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Regional geopolitics

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  • Re: Regional geopolitics

    Originally posted by londontsi View Post

    Kerry in Moscow: "The United States and our partners are not seeking regime change in Syria.”

    I used to be indecisive, but now I'm not sure.
    If I agree with Kerry, then we'd both be wrong.


    • Re: Regional geopolitics

      Originally posted by londontsi View Post

      Kerry in Moscow: "The United States and our partners are not seeking regime change in Syria.”

      What a joke! For over two years all they said was "regime change". Now they sound like chiken sht.


      • Re: Regional geopolitics

        Sounds like Retreating policy


        • Re: Regional geopolitics

          The Russia-Turkey Spat: The Big Picture
          December 15, 2015

          The past, in particular a shared desire to right perceived historical wrongs, is making it more difficult for Turkey and Russia to smooth over their present differences.

          Turkish-Russian relations have been in a tailspin since the late November shoot-down of a Russian fighter by Turkish jets. Given the current level of rancor, a relatively minor slip could turn the diplomatic spat into a major international crisis. Recent incidents in the Aegean and Black seas involving Russian warships and Turkish commercial vessels underscore the high degree of existing tension. In an interview with the Italian daily Corriere della Sera published December 15, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called on Russia to take steps to deescalate tension. “There is a limit to our patience,” Cavusoglu was quoted as saying.

          Reducing tension promises to be challenging. Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, preside over political systems that tend to emphasize security interests above all else. The fact that Russia and Turkey are former empires (and historical rivals) whose strategic peripheries overlap make the two countries’ policy elites particularly wary of each other. Foul play in one another’s “near abroad” is viewed as a gross offense that needs to be punished: trade and mutually beneficial energy relations count for little when raison d’état is at stake.

          Not too long ago, Putin and Erdogan seemed to have great chemistry, but the ongoing Syrian civil war has proven the undoing of their friendship. From a historical perspective, the Syrian conflict, as well as continuing sectarian clashes in Iraq, can be seen as tragic consequences of the badly managed disintegration of the Ottoman Empire during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. As a rule, former land-based empires with their blurred borders between the national “core area” and the periphery do not have a terribly impressive track record of turning imperial borderlands into good neighbors and loyal allies.

          No wonder, then, that the imperial past still heavily influences Turkey’s and Russia’s present-day thinking. Both countries’ identities to a significant extent are shaped by their respective imperial legacies. While both countries’ elites insist that their strategy does not involve a restoration of empire, they are also quick to point out that Russia and Turkey are not “ordinary nation states.” They also both like to talk about their regional “primacy” or “privileged” interests in their strategic environment.

          Furthermore, politicians in both countries regard themselves as being not just politically but also morally responsible for what is transpiring in former imperial borderlands. The task of reintegrating their immediate neighborhoods appears high on the two countries’ agenda. The concept of the Russkii Mir (Russian World), along with the “Eurasian Union,” and the idea of the historical “Ottoman sphere” in which Turkey plays a role of bölge gücü (regional hegemon), reflect the persistence of imperial imagery in both countries.

          “We know that we cannot get back the lands that were under the control of the Ottoman Empire before 1917,” a senior Turkish official told Giora Eiland, a former head of Israel’s National Security Council, several years ago. “But do not make the mistake of thinking that the borders that were dictated to us at the end of the First World War by the victorious countries – mainly the UK and France – are acceptable to us. Turkey will find a way to return to its natural borders in the south – the line between Mosul in Iraq and Homs in Syria. That is our natural aspiration and it is justified because of the large Turkoman presence in that region.”

          That viewpoint helps shed light on Turkey’s motivation for shooting down the Russian jet in November. It was meant to signal Ankara’s displeasure with Russian air attacks that targeted Turkoman militia members operating in Syria.

          The reference to the Turkoman minority group as a pretext for expanding one’s sphere of influence should sound familiar to Putin. After all, the Kremlin cited the plight of sootechestvenniki (compatriots) – Russians and Russian-speakers in Ukraine – as a pretext for Russia’s involvement in Ukrainian affairs.

