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Regional geopolitics

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  • Re: Regional geopolitics

    US denies building airbase in Kurdish-held Syria

    Written by Chris Tomson

    For months, reports have indicated that American engineers have been building an airbase in Syria’s Hasakah province in a region largely controlled by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). However, earlier today, an official of the U.S. Department of State denied that American forces had taken control of any airfield in Syria.

    Nevertheless, recent satellite imagery shows that the Rimelan Airbase in northeastern Syria has been greatly expanded over the past months. Since Kurdish militias in Syria do not control an active air force of their own – many analysts have come to the conclusion that only the U.S. Air Force could utilize such an air field. Furthermore, two days ago, a Syrian Democratic Forces (YPG affiliate) spokesman, Taj Kordsh, said thatthe US had taken control of the Rimelan Airbase.

    Meanwhile, military jets from the US-led anti-ISIS coalition have strongly aided Kurdish militias to advance in both Hasakah and along the Europhrates River in eastern Aleppo. However, thus far, due to Turkish animosity towards the YPG and PKK, the US Air Force has been forced to use Iraqi and Gulf airports to launch airstrikes on ISIS militants.


    • Re: Regional geopolitics


      Russian, Syrian, Iranian and Hizballah troops were taking up positions Monday, Jan. 18, for a massive offensive to retake Aleppo, Syria’s second city. The rebel militias occupying different parts of the city have repulsed all previous assaults.
      A victory in Aleppo (prewar population: 1 million) is expected in Moscow, Tehran and Damascus to reverse the tide of the war and force the Syrian rebels to accept that their insurgency is at an end and their only remaining option is to join the peace process initiated by Russia on Syria’s future.
      Russian military intervention since late August has lifted the Syrian army out of its hopeless state and imbued its officers with fresh vigor and the troops with high morale. Bashad Assad’s army is not the same largely defeated one of five months ago. Russian air strikes have restored its commander’s confidence in their ability to win. Cutting-edge weapons are reaching combat units with Russian military advisers on hand to teach the Syrian army how to use them, along with exposure to advanced methods of warfare that have been developed by a world-class military.
      DEBKAfile’s military sources add that the operational standards of Hizballah and the pro-Iranian Shiite militias fighting alongside the Syrian army have likewise been enhanced by their exposure to Russian tactics.
      Those tactics have produced a substantial drop in Hizballah, Iranian and Syrian casualties in battle, contrary to reports of high casualties claimed in the Western mainstream press,
      Robots, novel replacements for boots on the ground, recently made their debut appearance in the Syrian arena, our military sources have revealed. They are cast in a star role in the offensive for the recovery of Aleppo.
      Heralding a revolution in modern warfare, the Russians are fielding two kinds of robots – the Platform-M combat robot and the Argo Mobility Platform, both heavily armored and capable of functioning day or night in a variety of battlefield conditions. Platform-M gathers intelligence, uncovers fixed and moving targets and destroys them. It also provides firepower support for forces on the move and secures military installations or routes traveled by the army. Platform-M is armed with semiautomatic or automatic control firing systems.for destroying enemy targets But extra fire power can be mounted on the system as required.
      The Argo is designed for rough-country operations, especially on mountainous or rocky terrain. In recent battles, Syrian rebels were startled to find themselves under sudden heavy fire from the unmanned Russian robots.
      Russian General Staff Chief Valery Gerasimov recently spoke of a plan to “completely automate the battle in Syria.” He added, “Perhaps soon we will witness robotic groups independently conducting warfare.” Our military sources comment that this vision is overly futuristic. No totally robotic battlefield exists anywhere in the world today outside sci-fi cinema.


      • Re: Regional geopolitics

        Originally posted by Vrej1915 View Post
        Armenia: Stepping Gingerly Around Russia-Turkey Feud
        January 21, 2016 ,
        by Gayane Abrahamyan

        Policymakers in Armenia are wary of the risks of the country getting caught up in deepening Russian-Turkish rancor. But some observers see opportunity for Armenia to advance its interests amid the geopolitical falling out.

        Russian-Turkish relations have rapidly deteriorated since Turkish jets downed a Russian Su-24M fighter in late November. The spat has broad ramifications for Armenia: deep feelings of distrust and hostility mark Yerevan’s own relationship with Turkey, which borders Armenia to the west. Meanwhile, Armenia has traditionally seen Russia as the nation’s protector and strategic ally.

