Soviet
                      troops departed northern Iran in May of that year. But the experience
                      with independence from Persian Iran has lingered and festered.

                      Azerbaijanis are the largest minority in today's Iran. There are many
                      estimates of the size of Iran's population, the highest of which
                      is 78 million, with Persians (Farsispeakers) making up 61 percent,
                      and Azerbaijanis 16 percent of the total. There are therefore close
                      to 14 million Azeris in Iran, and their territory is contiguous to
                      independent Azerbaijan. Other estimates place the population of Iran
                      at 75 million, with Iranian Azeris at 24 percent. This would mean a
                      combined population of Azeris of close to 28 million. If one adds to
                      these Azeris dispersed in Russia, Iraq, Turkey, and Georgia, a total
                      population of near 30 million Azeris would not be implausible.

                      But here the analytical task becomes murky. The Azeris in Azerbaijan
                      and those in Iran are ethnically the same people, but are they the
                      same nation? The two parts of Greater Azerbaijan have been separated
                      from one another for several hundred years. The ties that bind the two
                      Azeri communities may not be as strong as the differences that divide
                      them. Azeris in the contemporary independent Azerbaijan republic
                      lived first under Tsarist then Soviet rule. Not surprisingly, its
                      inhabitants are more secular then their cousins in Iran. Unlike in
                      independent Azerbaijan, Shiite identity is very important factor in
                      Iran; indeed it may be the most important "glue" holding together the
                      Iranian state. The religious factor and the promotion of the Persian
                      language among Iranian Azeris have assimilated some minorities into
                      the Persian milieu. This has led some Iranian scholars to claim the
                      Azeris are not really a Turkic people at all, that Azeri nationalism
                      is really Iranian nationalism; just because some speak a different
                      dialect, the argument goes, does not make them ethnic. (According to
                      one recent inquiry 16.2 percent of Azeri children are said to know
                      only Farsi, 13.5 percent are fluent in Farsi and know some Turkish,
                      and 40 percent are fluent in both languages. In the family, 52 percent
                      of parents speak Turkish, 41.8 Farsi, and 5.6 both languages.)

                      The most part, Iran does not discriminate against ethnic Azeris. They
                      can hold high official positions, and their political and economic
                      elite have long been well integrated. The best example is Ayatollah
                      Seyed Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran (Vali-e faqih), whose
                      father was an Azeri. He speaks broken Azeri but shows no interest in
                      Azeri preferences or predispositions beyond this.

                      Nonetheless, Azeri assertiveness has grown in recent years. In the
                      spring of 1998, a group of leading Azeri intellectuals appealed to
                      Ayatollah Seyyed Ahmad Khatami, who was at that time the Supreme
                      Leader, calling for expanded rights, especially in the cultural and
                      language spheres. Iranian leaders dug in, arguing that once the state
                      retreats on language rights, then minorities would demand to have
                      their own flags, their own police forces, own currencies, and that
                      eventually they would refuse to pay taxes to central government.

                      In May 2006, violent demonstrations broke out in a number of
                      northwest cities after a cartoon published in a staterun newspaper
                      compared Azeris to xxxxroaches. In May 2007, hundreds of Iranian
                      Azerbaijani were arrested for demanding that they should be allowed
                      to be educated in their own language. In reality, clause 15 of the
                      Iranian Constitution allows bilingual education, but it has never
                      been observed. In one of the latest incidents, in September 2011,
                      the people of the capital of the northwest province of Ardabil, and
                      the Azeri region, protested the degradation of Orumieh Lake. Some 35
                      dams had been built on 21 rivers that feed the lake.

                      The region was affected severely. Fourteen Azeri activists were
                      detained after this protest.

                      A similar protest was also organized in Istanbul. Iranian authorities
                      show no sympathy to any demonstration of an ethnic color. Among
                      other precautions, authorities forcefully remove satellite dishes
                      from homes, which many Azeris employ to watch Turkish television
                      broadcasts. Turkish and the Turkic language used by Azeris are very
                      close, allowing someone from Istanbul to communicate easily in
                      Teheran. Turkish and Azerbaijan flags increasingly are displayed
                      at football matches, and many young Azeris have taken to calling
                      themselves "Turks" in solidarity with youngsters in Turkey and
                      independent Azerbaijan.

                      Iran cannot take its Azeri population for granted, but neither does
                      it appear to be an imminent threat to the state.

                      When in 1992, Azeri President Abulfayz Elchibey, a former political
                      prisoner known for his pro-Turkish nationalism, called for the creation
                      of a Greater Azerbaijan, Iranian Azeris received this call coolly,
                      perhaps because they doubted Elchibey's seriousness. Somewhat later,
                      Azerbaijan's former Interior Minister Iskandar Hamitov mused that
                      "Iran cannot attack Azerbaijan. If so, it will end with the creation
                      of New Azerbaijan with its 40 million inhabitants." These sentiments
                      make for good sound bites, but there is little evidence to support
                      the exaggerated claims that the two parts of Azerbaijan could easily
                      coalesce. The "Azeri factor" is certain to remain an influence on
                      Turkey's relations with Iran, but this does not mean that Turkey has an
                      "Azerbaijan card" to play to enhance its political leverage.

                      Cooler heads understand that encouraging ethnic separatism in Iran
                      could easily stimulate a wave of Iranian nationalism. Yet Turkey's
                      strengthening ties to independent Azerbaijan cannot be totally
                      discounted as an accelerant of the flame of ethnic kinship that burns
                      just beneath the surface on both sides of the Iran-Azerbaijan divide.

                      Prof. Dr. Nadir Devlet teaches at the International Relations
                      Department of Istanbul Commerce University. He concentrates on 20th
                      and 21st century political, social, cultural, economic situations,
                      and security issues for Turkic peoples. He has also taught at Marmara
                      (1984- 2001), Columbia (1989-1990), Wisconsin-Madison (1996-1997),
                      and Yeditepe (2001-2007) universities. He has more than 20 published
                      books in Turkish, Tatar, and English as well as some 200 articles in
                      Turkish, Tatar, English, and Russian.

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