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Regional geopolitics

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  • Re: Regional geopolitics

    Turkey polls loom as coalition talks collapse

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-33905183

    Mr Davutoglu, whose AKP is rooted in political Islam, has until 23 August to find a coalition partner. But many party members had already objected to a prospective coalition with the main opposition CHP.
    line

    Analysis by Rengin Arslan, BBC Turkish, Istanbul

    There is little surprise that the talks failed, as it was widely believed that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had never favoured a coalition government.
    His desire to move to a presidential system is no secret and far from allowing him to make such changes, the CHP wants to keep his powers in check.
    The CHP leader says Mr Davutoglu merely offered a three-month pre-election government.

    Although both leaders told supporters they had tried their best to form a government, neither believes Turkey can avoid another general election.
    Attacks on the PKK are likely to continue as the AKP tries to attract more nationalist support. But after 12 years in power, opposition towards the ruling party has grown.
    line

    The Turkish stock market fell 3% and the lira hit a record low as news of a likely election emerged.
    The AKP's 12-year majority rule in Turkey came to an end on 7 June largely because of the success of the pro-Kurdish HDP, which broke into the political mainstream, attracting voters across the country and winning more than the required 10% of the vote.
    Although Mr Davutoglu's party secured 41%, it had to seek support from a rival party to form a coalition, but failed to find agreement with the CHP on foreign policy and education matters.

    Latest opinion polls suggest the AKP has increased its support in recent weeks and some opponents have accused the government of trying to link the HDP to the Kurdish rebels.
    President Erdogan, for many years Turkey's AKP prime minister, has accused the HDP of being the rebels' political wing.
    Turkey's uneasy two-year ceasefire with the PKK fell apart last month, after a suicide bomb blamed on IS killed 32 young activists in the largely Kurdish city of Suruc, close to the Syrian border.

    Comment


    • Re: Regional geopolitics

      Why Chechen Militants In Syria Are Showing Off Weapons Meant For Moderate Rebels
      http://www.rferl.org/content/chechen.../27184878.html
      By Joanna Paraszczuk
      August 12, 2015

      On August 11, a Chechen-led militant group in Syria posted a photograph of one of its fighters with a Chinese-made large-caliber sniper rifle.

      The Zijiang M99 rifle held by the militant -- from the Aleppo-based Chechen-led Caucasus Emirate (CE) In Syria group -- originally appeared in Syria in 2013, and was supplied to the moderate, Western-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) and other rebel groups for use against Syrian government forces.

      It is not clear who supplied the weapons, though it is most likely they were acquired from Sudan via Qatar. The weapons have been widely seen in Syria including in videos bearing the logo of the Qatari-backed Liwa al-Tawhid group.


      The Zijiang M99 rifles are not the only weapons originally intended for Western- and Arab-backed Syrian groups that CE In Syria militants have acquired and shown off in recent weeks.

      On July 28, a CE In Syria Twitter account posted a photograph that purported to show one of its fighters firing a BGM-71 TOW antitank guided missile at a Syrian Army base in Aleppo, though -- notably -- the exact location was not specified.

      TOW antitank missiles have reportedly been supplied to Syrian rebel groups vetted by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Reports also suggest that the weapons provided by the United States and other allies are subject to a strict process of accountability to ensure they do not end up in extremist hands.

      This is hardly the first time that Islamist groups have taken possession of heavy weapons intended for moderate, Western-backed rebels in Syria.

      Syria's Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra claimed to have acquired TOW missiles in December 2014.

      IS has obtained a large quantity of U.S. weapons, most of which it captured from the Iraqi army. In December 2014, IS released photos of its militants in Syria with a TOW antitank guided missile system, which was likely captured from U.S.-vetted Syrian rebel groups.

      But until now, Chechen militants affiliated to the Caucasus Emirate have not claimed to have obtained these weapons.

      Showcasing Weapons

      The main reason that CE In Syria is claiming to possess weapons like the M99 anti-materiel sniper rifle and the TOW is to demonstrate to its supporters and detractors that it is a serious fighting group.

      The group consists of a core faction of militants have sworn allegiance to the Caucasus Emirate in the North Caucasus and who previously fought alongside the Aleppo-based group Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar (JMA).