        Speculation about Armenia potentially becoming drawn into the Russian-Turkish feud often touches on the Russian military base at the Armenian town of Gyumri. The facility sits less than 10 kilometers from the Turkish border.

        While former Armenian Defense Minister Vagharshak Harutiunian (1999-2000) doubts that the existing rancor will spark armed conflict between Russia and Turkey, he predicted that “it will have a significant impact on the entire region of the South Caucasus, where Moscow’s and Ankara’s interests cross.”

        The rising temperature in Russian-Turkish relations in particular could alter the dynamics of the long-stalemated Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Karabakh could provide Turkey with an opening to exert pressure on Russia, said Harutiunian, who served as defense minister after the signing of a Karabakh ceasefire agreement in 1994.

        “Turkey is likely to open another front against Russia by using Azerbaijan to destabilize the situation on the frontline of the Karabakh conflict – the current buildup of tensions, clashes and sabotage attempts demonstrates that it is already happening,” Harutiunian said.

        Over the past three years, ceasefire violations have skyrocketed to their highest level since full-scale fighting ended in 1994. Armenia’s Defense Ministry reports that 41 Armenian soldiers died on the frontline in 2015; eight in the weeks immediately following Turkey’s downing of the Russian jet. Armenian defense officials claim that Azerbaijan used heavy tanks in early December 2015 for the first time since the ceasefire; such actions, they say, mean the effective end of the ceasefire agreement.

        Harutiunian noted that even before the downing of Russia’s Su-24M, two Turkish military helicopters in early October violated Armenian airspace, over a section of the Armenian-Turkish border guarded by Russian troops. “This was a demonstration of their power to the Russians, although in our territory,” he said. Turkey attributed the incident to bad weather, the Hraparak newspaper reported.

        Harutiunian and other observers want Armenia to remain “aloof” from the Russia-Turkey spat so as “not to become an involved party in this confrontation.”

        But Russia could pull some political levers that would make it much more difficult than at present for Armenia to stay on the sidelines. For example, there is talk in Russian political circles about Moscow possibly renouncing the 1921 Treaty of Kars and Treaty of Moscow with Turkey. Those agreements gave Turkey eastern territories that were historically considered Armenian and/or populated by ethnic Armenians, including the cities of Kars and Ardahan, as well as Mount Ararat, the national symbol for Armenia.

        Though modern-day Russia no longer has sovereignty over Armenia, Moscow’s renunciation of the pacts could send a powerful signal, some believe. “It cannot be ruled out that the Treaties of Kars and Moscow might get annulled and, as a consequence, Turkey might lose [its unchallenged claim to] up to 30 percent of its lands,” commented Stanislav Tarasov, director of the Moscow-based Near East-Caucasus Research Center, a non-governmental organization.

        Other controversial chapters of history could be brought to bear on the present-day dispute. The Fair Russia faction submitted to the Russian parliament a draft bill on criminalizing the denial of genocide in the Ottoman Empire’s 1915-1918 massacre and deportation of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Armenians from modern-day Turkey. The bill has not yet been scheduled for a vote.

        On social media platforms, such as Facebook, Armenian civil activists and users have expressed frustration about Russians attempting to co-opt such sensitive issues as weapons in their own battle with Turkey. But some Armenian experts see potential benefits for Yerevan.

        Russian politicians trumpeting Armenian issues “fits into the logic of realpolitik and we have to take advantage of it,” said Vardan Voskanian, an expert in Eastern Studies at Yerevan State University.

        Voskanian believes that Armenia now should push its own demands and set the bar for Russia as high as possible, namely, by recognizing the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijan, criminalizing genocide denial, and supplying the Armenian military with latest-generation weapons.

        “Today it has become crystal clear who Russia’s strategic partner is in the region,” he elaborated. “The Russians have finally realized that the billions of US dollars’ worth of [Russian] arms sold to Azerbaijan as ‘purely business’ can one day destroy their own aircraft…”

        Russia, along with the United States and France, ostensibly oversees the moribund Karabakh peace process. The Kremlin has not expressed any official interest in recognizing the disputed territory as an independent entity. But there is a precedent for such recognition. Following Russia’s 2008 war with Georgia, the Kremlin recognized the independence of two breakaway Georgian entities – South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

        Political analyst Stepan Grigorian, head of Yerevan’s Analytical Center for Globalization and Regional Cooperation, believes Armenia could use the tensions between Moscow and Ankara to secure Russian recognition of Karabakh’s independence, but cautions that Armenia should not be drawn into any “proxy war” between Turkey and Russia.

