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Regional geopolitics

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  • Re: Regional geopolitics

    Originally posted by Mher View Post
    the United States has nothing to gain from recognizing Artsakh and much to lose. ....

    Now you are talking.

    Nobody will give us anything for nothing.


    All you have to remember how the US has been ridiculing us about the genocide recognition, through how many presidents and for how many years.

    I wish as a nation we woke up.

    If you have a short memory you will have a short life.

    .
    Politics is not about the pursuit of morality nor what's right or wrong
    Its about self interest at personal and national level often at odds with the above.
    Great politicians pursue the National interest and small politicians personal interests

    Comment


    • Re: Regional geopolitics

      Crimea votes to quit Ukraine under guns of Russian tanks
      DEBKAfile
      March 15, 2014

      Ahead of the controversial Crimean referendum taking place Sunday, March 16, the Ukraine interim government claimed Saturday that its forces had repelled a Russian military operation to invade Strikove in the Kherson province adjoining the peninsula. This province is strategically valuable because it is the source of Crimea’s water and electric power, which Kiev could cut off. But only in theory, because then Moscow would equally cut off gas to Kiev.
      The Kiev claim of a military engagement with the Russians is roughly as credible as its account of 80,000 Russian troops massed on the borders of Crimea and poised to invade additional parts of eastern Ukraine Monday, the day after the referendum. The interim parliament was accordingly summoned into emergency session Monday at 10:00 a.m. Kiev time.
      DEBKAfile’s military sources report this figure is highly inflated. There are no signs of an imminent Russian invasion; nor a call-up of reserves to fill out the Russian units permanently stationed in areas close to the Ukrainian border. The Russian army’s only unusual posture in the days leading up to the referendum was to stage military exercises and keep the small units taking part constantly on the move - so as to create the impression of a large army in motion. They also ran convoys of 10-15 armored trucks back and forth, which look massive when filmed.
      These movements were intended as psychological pressure to deter Kiev and the West from any plans they might entertain to disrupt the referendum or interfere with its outcome.
      Moscow’s only blatant military act in the run-up to the vote occurred Friday, March 14, when a Russian cyber unit intercepted a US MQ-5B Hunter drone 12,000 feet over the Crimean peninsula by using radio-electronic technology to break its link with its US operators. The drone was downed almost intact.
      This was a hands-off warning from President Vladimir Putin to Washington on the Crimean referendum.
      It underlined the message Foreign Minister Sergey Lavov carried to US Secretary of State John Kerry when they met in London Friday, which was: “We must respect the will of the Crimean people in the forthcoming referendum” – meaning its will to join Russia.
      Kerry repeated Obama’s message that the US deemed the referendum illegal and would not accept its outcome.
      After talking for six hours, the two ministers were unable to bridge the gap. They could only agree to pick up their dialogue from Monday, when the vote was out of the way, when Putin’s intentions for Ukraine’s future became know and after the European Union’s ruling institutions had met to punish Russia by fairly limited sanctions.
      After that, the two big powers might take another stab at reaching a compromise for Ukraine.
      Meanwhile, neither was giving any quarter. Saturday night, the US tabled a resolution at the UN Security Council declaring the referendum invalid and urging countries not to recognize the results. Russia predictably cast its veto and China abstained. US Ambassador UN Samantha Power said the vote highlighted Russia’s isolation.
      By Sunday, the Crimeans were set for their referendum with no discernible obstacle to deter them.
      Our military sources saw no evidence of unusual military preparedness among Ukraine’s European neighbors to the west, in US bases on the continent, or in the Ukrainian army. No one in the West is sure up until now what proportion of its commanders will obey the interim government at crunch time and carry out its orders.
      Partly, because of this uncertainty, President Barack Obama turned the Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy P. Yatsenyui down during his visit to the White House Wednesday, March 12, when he requested US weapons and financial aid for his armed forces. He also asked for access to US intelligence coverage of Russian military movements.
      All that the US president was ready to offer was iron rations for Ukrainian troops. If nothing else, at least they won’t go hungry.
      But one or more of the forces currently in suspended animation may snap into unforeseen action during the referendum or after it's over..