      They left JMA in July when their leader, Salakhuddin Shishani, an ethnic Chechen from Georgia's Pankisi Gorge and a veteran militant, was ousted from that group. Following those events, the group -- which JMA's Shari'a council barred from its previous bases in Haritan, northern Aleppo -- reemerged calling itself the Caucasus Emirate In Syria.

      In the wake of Salakhuddin's ouster, both JMA and the Caucasus Emirate In Syria have made efforts to reassert themselves as fighting forces.

      JMA is an established Islamist foreign fighter group in Aleppo, and has gained a reputation for battlefield effectiveness, fighting alongside major Syrian factions like Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham. But its reputation was developed under Salakhuddin's command, and with the ethnic Chechen gone, JMA has to work hard to maintain its reputation.

      Likewise, the Caucasus Emirate In Syria is a much smaller group than it was as part of JMA. Ousted from its bases in Haritan, it has had to reestablish itself in southern Aleppo -- and convince potential new recruits that it is worth their while to join it, rather than JMA or the Islamic State group.

      By showcasing advanced weaponry like the M99 -- and particularly the TOW -- the Caucasus Emirate In Syria is signaling to its supporters and its IS rivals in the North Caucasus as well as in Syria that it is a serious "jamaat" or fighting group.

      Weapons Market?

      There is no way to independently confirm whether the CE In Syria really does have an M99 or a TOW.

      It would be relatively easy, it seems, for the Chechen-led group to purchase an M99, which have been in rebel hands in Syria for some time and so will be available to be bought and sold.

      North Caucasian militants in IS have also been photographed holding M99 rifles in recent months.

      It would be far harder for the CE in Syria to acquire a TOW. Not only would the group have to source and pay for one, but it would also have to be trained how to use such a weapon.

      However, some CE in Syria militants including the group's leader Salakhuddin have fought in offensives alongside a U.S.-backed Syrian group that was given and used TOWs. Salakhuddin's group fought alongside the U.S.-backed Harakat Hazm -- the first Syrian rebel group to be given U.S. weapons -- in October 2014 in northern Aleppo Province.

      A few months earlier in August 2014, Harakat Hazm agreed to work with Jabhat al-Nusra.

      Harakat Hazm collapsed in March after losing control of its Aleppo headquarters to Jabhat al-Nusra after months of clashes. Following its rout of Harakat Hazm, Nusra militants boasted on Twitter that they had seized control of TOW antitank missiles and other American aid.

      If it does have TOW missiles, Salakhuddin's group, which has cooperated and fought alongside Nusra for many months, is most likely to have obtained them from the Syrian Al-Qaeda affiliate. Whether it can operate them is another question, however.

      Comment


      • Re: Regional geopolitics

        China to assist in Armenia-Iran railway project - minister
        13.08.15

        http://www.tert.am/en/news/2015/08/1...ailway/1762651


        A delegation of Armenian officials will be visiting China in September to discuss the construction of the Iran-Armenia railway, the minister of transport said today after the cabinet meeting.

        “We have proposals from many organizations but have singled out only two. We have received offers from China regarding the railway, as well as let them now of our intentions,” Gagik Beglaryan told reporters, refraining from further comments.

        The minister promised to unveil more details after a final agreement is reached. “But the Chinese side has an interest, and I believe that proposals are good. Anyway, we will discuss them to consider future plans,” he added.

        Comment


        • Re: Regional geopolitics

          As Turkey Bombed Anti-ISIS Fighters, It Hired Lobbying Firm Tied to
          2016 Candidates
          By Lee Fang
          August 12, 2015

          On July 24, Turkey launched a massive military campaign that included
          sweeping attacks against Kurdish forces as well as minor strikes on
          Islamic State positions south of Turkey's border. Just five days
          later, the Turkish government inked a contract to hire a team of
          prominent lobbyists to add to its already formidable army of
          influence-peddlers in Washington.

          The contract, revealed Wednesday in a filing with the Justice
          Department, shows that the law and lobbying firm Squire Patton Boggs
          was retained on July 29 on a $32,000 a month retainer--as a
          subcontractor to Gephardt Government Affairs, acting for Turkey on its
          own 10-month, $1.7 million contract.