        “We have to be extremely cautious under the current circumstances and not get involved,” he said. “This is not our fight.”

        Editor's note: Gayane Abrahamyan is a freelance reporter and editor in Yerevan.
        Hmm....a fight for our lost homeland is not our fight? If Turky wins this fight what are the consequences for us? Another idiotic thing to say
        Hayastan or Bust.


        • Re: Regional geopolitics

          Keep It Coming: Turkey Wants More EU Money to Tackle Refugee Crisis

          The EU promised Turkey three billion euros for its assistance in resolving the current refugee crisis. While EU member states are still arguing about the funding, the Turkish government made it clear that the proposed amount of money is...

          The EU promised Turkey three billion euros for its assistance in resolving the current refugee crisis. While EU member states are still arguing about the funding, the Turkish government made it clear that the proposed amount of money is insufficient, German newspaper Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten reported.

          From the perspective of the Turkish government, the EU needs to spend more money to tackle the current migration crisis.

          The three billion euros promised by the European Union is not enough to resolve the situation.

          "We are not begging for money from the EU. But if there is a serious commitment to share this burden, we have to sit down and talk about all details of the crisis," Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu stressed in an interview with the German Press Agency.

          Turkey is a major transit country for refugees fleeing from Syria to the EU. Unable to tackle the current refugee crisis alone, the EU has promised Turkey money in exchange for keeping refugees within its borders.

          According to DWN, Ankara is taking advantage of Germany's vulnerability and trying to use the situation for its own interests.

          "Nobody can expect Turkey to carry the entire burden alone," Davutoglu said, adding that his country had already spent almost nine billion euros for refugees.

          In exchange for its assistance, Turkey awaits certain benefits from the EU, the most desired of which — is future membership in the Union. Earlier German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the country has still a long way ahead to become an EU member, but Ankara seems not to notice Merkel's restrained position.

          "Over the last three months, there has been very positive momentum in EU-Turkey relations," Davutoglu said. "And I'm sure, at the end of all this improvement Turkey will one day become a member of the European Union, the politician stressed."
          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


          • Re: Regional geopolitics

            Originally posted by londontsi View Post
            Some articles state Russia wants to pay in cash, some articles Georgia wants cash.

            All articles supposedly from blue chip news media.

            Anybody with the convincing "truth" as to which way round this is !!!!

            Originally posted by Artashes View Post
            Only a guess on my part ... Georgians being Georgians. It's the Georgians that want cash instead of gas.
            Why ? Two reasons , (1) they are dumber than a rock , (2) they know Russia has plenty of gas but is tight on cash at the moment so they pressure Russia & curry favor with the hominoids. Smart Georgian (lol).
            It's gotta be that way. Russia has so much gas but sanction strapped + Syrian action is not cheap, etc.
            Yes Georgia , back up hominoid mooseeman over Christian human , and please completely forget that Russia's going to remember this and has and likely will have various responses to your Assinine ?logic?
            Looks like I was wrong. Did not realize azer constraint on ability to increase gas supply to Georgia. Looks like Russia is pressuring Georgia. Interesting moves by Russia. Risky moves but dividends are favorable to Russia.


            • Re: Regional geopolitics

              Syrian Army enters strategic rebel stronghold in northern Latakia

              Written by Leith Fadel

              Moments ago inside the Latakia Governorate’s northern countryside, the Syrian Arab Army’s 103rd Brigade of the Republican Guards – in close coordination with the National Defense Forces (NDF), Liwaa Suqour Al-Sahra (Desert Hawks Brigade), the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), and Muqawama Souri (Syrian Resistance) – have entered the strategic rebel stronghold of Al-Rabi’yah in the Turkmen Mountains (Jabal Al-Turkmen) after a violent battle with the Islamist rebels of Jabhat Al-Nusra (Syrian Al-Qaeda group) and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) this morning.

              According to a local military source in Jabal Al-Turkmen, the Syrian Arab Army’s 103rd Brigade and their allies entered Al-Rabi’yah after retreating from the town last night in order to evade the Islamist rebels mortar shells and rockets being fired onto their positions from the mountaintop.

