Is Azerbaijan torn apart by Persians, Turks and Israel?

Victory in the Karabakh war can play a cruel joke with Azerbaijan and its regime. Turkey and Israel have noticeably strengthened, helping Azerbaijan to deal with the Armenians. But Iran does not intend to put up with this. Iran is considering the Turks as its competitors and the Israelis as mortal enemies. Iran also does not want Azerbaijan, which it congratulated through clenched teeth on the victory, cut off Armenia, its important trade and strategic partner, from it. A sharp change in the geopolitical situation in the region, in which Russia has also strengthened its position, puts on the agenda interaction between Russians and Iranians in the Transcaucasus. They are all interested that the Turkish fleet does not appear one day in the Caspian Sea.

Half of historical Azerbaijan – both in area and in population – is part of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI). At the same time, the two countries were on the verge of war. Baku and Tehran do not want to cross it. The war would be unprofitable for both of them. The enemies of both Baku and Tehran will push them to aggravate in every possible way. With the consent and sanction of the United States and Britain, of course.

Israeli concern

The situation is especially aggravated by Israel. They definitely expect to divert Iran to the north and push it against Turkey. It is a great idea that the two enemies of the Jewish state and at the same time regional rivals weaken each other. And the conflict between the Sunnis and Shiites continues to flare up.

Israeli media, referring to anonymous sources, report that the Azerbaijani security forces have launched a large-scale operation against “pro-Iranian elements” in their country. According to Israel Hayom, there are arrests of activists acting on behalf of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah  Sayyid Ali Khamenei. The same newspaper writes that Azerbaijan is considering the possibility of acquiring the Israeli Arrow 3 long-range missile defense system. Moreover, it is reported that President  Ilham Aliyev has decided to close the mission of the representative of the spiritual leader of the Islamic Republic in Azerbaijan.

The Jerusalem Post announces the arrival of a delegation of Israeli security officials in Azerbaijan. They are “to advise and express support to the Azerbaijani government against the backdrop of the continuing rise in tensions with Iran.” The source of the newspaper claims: “Israel has assured Azerbaijan that the Jewish state will support it and provide all possible assistance! Including technical assistance and air support in repelling any Iranian attack on its northern neighbor.”

Iran has officially protested in connection with the “attack” in the past few days on the building of its embassy in Azerbaijan, the Tasnim agency reported. This episode shows how intense the passions are.

Willingness number one

There are quite objective facts indicating a sharp aggravation of Iranian-Azerbaijani relations. The formal reason for this was the decision of Baku to make it difficult for Iranian trucks with goods to enter the Armenian part of Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijanis began to demand a “road tax” of $ 260 from drivers. Two Iranians were detained on charges of delivering “illegal cargo” to Nagorno-Karabakh.

Iran also takes seriously Azerbaijan’s threats to lay a corridor to Nakhichevan by force. This would mean cutting off from Iran Armenia. Armenia is Iran’s important partner in the Caucasus.

Iran has entered a free trade zone with the Eurasian Economic Union. Armenia is the only EAEU country that has a land border with it. Therefore this direction is extremely important for Tehran. Under the pretext of military maneuvers, Iran transferred additional units of its armed forces to the border with Azerbaijan. There have not been such large-scale maneuvers in this area for at least 30 years. Armored units, artillery, helicopters and drones are involved.

The official goal of the maneuvers that started on October 1 is called checking and increasing the level of combat readiness of the Iranian armed forces and testing military equipment as close as possible to combat conditions. Quite symptomatic is their name – “Conquerors of Khaybar”. T refers to the victory of Muslims over the Jews in 629. That subsequently led to their expulsion from this and other oases north of Medina to Syria. It easily deciphers Iran’s indignation over the growing ties of Baku with Israel.

Israel is interested in forming bases in Azerbaijan

The Jewish state is quite capable of making the regions liberated from the Armenians in the south of Azerbaijan its base for conducting subversive activities against Iran from there. Turkey transferred Sunni militants from Syria there last year. Before the start of the maneuvers, according to the IRNA agency, Brigadier General Heydari, the commander of the ground forces of the IRI Armed Forces, called the Israeli presence in Azerbaijan “an undermining of security” in the region, but assured that it was “fully under our supervision.” Is there a hint of Iranian drones in Armenia as well?

Baku and Ankara promptly reciprocated Tehran. From October 5 to 8, large-scale joint Azerbaijani-Turkish exercises of ground forces and armored vehicles Sarsılmaz Kardeslik – 2021 (“Unwavering Brotherhood – 2021”) are being held in Nakhichevan, bordering Iran. 

Iran on October 5 closed its airspace for the delivery of military supplies from Azerbaijan to Nakhichevan. In Baku, it was called a betrayal. And on the eve, Iranian Foreign Minister  Hossein Amir Abdollahian held talks in Tehran with his Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan . It is not hard to guess what they discussed, especially against the backdrop of a tough diplomatic skirmish between Tehran and Baku with mutual accusations “surprising” and “regrettable.”

Recrimination

Speaking the other day in Jebrail, which had been recaptured from the Armenians, Aliyev openly threatened Iran:

When recently a mullah of some Iranian province fabricated slander against Azerbaijan, we did not pay attention to it. But then, unfortunately, the officials began to put forward unfounded accusations against us – allegedly Azerbaijan brought Israel to these regions … Is there evidence? No.