      Comment


      • Re: Regional geopolitics

        US, Russian, Chinese military satellites hunt MH360 over Central Asia. Is it readied for a terrorist attack?
        DEBKAfile
        March 16, 2014,


        The US, Russia and China Sunday, March 16 contributed their military satellites to the search for the Malaysian Boeing 777, missing without a trace for nine days with 239 people aboard. US drones have also been diverted from the Afghanistan war to the hunt, which is focusing increasingly on the former Soviet republics of Central Asia.
        The backgrounds of the pilot and co-pilot and the rest of the crew are under rigorous investigation for leads. Scrutiny of the passengers, 153 of whom are Chinese, is slow since not all the foreign governments have come up with answers to questions about their nationals.
        The multinational investigation is looking closely at a number of conjectures:
        1. The contents of the plane’s cargo: Did it contain some illicit freight that would have given one or more hijackers a motive to seize control of the plane, force it to land at a remote spot and vanish with their prize?
        That scenario would leave the fate of the passengers and crew up in the air. They may still be alive and marooned in some wild corner of the world.
        2. Many parts of the Silk Road nations of Kirgizstan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are broad desert wastelands. They all have abandoned derelict military and air bases left over from the defunct Soviet empire. Military satellites and drones manned by experts have the best chance of pinpointing MH370 in this sort of country.
        It is now believed that the last contact with MH370 was beamed from the ground, meaning that the plane had not spent hours aloft but somewhere on land, which is why the Malaysian transport minister disclosed Sunday that the search now covered “areas of land in 11 countries.”
        3. The xxxxpit is being painstakingly searched for clues. One theory is that the hijackers lurked in the plane before the passengers boarded after they were smuggled in through the cargo hold. They may have belonged to the East Turkestan Liberation Organization-ETLO, the Uyghur separatist movement of the northwest Chinese province of Xinjiang.
        This conjecture opens up more complex potentials, such as the possible refueling of the airliner for use by the hijackers as an instrument of deadly massacre, echoing the 9/11 atrocities perpetrated by al Qaeda against New York and Washington.
        Speculation on those lines has brought the US, Russia and China into the heart of the search and the investigation.
        4. Another possibility under consideration is a sudden cyber attack on the plane. These methods are advanced enough these days to control, navigate and bring a large aircraft 75 meters long with a 61-meter wing span like the Boeing 777 down to earth almost intact at a preset location.
        Iran, apparently with Chinese expert assistance, managed to bring down the RQ-170 Sentinel, America’s most secret UAV, by this method. The Israeli army downed an Iranian drone launched from Lebanon by an Iranian Revolutionary Guards cyber team in October, 2012.
        Loth to expose its advanced cyber capabilities, Israel held to the story that the Iranian drone was shot down by its fighter jets.
        If the Malaysian airliner was indeed commandeered by this means, the attackers may not have intended to go all the way and were forced to think fast and decide how to end the episode without leaving incriminating leads behind them. Dumping the plane in a remote place would answer this need.
        5. US intelligence and security investigators were focusing Sunday on the two pilots, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, who has logged 181,000 flying miles on similar aircraft, and co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27, for answers to the key conundrums of the mystery.
        Both their homes in Kuala Lumpur have been searched. The flight simulator found in the captain’s home is being carefully checked for telltale flight routes.
        Any possibly links in the backgrounds of the pilots to potential hijackers or terrorists would help solve the mystery of the vanished Malaysian airliner and provide a lead to its fate.

