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Regional geopolitics

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  • Re: Regional geopolitics

    Politics - Wednesday, 26 March 2014, 13:38

    The ex-president of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili announced that the
    attack on Imedi TV in 2007 was the reaction of complex factors, reported. Saakashvili told who, where and how a state coup
    was plotted in Georgia.

    "One of the leaders of CIS members, I don't want to mention his name
    now, he is still in office, told me that after a conversation with
    Putin Patarkatsishvili and several generals of the Russian Federal
    Bureau of Security arrived, it was in 2007. They planned the action
    in Georgia with generals for several days. Later in November, during
    one of the meetings with the CIS, Putin said that Patarkatsishvili is
    the president of Georgia. Earlier the Federal Bureau of Investigations
    sent us a letter that the thieves-in-law Musoyan, Kalashov and someone
    else were in Armenia and planned a coup in Georgia," Saakashvili said
    in an interview with Rustavi 2 TV.

    According to him, the state coup was plotted in parallel with Georgia's
    membership to NATO, particularly when a big NATO delegation came to
    Georgia and established that Georgia's NATO membership is irreversible.

    According to Saakashvili, it was a successful attempt of a state coup
    because he resigned.

    - See more at:
    Hayastan or Bust.


    • Re: Regional geopolitics

      BBC News
      28 March 2014

      Vladimir Putin: The rebuilding of ‘Soviet’ Russia

      The world was stunned when Russia invaded Crimea, but should it have been? Author and journalist Oliver Bullough says President Vladimir Putin never kept secret his intention to restore Russian power - what's less clear, he says, is how long the country's rise can continue.
      On 16 August 1999, the members of Russia's parliament - the State Duma - met to approve the candidacy of a prime minister. They heard the candidate's speech, they asked him a few questions, and they dutifully confirmed him in the position.
      This was President Boris Yeltsin's fifth premier in 16 months, and one confused party leader got the name wrong. He said he would support the candidacy of Stepashin - the surname of the recently sacked prime minister - rather than that of his little-known successor, before making an embarrassing correction.
      If even leading Duma deputies couldn't remember the new prime minister's name, you couldn't blame the rest of the world if it didn't pay much attention to his speech. He was unlikely to head the Russian government for more than a couple of months anyway, so why bother?
      That man was a former KGB officer, Vladimir Putin, and he has been in charge of the world's largest country, as president or prime minister, ever since. Few realised it at the time, because few were listening, but that speech provided a blueprint for pretty much everything he has done, for how he would re-shape a country that was perilously close to total collapse.
      Just 364 days previously, Russia had defaulted on its debt. Salaries for public sector workers and pensions were being paid months late, if at all. Basic infrastructure was collapsing. The country's most prized assets belonged to a handful of well-connected "oligarchs", who ran the country like a private fiefdom.
      The once-mighty Russian army had lost a war in Chechnya, a place with fewer inhabitants than Russia had soldiers. Three former Warsaw Pact allies had joined Nato, bringing the Western alliance up to Russia's borders. Meanwhile, the country was led by Yeltsin, an irascible drunkard in fragile health. The situation was desperate, but Putin had a plan.
      "I cannot cover all the tasks facing the government in this speech. But I do know one thing for sure: not one of those tasks can be performed without imposing basic order and discipline in this country, without strengthening the vertical chain," he told the assembled parliamentarians.
      Born in Leningrad in 1952, Putin came of age in the Soviet Union's golden years, the period after the USSR's astonishing triumph in World War Two. Sputnik, the hydrogen bomb, Laika the dog and Yuri Gagarin all bore witness to Soviet ingenuity. The crushing of Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968 bore witness to Soviet resolve. Soviet citizens were enjoying a time of peace and prosperity. Life was stable. People got paid. The world respected them. Everyone knew their place.
      When Putin spoke to the Duma, his homeland was a different, and less respected place. He spoke the language of a man who yearned for the lost certainties, who longed for a time when Moscow was to be reckoned with. He did not say it explicitly, but he was clearly stung by Russia's failure to stop Nato driving the forces of its ally, Serbia, out of Kosovo just months previously.
      "Russia has been a great power for centuries, and remains so. It has always had and still has legitimate zones of interest ... We should not drop our guard in this respect, neither should we allow our opinion to be ignored," he said.
      His domestic policy was to restore stability, to end what he called the "revolutions", that had brought Russia low. His foreign policy was to regain Russia's place in world affairs. Those two core aims have driven everything he has done since. If only people had been listening, none of his actions would have come as a surprise to them.