On the same day, Leyla Abdullayeva , head of the press service of the republic’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said: “We do not accept statements about the presence of any third forces near the Azerbaijani-Iranian border, provocative attempts by these forces, because these statements have no basis.” These claims, she said, cannot even be a subject of discussion. So Abdullayeva commented on the words of the Iranian Foreign Minister that “during the liberation of Karabakh, a number of terrorist movements entered the region, and Israel is also trying to take advantage of this tension.” Iran will not tolerate the presence of Israeli forces near its borders, Abdollahian said.

The spiritual leader and leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, spoke in the same spirit  “The recent situation in the north-west of the country must be resolved without the intervention and military presence of foreign forces in the region.”

Drawing conclusions

If the situation develops in this direction, and some external players, especially Israel and Turkey, push Baku and Tehran to do just that, a real war may become a fact. The biggest victim of this war, if it starts, will be the Azerbaijani regime. Moreover, in both cases – and if Turkey and Azerbaijan, which Israel will definitely help, will emerge victorious from it, and even more so if Iran gains the upper hand. In the latter case, not only the regime will suffer, but also the people.

The fact is that the state built by  Aliyev is too secular not only for the clerical Tehran, but also for Ankara, the moderate Islamist  Erdogan . Therefore, this regime will become the main victim of the conflict in both cases – even if Aliyev wins. 

So what?

Russia in this conflict will clearly observe its interests. They appear to be quiet at the moment but there is a lots of talking happening behind the scene.

At the end of the day, Russia will probably support Iran. That only after doing everything possible to prevent the conflict. Russia certainly does not want to see Turkey coming to the Caspian Sea via their alliance with Azerbaijan. Russia also does not want to see “North – South” corridor threatened.

The emergence of new players in Transcaucasia (Israel) and its inevitable destabilization is not to be to Russian liking. . But in Washington, they will only be glad about it. And you can be sure that London would love to see that too.

In this situation, a lot depends on the Azerbaijani president. He has no space to make a mistake. There are no guarantees that he will not make it. The best way for Baku is to distance itself as much as possible from Turkey and Israel. Only in this case will the conflict with Iran be extinguished. Only in this case Russia will stay almost neutral player between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Russia, China & India – Working together in Afghanistan

By Pranay Sharma

While world leaders debate whether or not to engage with the Taliban-led leadership in Afghanistan and how, Russia seeks to reassure its longtime partner India that New Delhi’s perspective matters.

Just recently Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. To assess the situation in Afghanistan. The leaders agreed to create a joint group of representatives of the foreign policy departments and the national security sphere.

Russia appears to be in no hurry to recognize the Taliban *. Moscow will share its assessment of the situation with New Delhi as soon as it is held.

The capture of Kabul by the Taliban opened the way for Russia and China to expand their influence in South and Central Asia. Both countries, as well as Qatar, which maintains good relations with Taliban political leaders, have not closed their embassies in the Afghan capital, while the United States and its allies, as well as India, hastily seek to evacuate their staff.

New Delhi’s influence on the Taliban is small, given India’s deep suspicions of an Islamist group, which it accuses of harboring militants who carried out attacks in Kashmir, which it controls, with the encouragement of the country’s nemesis, Pakistan.

Earlier this month, Russia convened an “enlarged three” meeting in Doha with the US, China and Pakistan to discuss the future of Afghanistan, but India was not invited.

The Taliban owe nobody for their victory

“Everyone is rushing about right now, trying to figure out how to protect their interests,” says PS Raghavan, former chairman of India’s National Security Advisory Council. However, according to him, it is not easier for Moscow and Beijing to deal with the Taliban. Although both countries supported the US withdrawal, he adds, “The Taliban owe neither China nor Russia for their victory.”

Indeed, while China has offered to help rebuild Afghanistan, it is concerned that extremism will spread to Xinjiang, the country’s northernmost province. On Wednesday, Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping held a telephone conversation to discuss the security situation. Xi told Putin that Beijing is willing to work with other countries, including Russia, to push all parties in Afghanistan to create an inclusive political structure cut off from terrorist groups.

Dmitry Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, believes that Russia views China and India as its two main strategic partners. India and Russia define their ties as a “special and privileged strategic partnership” and meet regularly to engage in trade, energy, science, technology and culture.

However, Indian observers also point to Moscow’s warmer relations with Beijing as a source of concern for New Delhi. Last year, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov characterized the Quadripartite Security Dialogue (Quad), which includes the US, India, Australia and Japan, as “anti-Chinese” and called it an American ploy to shield New Delhi from Moscow’s influence. Then Indian observers noted that he was silent about the threat that China poses to India, because these countries are involved in a border dispute.

In the modern world, there is no exclusivity in relations

“In the modern world, there is no exclusivity in relations. We can talk about Russia and China, and they will talk about India and the United States, ”says Raghavan, who served as ambassador to Russia in 2014-2016. India, he adds, will have to control bilateral relations in such a way that they do not affect the core interests of other relations.

New Delhi’s concerns about Moscow’s commitment to their partnership increased when Russia took part in a large-scale joint military exercise with China in the Ningxia region earlier this month, using Su-30SM fighters, motorized rifle formations and air defense systems.

This move has caused bewilderment in Delhi, and not only because Moscow is the main supplier of military equipment for India and provides 55% of its military needs. The joint exercises took place against the backdrop of a year-long military clash between China and India in Ladakh.

Deependra Singh Hooda, a retired lieutenant general and former chief of the Indian Army’s Northern Command, said the joint exercise was “intended for the United States, not India.” In his opinion, fears that China will learn about India’s military equipment are unfounded, since most of the equipment supplied by Russia is the same for both sides. “It is wrong to feel oppressed by such teachings,” added Huda.