        Comment


        • Re: Regional geopolitics

          Syria 'recaptures rebel border town Yabroud'


          BBC News


          16 March 2014

          The Syrian military has claimed it has recaptured Yabroud, the last rebel stronghold near the Lebanese border.
          Soldiers were going through the town to root out any remaining militants, the military said in a televised address.
          Government forces and Lebanese fighters from the Hezbollah group have besieged the town for weeks, as part of a battle for control of key transport routes.
          More than 100,000 have been killed in the three-year conflict between rebels and President Bashar al-Assad's forces.
          The government launched an offensive in mid-November to oust rebel fighters from the Qalamoun mountains near the Lebanese border.
          They recaptured the towns of Qara, Deir Attiya and Nabak, to the north-east of Yabroud along the motorway linking Damascus with the city of Homs.
          In mid-February, Assad forces launched a full offensive on Yabroud, which had been controlled by the opposition for much of the three-year conflict.
          "The crushing of the terrorist groups is a continuation of the successes made by the Syria army in Qalamoun," an unnamed military spokesman said on state television.
          "It completes an important circle in securing the border regions between Syria and Lebanon, and also cuts the supply roads."
          Footage on Hezbollah's Al Manar TV channel showed handfuls of Syrian soldiers moving through Yabroud, where the streets were otherwise deserted.
          Syrian state media said government forces had killed or captured many rebel fighters.
          One fighter from the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front said they had decided to pull out and were heading towards nearby villages.
          But some opposition sources said the government was not yet in total control, and that some fighters from extremist groups were still in the town and were prepared to fight to the death.
          The BBC's Arab affairs editor Sebastian Usher says the government victory does not shift the effective stalemate in the fighting, but it does add to the sense that government forces are gaining momentum.
          The bombardment of Yabroud and the fighting on its outskirts have forced much of its 40,000-strong population to flee, many to Lebanon.

          Comment


          • Re: Regional geopolitics

            16 March 2014

            Missing Malaysia plane: MH370 and the military gaps

            By Nick Childs


            The latest information in the riddle of flight MH370 has not only dramatically refocused the investigation and search.

            It has also revived questions about why the Malaysian military did not immediately notice what was happening, and what gaps there might be more generally in military air defences in a region where the defence and security temperature is high at the moment.

            It has now emerged that Malaysian primary military radar tracked an unidentified contact that flew right across the country's air space, now confirmed to be MH370. But no action, it seems, was taken.

            "Where was the Malaysian air force in all this?" says former RAF pilot and aerospace analyst Andrew Brookes.

            "Ever since 9/11, air defences around the world have been on alert for a hijacked airliner aiming for a prestige target. And few targets are more prestigious than the twin Petronas towers in downtown Kuala Lumpur."

            According to Mr Brookes, when MH370 apparently turned back at the top of its scheduled climb without warning, alarm bells should have rung in the minds of the Malaysian military and political decision-makers.

            "When this bizarre saga is over, the Malaysian government and air force will have some serious matters to address, not least in the apparent gaps in wide area surveillance of their air space," says Mr Brookes.

            The latest edition of the International Institute of Strategic Studies' (IISS) Military Balance publication says that Malaysia's "substantial equipment modernisation programmes have helped to develop their capacity for external defence".

            Even so, Malaysia's air force remains relatively small.

            Clearly, there may be questions about the extent of the country's radar cover and procedures.
            But there are also still unanswered questions about MH370's flight profile that might have helped even a huge twin-engined passenger aircraft like a Boeing 777 to escape notice.

            Malaysia's acting Transport Minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, who is also the country's defence minister, has rejected the suggestion that air force standard operating procedures were breached.

            "This is an unprecedented case," he said. "It may change aviation history. I think it's lessons to be learnt for everybody."
            Of course, it is also one thing to invest in capabilities, but another to have the training, procedures and resources to use them effectively.
            Constant monitoring

            Malaysia has now asked other countries around the region and beyond to review their radar playbacks, both primary (mainly military) and secondary (chiefly civilian).

            This is a region where there is growing investment in advanced defence capabilities. But there may be questions for other countries too as to whether their air defence arrangements are quite as they appear, or whether there are more gaps.