      Since then, he has seized every opportunity history has offered him, from the attacks of 11 September 2001 to the Ukrainian Revolution of 2013, in his bid to secure his aims. He has been tactically astute and ruthlessly opportunistic. At home and abroad, he wants Russia to regain the prestige it held when he was growing up.
      The obvious place to start his campaign was in Chechnya, symbol of Russia's collapse. The Chechens had defeated Yeltsin's attempt to crush their self-declared independence, but it proved a bitter victory. The war devastated Chechnya's people, economy and infrastructure. Chechnya became a sink of kidnapping, violence and crime, and - until Putin - no-one did anything about it.
      Finally, for long-suffering patriotic Russians, here was a man not only able to pay their pensions, but prepared to get his hands dirty to defend their homeland. By the turn of the millennium, when Yeltsin stood down, and appointed Putin acting president in his place, the unknown prime minister's public approval rating was above 70% a level it has barely dipped below ever since.
      Human rights groups and some Western governments accused Putin of breaking Russian and international law in his pursuit of his Chechen opponents. (The European Court of Human Rights has found against Russia in 232 "right to life" cases, effectively ruling that Russia repeatedly committed murder during its Chechen campaign.) But that has done nothing to dent Putin's popularity.
      In Chechnya, hundreds of soldiers and thousands of Chechens died. Hundreds of thousands of Chechens fled to claim asylum outside Russia, but Russia's territorial integrity was secured, and Putin had begun his task of restoring Russian prestige.
      After 11 September 2001, Putin recast his Chechen campaign as part of the global fight against terrorism, thus muting international criticism of his troops' conduct. He became briefly close to President George W Bush - who even claimed to have glimpsed Putin's soul - until the Iraq War drove them apart. In Iraq, Putin insisted that international law must be upheld - no invasion could be allowed without approval from the United Nations Security Council, and that approval was not forthcoming.
      At home, he crushed the most powerful of the oligarchs, first those who controlled media assets, thus taming the lively television scene, and then in 2003 police arrested Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the richest man in the country. His oil company was dismembered and bought by a state oil company. He was jailed in a process so egregiously predetermined that Amnesty International declared him to be a prisoner of conscience.
      "I think it became absolutely clear when Khodorkovsky was arrested, that Putin was not going after the oligarchs to reassert the power of democratic civil society over these titans. He was doing it as part of building an authoritarian regime," says Chrystia Freeland, the FT's bureau chief in Moscow when Putin came to power, and now a Liberal member of the Canadian parliament. (She is also one of the 13 Canadians barred from entering Russia this week in response to Canada's imposition of sanctions against Russian officials.)
      Putin kept a tight grip on the parliamentary elections at the end of 2003, and his allies gained two-thirds of the Duma. He praised the poll as a step towards "strengthening democracy" - monitors from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe called it "overwhelmingly distorted".
      In just four years, Putin had crushed Chechnya, reined in the free media and the oligarchs, gained a parliament that would do whatever he wanted, and shown that Russia had a strong voice in international affairs.
      "He says what he thinks and does what he says - at least much more than probably any other contemporary politician or statesman. Western analysts and politicians always try to uncover some sort of false bottom in his statements, when there often isn't one. That applies to many other Soviet leaders including Stalin - at least in the run-up to and during WW2," says Dmitry Linnik, London bureau chief of the Voice of Russia radio.
      "He is a nationalist - in the federal 'Russian', not ethnic 'Russian', sense of the word. That is his biggest driving force, I think - not hunger for power or personal ambition."
      But Freeland disagrees.
      "I think he has taken a series of decisions, quite rationally from his narrow personal point of view, that this kind of autocratic regime gives him the most personal power and personal wealth," she says.
      There was one thing missing to make the world of his childhood complete: an ideology.
      Putin restored some Soviet symbols. He brought back the Soviet national anthem and Soviet emblems, and praised the Soviet triumph in World War Two. But he embraced pre-Soviet themes too. He befriended the Russian Orthodox Church, and name-checked anti-Soviet philosophers like Ivan Ilyin, whose remains he had repatriated to Russia and buried with honour.
      This trend towards a uniquely Russian form of conservatism accelerated after the wave of protests against electoral fraud that struck Moscow in 2011-2, which alienated Putin from Russia's liberals. Among his favourite ideologues is Vladimir Yakunin, an old friend, a fellow KGB graduate, an Orthodox believer and now head of Russian Railways, one of the country's most strategically significant companies.