Moscow tried to facilitate dialogue between Dely and Beijing

Kanwal Sibal, a former Indian foreign secretary who served as Indian ambassador to Moscow from 2004-2007, says Russia has been supplying advanced military equipment to China for many years and has also conducted military exercises with Pakistan. Joint exercises are also conducted within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s security group, in addition, Russia has conducted naval exercises with China in the Mediterranean and Black Seas. As noted by Sibal, Russia also conducts annual military exercises with India. “There is no reason to be particularly worried about these joint military exercises,” he adds.

According to the head of the Carnegie Trenin Moscow Center, Moscow also tried to facilitate dialogue between Delhi and Beijing last year, but the Ladakh dispute is a sovereign issue between the two countries. “Russia will never unite with China against India, it is a completely reliable partner of India,” he said.

According to former national security adviser Raghavan, a guaranteed supply of spare parts for military equipment is better than joint exercises. When China wanted Russia to suspend supplies to India during a border clash, he said, Moscow calmly signaled that it would continue its supplies.

Unlike the Cold War era, Trenin says, India-Russia relations are not exclusive, as India has moved closer to the United States in recent years, which sees Russia as a rival and imposes sanctions on it. India took part in joint naval exercises with the United States as part of the Quad, he said, and while Russia may not like it, it did not question New Delhi’s right to choose partners. “In the changing geopolitical and strategic environment of the 21st century, Moscow and Delhi need to learn to develop their valuable strategic partnership in a non-exclusive manner,” Trenin said.

Most of India’s military equipment is of Russian origin

According to the Washington-based Stimson Center, 86 percent of India’s military equipment, weapons and platforms are of Russian origin, from aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines to tanks deployed in Ladakh. The Su-30MKI fighter, the backbone of the Indian Air Force, is also of Russian origin, while the Indian supersonic cruise missile BrahMos, capable of carrying a nuclear charge, was developed with Russia.

The US is also supplying India with military equipment, such as Apache and Chinook helicopters and M777 howitzers deployed in Ladakh, as well as Boeing C-17 and C-130J aircraft, which provide the Indian Air Force with strategic airlift capability. The US-made P81 anti-submarine aircraft is also popular with the Indian Navy.

According to the Stockholm Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), India was the second largest arms importer in the world in 2015-2019. Although New Delhi has diversified its defense sources, making Israel and France the main suppliers as well, Russia remains at the top of the list.

According to the SIPRI database, since 2014, Russia has sold $ 9.3 billion worth of defense materials, and the United States received $ 2.3 billion for similar goods over the same period. Since 2000, deliveries from Russia have accounted for more than two-thirds of India’s total $ 51 billion defense imports.

According to Trenin, Russia does not have a monopoly on the sale of military equipment to India, and New Delhi has been diversifying its defense imports for many years. “However, a defense relationship is a matter of mutual trust, like treating a friend you can trust in times of crisis,” he said.

Taliban threatened Central Asia with friendship

The Taliban movement (banned in Russia) seeks to establish contacts with its northern neighbors – the republics of Central Asia

Uzbekistan was chosen first. The Taliban send congratulations to Tashkent, offer to revive the railway project and promise to support the “partners”. Will Uzbekistan become the first of the former Soviet republics to cooperate with the Islamic Emirate?

On Monday, representatives of the Taliban movement (banned in Russia as terrorist) once again  announced  the end of the war in Afghanistan. Although the resistance to the Taliban in Panjshir may  not be  completely suppressed , the radicals entrenched in Kabul demonstrate that the Taliban Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is transitioning to a peaceful life and is ready to build ties with its neighbors – if not political, then at least economic. Last Wednesday, the Taliban sent congratulations to the Uzbek Foreign Ministry   on the 30th anniversary of the republic’s independence. But the matter was not limited to protocol phrases.

A spokesman for the Taliban’s political office, Mohammad Suheil Shahin, confirmed the new regime’s interest in continuing infrastructure projects. According to Shahin’s statement, the Taliban are interested in two cross-border projects. Both were discussed as recently as July during a meeting between Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. But the latter, as you know, lost power and fled – and the Taliban inherited interstate initiatives.

The first project is the construction of a power line from the Uzbek Surkhan to the Afghan Puli-Khumri. It is known that Afghanistan depends on the supply of electricity from Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The project of the power transmission line “Surkhan – Puli-Khumri” is obviously beneficial for the Uzbek side. The line with a length of two hundred kilometers and a cost of about $ 110 million should increase the export of electricity from Uzbekistan by 70%.

The second project is the continuation of the railway from Tashkent to the Uzbek border town of Termez. The highway is planned to be extended through Afghan Mazar-i-Sharif and Kabul to Pakistani Peshawar. The appearance of such a railway (provided that transportation and travel along it are safe) will mean the access of the Central Asian countries to Pakistani and Indian ocean ports.

Promise to “Uzbek partners”

Taliban spokesman Shahin assures that his associates, who have taken power in Afghanistan, will support the “Uzbek partners” in their endeavors. But judging by the actions of the Uzbek authorities, Tashkent is in no hurry to establish contacts with neighbors “across the river” (as the border between the republics of Central Asia and Afghanistan, passing along the Amu Darya and Pyanj rivers, was called in the past). The latest initiatives of the republic’s authorities are more likely associated with an attempt to protect themselves from the new masters of Kabul.

In early August, at a time when the Taliban were rapidly moving towards victory, the Uzbek army for the first time in a long time held joint exercises with the military from the countries of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) – from Russia and Tajikistan.