            The plane was apparently at one stage heading in the direction of India's Andaman and Nicobar islands. But it has been reported that military radars there might not even have been operating, as the threat level there was perceived as low.

            In more developed air space environments like North America and Europe, a constant monitoring is undertaken. And there is close co-operation between military and civilian air traffic controllers.

            So, if military radar operators spot an unidentified contact, normal procedure would be to check with their civilian counterparts as to whether there is a transponder reading for identification.

            If not, there would be an attempt to contact the plane by radio and, again if there is no response, ultimately to scramble fighters.

            These are all procedures that have been long established, were regularly exercised during the Cold War, and have been refined since 9/11.
            Of course, all radar surveillance has its weak spots. Tracking aircraft flying at low level, for example, is always challenging.

            And even the most sophisticated systems can be caught off-guard by the unexpected.

            Famously, in 1987, the amateur German pilot Mathias Rust embarrassed the Soviet military by flying his light plane unchallenged through supposedly the most complex air defence system in the world to land in Red Square in Moscow.

            And, on 9/11, when US air defence fighters were finally scrambled, they initially flew in the wrong direction, out to sea. No-one had been expected an airborne threat from within US air space.

            But that event has dramatically altered perceptions and procedures.

            Comment


            • Re: Regional geopolitics

              A very good analysis of the current state of the Russian military:

              http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinio...572_story.html

              What we learned in Crimea

              By David Ignatius, Published:

              March 18


              From the photographs we’ve seen of the Russian special operations, or Spetsnaz, troops that intervened in Crimea, several things are obvious: They are secretive, moving without insignia and often covering their faces; they’re disciplined and they’re decisive.

              The diplomatic response to the Russian intervention is continuing. But Pentagon officials are beginning to assess the military “lessons learned.” The bottom line is that Russia’s move into Crimea was a study in the speedy deployment of special operations forces to achieve a limited objective.

              David Ignatius

              “What has been most striking to me so far has been the apparent levels of discipline, training and cooperation among the Russian forces,” noted Paul Saunders, executive director of the Center for the National Interest, in an interview this week with the military blog War on the Rocks.

              The Russians deployed quickly in the hours surrounding reports of their initial movement on Feb. 26. Two days later, when President Obama warned that there would be “costs” for invading Crimea, the Russian forces were already in place and the intervention was nearly a fait accompli.

              The Russians are thought to have had roughly 15,000 troops in Crimea when the crisis began, and quickly added about another 5,000, mostly special operations troops. The Russians are allowed up to 25,000 military personnel in Crimea under their 30-year lease of the Black Sea naval base at Sevastopol.

              Military analysts note some interesting characteristics of the Russian deployment: President Vladimir Putin, a former KGB lieutenant colonel, chose something closer to a paramilitary “covert action” than a normal military attack. Because the troops didn’t have Russian insignia, there was a thin veil of deniability, which the Russians exploited.

              At a news conference March 4, Putin denied that Russian troops had invaded, despite photographic evidence to the contrary. “You can go to a store and buy a uniform,” insisted Putin. This “deniability” was maintained by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who said March 5 it was “complete nonsense” that Russian troops had invaded Crimea and that he had “no idea” how Russian military vehicles had gotten there.

              These bland denials of reality were useful in several ways: They maintained a fig leaf of legitimacy for an illegal intervention; they allowed Russia a chance (not yet taken) to de-escalate an operation that hadn’t officially been acknowledged; and they distanced Putin in case things went badly and Ukrainians were killed.

              Putin also showed a notable willingness to take risks. So far, there has been almost no bloodshed between Russians and Ukrainians, but Putin couldn’t have known this when he began. That’s why the precision and discipline of Russian forces were crucial. Their professionalism reduced the risk of an incident that could have spiraled out of control.

