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Regional geopolitics

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  • Re: Regional geopolitics

    Under secret Moscow-Cairo deal, first Egyptair passenger flights to Damascus, Aleppo
    Debka
    7/12/15


    A new secret pact has taken shape in the Middle East. Last week, the offices of Russian Vladimir Putin and Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi secretly formulated a tripartite accord for strengthening the ties between Moscow, Cairo and the Assad regime in Damascus, DEBKAfile’s exclusive military sources reveal. The pact had its first visible manifestation in the unannounced landings last Wednesday, Dec. 2, of the first Egyptair passenger flights at Damascus international airport and Aleppo in northern Syria.
    The Egyptian national airline thus became the first of any Arab airline to renew flights to the war-torn Syrian capital since 2012. (see photo)
    President El-Sisi’s gesture was tantamount to an eloquent vote of support for the Syrian ruler Bashar Assad in the face of his opponents in the Arab arena. It was also a demonstration of confidence in the Russian policy of preserving the Syrian ruler in power in the face of powerful voices in the West and the region calling for his ouster.
    By sending a passenger plane to a Syrian airport, Egypt’ signaled its affirmation that Russian military intervention in Syria was making the embattled country a safer place where airliners could land without fear.
    Moscow therefore attached supreme importance to the opening of the Egyptian-Syrian civilian air route, so much so that President Vladimir Putin pushed hard for it to take place ahead of the conference of Syrian rebel groups opening in Saudi Arabia Tuesday, Dec. 8.
    In diplomatic communications with Riyadh, the Russians urged the Saudi hosts to prevail on the rebel groups whom they support with arms and cash to agree to enter into direct negotiations with Assad for ending the war.
    Putin rewarded the Egyptian president for his gesture by ordering Russian airlines to resume their flights to Egypt. Those flights were suspended after the Russian Metrojet airliner was downed over Sinai by terrorists on Oct. 31 and 224 lives were lost in the crash. Their resumption will see Russian tourists again visiting Egypt, restoring a precious source of revenue to the strapped Egyptian economy, estimated at $5 bn per annum.
    Our sources in Moscow declined to say whether the Russian passenger planes would again be calling at Sharm El-Sheikh like the ill-fated Metrojet. For the time being, they will most likely land at Cairo.
    The Russian president is now trying to persuade El-Sisi to carry on making gestures for enhancing Assad’s standing.

    Comment


    • Re: Regional geopolitics

      Russian Air Force Carries Out Airstrikes Over Lebanon for the First Time 0
      BY LEITH FADEL
      DECEMBER 8, 2015
      masdarnews

      On Monday morning in the Beqa’a Governorate of east Lebanon, the Russian Air Force conducted their first series of airstrikes over Ras Ba’albak, Jaroud Qarah, Jaroud Rankous, and Jaroud ‘Arsal in the Qalamoun Mountains.

      The Russian Air Force struck several enemy targets that were shared by the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS), Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham, and the Syrian Al-Qaida group “Jabhat Al-Nusra”, including the Jaroud ‘Arsal-Rankous border-crossing into Syria.

      According to a military source in Lebanon, the Russians notified the Lebanese Armed Forces before they entered their airspace; this notification allowed the Russian Air Force full access, which will likely stir up some political turmoil between the March 8th and March 14th movements.

      Comment


      • Re: Regional geopolitics

        Turkey’s economy risks losing $9bn over Russian crisis
        07.12.15
        http://www.tert.am/en/news/2015/12/07/shimshek/1867398

        Tensions with Russia could cost Turkey’s economy $9bn in the worst case scenario of "zero relations", Turkish Deputy Prime Minister said on Monday, according to BusinessDay Live.

        Moscow has imposed a series of economic sanctions against Ankara after Turkish fighter jets shot down a Russian jet on the Syrian border on November 24, sparking the biggest crisis between the two countries since the Cold War.

        "In the worst-case scenario, which is zero relations with Russia, we are talking about a loss of $9bn," Mehmet Simsek, the deputy prime minister in charge of the economy, told private NTV television.

        The current tension is likely shave 0.3% to 0.4% off Turkey’s gross domestic product (GDP), Mr Simsek added. Russia’s sanctions include a ban on the import of some Turkish foods and a halt on sales of holiday packages, a major blow to Turkish tourism.

        Mr Simsek said that the number of Russian tourists visiting Turkey and construction contracts with Russian companies had also significantly reduced.

        "There are 603,000 fewer [Russian] tourists," he said. "We have always seen Russia as an important partner and have no intention to escalate the tensions any further," he said.

        "But if Russia continues to maintain this attitude ... all kinds of dissuasive measures will be taken," he warned.

        Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday announced that Turkey was seeking alternatives to Russian energy, vowing his country would "not collapse" under sanctions.