          Squire Patton Boggs is no ordinary lobbying firm. It is among the
          highest grossing firms inside the Beltway, with a roster of former
          senior government officials and lawmakers. Individuals from the firm
          are now helping to fundraise for Jeb Bush and are among the top 20
          donors to Hillary Clinton over the course of her political career.

          As we reported last month, Turkey has quietly used its hired political
          muscle to influence the U.S. war on the Islamic State, also known as
          ISIS, including a lobbying effort aimed at preventing U.S. military
          aide to Peshmerga forces, which have collaborated with other Kurdish
          militas against ISIS. Though American military commanders view the
          Kurdish fighters associated with the Kurdistan Worker's Party, or PKK,
          as the most effective forces against ISIS, Turkey's political leaders
          view PKK and other Kurdish militias as an existential threat.

          Turkey's decision to allow American military planes to use two air
          bases there led American officials to express support for Turkey, even
          as it ramped up its bombing campaign against Kurdish forces.

          The lobbying registration documents show that Turkey will now be
          assisted by a Squire Patton Boggs team that includes former Sens.
          Trent Lott and John Breaux, along with former White House official
          Robert Kapla and former Republican congressional aide Bret Boyles.

          The team from Squire Patton Boggs joins a small army of lobbyists
          employed by Turkey. They include former Democratic lawmakers xxxx
          Gephardt and Al Wynn; former Republican Senator Tim Hutchinson;
          retired Central Intelligence Agency Director Porter Goss; former
          Democratic aide Brian Fornil; the law firm Greenberg Traurig; and
          Goldin Solutions, a media strategy firm. The Turkish government also
          uses a number of affiliated nonprofits to organize pro-Turkey
          publicity events and to organize vacation-style junkets for American
          journalists, politicians and other influential individuals.


          https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2...on-boggs-isis/
          Hayastan or Bust.

          Comment


          • Re: Regional geopolitics

            RUSSIA VOWS TO BLOCK ANY UN RESOLUTION ON SANCTIONS AGAINST IRAN

            © REUTERS/ Lucas Jackson

            POLITICS
            12:46 14.08.2015(updated 13:29 14.08.2015) Get short URL
            Topic: Iran Nuclear Deal: Hope for Peaceful Future (51)
            149770
            Russia will not allow any more sanctions resolutions against Iran in
            the UN, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Friday.

            Tehran's oil refinery supervisor Jafar Jaleh Rafati, works at a unit
            of the refinery, south of the capital Tehran, Iran, Monday, Dec. 22,
            2014 © AP PHOTO/ VAHID SALEMI Iran Prepares for Foreign Investment
            Onslaught After Sanctions Subside MOSCOW (Sputnik) -- Last month,
            Iran and six world powers, including Russia and the United States,
            reached a deal lifting the sanctions against the Islamic Republic
            and ensuring the safe nature of Tehran's nuclear program.

            The UN Security Council adopted several rounds of sanctions
            against Iran concerning its nuclear program before endorsing the
            resolution 2231 on July 20, which paved the way for the lifting of
            the restrictions against Tehran.

            "When resolution 1929, the last series of sanctions resolutions,
            was adopted... we made it clear behind closed doors to our US and
            EU colleagues that Russia will not let another sanctions resolution
            against Iran be passed," Ryabkov told reporters.

            An S-300 surface-to-air missile system © SPUTNIK/ URIY SHIPILOV Russia
            to Deliver Modernized Version of S-300 Air Defense System to Iran The
            UN Security Council Resolution 1929 adopted in September 2010 banned
            supplying conventional weapons to Iran. The UN resolution led to the
            suspension of the contract on the delivery of five Russian S-300 air
            defense systems to Tehran.

            Ryabkov added that the continued hard pressure to force Iran to make
            concessions much greater than those outlined in the nuclear agreement
            would be a dead-end road.

            The United Nations arms embargo against Tehran adopted in 2007 will
            be replaced with a new mechanism, Sergei Ryabkov said.

            In late July, the UN Security Council said it would keep in place
            an arms embargo that includes a ban on ballistic missile technology
            imports after unanimously adopting a resolution endorsing a nuclear
            agreement to relieve sanctions against Iran.

            "Strictly speaking, this is not an embargo, but a new regime. What
            will exist is not the embargo, but the regime that requires deliveries
            falling into one of seven categories of the current UN arms embargo
            list to receive the UN Security Council's approval," Ryabkov said.