              Finally, Putin prepared a rationale for his intervention — along with the attendant propaganda. He insisted he was acting to protect Russian citizens and Russian speakers in Crimea. His troops were welcomed by a generally supportive Crimean population, and his action was lauded back home. This model suggests that Putin might be prepared to move, similarly, to protect Russians in neighboring countries, such as eastern Ukraine or the Transnistria region of Moldova.

              Analysts think Putin would be less likely to move against neighboring states, such as Lithuania and Latvia, that have significant Russian-speaking populations but that are NATO members. Such operations would require far more force — and would test NATO’s “Article 5” commitment to U.S.-led mutual defense, a risk that is probably greater than Putin is willing to tolerate.

              The well-organized Crimea operation also suggests improvement in the quality and training of the Russian military. Their troops had operated with far less precision a decade ago in Chechnya and in the 2008 invasion of Georgia . A botched attempt to free 850 hostages in a Moscow theater in 2002 resulted in the deaths of 130 of the captives.

              Russia evidently has been getting results for increased spending on its military: The 2012 edition of an annual survey by the International Institute for Strategic Studies estimated that Russia would spend 3.78 percent of its GDP on defense in 2013, by far the highest amount in more than a decade. Aging or incompetent Russian officers have been purged as part of a modernization campaign.

              This Russian army, in short, is not the one that proved so feeble in Afghanistan. It is well-trained and stealthy and effectively uses a “small footprint.” And Putin clearly wasn’t deterred by NATO military moves that signaled a commitment to protect member states — but didn’t convey a willingness to check Russian black operations in a friendly, neighboring region.
              General Antranik (1865-1927): I am not a nationalist. I recognize only one nation, the nation of the oppressed.

              Comment


              • Re: Regional geopolitics

                Interesting read Joseph. Thank you for posting it.

                TALYSHS WANT TO CREATE THEIR STATE IN AZERBAIJAN - EXPERT

                15:50 18/03/2014 >> REGION

                For the first time in history, representatives of all Talysh
                organizations were invited to a meeting held on the initiative of
                the European Parliament, Associate Professor of the Oriental Studies
                Department of Yerevan State University Vardan Voskanyan told a news
                conference in Yerevan.

                "It is the first time that the Talysh people announced from a high
                European rostrum that they want to establish an independent state in
                the southeast of Azerbaijan," Voskanyan noted.

                Over the past one year and a half, the Talyshs have been actively
                cooperating with Armenian organizations and scientific-educational
                institutions, according to the expert.

                "The Talyshs expect Armenian and Iranian schools to cover Talysh
                culture and history as well as expect lobbying from the Armenian
                authorities," Mr Voskanyan said.

                http://www.panorama.am/en/politics/2...8/v-voskanyan/
                Hayastan or Bust.

                Comment


                • Re: Regional geopolitics

                  WHAT'S BEHIND THE PURGES IN AZERBAIJAN'S MILITARY?

                  EurasiaNet.org
                  March 18 2014

                  March 18, 2014 - 1:48pm, by Joshua Kucera

                  The new leadership in Azerbaijan's Ministry of Defense has been
                  undertaking a thorough housecleaning of the ministry in the months
                  since the new minister, Zakir Hasanov, took over.

                  Earlier this month, it was reported that several senior officers were
                  "sent to reserve," meaning they were removed from active duty service.

                  Among those number were former Defense Minister Safar Abiyev and at
                  least seven other high-ranking officers. Jasur Mammadov Sumerinli,
                  a Baku-based defense analyst, told The Bug Pit that the way this
                  usually works is that because many high-ranking officers formally
                  serve only in a temporary capacity, they are not formally fired. In
                  the case of these several generals, they were all removed from their
                  posts in November and December 2013, and just now moved to the reserve.