      "Russia is not between Europe and Asia. Europe and Asia are to the left and right of Russia. We are not a bridge between them but a separate civilisational space, where Russia unites the civilisational communities of East and West," Yakunin said in a recent interview with Itar-Tass. Last week, he was added to the US sanctions list for "membership of the Russian leadership's inner circle", following the annexation of Crimea.
      The idea of Russia being separate from but equal to the West is convenient, since it allows the Kremlin to reject Western criticism of its elections, its court cases, its foreign policy, as biased and irrelevant.
      Many of Putin's friends, though dismissive of the West's economics, politics, values and structures, are, however, much attached to its comforts. Both of Yakunin's sons live in Western Europe - one in London, one in Switzerland - and his grandchildren are growing up there. According to the anti-corruption campaigner, Alexei Navalny, Yakunin has built himself a palace outside Moscow using foreign limestone and building materials brought in from Germany - a strange step for a man supposedly wedded to creating a Russian economy independent of the West.
      Putin too has espoused principles, then dropped them when they proved inconvenient. In Iraq in 2003, he made a stand in defence of international law, opposing any invasion without UN approval. In Georgia in 2008, he sent in the troops without even pretending to consult with the Security Council.
      Last year, intervention in Syria was out of the question. This year, intervention in Ukraine is justified and unimpeachably legitimate. It may be that principles have never been the issue - and that Putin's objective has always been to maximise Russian power, and to defy Western attempts to rein Russia in.
      "We have every reason to assume that the infamous policy of containment, conducted in the 18th, 19th and 20th Centuries, continues today. They are constantly trying to sweep us into a corner because we have an independent position," said Putin in his speech last week announcing the annexation of Crimea, a speech that repeated all his points from 1999, but with 15 years worth of additional resentment.
      "If you compress the spring all the way to its limit, it will snap back hard. You must always remember this."
      It is not easy re-shaping a country on your own, and Putin has needed the assistance of one key group within Russian society. While he has cracked down on independent journalists, businessmen and politicians, he has relied on state officials to make sure his ideas are implemented.
      They have been well rewarded for their help. Wages for top officials increased last year by 20%, four times the increase in the general budget. Putin's spending binge means that, for the budget to balance, Brent crude must now average around $117 a barrel, more than five times the level needed in 2006, according to analysis from Deutsche Bank.
      Even that is not enough for top officials. Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokontsev said last week that, in 2013, the average bribe in Russia had doubled to $4,000. Last year, Transparency International gave Russia 127th place on its Corruption Perception Index, rating it as corrupt as Pakistan, Mali and Madagascar.
      "Putin has really painted himself into a corner by destroying every independent source of power in Russia. He now has only the bureaucracy to rely on, and must keep increasing its funding to keep ensuring its loyalty," says Ben Judah, the British author of Fragile State, a study of Putin's Russia.
      "Eventually, the money is going to run out, and then he will find himself in the same position Soviet leaders were in by the late 1980s, forced to confront political and economic crises, while trying to hold the country together. He looks strong now, but his Kremlin is built on the one thing in Russia doesn't control: the price of oil."
      Putin has succeeded in building a version of the country of his childhood, one that can act independently in the world, and one where dissent is controlled and the Kremlin's power unchallenged. But that is a double-edged sword, because the Soviet Union collapsed for a reason, and a Russia recreated in its image risks sharing its fate.
      According to Vladimir Bukovsky, a dissident who spent a decade in Soviet prisons before his exile to the West in 1976, Putin is totally genuine when he says the disintegration of the Soviet Union was a "geopolitical catastrophe".
      "He does not understand that the collapse of the Soviet system was predetermined, therefore he believes his mission is to restore the Soviet system as soon as possible," he says.
      As a middle-ranking KGB officer who loved the Soviet Union, Putin lacked the perspective of senior officers, who knew full well the Soviet Union collapsed under the weight of its own inefficiency rather than because of Western plotting, Bukovsky says.
      "It leads him exactly to… repeat the same mistakes. He wants this whole country to be controlled by one person from the Kremlin, which will lead to disaster," he says.
      Putin's decision to invade Crimea was taken quickly and impulsively, by a small group of his favoured top officials. That means Putin has no one to warn him of the long-term consequences of his actions, and until he finds out for himself, he will maintain his course. That means relations with the West will remain uncomfortable, especially in areas he considers to be his "zone of legitimate interests".
      But we can't say we weren't warned.
      Oliver Bullough is Caucasus editor at the Institute of War and Peace Reporting. His most recent book is The Last Man in Russia, detailing the demographic decline of the Russian nation.