        Energy-hungry Turkey relies on Russia for 55% of its natural gas and 30% of its oil.

        "It is possible to find different suppliers," Mr Erdogan said, referring to Qatar and Azerbaijan.

        Comment


        • Re: Regional geopolitics

          Oil Prices Plummet As Investors Brace For Flood Of Iranian Crude
          rferl.org
          December 08, 2015

          Oil prices plummeted to their lowest levels since the depths of the global recession in February 2009 as investors braced for a flood of Iranian oil in an already glutted market.

          U.S. premium crude prices plunged nearly 6 percent to $37.65 in New York and Brent crude fell to $40.73 in London, dragging down global stock prices and the currencies of oil-producing nations like Russia and Iran.

          Traders cited the OPEC oil cartel's failure last week to curb production despite Iran's vow to ratchet up its output next year to levels that prevailed before the West imposed economic sanctions on Tehran.

          Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries members currently are pumping oil at a record rate of 32 million barrels a day -- 2 million above their own target.

          Iran hopes to increase its production by another 1 million barrels a day as western economic sanctions are lifted under a July nuclear accord with world powers. That would only worsen the glut of crude in global markets.

          Based on reporting by AP and AFP

          Comment


          • Re: Regional geopolitics

            Walking The Tightrope Between Russia And Turkey
            http://www.rferl.org/content/qishloq.../27412210.html
            By Bruce Pannier
            December 07, 2015

            Tensions between Moscow and Ankara show no sign of abating in the wake of Turkey’s downing of a Russian warplane last month. It seemed inevitable that there would be spillover into countries that have ties with both Russia and Turkey, and that these third-party governments would be forced to make some careful statements and difficult decisions.

            This process is already evident in Central Asia and Azerbaijan.

            RFE/RL’s Turkmen Service, known locally as Azatlyk, assembled a panel to explore the balancing acts of diplomacy as the Russian-Turkish relationship deteriorates.

            Azatlyk director Muhammad Tahir moderated the discussion. Participating in the talk was Nikita Mendkovich, expert at the Center for Modern Afghanistan Studies and the Russian International Affairs Council in Moscow, and Vugar Imanbeyli, professor of international relations at Sehir University in Istanbul. I had some things to say on this topic also.

            It was noted at the start of the discussion that the Turkic-speaking countries that are also formerly part of the Soviet Union -- Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan -- face some of the greatest challenges in balancing ties between Russia and Turkey.

            Imanbeyli noted these difficulties, saying the Central Asian countries and Azerbaijan "try to preserve their positions and to distance [themselves] from this conflict because…these regional countries have developed good relations with Russia and also with Turkey."

            But there are already indications some of these countries are choosing sides.

            Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev suggested Turkey was wrong to shoot down the Russian warplane, whether it violated Turkish airspace or not. Speaking on November 30, Nazarbaev said: "The fact is that the Russian bomber did not attack Turkey. It was not on its way against Turkey, but to fight terrorists" Those words echoed remarks by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who said that the Russian warplane posed no threat to Turkey. Attempting to keep a balance, Nazarbaev added, "As hard as it may be, I believe there is a necessity to set up a joint commission, get...[an investigation] over with fast, determine the culprits, punish them, acknowledge mistakes, and restore ties. I call on our friends -- both in Russia and in Turkey -- to do so."

            Mendkovich interpreted Nazarbaev’s comments this way: "A lot of countries, including Kazakhstan, have been quite disappointed at this situation and they think Turkey is the one that must do something to deescalate the situation. That's the reason for the comment by Nazarbaev."

            Gas, Media Issues

            On the other side of the Caspian Sea, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu visited Baku a few days after Nazarbaev spoke. On December 4, Davutoglu told university students in Baku, "Turkey and Azerbaijan have always supported and will continue to support each other." Davutoglu met the same day with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, who echoed the Turkish premier’s words to Baku students and added, "This is an unchangeable policy. This policy is based on both justice and our historical past."

            Azerbaijani officials said prior to Davutoglu's visit that work on the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) would be speeded up and Davutoglu and President Aliyev spoke about this in their joint press briefing. TANAP is meant to bring Azerbaijani gas to Europe but Turkey, as the transit country for TANAP, stands to receive some of that gas also.

            Turkey is on the verge of losing the 16 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas it purchases annually from Russia via the Blue Stream gas pipeline but once TANAP is finished, and that now is estimated to happen in late 2018, Turkey will initially receive some 6 bcm of gas and that amount will grow as the pipeline is expanded.

            But Imanbeyli said despite this seeming preference for Turkey over Russia, Azerbaijani officials "don't want any deterioration in Turkish-Russian relations because…they will suffer also from the deterioration of relations."