On the one hand, Uzbekistan is likely to agree to continue the implementation of beneficial infrastructure projects, because “it has a desire to enter South Asia, Pakistan,” said the Kyrgyz political scientist Mars Sariev. “Pakistan, which traditionally has a very strong influence on the Taliban, also welcomes the position of Uzbekistan in this regard,” the expert noted.

“On the other hand, it should be noted that the strengthening of Pakistan’s influence on Afghanistan means the strengthening of the pro-Pakistani and at the same time the most radical Taliban faction – the Haqqani Network,” Sariev said. And this cannot but worry the republics of Central Asia, the expert said. According to experts, some factions of the Taliban will fight against IS * and its “branches”, but Central Asia fears further chaos in Afghanistan after the flight of the Americans.

Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan

Recall that Afghanistan for a long time – in the 1990s and at least before the start of the American operation in this country – was the base for the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU, banned in Russia), which participated in the civil war in Tajikistan, staged terrorist attacks in Kyrgyz cities, and in 1999 organized the invasion of jihadists through Tajikistan into southern Kyrgyzstan. On the basis of the IMU, the “Islamic Movement of Turkestan” was created (banned in the Russian Federation), which indicates the expansion of the claims of this terrorist group. In 2014, the IMU swore allegiance to the Islamic State *.

Recall that Russian President Vladimir Putin in his speech at the Eastern Economic Forum noted that in the event of disintegration in Afghanistan “there will be no one to talk to.”

“And the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (banned in the Russian Federation), and what is there only in the territory of today’s Afghanistan, and all this threatens our allies and neighbors,

– pointed out the Russian leader. “And if you keep in mind that we have no visa restrictions, free movement actually across borders, this is very important for us, for Russia, from the point of view of ensuring our security.”

The recent participation of the Armed Forces of Uzbekistan for the first time in a long time in joint exercises with the military from the CSTO countries – Russia and Tajikistan – was dictated not by an attempt to demonstrate strength, but by the desire to prepare for a potential attack by the Islamic Movement of Turkestan, which has always looked in the direction of Uzbekistan. the newspaper VZGLYAD Chairman of the State Duma Committee on CIS Affairs Leonid Kalashnikov.

Tashkent is afraid not only of the Taliban

“Tashkent is afraid not only of the Taliban,” the deputy stressed. There are other Afghan groups that are ready to conduct military operations against Uzbekistan on its territory if they are loyally treated in Afghanistan itself. Therefore, Uzbekistan wants to deepen military cooperation with such serious allies as Russia and Kazakhstan. He needs to interact with us and to supply military equipment by Russia, ”the deputy explained.

It is not surprising that now Tashkent remembered the role of the CSTO in protecting Central Asia from threats from the south. The Collective Security Treaty was signed in 1992 in Tashkent, but since the late 90s Uzbekistan has preferred to participate in the pro-Western GUAM union, rather than in the “pro-Russian” CSTO. But against the backdrop of the situation in Afghanistan, Tashkent may return to the status of a full member of the organization, Andrei Grozin, head of the Central Asia and Kazakhstan Department of the Institute of CIS Countries , suggested in a comment to the Sputnik Tajikistan news agency in July . The return of the republic to the CSTO would strengthen this military alliance – given that Uzbekistan spends the most on equipping and rearming its 70,000-strong army in the Central Asian region (up to 4% of GDP goes to defense spending).

Since Uzbekistan is also concerned about the vulnerability of the southern border, Tashkent will step up cooperation with Moscow through the CSTO, Sariev predicts. True, the official entry of the republic into the military-political structure should not be expected, since this is impeded by the restrictions prescribed in Uzbek legislation, the expert added. But we note that no confirmed reports of Uzbekistan’s plans to return to the “pro-Russian” CSTO have yet been received.

Tashkent is not interested in a quarrel with Kabul

On the contrary, at the end of August, official Tashkent took a step that could be interpreted as not entirely friendly towards Moscow (and, possibly, friendly towards Kabul).  

President Mirziyoyev officially declared 115 members of the Basmach movement, who were repressed in the 1920s and 1930s, to be fighters for national independence. Among them – the major leader of the Basmachi Kurbashi Ibrahim-bek, who attacked the Soviet republics of Central Asia just from the territory of Afghanistan, was captured by the OGPU in 1931 and shot. “The decision of Uzbekistan to rehabilitate the Basmachi who fought with the Bolsheviks in the 1920s is anti-Soviet and partly, of course, anti-Russian,” said Vladimir Lepekhin, director of the EurAsEC Institute.

According to Central Asian experts, Tashkent is now at least not interested in a quarrel with the new authorities in Kabul. For example, on August 31, the American  Wall Street Journal  reported that the authorities of Uzbekistan, to whose territory a group of Afghan military pilots fled, are asking the United States to take these pilots to third countries as soon as possible in order to avoid confrontation with the Taliban movement.

Uzbekistan is placed in conditions under which it is forced to take care of both protection from the Taliban and building relations with them in order to maintain its own benefit, experts say. Sariev believes that it is not Uzbekistan that is now in the most vulnerable position, but Tajikistan, given that Tajik President Emomali Rahmon in the early 2000s supported the forces of the leader of the Afghan Northern Alliance, Ahmad Shah Massoud, an ethnic Tajik.

“The Taliban can now close their eyes to the fact that Islamist groups, militants of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, ISIS * and Al-Qaeda (banned in Russia) will begin to infiltrate Tajikistan,” the Kyrgyz expert said.