      • Re: Regional geopolitics

        Originally posted by Haykakan View Post
        Politics - Wednesday, 26 March 2014, 13:38

        The ex-president of Georgia Mikhail

        According to Saakashvili, it was a successful attempt of a state coup
        because he resigned.

        - See more at:


        et vontz hamartzagvetzir lrgirits ardadbel ?????


        • Re: Regional geopolitics

          Originally posted by vrej1915 View Post

          Et vontz hamartzagvetzir lrgirits ardadbel ?????
          <<եթե զենք էլ չլինի' ես քարերով կկրվեմ>>


          • Re: Regional geopolitics


            March 27 2014

            Author: Radikal (Turkey)Posted March 27, 2014
            by Cengiz Candar

            I had just landed in Beirut when I learned that Turkey had shot
            down a Syrian plane. Earlier, shortly before I boarded the flight,
            I had learned of the first armed confrontation between proponents and
            opponents of Syria in Beirut, clashing all night in a neighborhood
            on a road from the airport to the city.

            As I wrote this article in Beirut yesterday morning [March 25], the
            media broke the news that Kasab, a predominantly Armenian town on the
            Syrian-Turkish border, had fallen in the hands of the al-Qaeda-linked
            Jabhat al-Nusra.

            Yesterday's front page of the As-Safir newspaper, meanwhile,
            reported that rebels had seized the only regime-held crossing at
            the Turkish border, between Kasab and the Turkish town of Yayladag,
            carrying pictures of bearded Salafist militants from Ansar al-Islam
            and Ahrar al-Sham. The photos were credited to "Anatolia news agency"
            -- this goes without comment.

            A Turk visiting Lebanon amid such developments would inevitably face
            questions on the Syrian crisis and Turkey's position. And that's what
            happened to me at a panel at Balamand University, perched on a hill
            overlooking Tripoli, Lebanon's second-largest city.

            I was there with two other writers for Al-Monitor, the news site that
            has become a major reference for Middle East affairs: Sami Nader,
            a prominent Lebanese intellectual and economist, and Ali Hashem, the
            Tehran bureau chief of al-Mayadeen, a television channel considered
            to be pro-Syrian. The topic of the panel was the role of the media,
            especially social media, in the Syrian conflict.

            About 200 of the university's students -- and in fact the majority
            of our audience -- were Syrians and, as we were cautioned in advance,
            "extremely politicized."

            Tripoli, unlike Beirut, is part of the Syrian war not indirectly
            but directly. The city has had loose bonds with Beirut historically,
            having its primary links with the Syrian city of Homs and serving as
            its seaport.