                  Separately, President Ilham Aliyev dismissed the commander of
                  Azerbaijan's navy, Vice Admiral Shahin Sultanov and replaced him with
                  Captain 1st Rank Yunus Mammadov, who had been serving as Chief of
                  Naval Operations. (Not long before, interestingly, there were media
                  reports that Sultanov had been arrested, though the MoD denied them)

                  And on a visit to the exclave of Nakhcivan in January, Hasanov made
                  a number of personnel changes to the armed forces units there, and
                  reporting about those changes apparently annoyed the Ministry of
                  Defense. "Replacements are being carried out in accordance with the
                  requirements of Regulation 'On military service' and aimed at increase
                  of the efficiency of service," the ministry said in a statement. "The
                  Defense Ministry recommends people and media representatives to be more
                  sensitive in protecting state secrets while disseminating information
                  about reforms, structural changes, appointments, replacements and
                  promotions carried out in the Armed Forces."

                  The changes are mostly connected with an internal power struggle,
                  Sumerinli said: most of the dismissed generals were close to Abiyev.

                  The other power center within the ministry is led by Najmaddin Sadigov,
                  the chief of general staff of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces.

                  "These two groups were constantly in conflict," Sumerinli said.

                  Sadigov remains in his position and to reduce conflict, Hasanov is
                  removing Abiyev's men, he said.

                  Emil Sanamyan, a U.S.-based editor of the newspaper Armenian Reporter
                  who follows defense developments in Baku closely, agreed with
                  Sumerinli's take on the power struggle. He also pointed to another
                  power struggle within the security forces, that overall control of
                  the military is, he says, in the hands of the chief of the KGB Vahid
                  Aliyev and police general and presidential security adviser Maherram
                  Aliyev. Sanamyan notes that Vahid Aliyev's former deputy was recently
                  appointed as the chief of the air force. "So Hassanov is more of a
                  figurehead than even Abiyev was."

                  Another factor in the new appointments could be an effort to root
                  out corruption, Sumerinli said, noting that some media reports have
                  focused on that angle. But he said that there was no reason to believe
                  that the Sadigov-associated generals were any less corrupt than the
                  Abiyev allies.

                  http://www.eurasianet.org/node/68163
                  Hayastan or Bust.

                  Comment


                  • Re: Regional geopolitics

                    AZERBAIJANI ANALYST: FEAR OF RUSSIA IN BAKU AMID UKRAINE EVENTS

                    March 20, 2014 | 17:50

                    In Azerbaijan they are drawing parallels between Ukrainian events
                    and Nagorno-Karabakh, said Azerbainani analyst Arif Yunusov.

                    Yunusov, representative of Azerbaijan-based Migration Department of
                    the Institute for Peace and Democracy, participated in the "NATO and
                    South Caucasus: Strategic Approach to Regional Security" conference
                    organized by Yerevan-bsaed strategic analysis center.

                    Speaking about Azerbaijan's attitude toward Ukrainian events, he said
                    there is fear of Russia in the country.

                    "If once they said about the possible accession to the Customs Union,
                    today the topic faded away," he said.

                    Moreover, he added, the Ukrainian crisis provoked a fear of revolution
                    in Azerbaijan.

                    "Credibility in the West has reduced, the society is skeptical about
                    democratic values. Azerbaijani authorities have launched campaign
                    against pro-Western forces," Yunusof said.

                    He noted that the leadership of Azerbaijan demands from Europe and the
                    United States to choose between energy exports and democratic values,
                    that are permanently violated.

                    In these circumstances, the revival of the Islamic factor, the analyst
                    beleievs, is quite natural.

                    News from Armenia - NEWS.am
                    Hayastan or Bust.

                    Comment


                    • Re: Regional geopolitics

                      Armenia-US Relations: Unfulfilled Promise

                      http://www.armenianweekly.com/2014/0...illed-promise/
                      By Kate Nahapetian // March 21, 2014


                      The Armenian Weekly March 2014 Magazine:
                      Armenia's Foreign Policy in Focus

                      Armenia has, since the rebirth of her independent state in 1991,
                      pursued a forward-leaning policy to strengthen ties with the United
                      States and NATO. Unfortunately, Armenia's outreach and initiatives to
                      bolster support and investment from the United States have largely not
                      been reciprocated by the Obama Administration.