          More broadly, the Erdogan government sees Russia’s military operation in Syria as a serious challenge to Ankara’s strategic objectives in the region. The fate of Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s dictator, is not the only problem dividing Moscow and Ankara. Turkish leaders believe Russian interference hinders their ability to shape a regional geopolitical landscape. Russia’s pounding of Turkoman fighters in the northern parts of Latakia province is weakening Turkish-sponsored rebels and is undermining Ankara’s efforts to create a “buffer zone” along the Syrian border. If Russia continues its operations there, Turkey’s ability to control this swath of Syrian territory will diminish.

          In the end, the signal Erdogan sent Putin could produce a result diametrically opposed to what Ankara wanted or expected. Having called the Turkish president a “back stabber,” Putin has vowed to exact revenge on Turkey.

          “They’ll regret it,” Putin promised. “We know what to do.”

          The fact that Turkey and Russia seem to have slipped into their default positions of rival (former) empires does not bode well for their shared neighborhood. Ankara and Moscow are well aware of the risks of a direct confrontation. Thus, if tension keeps escalating, they may opt to wage proxy wars in their respective “post-imperial peripheries.”

          One possibility is that Russia may try to play a Kurdish card. The Turkish government considers the Kurdish enclave inside Syria to pose as serious a national security threat as ISIS. If Moscow opted to help form a contiguous band of Kurdish-controlled territory stretching along Turkey’s southern frontier, Erdogan might end up regretting the government’s decision to bring down that Russian fighter jet.

          Editor's note: Igor Torbakov is Senior Fellow at Uppsala University and at Södertörn University, Stockholm, Sweden.


          • Re: Regional geopolitics

            Former Jordanian intelligence collaberator: “We trained ISIS”

            As Christmas approaches, a prominent member of Jordan’s Christian community and a former Jordanian intelligence collaborator discusses the ascent of ISIS, the plight of Christians in Jordan, and the great instability within the country that is not widely discussed in the English speaking media.

            Dec 14, 2015,
            Rachel Avraham

            As the Christian world prepares to celebrate Christmas, a prominent member of Jordan’s Christian community and a former Jordanian intelligence collaberator finds the present situation to be quite bleak for Christians across the Middle East due to the ascent of ISIS and other Islamist terror groups and regimes: “The first issue that comes to mind is the invincibility of ISIS that nobody seems able to defeat including God himself. We Christians get puzzled by the news we keep seeing. There has been an official statement that Toyota vehicles that are being operated by ISIS are the same ones used by the Jordanian government. They were originally procured by the Jordanian government and they ended up in ISIS camps. It was covered by the Russian media but the English speaking media has not covered this.”

            “As a former intelligence operative, I can confirm that ISIS trainers were trained in Jordan as freedom fighters,” he noted, hinting that there is a connection between the Jordanian regime that is falsely perceived to be a moderate ally in the War against Terrorism in the West and the murderous terror organization known as ISIS which is infamous for its brutal persecution of non-Muslim minority groups such as Christians and Yazidis. “Also, it is no secret that many of the weapons licensed to be manufactured in Jordan ended up in the hands of ISIS. When we hear about these things in Jordan, where we thought that we were safe and secure, can you imagine how we Jordanian Christians feel this Christmas?”

            “Another example of Jordan’s instability is the shooting of several Westerners by a senior level police officer,” he stated. “It was declared to be an ISIS operation. ISIS is closer to the Jordanian government than even we Christians can imagine. The Police officer that killed the Americans in Amman was a colonel and a training officer. How many hundreds of thousands of officers have been trained by this ISIS member? Also, it’s even more troubling that he has even trained Christian officers for counter-terrorism and one has to wonder how much indoctrination was inflicted upon these people.”

            The Jordanian intelligence officer stressed that despite the Hashemite’s positive image within certain Western circles, the relationship between Muslims and Christians within Jordan is not good: “The largest church in Jordan has been burned down under the watch of the Jordanian king in the 1950’s. There was a recent case when a Christian program aired profound language on TV and amazingly, the governments’ media itself began mentioning that it was Christian instead of focusing on what they did. There is state-sanctioned incitement against Christians in Jordan.”