Tajikistan cannot afford to try multi-vector game

Thus, Tajikistan, as a country that has staked on a losing force in Afghanistan and as a country bound by the CSTO obligations, cannot afford to try the multi-vector game, which is being played by neighboring Uzbekistan. But, according to Lepekhin, at present the former Soviet republics in Asia have no choice but to demonstrate their loyalty to the Taliban. “A big game is beginning: not only Uzbekistan, but any other Central Asian republic will be forced to cooperate with the Taliban,” the expert said.

US withdrawal from Afghanistan – Leonid Ivashov

A shameful flight or a move in a big game?

Leonid Ivashov and Igor Shishkin on what is behind the US defeat in Afghanistan. What are the consequences of the change of power in this country can have for Russia and the world. Why Afghanistan is called the solar plexus of Eurasia.

I. Shishkin: Leonid Grigorievich, this is the first question I have for you in connection with what happened in Afghanistan: the flight of the United States is very much reminiscent of what happened in Vietnam, they are talking a lot about this now, showing some footage, drawing parallels. And the question for you, in fact, as a specialist is to understand what is behind such an escape? Or they are deliberately doing this in order to provoke chaos in this territory, which will engulf its neighbors, China, Iran, Pakistan and Russia. Or, secondly, the United States really could not otherwise hold on to the situation. According to some experts, the United States has demonstrated by such a flight that it is a fading power, they say, there can be many ambitions, but not so many abilities.

Leonid Grigorievich Ivashov. Russian military and public figure, colonel general. Specialist in the field of geopolitics, conflict management, international relations, military history. President of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems.

L. Ivashov: Igor Sergeyevich, I generally exclude “flight” from my vocabulary when assessing the actions of the Americans. Let’s think about why the Americans are organizing their military presence, for some reason we think, since they have come, then they will put things in order there, make the population happy, stabilize the situation, and so on. Alas, Americans do not go anywhere for this purpose. They came there to take control of this very important geostrategic region. Afghanistan is the solar plexus of Eurasia, as it is called. Here is an access to powerful states, even civilizations, for example, like China. They once deliberately did this, their nuclear missile test site. Plus access to Pakistan, which has good relations with China lately. There is also an exit to India, then Iran, and so on.

In general, this is a very important region of the world, especially for Eurasia. The Americans built an airfield there, they came to influence the former Soviet, Central Central Asia, to influence Iran, India and so on from here. How to influence? Not only where to carry out some kind of military provocations or special operations, but to influence the maintenance of uncontrollable chaos. Let’s not forget that it was with the arrival of the Americans that drug trafficking increased, because this is the impact on your opponents through drug flows. Americans leave from wherever they go, they stay when they leave. 

So I, while still in the service for several years, noticed that they are campaigning, including among Afghans, in Russia, luring people to their territory in the United States. Moreover, there they are given appropriate education, training, and so on. The question is: what for? This is the preparation of the fifth column, or you can call it whatever you like. They stirred up, created this powerful Taliban movement and calmly leave, they were not even touched at the airport. And now, when they leave, they say, they say, you are going to clean up now. They armed, in fact, this population, everyone lives with some kind of weapon, created these warring groups and left. Further, we see that it is not the Americans who are alarmed now, but precisely the neighboring countries are alarmed. Therefore, to consider it a defeat or flight is, well, at least premature. that it is not the Americans who are alarmed now, but the neighboring countries are alarmed. 

I. Shishkin: This raises the following question then. You say that they came there not to make happy, not to deal with international terrorism, but they came in order to create a lot of trouble for their geopolitical opponents. But, doesn’t this mean that they were still unable to keep Afghanistan? After all, it was probably more profitable for them not to plunge into chaos, but to create powerful bases there, from which they could threaten China, for example, India and Russia, Central Asia and so on.

L. Ivashov:I think that all of this in the aggregate was at the same time and was planned. There is a continuous war, of course, the population is tired, the population wants peace, and I believe there will be peace. But, Americans, look where they just did not conduct these military actions, the same Iraq, Yugoslavia, in Libya. And then they calmly leave, therefore, did they try to stay there? Yes, of course, they would like to have military bases there, and so on, because they have already begun to build airfields there. It was not even Biden who decided this, it was even under Trump that it was decided that the troops would withdraw. 

You need to understand that the nature of this war has changed. And then, let’s see who’s coming there now? Turkey is paired with Qatar, it goes there. We are talking about the current moment, some of the Syrian militants were not accidentally transferred there, although the Afghans themselves are against the presence of other countries in general. China and Pakistan, for example, they also act in pairs, they were very interested in the Americans leaving. But, China is very powerful there, let’s face it. You can’t see it, nothing, but it is present, because China needs a stable and calm Afghanistan. But the Anglo-Saxons learned to do well, not to be present by military force, but to be present in a different way. 

Well, for example, we saw Syria, in Syria the Americans were little present, but look what movements they created there. They were in the shadows, but at the same time they created very powerful movements. We wish, of course, stability to be there. But, the question arises: will different groups of the Taliban start fighting among themselves tomorrow? And will they not create some other movements with American money that will fight against China and others, for example. they were very interested in the Americans leaving. 

I. Shishkin: Considering that the United States absolutely does not need “one belt, one road”, they are very interested in such a development of events.

L. Ivashov: Let’s see, God forbid, that this happens. But, experience suggests that the Americans, it seems, were not present somewhere militarily too strongly, but the states are gradually being destroyed. And it is not known how long such cases will last, because they are always and everywhere.

I. Shishkin: That is, to paraphrase the famous phrase that Great Britain has no eternal enemies, no eternal allies, but only eternal interests, then we can say that the Anglo-Saxons are guided by that there are no eternal victories and eternal defeats. After all, each victory will then turn into a defeat, but this defeat can be turned into a victory.