                      Kerry and Davutoglu address reporters after their meeting in
                      Washington, D.C., on Nov. 18, 2013. (State Department Photo)

                      Strengthening ties with NATO

                      Armenia has been a member of NATO's Partnership for Peace program
                      since 1994 and currently has troops stationed as part of NATO forces
                      in Afghanistan and Kosovo. Armenia also supported U.S.-led efforts in
                      the Iraq war.

                      In June 2011, as countries were pulling out of Afghanistan, Armenia
                      actually tripled its troop deployment there. Armenia has 4 times more
                      troops in Afghanistan per capita than Turkey and 10 times more per
                      capita than either Canada or France. In February of this year, Armenia
                      pledged to keep its military contingent in Afghanistan even after
                      NATO's mission is concluded in order to support the U.S.-led alliance
                      to train and assist the Afghan army. Armenian Defense Minister Seyran
                      Ohanian stated that Armenia is committed to "continuous contribution
                      to coalition efforts to establish lasting security in Afghanistan."

                      Despite regional pressures related to Armenia's relationship with
                      NATO, Armenia's First Deputy Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan, during a
                      visit from U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Evelyn Farkas in
                      December 2013, explained that "joining one or another economic bloc
                      does not inhibit Armenia. On the contrary, our defense cooperation
                      with the United States will develop and deepen further." Farkas in
                      turn thanked Armenia for being a "net exporter of security" and noted
                      that "Armenia is a significant partner to the United States in many
                      ways."

                      It is important to note that after the 2008 Georgian-Russian war,
                      Armenia was the first country to host NATO exercises in the Caucasus.
                      Armenia announced then that it was going to increase its ties with
                      NATO, and it has done so ever since.

                      Remaining an actor in the protocols farce

                      Perhaps the U.S.'s most significant initiative in the region has been
                      its effort to end Turkey's blockade of Armenia through the protocols.
                      The protocols provided President Barack Obama the cover he needed to
                      dodge his pledge to end U.S. complicity in Armenian Genocide denial.
                      It was the excuse he used in his first April 24th statement to not
                      recognize the genocide, even though he assured Armenian Americans that
                      his "view of that history has not changed."



                      Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian with Armenian troops in
                      Afghanistan in 2010 (Photo: official website of the Defense Ministry
                      of Armenia)

                      Although there was strong opposition to the protocols within both
                      Armenia and the diaspora, Armenian President Serge Sarkisian has
                      continued to support this U.S.-led initiative, even though Turkey made
                      it clear, within a day of its signing, that it had no intention of
                      abiding by the agreement.

                      Now, more than four years later, Armenia still has not withdrawn its
                      signature from the protocols--this, despite the fact that they are
                      being used by Ankara to undermine legitimate Armenian claims, and have
                      helped forces who wish to turn the Armenian Genocide from a crime to
                      be internationally condemned into a simple bilateral disagreement
                      between Turkey and Armenia.

                      The protocols have helped shield Turkey from outside pressure
                      concerning the Armenian Genocide. As a result, Turkey has taken an
                      even more aggressive posture against Armenia, including more vocally
                      supporting Azerbaijan's anti-Armenian policies, threatening to deport
                      Armenians in Turkey, accusing Armenia of committing
                      atrocities--allegedly the "greatest tragedy of the 20th century"--in the
                      Karabagh War, and demolishing a statue to Armenian-Turkish friendship,
                      all of which have happened since the protocols were signed.

                      Despite Turkey making a mockery of the process and the U.S.'s
                      unwillingness to pressure Turkey beyond the occasional empty rhetoric
                      that the "ball is in Turkey's court," Armenia continues to keep its
                      signature on the protocols. Armenia has made it clear that it has done
                      so out of deference to foreign powers, such as the United States.

                      What has been the US response?