            It feels awkward to be with an audience dominated by Syrian students,
            not far from Tripoli, when your country has just shot down a Syrian
            plane. It feels even more awkward to speak on Syria in the context
            of social media when your country has banned Twitter, in a "medieval"
            attempt to counter 21st-century technology.

            But I was "saved" in a paradoxical way: Skepticism over Turkey's
            Syria policy here has reached such an extent that it is no longer
            taken seriously and, compared to one year ago, Prime Minister Recep
            Tayyip Erdogan's reputation has gone through the floor.

            A year ago, a Turkish F-16 shooting down a Syrian MiG-23 would
            have instantly spurred a spirit of national solidarity among the
            overwhelming majority of Turks.

            Today, however, anything Erdogan says or does or wants to do is
            met with suspicion, for a very large part of the public has lost
            trust in a prime minister who has demonstrated matchless skills in
            polarizing society.

            No matter what they say, the downing of the Syrian plane is also met
            with suspicion. After all, Turkey is now headed by a leader who is
            attacking Twitter to cover up a corruption/theft probe and seems to
            consider even a wholesale ban on the Internet, making a laughingstock
            of himself.

            Many Turks believe that a man waging a war on the cyberworld is capable
            of orchestrating an external crisis to save his rule, especially when
            the Crimea turmoil has made Turkey look so helpless.

            Turning south to compensate for the "helplessness" in the north might
            come in handy ahead of elections.

            Needless to say, Bashar al-Assad's regime is brutal. But Erdogan's
            policy of supporting al-Qaeda (Jabhat al-Nusra) and Salafist groups
            under the pretext of backing the Free Syrian Army holds no water. Not
            any longer.

            The real trouble for Turkey is that the tensions and problems it has
            recently faced are unlikely to go away with the elections. On the
            contrary, they may even get worse.

            Yesterday, I came across a tweet from Marc Pierini, the former EU
            ambassador to Turkey who continues to closely follow the country:
            "Last days of municipal campaign in Turkey: All sides will be striking
            hard. Western capitals are wondering how democracy will be restored."

            The word "restored" could be translated both as "repaired" and
            "re-established" in Turkish. Hence, in Western European eyes, Turkish
            democracy is so badly damaged that it needs a major overhaul or has
            to be rebuilt anew.

            For the West, the threat embodied by Erdogan has jeopardized democracy,
            but for others it targets also Islam, as Islamic intellectual Ali
            Bulac argues in a striking interview with Aksiyon magazine.

            Bulac says Erdogan's credibility in religious quarters is on the
            decline: "Religious groups had given them credit. They said, 'You
            can govern us, you are reliable, decent people.' Their trust is now
            damaged. Those people care about who represents their faith and make
            judgments accordingly. If they have started to look at a Muslim and
            wonder, 'How can a Muslim commit corruption? How can a Muslim lie,
            get that rich and look down on others?' then there is a big problem."

            Bulac makes intriguing observations on the perception that "they steal,
            but they work hard," which is said to be widespread in society: "This
            is a sign of moral degeneration in society. There is a saying that
            'people follow the sultan's religion.' It means that doing what the
            sultan does is considered fine. Moreover, the people in question are
            believers. So, it boils down to a thinking that religion permits graft,
            that a door is left open there. Meanwhile, retirees, farmers, artisans
            who don't steal but bear the consequences of graft would come to think,
            'If that's what religion is, I don't need it.' This is a big disaster."

            Bulac then expresses his concerns "in the name of Islam, Muslims
            and Turkey" as he utters his most hard-hitting words: "An Islamic
            heritage accumulated over a century -- not 10 or 20 years -- is
            being ruined. It really hurts. The wells that [Turkey's] Muslims have
            dug up with needles since the Young Turks are now being turned into
            swamps. All those painstaking efforts are being wasted. Simultaneously,
            we are losing our reputation and opportunities in the Middle East. It
            would take at least 20, if not 50 years to make up."