L. Ivashov: It was recorded that British intelligence spoke about its tasks, they say, that the Arabs should fight against the Arabs for our British interests.

I. Shishkin: One more question: nevertheless, the interest of the Americans is understandable, they are masters of organizing chaos in their own interests, but what about the regimes? They left Saigon, what they were creating collapsed instantly. They did not have time to leave Afghanistan completely, the regime they created collapses instantly. Vietnam still exists, for example, Cuba still exists, even though we left. It turns out that the regimes they create collapse instantly as soon as the bayonet disappears, and the regimes that we created exist and are very stable.

L. Ivashov: Well, they really consider Vietnam their defeat there. But, they know how to benefit from defeats, and then the same Middle East, stirred everything up there, brought some regimes that are unstable. As a result, the entire Middle East is unstable now, but here you must always look at what economic damage the Americans have suffered. Have they suffered any economic damage at all?

I. Shishkin: It seems that no.

Afghanistan – a unique chance for a military alliance between Russia & China

From Russian Point of View

The inglorious and hasty departure of the US military contingents and their allies from the territory of Afghanistan is today almost the main world news , discussed by everyone – from serious analysts to idle gossips. This is not surprising – after all, this event, no doubt, will have geopolitical consequences that go far beyond the purely regional level.

Already now, forecasts are being made with might and main, and numerous versions are being put forward as to what exactly these very consequences may be. There are already plenty of similar “virtualities” built. However, it seems that one of them is missing – rather non-trivial and extremely intriguing just for our country.

No matter how the events in Afghanistan develop further, where the war (both with the participation of foreign troops and without them) has not subsided for many decades, it would be extremely naive to hope for a peaceful scenario that will develop “by itself”. The wrong country, the wrong people, the wrong internal “alignments” and factors of external influence … It is unlikely that a full-fledged solution to the problems of a state that is about to “break apart” again will be possible without a “power component”. This is where a turn is possible, which few expected today, but more than real in the future.

Reluctant peacekeepers?

It should be noted that it is Russia and China (among the major geopolitical “players”) that have the greatest and most direct interest in ensuring that Afghanistan, with the withdrawal of American soldiers from there, does not turn into a new Syria, or something worse. Let’s try to consider their reasons specifically, albeit in the most condensed and schematic form. 

First of all, neither Russia nor China “smiles” in any way as an excessive strengthening of the Taliban, nor, even more so, the revival of ISIS, which is quite likely at the present moment (both organizations are banned in Russia). And regarding the prospects for a keen bickering of many smaller, but from this no less harmful Islamist groups, which can turn both the country itself and all the regions adjacent to it into bloody bedlam, we can say exactly the same thing.

Radical and militant Islamism is an extremely nasty thing, in particular, because it has a pronounced ability, speaking in medical terms, to produce abundant metastases. Its export to the former Soviet republics of Central Asia for our country will mean a sharp increase in the terrorist threat, flows of refugees and illegal migrants, an increase in drug trafficking, arms smuggling and a lot of other “delights”. China, on the other hand, has a common border with Afghanistan, and even, as a sin, in the Xinjiang Uyghur region, inhabited mainly by Muslims. 

There is no doubt that given the current level of Beijing’s “friendship” with the West, there will be innumerable people willing to direct the expansion of radicals under a green or black banner in this very direction. However, to the reality of the prospects of their attacks on Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, this also applies to the fullest. To “spoil the blood” of the Russians and their allies by the hands of the Islamists is for the “white Sahibs” the most proven and, alas, effective method.

It should also not be forgotten that the Chinese comrades absolutely do not need any changes in not only the bordering Afghanistan, but the Pakistan that has “merged” with it. They have very big plans for this country within the framework of the One Belt – One Road project, considerable investments have already been made there, and even more are expected. In Beijing, they definitely do not agree to carry out a grandiose construction “under the roar of cannonade”. In one of the publications I happened to come across a phantasmagoric version that the Chinese de “offered the Taliban infrastructure and energy projects worth billions of dollars in exchange for lasting peace in Afghanistan and Pakistan”, having reached an appropriate agreement. This is just ridiculous. The “Islamic Emirate” (and this is how the Taliban deign to call themselves officially) is, to put it mildly, not quite the structure with which one can negotiate anything at all.

And as for financial investments, did the United States greatly help the US $ 137 billion, which it poured over two decades into the “reconstruction and development” of Afghanistan in ensuring stability in this completely unpredictable country and keeping its own protégés in power there? The Chinese are not more stupid and certainly not more naive than the Yankees. They know how to take into account and not repeat their mistakes in the most beautiful way. And so, by the way, with regard to the United States and not only them … One of the most important tasks for both Russia and China in the current situation is to prevent the preservation and even strengthening of the military-strategic positions in the region of the Americans who are now carrying out an exemplary “drape” from it and their allies, as well as the penetration of other forces there – for example, the same Turkey, rushing with the ghost of “Great Turan”. Just let them go

A Commonwealth Time to Put Into Practice

It has been known for a long time that the US army (and, in particular, specific “offices”) are excellently able to “stay while leaving”. However, they are not alone – for example, the British Daily Telegraph, citing sources in the Special Airborne Service (SAS), reported that the British special forces may well “stay” in Afghanistan. Allegedly “for the training of the local military.” Obviously, those that today surrender to the Taliban in thousands and flee to neighboring Tajikistan. It is perfectly clear against whom all the military and other similar structures of states that have declared their enemies No. 1 not some Taliban, but Russia and China, will actually act from Afghan territory. In addition, Washington does not abandon its attempts to openly settle even closer to our country – in Kazakhstan, for example. This should not be allowed in any case.