            The Russian diplomat added that countries not interested in
            maintaining military-technical cooperation with Iran could appeal
            this new requirement.

            Read more:
            http://sputniknews.com/politics/2015...#ixzz3imvvmHky
            Hayastan or Bust.

            Comment


            • Re: Regional geopolitics

              Interesting, when US is good with Iran and Cuba Russians are complaining !
              Your Armenian Lion

              Comment


              • Re: Regional geopolitics

                INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON PROBLEMS OF MIDDLE EASTERN CHRISTIANS TO BE HELD IN PARIS IN SEPTEMBER

                20:11, 14 August, 2015

                YEREVAN, AUGUST 14, ARMENPRESS. An international conference on
                the problems facing Middle Eastern Christians will be convened on
                September 8 initiated by the Foreign Affairs Ministry of France. The
                conference will particularly focus on the developments in Syria and
                Iraq. As "Armenpress" reports citing the French Le Figaro periodic
                representatives of more than 60 countries, including the USA, Russia,
                Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, will participate in the conference.

                Representatives of international organizations, particularly the UN,
                will participate as well. Jordan Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh will
                be the co-chair of the conference together with his French counterpart.

                Le Figaro mentions that since the escalation of the conflict in the
                Middle East the French Foreign Ministry has tried to actively engage
                in the diplomatic activities in that region, particularly by presenting
                France as "the patron of the Middle Eastern Christian communities".

                Writing about the problems facing the Middle Eastern Christians the
                analyst of Le Figaro mentions that the President of France Francois
                Oland had met with the representatives of the Middle Eastern Christian
                communities at the Ministry of Interior back in March, but "sharper
                announcements over that issue were made by Oland during his visit
                to Armenia in May". "At that time he called the developments in the
                Middle East method of elimination and a collaborated initiative which
                has similarities with the Armenian Genocide conducted one century ago.

                Already today the Minister of Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius brings
                forward a large scale initiative over that same issue", writes the
                analyst of Le Figaro.

                "Paris plan" is expected to be adopted along the September conference,
                where the main options of assistance to the Middle Eastern Christians
                will be outlined.

                French periodic Les Echos and Catholic La Croix also responded to
                the initiative of the Ministry headed by Laurent Fabius.

                http://armenpress.am/eng/news/815381...september.html

                Comment


                • Re: Regional geopolitics

                  PKK, not Islamic State, is Erdogan’s real target


                  http://www.theguardian.com/world/201...ns-real-target

                  Luke Harding’s report (11 August) considerably underplays the extent to which Turkey has sought to reverse Kurdish gains in Syria and Iraq on the pretext of confronting Isis. Far from being embroiled in a two-front war, Turkey has carried out hardly any attacks against Isis and has instead focused on bombing raids on PKK camps in northern Iraq. Almost all the jihadis entering Syria did so via Turkey. There are an estimated 12,000 jihadis. That’s a lot to miss. In 2014, when the al-Qaida affiliate al-Nusra captured Kassab, it was clear they’d been allowed to mobilise from within Turkey. Ankara initially opposed the movement of Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga to lift the siege of Kobani by Isis. So far as Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is concerned, the PKK represents a greater threat to Turkish interests than Isis.

                  Moreover, ditching the peace process has domestic benefits for Erdoğan. The 2015 electoral success of the Kurdish left party, HDP, left Erdoğan without a mandate. Cracking down on “terrorism” now gives him a chance to target the “terrorist- supporting” HDP. In all of this the west colludes, on the basis that a war on Isis is “promised”. As they were in Iraq in 1991, Kurdish and democratic interests have been sold out to expediency once again.
                  Nick Moss
                  London

                  • Natalie Nougayrde argues President Obama has “refrained from getting involved in Syria”, declining to implement a summer 2012 plan to arm Syrian rebels (Opinion, 11 August). The exact opposite is true. On 1 August 2012, Reuters reported that Obama “has signed a secret order authorising US support for rebels seeking to depose Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and his government” which “broadly permits the CIA and other US agencies to provide support”. In June this year, the Washington Post quoted US officials as saying “the CIA has trained and equipped nearly 10,000 fighters sent into Syria over the past several years”.
                  Ian Sinclair
                  London

                  Comment


                  • Re: Regional geopolitics

                    Hizballah lost 1,000 dead, 10,000 injured in Syrian war report

                    DEBKA

                    August 15, 2015,

                    A Lebanese intelligence source reports that Hizballah lost more than 1,000 dead and 10,000 wounded in its three-year intervention in the Syrian war.