              Earlier this morning, the Syrian Arab Army’s 103rd Brigade and their allies regrouped and launched a powerful assault from three different axes; this attack proved success, as they broke past the Islamist rebel defenses and entered Al-Rabi’yah’s southern perimeter, where the firefights are currently taking place.

              Despite some reports of its capture, the Syrian Armed Forces have not captured Al-Rabi’yah; however, they are very close to seizing this town after their latest attack on Jabhat Al-Nusra’s defenses.


              • Re: Regional geopolitics

                Russian Marines transport advanced missiles to Kuweires Airbase in east Aleppo

                Written by Leith Fadel

                Earlier this week, a convoy of less than 50 Russian Marines arrived to the Kuweires Military Airport in the Aleppo Governorate’s eastern countryside in order to provide the necessary military advisers to expand the Syrian Arab Army’s operations in the Al-Bab Plateau and the Deir Hafer Plains.

                According to a military source in east Aleppo, the Russian Marines brought a substantial amount of advanced missiles and rockets with them to the Kuweires Military Airport; these missiles have very little do with combating the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) terrorists near the airbase and far more to do with protecting their aerial assets.

                Conflicting reports regarding the arrival of S-300 missiles have been confirmed by a local military source as incorrect; however, he did add that the likelihood of these advanced anti-aircraft missiles arriving to the Kuweires Military Airport is very likely in the coming weeks, as the Russian Marines swell the number of soldiers in eastern Aleppo.

                Should the S-300 anti-aircraft missiles arrive to the Kuweires Military Airport, the Turkish military will likely be on high alert because just north of the ISIS stronghold of Al-Bab is the Jarabalus border-crossing, which is currently the target of the predominately Kurdish “People’s Protection Units” (YPG) and the U.S. backed “Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF).

                Turkey is not happy about the YPG’s expansion in northern Syria; so if ISIS loses the Jarabalus border-crossing, the Turks will be forced to deal with another Kurdish military presence on their border.


                • Re: Regional geopolitics

                  US-Russian marines set up bridgehead in E. Libya for campaign against ISIS

                  President Barack Obama resolved earlier this month, much to the surprise of Washington insiders, to open a third anti-terror front in Libya to eradicate the Islamic Front’s tightening grip on the country.
                  This top-secret decision was first revealed by DEBKA Weekly 692 on Jan. 1.
                  While collaborating with Russia in the Syrian arena, and with the Iranians and the Iraqi army and Sunnis in Iraq, Obama took his close aides by surprise by another decision – to lead the Libya campaign again in conjunction with Russia, as well as with concerned Western Europe allies.
                  The first step in this campaign took place this weekend: A group of US, Russian, French and Italian Special Forces quietly landed at a point south of Tobruk near the Libyan-Egyptian frontier. Standing by after preparing the ground were some 1,000 British SAS troops.
                  The landing area is located some 144 kilometers from Darnah, the main bastion of extremist Libyan Islamic groups linked to Al Qaeda or ISIS, of which the ultra-violent Ansar al Sharia is the most powerful.
                  The joint US-Russian war offensive building up in Libya, the first such collaboration in many decades, may be seen as an extension of their expanding military partnership in Syria, DEBKAfile’s military sources report.
                  Preparations for the campaign were assigned to two special operational commands set up at the Pentagon and at the US Central Command, CENTCOM, in Tampa, Florida.
                  According to the scenario sketched in advance by DEBKA Weekly, large-scale US air, naval and ground units are to spearhead the new coalition’s combined assault on the main Libyan redoubts of ISIS, Al Qaeda, Ansar al-Sharia and other radical Islamist organizations. Cruise missiles strikes will blast them from US, British, French and Italian warships on the Mediterranean.
                  At the peak of the assault, large-scale US, British and French marines will land on shore for an operation first billed as the largest allied war landing since the 1952 Korean War. The attachment of Russian forces was negotiated later.
                  According to this scenario, one group will be dropped ashore from the Gulf of Sidra (see attached map) to seize the town of Sirte, a city of 50,000, where ISIS has located its central military command center in Libya.
                  This group will then split up into two task forces.
                  One will head south to take over Tripoli and its oil fields 370 kilometers away and reinstate Libya’s central government, which had been exiled to Tobruk, at its seat in the capital.
                  On its way to Tripoli, the force will take control of three renegade towns: Misrata, Zliten and Khoms.
                  The second task force will head north to capture the eastern Libyan capital of Benghazi, seizing Ras Lanuf, 200 kilometers east of Sirte, en route. A second marine force will meanwhile land in eastern Libya to capture the radical Islamist stronghold of Darnah, a port city with 150,000 inhabitants.
                  The Obama administration will therefore be going into Libya for the second time in four years – only this time up front and on the ground - for three objectives:
                  1. Control of Libya’s oil and gas fields.
                  2. Stripping ISIS of its jumping-off base for terrorizing Europe, especially Italy, from across the Mediterranean.
                  3. Saving Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco from the noose ISIS and Al Qaeda are pulling around them from their back yard.
                  The scenario was first published in DEBKA Weekly 692 (for subscribers) on Jan. 1, 2016