            As someone who has spent almost 50 years of his life in the Middle
            East or closely following the Middle East and writing this article in
            Lebanon after traveling from Baghdad to Karbala in Iraq two weeks ago,
            I can confirm that Bulac's words are right on the spot.

            Let me conclude with another observation from the Middle East: The
            sooner Turkey's reins are taken from Erdogan's hands, the sooner
            Turkey will "restore" its democracy and redeem its reputation in the
            Middle East.

            Hayastan or Bust.


            • Re: Regional geopolitics

              Originally posted by Vrej1915 View Post

              et vontz hamartzagvetzir lrgirits ardadbel ?????
              Eskakanits Lragir=zibil. Skhal aretsi. Baits gone du vertjapes jogeles te ko papan ova.
              Hayastan or Bust.


              • Re: Regional geopolitics

                Originally posted by Haykakan View Post
                Eskakanits Lragir=zibil. Skhal aretsi. Baits gone du vertjapes jogeles te ko papan ova.
                Arkhayin, vaghutz yem tchigel intch patzarig HANJAR ESS..........


                • Re: Regional geopolitics


                  The Voice of Russia
                  March 28 2014

                  The US policy on Armenia has resulted in a break-up of Armenia's once
                  powerful light industry, in lopsided reforms and the ensuing economic
                  and social problems. According to experts, the US long-term plans to
                  make Armenia distance itself from Russia are hardly feasible today,
                  just as they were unfeasible 20 years ago. Americans have to take
                  into account the historical and political realities of the region.

                  The US has never cherished illusions about the post-Soviet Armenia.

                  Washington has conversely been and will remain suspicious of Yerevan,
                  for Armenia is Russia's strategic partner, a member state of the
                  Collective Security Treaty Organization and has friendly relations with
                  Iran despite the geographical and geopolitical realities. And yet, the
                  US seeks to play an active role in the Trans-Caucasus. The US has for
                  example tried to ensure that Armenia and Turkey will open their border,
                  one that's been closed since 1993 at the insistence of Ankara. The US
                  thus sought to bolster its ally Turkey's position in the region. But
                  the diplomatic effort of 2010 yielded no specific result. The US plan
                  failed. This is what Director of the Institute for Caucasus Studies,
                  political analyst Alexander Iskandaryan, says about it in a comment.

                  "The US has clearly miscalculated. The moment the Armenian-Turkish
                  factor became a factor in Turkey's home policy, the US pressure proved
                  insufficient. There is a world of a difference between pressurizing
                  Turkey in Zurich and doing the same thing in Ankara. Besides, the US
                  badly needs Turkey; it needs the crazy house that's emerged in the
                  Middle East in recent years. Ankara is perfectly aware of that. So, it
                  was the US miscalculation and also the drastically changed situation,
                  I mean the Arab Spring, etc. In short, the US efforts failed".

                  Yet another factor in the US attempted boosting of influence on Armenia
                  over the past 20 years have been all sorts of grant programmes, the
                  loan financing of government and central bank programmes, and also
                  support for numerous nongovernmental public organizations that have
                  initiated most protest actions in Armenia.

                  According to experts and analysts, the US is thus trying to create
                  financial dependence and pro-western sentiment of the local elite. But
                  according to an Armenian political analyst and spin doctor Vigen
                  Akopyan, the Americans failed to ensure an alternative to Russia in
                  such important areas as military and economic security.

                  "Security is of paramount importance to Armenia. If Armenia has strong
                  armed forces, it will be able to settle the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh,
                  and will also manage to settle economic problems. Transfers are
                  also very important. A transfer is Armenia's second budget. Some 2.5
                  billion dollars are transferred to Armenia officially every year.

                  Russia accounts for some 86% of that amount. Americans have failed
                  to offer alternatives to these important factors".

                  Experts also point out that the US has never tried to stage a coup
                  in Armenia, like the one in Georgia, because of Armenia's obvious
                  orientation towards Russia. An increasingly great number of experts
                  agree that to weaken Russia's influence on the region will soon
                  become next to impossible, given Armenia's forthcoming joining of
                  the Customs Union.