                    These were the first estimates any Middle East intelligence source has released on Hizballahs casualties in the fighting alongside the Syrian army. The same source explained that the Syrian rebels had studied Hizballah's urban guerrilla tactics and were forcing the Lebanese Shiite fighters to fight every inch of the way.

                    Friday night, the Hizballah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, said that Israeli armed forces lacked the right strategy for winning another war against his group. Speaking on the ninth anniversary of the 2006 Lebanese war, he accused the US of backing ISIS as its front to attain the goals of partitioning Syria and Iraq.

                    Comment


                    • Re: Regional geopolitics

                      After Zarif’s visit, Hizballah troops pulled back from Zabadani in first retreat from Syrian war
                      August 13, 2015
                      DEBKA


                      Amiles-long convoy of 200 trucks began rolling out of the Hizballah and Syrian positions around the strategic town of Zabadani, 30 km west of Damascus, early Thursday, Aug. 13.

                      Their exit, after failing to break the Syrian rebels’ grip on the town in weeks of fierce fighting, marked the Lebanese Hizballah’s first retreat from a major Syrian battleground, DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources report.

                      They were the first of the 8,000 Hizballah troops fighting in Syria for three years to quit and return home to Lebanon. The withdrawal followed the instructions given by the visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif after he met Hizballah chief Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut Tuesday and President Bashar Assad in Damascus the next day.

                      It was deemed unavoidable in the light of the Hizballah army’s failure to break through the defenses thrown up by the rebels barricaded in Zabadani, led by the radical Islamist Ahrar al-Sham.

                      Even the elite Radwan Force, designed to conquer the Israeli Galilee, which Nasrallah deployed there two weeks ago made no headway.

                      According to our military sources, the Hizballah convoy is removing from Syria around 1,000 fighters,and masses of hardware including armored personnel carriers, various types of rockets, heavy artillery (in picture) and crates of ammo.

                      Extending the 48-hour ceasefire for Zabadani and two other Syrian villages up until Saturday, Aug. 15 - ostensibly for the evacuation of wounded rebels from Zabadani and the supply of food and water to the beleaguered town - was arranged to give Hizballah enough time to organize its withdrawal.

                      Hizballah’s combat performance on other Syrian warfronts, such as the Qalamoun Mountains on the Lebanese border and the southern town of Deraa, has not been too brilliant either. Most military experts give it a rating of medium minus.

                      Whether or not Iran’s Lebanese proxy goes on to pull all its forces out of the Syrian war depends very much on the behind-the-scenes decisions reached by the US, Russia and Iran in their latest joint initiative for winding down the Syrian war.

                      Without going into explanations, Zarif gave it straight to Nasrallah and Assad: Just as you trusted Iran before, trust us this time too to look after your interests in the decisions the big powers are making for ending the Syrian war.

                      The Hizballah leader has no choice but to obey his masters in Tehran. Assad has more options and his response is yet to come. In more than four years of fighting a full-scale war, the Syrian ruler has proved wily and durable enough to consistently turn military failings into political strengths.

                      US Secretary of State John Kerry gave the Iranian foreign minister's efforts a hearty vote of confidence when, on Aug. 11, he announced to reporters: “I just got a message today from my counterpart from Iran. He’s in Beirut meeting with government officials there. You know where he was last weekend? He was in Kuwait and Qatar. He is reaching out to those countries. Are we going to turn our backs on the possibility that Rouhani and Zarif might in fact want to try a different approach?”

                      Kerry typically concealed more than he gave away:

                      1. Zarif’s trips were not in pursuit of any “different approach” but a mission to seek out an agreed solution to the Syrian war.

                      2. He was entrusted this mission jointly by Washington and Moscow, which Kerry is shy to admit, because it would confirm the Obama administration’s election of Iran to the rank of top regional power.

                      3. He omitted to mention Zarif’s long conversation with Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah, which hardly attested to Tehran’s “different approach.”

                      Comment

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