            Interesting, it was precisely Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan that Imanbeyli said Turkey contacted "to mediate with Russia, with Mr. Putin" after the Russian warplane was shot down.

            Russia's sanctions on Turkey in the wake of the downing of the Russian bomber promise to have a detrimental effect on Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said he would be talking to members of the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), which include Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, about the limitation or possible suspension of the movement of Turkish goods through Russian territory.

            Mendkovich said that "Turkish goods [sent to Central Asia] in most situations do transit through Russian territory" so "of course, all countries that are part of this union (EEU) are to discuss the situation because it's a new topic and so everybody should be informed how they're going to work in new conditions."

            The discussion also touched on reasons why individual countries in Central Asia might favor Russia or Turkey if they needed to make a choice.

            Nazarbaev's stance could, for example, reflect the fact that Kazakhstan has a 6,800-kilometer border with Russia. Turkmenistan, on the other hand, has deep economic ties with Turkey while its trade with Russia is far less and continues to decline.

            The panelists also talked about public sentiment, noting, in some cases, that the people of individual countries could be swayed through their access to Russian media. But at the same time Imanbeyli recalled that "it’s not the 1990s" and that nearly 25 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union there are many people in Central Asia and Azerbaijan who have studied or worked in Turkey at some point and continue to follow world events through the eyes of Turkish media.

            These issues were examined in greater detail during the round table event and other topics concerning Central Asia and Azerbaijan’s relations with Russia and Turkey were also discussed.

            An audio recording of the roundtable can be heard here:

            Podcast: Walking The Tightrope Between Russia And Turkey

            Comment


            • Re: Regional geopolitics

              Originally posted by Vrej1915 View Post
              Morocco sends ground troops to fight in Yemen
              [/B]
              Yemeni Army and Houthis Seize a Military Base in Saudi Arabia

              BY LEITH FADEL
              DECEMBER 8, 2015


              The Yemeni War has spilt over into Saudi Arabia and as a result, the Saudi regime that was once on the offensive inside of Yemen is now on the defensive as the Yemeni Army’s Republican Guard and their popular committees – specifically, the Houthis – are pressing deeper into enemy territory.

              On Monday morning in the southern Saudi Arabian province of Jizan, the Yemeni Army’s Republican Guard and the Houthis seized a strategic military center inside the city of Radeef after killing several enemy combatants from the Saudi-led Coalition Forces that are made-up of primarily foreign mercenaries and soldiers from the Gulf states.



              In addition to their success inside the Jizan Region, the Yemeni Army’s Republican Guard and the Houthis have finally seized the Kofal Camp (Brigade 312) in the Marib Province of Yemen after besieging this imperative site for two months; this loss now leaves the Hadi loyalists in a vulnerable position at the Marib Dam.

              Currently, the Saudi-led Coalition Forces are attempting to retake the Saudi city of Rabuah in the Asir Governorate from the Yemeni Republican Guard and the Houthis; however, they have been so far unsuccessful.

              Adding to the plight of Saudi Arabia, their allies from Al-Qaeda (Ansar Al-Shari’ah) have turned on the Hadi loyalists inside the important port-city of Aden and several other sites in southern Yemen; this battle is likely to intensify in the coming days.

              Comment


              • Re: Regional geopolitics

                Originally posted by Vrej1915 View Post
                Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev suggested Turkey was wrong to shoot down the Russian warplane, whether it violated Turkish airspace or not. Speaking on November 30, Nazarbaev said: "The fact is that the Russian bomber did not attack Turkey. It was not on its way against Turkey, but to fight terrorists"
                Podcast: Walking The Tightrope Between Russia And Turkey
                Things are looking so good after downing the Russian jet. Looks like all the turkic union is crumbling.
                Kazakh President is siding with Russia. Alive is neutral, his “economy” (free oil money) will soon create unrest in the country once we feel the Iranian oil dumping in the world markets. Most likely the Russian will start arming the Kurds with heavy armaments once the northern part of Syria is cleared of all opposition. Stupidity from Erdogan made the world a much happier place for Armenia, at least for now.

                Comment


                • Re: Regional geopolitics

                  CLOSING IN ON PALMYRA: SYRIAN ARMY REGAINS STRATEGIC HIGHWAY FROM IS

                  10:22, 08 Dec 2015
                  Siranush Ghazanchyan

                  Photo: Sputnik/ Mikhail Voskresenskiy

                  The Syrian Army and the National Defense Forces have reportedly managed
                  to regain full control of the strategic Palmyra-Homs highway from
                  Daesh militants in the center of the country, Sputnik News reports.

                  The strategic Palmyra-Homs highway has been won back by the Syrian
                  Army and the National Defense Forces after fierce fighting with Daesh
                  militants in central Syria, media reports said.