            “There has been countless cases of Christian women being taken by force and the law supports it,” he explained. “Law 308 states that a rapist who rapes a woman is exempted from charges if he offers her marriage. There is a history of Muslims raping Christian women so they can marry them by force. The government knows this and doesn’t have a problem with it. According to the Jordanian law, a Christian cannot marry a Muslim woman but a Muslim can marry a Christian woman. If a Christian rapes a woman, he has no other option but to be punished. If a Muslim rapes a Christian woman, he can just offer to marry her and get off the hook.”

            Given this legal situation, the Jordanian intelligence collaberator noted that one can almost not find a Jordanian Christian who would dare to rape anyone but there are many cases of Muslims raping women: “That law basically gives a license to rape Muslim and Christian women without going to jail and prevents Christians from benefitting from it. Today, raping a girl is ok because the law protects you. The law protects rape and even discriminates in a crooked way against Christians, who cannot rape a Muslim woman and get off the hook for he can’t marry her.” Meanwhile, if there is any sort of sexual relationship between a Muslim and a Muslim outside of marriage, whether it was rape or consensual, Haddadin noted that the girl often ends up dead for violating family honor, which makes Law 308 essentially a death sentence for many Muslim women. Should the victim be Christian, it can lead to forcing the girl to marry the Muslim rapist in order to preserve family honor and this adversely affects the Christian community.

            According to the Jordanian intelligence collaberator, there are many other signs indicating that Jordanian Christians are not secure this Christmas: “A Jordanian fighter defected and joined ISIS. He was the cousin of the Security Minister. His funeral was attended by statesmen and the king’s men. This tells us we are not safe. Strangely, no one publicizes it. Everyone knew that statesmen and government ministers attended without the photo shoot. As a Christian, how safe should we feel in Jordan when a MP’s son dies fighting for ISIS and his funeral was in Amman with the attendance of government officials. This guy was a cousin to a Jordanian pilot. There are like 20 cases like that.”

            He noted there is a reason why these facts aren’t making it into the English-speaking media: “I can confirm as a former intelligence operative that Western journalists receive hand-outs from the Jordanian government. If you call the palace and are nice, they can give you a big check. They bought off the media. There is an Egyptian TV anchor who began cheering for the King. He has been given incredible money. If they give him that, how much would they give American and Israeli journalists? One example of that is a journalist and radio jokey named Mohammed Wakel. His job is to cheerlead for the king and to be anti-Israel. He gets paid 62,000 dollars a month.”

            But buying off the media is not the only reason why these stories are not being reported. According to the Jordanian intelligence collaberator, the Hashemites know how to engage in public relations. They appoint a few token Christians to good positions in order to disguise their mistreatment of Christians generally speaking within the country for Western audiences: “The way the king does it is that he puts certain Christians close to him as a façade in order to claim he does not oppress Christians, while in reality they are oppressed. De Ma Faraj, wife of the king’s doctor, is also Christian and praising the king on television but this is a farce. It does not stop the oppression and hatred of Christians.”

            However, despite the propaganda and the buying off of journalists, the Jordanian Opposition Coalition has stressed that the US government is aware of these issues. US Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton recognizes that “Jordan’s future is unclear” and she “questions whether Jordan will remain stable in the future.” They noted that after the Jordanian media has been repetitively calling for the stabbing of Jews and the tragic shooting of Americans by a senior level Jordanian police officer, the US issued a travel adversary warning to the Arab country. But, they also noted that under US President Barack Obama, the US State Department has decided that despite these developments they would continue communicating with the Jordanian king and the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood but to date, they won’t speak to the secular opposition led by the Jordanian Opposition Coalition.

            Aside from the state-sanctioned persecution against Christians and the growth of ISIS in Jordan, the Jordanian intelligence collaberator emphasized that the general instability within the country that Hillary Clinton recognized is also troublesome to the country’s Christian population: “Even without the religious side of it, Jordan’s security agencies are acting like gangs. There was a murder in the office of the security chief. His secretary murdered another colleague. He killed him with four bullets in the chest inside the office of the security chief. Could you hear of such a murder in the Mossad or Shin Bet? Even without the fundamentalism, the Jordanian state already acts like unruly gangs. The security agencies themselves are not secure. How can the Christians trust them to protect them against fundamentalists?”