                      Armenia is small in size, but big in terms of America's strategic
                      interests in the world. It sits in the middle of Washington's top
                      foreign policy priorities--Iran, Russia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, and
                      Syria--where it can play an important role. Although the second largest
                      U.S. embassy in the world sits not in Baghdad or Berlin, but in
                      Yerevan, the United States does not have much to show for its efforts
                      to promote trade or investment or reciprocate Armenia's efforts to
                      strengthen the partnership.

                      Its signature diplomatic initiative in Armenia was the protocols,
                      which garnered the intense attention of Secretary of State Hillary
                      Clinton and President Obama before Armenia and Turkey agreed to sign
                      the accord. Since Turkey quickly made it clear that it was not going
                      to abide by that agreement, the United States' willingness to pour
                      political capital into realizing the agreement dramatically decreased.

                      The U.S. has not made Turkey pay a price for its failure to ratify the
                      protocols and end its blockade. Instead, it has rewarded Turkey by
                      publicly saying it could have a role to play in the Karabakh peace
                      process, whereas previous administrations made it clear that Turkey
                      would only have a negative impact on the peace process. For instance,
                      in November 2013 at a joint press conference with Turkish Foreign
                      Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Secretary of State John Kerry discussed
                      consultations with Turkey over Nagorno-Karabagh without even
                      mentioning the protocols or Turkey's need to end its blockade of
                      Armenia. Davutoglu felt comfortable claiming, "Today I am happy to see
                      that John and me and Turkey and the United States look to
                      [Nagorno-Karabagh] from the same perspective."

                      Not only did President Obama fail to honor his pledge to recognize the
                      Armenian Genocide, but his former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton,
                      questioned the veracity of the Armenian Genocide--a move no other
                      former Secretary of State in recent memory has made. In addition,
                      Obama's Solicitor General filed a brief in opposition to a California
                      statute that allowed for Armenian Genocide-era property claims to be
                      brought in U.S. courts. The Supreme Court refused to hear the case and
                      the California law was struck down, denying justice to Armenian
                      Americans.

                      Even on issues that would not risk the unreasonable wrath of Turkey,
                      and even though numerous Members of Congress and U.S. corporations
                      (such as Microsoft, NASDAQ, and Fed Ex) have urged the administration
                      to immediately negotiate a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement
                      (TIFA) with Armenia, the Obama Administration hasn't pursued U.S.
                      interests in promoting trade with Armenia.

                      After a near continuous four years of Armenia extending its hand
                      towards NATO and continuing to support the failed U.S.-backed
                      protocols with Turkey, Armenian Americans cannot point to any
                      meaningful benefit to U.S.-Armenia relations or trade. In fact, as the
                      examples above illustrate, there were actually steps that undermined a
                      strengthening of the partnership. What did, it seems, finally get the
                      attention of the Obama Administration was not Armenia's continued
                      support for the protocols and other U.S. policies, but rather
                      Armenia's decision to move toward Russia's Custom's Union. Soon after
                      the United States announced an over $250 million investment by the
                      U.S. firm ContourGlobal in hydroelectric power plants in Armenia.

                      The announcement of a major U.S. investment in Armenia is a welcome
                      first step in promoting greater U.S.-Armenia ties. Despite the many
                      regional challenges, most notably the hostile neighbors it faces in
                      both Turkey and Azerbaijan, Armenia is determined to strengthen its
                      ties with the United States and Europe. The United States should do
                      more to strengthen this partnership. Doing so will provide the United
                      States with greater options to pursue its interests and promote
                      stability in a geostrategic region. Moreover, the Obama Administration
                      should stop compromising our values as a country to placate the most
                      radical elements in Turkey, especially when it concerns confronting
                      Turkey's state-sponsored denial of the Armenian Genocide, which is at
                      the root of instability between Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. As
                      Americans, we are, in our relations with Armenia and all nations, at
                      our best when we align our policies with our values.
                      Hayastan or Bust.

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