                  The Syrian forces took control of the highway after capturing the
                  villages of al-Baiyarat and Marhatten in Palmyra's western countryside
                  late last week, according to the Iranian news agency FARS.

                  Right now, the Syrian Army and its allies are stationed about four
                  kilometers from the western walls of Palmyra, the closest the
                  government troops forces have been to the gates of this ancient
                  UNESCO-listed city since July 2015, FARS reported.

                  http://www.armradio.am/en/2015/12/08...ghway-from-is/
                  Hayastan or Bust.

                  Comment


                  • Re: Regional geopolitics

                    Protesters in Baghdad call for withdrawal of Turkish troops from northern Iraq

                    News | 09.12.2015 | 00:26




                    euronews - Hundreds of protesters have gathered outside the Turkish embassy in Baghdad, demanding the withdrawal of Turkish troops from the north of the country.

                    Despite Iraq’s ultimatum on Sunday for Ankara to pull out its soldiers within 48 hours, there are no signs of that happening.

                    One protester, Hussein Habib, said: “If they don’t respond to our demands and withdraw their invading force – yes, the Turkish forces invaded – we will demand a boycott of Turkish goods and the cutting off of all political and economic relations.”

                    Turkey maintains it sent the troops to a Kurdish controlled area with Baghdad’s full knowledge as part of efforts to fight ISIL militants.

                    It says it has halted the deployment but will not pull out the troops already there.

                    Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told parliament: “As (the local Kurdish leader) Mr. Barzani said, these Peshmerga trained by Turkish soldiers contributed to the recapturing of Sinjar.

                    “These Kurdish, Turkmen and Arabic fighters have been trained by our soldiers. The demand for this training programme came from the governor of Mosul and the Iraqi Interior Minister knew about it.”

                    ISIL took over the northern city of Mosul in June last year.

                    Baghdad has called for an urgent meeting at the UN over the issue and for NATO to apply diplomatic pressure on Turkey.


                    Tags: Iraq Middle East Turkey
                    Hayastan or Bust.

                    Comment


                    • Re: Regional geopolitics

                      Retired British Army Officer Killed in Yemen

                      BY LEITH FADEL
                      DECEMBER 9, 2015



                      On Tuesday afternoon in southern Yemen, the Saudi-led Coalition suffered a major blow to their foreign forces, as several western mercenaries from Colombia, Australia, and Great Britain were reportedly killed by the Yemeni Army’s Republican Guard and the Houthis near the strategic city of Ta’iz.

                      The first reports to surface from the Yemeni Army’s Republican Guard on Tuesday were in regards to the death of 6 Colombian mercenaries and their Australian field commander, Phillip Streetman.

                      Accoridng to the reports from the Republican Guard, Streetman and his Colombian comrades were mercenaries paid by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to fight the Yemeni Army and their popular committees that were defeating the better equipped Gulf armies (UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia) and the Hadi loyalists.



                      Following the news of the dead mercenaries in Ta’iz, Au Al-Masdar News was informed of another foreigner killed in southern Yemen; however, this time, it was a former officer in the British Army that was paid by the UAE to fight the Yemeni Army.

                      According to Al-Masdar’s source in southern Yemen, the Yemeni Army’s Republican Guard killed Colonel Arthur Kingston (formerly of the British Royal Army) at the Al-‘Umari Camp near the city of Ta’iz – his possessions were confiscated by the Yemeni Army.

                      Both Streetman and Kingston are believed to be foreign military contractors that were paid by the UAE and Saudi Arabia.


                      euronews - Hundreds of protesters have gathered outside the Turkish embassy in Baghdad, demanding the withdrawal of Turkish troops from the north of the country.

                      Despite Iraq’s ultimatum on Sunday for Ankara to pull out its soldiers within 48 hours, there are no signs of that happening.

                      One protester, Hussein Habib, said: “If they don’t respond to our demands and withdraw their invading force – yes, the Turkish forces invaded – we will demand a boycott of Turkish goods and the cutting off of all political and economic relations.”

                      Turkey maintains it sent the troops to a Kurdish controlled area with Baghdad’s full knowledge as part of efforts to fight ISIL militants.

                      It says it has halted the deployment but will not pull out the troops already there.

                      Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told parliament: “As (the local Kurdish leader) Mr. Barzani said, these Peshmerga trained by Turkish soldiers contributed to the recapturing of Sinjar.

                      “These Kurdish, Turkmen and Arabic fighters have been trained by our soldiers. The demand for this training programme came from the governor of Mosul and the Iraqi Interior Minister knew about it.”

                      ISIL took over the northern city of Mosul in June last year.

                      Baghdad has called for an urgent meeting at the UN over the issue and for NATO to apply diplomatic pressure on Turkey.



                      NB: Notice little chunks of Saoudi land under yemeni shiite control +++++

                      Comment

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