            While some might argue that these incidents within the Jordanian security establishment might be signs that Jordan’s monarchy is merely losing control of the country, he noted that the King cannot shift the blame for these incidents to that fact: “The way I understand it, it is the policy of the king to keep the unrest in order to stay in power, which is risky for us Christians. The Jordanian security establishment is not entirely a tight click. The Jordanian pilot that was shot down over Syria was actually shot down by another Jordanian jet. Recently, there was a Jordanian fighter who was fired for he did not want to cooperate with the Israeli Air Force. One day after that, another pilot was fired for the same reason. This shows that the Jordanian establishment is more radicalized than anyone else thinks. In conclusion, we don’t feel safe in Jordan as Christians. We don’t think the Jordanian state is capable or willing to protect us against fundamentalists.”

            “The bottom line is I believe and most Christians believe that Jordan is a racist, fundamentalist country that hates minorities such as Christians and others,” he declared. “The donations given to Christians from the international community is given to the king who pockets it and nothing is filtered down to the people. While the king puts on a façade, there was never a Christian MP or any other senior level Christian officer so Jordan is a fundamentalist regime. The oppression of Christians is systematic in Jordan.” However, Haddadin proclaimed that this also has implications for Israel: “They are also hateful of Jews and anti-Semitic to the extreme. Jordan deported a man for wearing a kippa and even removed the kippas off the children’s heads with their own hands. Also, how can Jordan’s king claim to be anti-ISIS and anti-fundamentalist while his state schools teach that we should fight Jews, who are children of apes and pigs? This is in the official state media and schools. How can he preach that in Jordan and preach peace somewhere else? I cannot understand why they cannot see the king for who he is.”

            The Jordanian Opposition Coalition noted that the world does have another alternative to the King that is not the Muslim Brotherhood or ISIS. They merely have to listen to them and work to support them: “The Jordanian Opposition Coalition’s worst fear is that multiple nations around the world will not hear the fragile voices of those whom the Jordanian Opposition Coalition represents. This will bring a halt to the change that is inevitable for Jordan. In fact, in our opinion, failure to do something about it now will bring more chaos and violence later to a region that is already in chaos, adding to the unhealthy atmosphere in the region that is affecting everyone’s interests. In our eyes, failure to pay attention to what’s happening in Jordan could spiral out of control and create another Libya-like situation or God forbid, an all-out civil war just like in Syria. In other words, helping to stabilize Jordan now will stabilize the region and the Jordanian Opposition Coalition is a clear part of helping bring stability to the region.”


            • Re: Regional geopolitics

              "Too Long"


              • Re: Regional geopolitics

                Originally posted by Armynia View Post
                "Too Long"
                never mind, everybody according his limits.


                • Re: Regional geopolitics

                  Map of frontline in Latakia montains/Kessab today
                  Last edited by Vrej1915; 12-15-2015, 10:14 PM.


                  • Re: Regional geopolitics


                    13:17, 15 Dec 2015
                    Siranush Ghazanchyan

                    Photo: AP Photo/ Alexander Kots

                    The Syrian Armed Forces, assisted by Russian warplanes, have been
                    on a roll in northern Latakia, taking two strategic highways under
                    control, destroying scores of terrorists and forcing militants out
                    of key border areas with Turkey, the Fars news agency reported,
                    citing an unnamed Syrian officer.

                    The Qastal Ma'af road and Lattakia-Kassab highway, which were not
                    operational for at least two years, have now been reopened.

                    "The recapture of Turkmen mountain (Jabal al-Turkmen) by the Syrian
                    forces played a significant role in reopening the [Lattakia-Kassab]
                    highway," the media outlet quoted the source as saying.

                    The Qastal Ma'af road connects the provincial capital of Latakia and
                    Kassab, a checkpoint on the border with Turkey. The town of the same
                    name, located some 7 miles to the south of the border, is predominantly
                    populated by the Turkmen.

                    Militants are reported to have fled to the town of Rabia following
                    the government offensive. Damascus-led forces are planning to focus
                    their efforts on liberating the town.