Where do we end up? Neither Moscow nor Beijing can afford to “let the situation in Afghanistan take its course”, relying on “maybe it will be formed”. Could it come to the necessity of bringing certain military contingents into this territory? Let’s be realistic – more than. And just do not need “oohs” and “oohs”, hysterics about “the danger of repeating the” Afghan break “of the USSR model”! Firstly, even then, everything was far from being as disastrous as they tried to convince us later, and it could have been even more successful – if not for some strategic miscalculations of the country’s leadership and the army. Secondly, the experience of the Syrian campaign convincingly proves that it is precisely these mistakes that Russia has realized and is not going to repeat. Well, and thirdly, forgive the cynicism, if a state with the ambitions of a world power does not participate in wars outside its own limits, war will sooner or later come to his land. To paraphrase Napoleon, a country that does not create military bases on foreign territory will receive foreign bases on its own. In this particular case, the “alignment” is exactly this and the other is not available.

Much more interesting, perhaps, is the question of what kind of forms military cooperation between Russia and China could take in ensuring peace and stability in Afghanistan and the adjacent region? We will consider the topic primarily in a pragmatic aspect – Beijing, perhaps, is much more interested than our country in the material side of solving this problem. “One Belt – One Road” could indeed be extended to Afghan territory – provided a stable peace is established there. For our country, in turn, it is more important to ensure the security of borders – both our own and allies in the same CSTO. However, why not get additional benefits from solving these problems? The People’s Liberation Army of China probably has the military-technical resources to conduct a peacekeeping operation of this magnitude. The problem here is something else – the complete absence of an extremely specific experience, vital in this case. But just our military has it – and from some of them it was acquired directly in Afghanistan, which makes it absolutely invaluable. Each side has something to offer each other, realizing that it will be problematic for both Moscow and Beijing to cope with an incredibly large-scale task alone. That is why such a configuration of the Russian-Chinese peacekeeping contingent seems to be the most appropriate, in which the Celestial Empire would take on the main burden of the logistical and financial support of the mission, and our country would be responsible for its other aspects arising from the presence of a huge array of “developments” which became the result of both the previous Afghan campaign and the recent Syrian one.

Extending the Treaty on Good Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation between Russia and China, the leaders of the two countries spoke very sparingly about the purely military aspects of this very cooperation. Naturally – after all, such things are not announced to the general public. Nevertheless, Vladimir Putin emphasized that “coordination between Moscow and Beijing” undoubtedly plays a serious “stabilizing role”, including in the context of “increasing conflict potential in various parts of the world.” Ensuring peace in Afghanistan can be an excellent example of such “stabilization” in the Russian-Chinese implementation. And this will be even more important in light of the fact that, in front of the eyes of the whole world, the corresponding mission was failed miserably and shamefully by the United States and its allies.

The military alliance between Moscow and Beijing is for the “collective West” perhaps the biggest nightmare they can imagine. On this occasion, in particular, they have repeatedly and very sharply expressed themselves in the White House, calling the very possibility of such an alliance “a direct challenge to the vital interests of the United States.” In order to show that all these are not empty fears, but a very real prospect, over which the West really needs to ponder, the Russian and Chinese military sooner or later need to stand shoulder to shoulder not in exercises, but in a real combat situation, which fully checks for the strength of weapons, people, and defense alliances. So why shouldn’t this happen in Afghanistan?

EURASIAN COUNTRY NEWS REVIEW – Turkey

This is beginning of new section of Eurasia News Online – Country News Review – Turkey

Turkey’s first publicly owned FSRU project inaugurated

With 110 million cubic meters of storage and 28 million cubic meters of gasification capacity, Turkey’s first publicly owned floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage and gasification vessel (FSRU) will add significant flexibility to Turkey’s energy supply chain security, according to Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Dönmez.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the Ertuğrul Gazi in the southern province of Hatay on June 25, Dönmez said the vessel had the highest gasification capacity among the existing FSRUs in the world.

With speedy integration to the grid system and its ability to mobilize quickly, the ship can be quickly dispatched to regions where it is needed to operate resource points in areas of high consumption, Dönmez noted.

It will undertake its first ship-to-ship LNG transfer on June 29, he confirmed.

The vessel will help ensure that Turkey’s record of uninterrupted power supply will continue. It will be able to meet 8.2 percent of the daily natural gas capacity supplied to the grid system.

Turkey’s first FSRU was launched in the Aegean province of İzmir’s Aliağa district in December 2016 at a time when the country needed extra gas capacity to meet increased consumption due to the very cold weather conditions.

The Ertuğrul Gazi FSRU is owned by Turkey’s state-owned crude oil and natural gas pipeline company, Botaş.

It will connect to facilities in Hatay and meet the annual household energy demand of the provinces of Hatay and Osmaniye.

Turkey imports around 45 billion cubic meters of natural per year, paying approximately $12 billion to pipeline exporters Russia, Azerbaijan and İran, as well as LNG suppliers, including Qatar, Nigeria, Algeria and the United States.

Nearly a third of the country’s gas needs are met with LNG supplies.

New discoveries in the Black Sea are expected to provide as much as 30 percent of the gas Turkey’s $730 billion economy requires when plateau production is reached, which is targeted for 2025.

Discoveries are also expected to allow Turkey to import cheaper gas and trim the annual average energy bill of around $44 billion.