                  • Re: Regional geopolitics

                    Exclusive: Egypt transfers large air, armored forces to Saudi Arabia
                    January 22, 2016

                    DEBKAfile’s exclusive sources report the transfer of large Egyptian military forces to Saudi Arabia this week for the first major joint war exercise the two armies have ever conducted. Egypt has sent over fighter-bomber squadrons, assault helicopters, armored units and warships, some of them carrying marines. The exercise is intended to demonstrate to Iran and the Obama administration the possible consequences of a potential Revolutionary Guards attempt to strike a Saudi target. Riyadh foresees tensions with Tehran further escalating behind Iranian leaders’ apparent attempt to defuse the situation.


                    • Re: Regional geopolitics

                      The collapse of Neo Ottoman’s dream in northern Syria
                      Written by Zen Adra

                      Since the outbreak of Syria’s uprising in March 2011, Turkey’s Erdogan has identified himself as the godfather of the Muslim Brotherhood-led movement in the southern neighboring country.

                      Whether the man has unexpectedly and treacherously turned against the Syrian president for religious and ideological considerations, or was it one of Assad’s deadly flaws in foreign policy is now an outdated matter.

                      In all cases, Erdogan’s schemes are none but the Neo Ottomans’, aiming at reviving the glories of the deceased Ottoman Empire just before it was disintegrated by Western powers during the WWI.

                      To do so, Turkey had to be directly and foully involved in southern Syria through arming, training and facilitating the access of thousands of foreign fighters into Syria’s territories. Turkey founded Jaysh al-Fateh (Army of Conquest), led by the Syrian al-Qaeda branch Jabhet al-Nusra, which took control of large swathes of Idlib province last summer.

                      Economic warfare was not less virulent. Aleppo, Syria’s economic capital and a pivotal Middle Eastern commercial and industrial hub has for long haunted Turkish industrialists and manufacturers. The 12000 year-old city was literally looted and ravaged by Turkish-run gangs. Some areas close to the Turkish borders are now using the Turkish Lira as the official currency.

                      The Syrian far northern coastal mountains, where the Turkmen-inhabited and ultra-Sunni villages are mostly located, have served as fertile grounds to carry on the schemes. The towns of Salma, Rabia and Kansabba have been the hotbed of anti-Assad insurgents for more than 3 years.

                      Turkey already occupies Hatay province (Liwaa Iskenderun) since 1939 during the French mandate.

                      This pro-Turkish front (Northern Latakia, Idlib and Northern Aleppo), was meant to block the Kurds from forming their own state along Syria-Turkey borders; a dream that has been for long seen as an unquestionable threat to Turkey’s national security.

                      It [the Front] was also supposed to be the platform on which an alleged Turkish-sponsored ‘buffer zone’ made possible.

                      Today, the rebels’ last real stronghold in northern Latakia fell to the Syrian Army (backed by Russian airstrikes), who is now inches closer to Jisr al-Shoghour, the city which has been captured by Jaysh al-Fateh on May 2015.

                      The decisive role played by Russian active jetfighters in assisting Syrian ground troops making such a remarkable progress cannot go unnoticed. For many, the matter has far gone beyond backing up an old ally to fighting its own war.

                      Perhaps the downing of Russian SU-24 last November by Turkish jetfighters has practically backfired in a way that Turkey can no longer protect its proxies, nor is it capable anymore of maintaining its fantasies.