                  Hayastan or Bust.


                  • Re: Regional geopolitics

                    Syrian rebels allowed to attack Latakia from Turkish soil under Turkish air cover. Iran raises Cain in Ankara
                    March 29, 2014,

                    Turkey has ratcheted up its intervention in the Syrian war to an unprecedented level, according to exclusive DEBKAfile military and intelligence sources. For the first time in the three-year conflict the Turkish army is allowing Syrian rebel forces, including the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, passage through Turkish territory for their offensive to capture the northwestern Syrian coastal area where the Assad clan’s lands are situated.
                    Ankara’s support for the rebels is inclusive: Turkish troops are posted at the roadside with supplies of ammo, fuel, food, mechanical repair crews and medical aid for rebel forces as they head north. The Turkish air force gives them air cover and Turkish agents arm them with surveillance data on Syrian military movements ahead.
                    The Syrian fighter jet shot down on March 23 just inside the Turkish border was in fact downed in a dogfight with Turkish warplanes, while trying to bomb the rebel convoy heading for the new combat arena. Both sides preferred to stay quiet about the incident and its causes.
                    The rebels receiving Turkish military support are disclosed by our sources as belonging to two militias: The Syrian Revolutionaries Front under the command of Jamal Maarouf, which has gathered in remnants of the disbanded Free Syrian Army; and the Islamic Front, sponsored until recently by Saudi intelligence. They number around 4,000 fighting men including elements of the Nusra Front.
                    With powerful Turkish backing, this force has been able to carve a very narrow corridor into northwest Syria from the tall Jabal al-Zawiya in the Idlib region up to a point near Syria’s northern Mediterranean coast, thereby severing the northwestern link between Syria and Turkey.
                    This was the first time rebel forces had gained full control of a strategic corridor. First, they had to battle through and capture the towns of Kazab, Khirbet and Samra northwest of the coastal town of Latakia.
                    The Syrian army is throwing air, armored and heavy artillery strength against the rebels to stop them firming up their positions in those towns, while also aiming to regain command of the Syrian-Turkish border region.
                    The fighting Saturday, March 29 was most intense around Kasab.
                    This new development in the Syrian war raises two questions:
                    1. For how long can the Syrian rebels hold out against constant battering by superior military strength?
                    2. If the rebels are thrown out of their new positions, will the Turkish army come to their aid? If so, it would be Ankara’s first outright military incursion into Syrian territory and the first intrusion by a NATO member in its civil conflict.
                    Our sources in Ankara report that Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan is in favor of going ahead. He is vehemently opposed by the Turkish chief of staff.
                    It is this argument which triggered the banning of YouTube by the Turkish government Friday, March 28 - not the important municipal elections taking place Monday. A leaked recording published anonymously purported to reveal a conversation between Turkey’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, spy chief Hakan Fidan and a general discussing how to drum up a pretext for a Turkish attack inside Syria. A voice identified as that of Fidan appeared to suggest a missile assault as the pretext for a Turkish invasion.
                    Erdogan and Turkish intelligence chiefs are convinced that the leak was orchestrated by generals who are against deeper Turkish involvement in the Syria war
                    In the meantime, DEBKAfile’s Iranian sources report that Tehran was so jittery about this turn of events that a Iranian military delegation was rushed to Ankara, arriving Saturday, to force the Erdogan to take his hands off the Syrian war by any means, including a threat to suspend oil supplies. The two sides are still talking.


                    • Re: Regional geopolitics

                      Originally posted by Haykakan View Post

                      Like 1920 showed us, trying to play all sides does not end well. I don't take pride seeing Armenia's name next to North Korea Sudan and Zimbabwe in the Crimea vote. Especially when Armenia still doesn't recognize Palestine. But the fact is, like Ukraine showed us, Russia will do much more for control in its neighboring region than the West, because it values it much more than the other side. Therefore we don't have much of a choice in what side we commit to, and if we commit, we need to commit to such aspects to, specially considering the don't cost us anything.
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