                    The Syrian Arab Army also pushed terrorists out of Height 713 and
                    al-Koz mountain after Russian warplanes launched airstrikes against
                    militant targets in the area.

                    The Syrian Armed Forces, assisted by Russian warplanes, have been on a roll in northern Latakia, taking two strategic highways under control, destroying scores of terrorists and forcing militants out of key border areas with Turkey, the...

                    Hayastan or Bust.


                    • Re: Regional geopolitics

                      14:25 16.12.2015(updated 16:05 16.12.2015)

                      Daesh (ISIL/ISIS) has plans to attack oil production facilities in Libya and the Sinai Peninsula, a US official has revealed.

                      Daesh has plans to attack oil production facilities in Libya and the Sinai Peninsula in order to boost its income because the costs of its oil operations in Syria have increased, a US official told the press in Washington on Tuesday.

                      "They are looking at the oil assets in Libya and elsewhere. We'll be prepared," the senior official said at a press briefing.

                      He explained that US intelligence services are looking at oil fields, pipelines and trucking routes which could be targeted by the terrorists, and that the organization's finances have taken a hit due to air strikes on oil transportation facilities that it controls.

                      "The costs of the operation have gone up and the ability to move it around has gone down," he said.

                      Last week US Treasury official Adam Szubin estimated that the militants are making up to $40 million per month selling oil that is stolen from production facilities in Syria, and have made up to $500 million in total so far from the oil trade.

                      A member of the Syrian government forces walks next to a well at Jazel oil field, near the ancient city of Palmyra in the east of Homs province after they retook the area from Islamic State (IS) group fighters on March 9, 2015.

                      © AFP 2015/ STR

                      A member of the Syrian government forces walks next to a well at Jazel oil field, near the ancient city of Palmyra in the east of Homs province after they retook the area from Islamic State (IS) group fighters on March 9, 2015.

                      Meanwhile, French defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has revealed that Daesh-held territory has indeed spread through the North African country.

                      "They are in Sirte, their territory extends 250 km along the coast, but they are starting to penetrate the interior and to be tempted by access to oil wells and reserves," said Jean-Yves Le Drian.

                      France believes Daesh militants are desperate to find new oil resources after their stronghold in Syria was hit by Russian and western airstrikes.

                      However, the exploitation of the situation in Libya by Daesh militants is nothing new.

                      Libya descended into chaos following the fall of Colonel Gaddafi, killed by French and British-led NATO forces.

                      © Sputnik

                      Libya descended into chaos following the fall of Colonel Gaddafi, killed by French and British-led NATO forces.

                      A civil war broke out between the official government in the east and its rival group in the west; many of the arms believed to be used by rebel forces to overthrow Gaddafi are now in the hands of Daesh militants.

                      Libya still doesn't have an internationally recognized unity government, while Daesh continues to explore and exploit more opportunities and oil fields.

                      In August 2015, the Libyan Government was forced to operate in Tobruk after Daesh captured Tripoli. It asked for Arab states to carry out airstrikes to help combat Daesh advances. At the time, the response from western governments was just an expression of concern.

                      Libyan protesters shout slogans during a demonstration against a UN-sponsored agreement on forming a national unity government, on December 11, 2015 in the capital Tripoli.

                      © AFP 2015/ Mahmud Turkia

                      Deep Divisions Remain Despite Bid for Unity Government in Libya

                      "We are deeply concerned about reports that these fighters have shelled densely populated parts of the city and committed indiscriminate acts of violence to terrorise the Libyan population," a joint statement from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and the US said.

                      In October 2015, Mattia Toaldo, Libya specialist at the European Council on Foreign Relations told Reuters that "[Daesh] is expanding in central Libya, encountering little resistance."

                      Daesh have just issued a decree stating that Sirte was governed by "the caliphate." The decree, seen by London newspaper The Times, sets out a 13 point manifesto, warning of strict punishments for anyone who flouted its rules.

                      It's seems Daesh have had their sights set on Sirte for some time now, and are spreading further into Libya.

                      Read more:
                      Hayastan or Bust.