Source:


Turkey’s mega Istanbul Airport busiest in Europe June 10-24

Istanbul’s mega airport, Istanbul Airport, was the busiest in Europe between June 10-24, according to official data.

Data from the European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation (Eurocontrol) shows that the state-of-the-art airport hosted the highest number of flights with an average of 764 daily flights during the period. This was a 12% increase over the previous two-week period.

Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport took second place on the list with 733 daily flights.

Sabiha Gökçen Airport, Istanbul’s second international airport and located on the metropolis’ Anatolian side, ranked 6th with an average of 582 flights per day. It increased its flights by 16%.

Even with all of the restrictions being implemented in 2020 due to COVID-19, Istanbul Airport still ended up as the busiest airport in Europe in terms of passenger numbers with 23.4 million travelers. The newly built facility surpassed London’s Heathrow and Paris’ Charles de Gaulle, which followed Istanbul with 22.3 million and 22.1 million, respectively.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s flag carrier, Turkish Airlines (THY) has now reached over 1,000 flights a day for the first time since COVID-19 struck, the carrier announced Saturday.

The airline operated 1,065 flights on Friday, June 25, leaping 23.4% from June 4, when it had announced a 15-month daily flight record, according to a Turkish Airlines statement.

Source:

What Erdogan and Aliyev agreed on in Karabakh

The presidents of Turkey and Azerbaijan signed a declaration in Shusha

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, together with the head of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, arrived in Nagorno-Karabakh. In Shusha, which was declared the “cultural capital of Azerbaijan” after last year’s war, the parties signed a declaration of cooperation

“Today is a historic day. Today we are receiving the President of Turkey, my brother Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the liberated Shusha, ”Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev began the press conference after the signing ceremony.

Erdogan flew to Azerbaijan immediately after the NATO summit held the day before. In Nagorno-Karabakh, he stopped in two cities – Fizuli and Shusha, which after the recent conflict received the status of the “cultural capital of Azerbaijan”.

It was in Shusha that the sides signed a declaration on allied relations in various spheres. It also touches upon the issues of mutual assistance in the military sphere. The document contains a clause on the Zangezur corridor. The corridor will connect Azerbaijan and Turkey by road and rail (while Armenia lying between them opposes it).

According to Aliyev, the declaration has historical significance. It raises the relations of the countries to the highest level and guarantees the unity of the “closest countries on a global scale” in the future.

In particular, Turkish TV channel TRT reports, Turkey and Azerbaijan have agreed to conduct joint actions in case of threat or aggression from third states against the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, inviolability or security of the internationally recognized borders of any of the parties.

Erdogan said at a joint press conference that it is planned to open a Turkish consulate in Shusha as soon as possible. On the eve of the visit, various media outlets, citing sources, reported that the parties would discuss the implementation of joint reconstruction and construction projects in Karabakh.

After the official part, Aliyev decided to conduct an excursion around Shusha for Erdogan. 

“Remind about Turkey’s role in victory”

Interestingly, the Day of National Salvation is celebrated in Azerbaijan on June 15. It is believed that Heydar Aliyev, who headed the Supreme Council on this day in 1993, saved the country from a coup and separatism.

Erdogan is expected to address the Azerbaijani parliament on June 16.

According to experts, with his visit, Erdogan, first of all, is trying to consolidate his role in the region. This opinion was expressed in an interview with Gazeta.Ru by a senior researcher at IMEMO RAN , turkologist Viktor Nadein-Raevsky .

“He wants to show that Turkey’s actions, which made it possible to win this victory, are not an accident, but fit into the framework of a common pan-Turkist policy. Erdogan sought to eliminate the Armenian wedge that divides the Turkic world. And this policy should not be confused with elements of the policy of neo-Ottomanism, which is spreading on the territory of the former Ottoman Empire – the Arab countries, Syria, Iraq, and partly Libya.

Here we are talking about the creation of a supranational community in a new area. The goal is to unite the Turkic-speaking peoples. During the war, Turkish generals took part in the command at the fronts, officers were in each military unit, the Turks also trained Azerbaijani special forces. And this visit is another confirmation of the policy that Erdogan has adopted, ”the Turkologist is sure.

At the same time, the expert points out that Russia “did not allow Turkey to develop in full force.” Thus, only 60 Turkish officers are employed in the joint Russian-Turkish observation point.

At the same time, not all experts are inclined to believe that the application of the term “pan-Turkism” to Turkey’s foreign policy is appropriate.

What are Erdogan goals?

“Rather, it refers to political philosophy, ideology and journalism. And if we talk about the attempts of the cultural influence of Turkey, then it extends far not only to the Turkic countries. After all, Georgia has a Turkish university, and Germany has Turkish mullahs, ”recalls Nikolai Silaev, a leading researcher at the MGIMO Institute for International Studies .

At the same time, the expert identified three goals that Erdogan pursued during his visit to Nagorno-Karabakh. “Firstly, he was traveling with the aim of strengthening political ties with Azerbaijan. Secondly, it was necessary to remind once again about the role of Turkey in the Karabakh war, since without it Baku either would not have won, or, at least, not with such results. Third, it is the exploitation of the political capital that Erdogan acquired by providing military assistance to Azerbaijan. Erdogan came to celebrate the victory with Aliyev , they will do it for many years to come. The trip also has great symbolic meaning, ”says Silaev.

Vadim Mukhanov, senior researcher at the MGIMO Center for Eurasian Studies, agrees that Erdogan’s visit to Shusha is also important for the Azerbaijani leadership headed by Ilham Aliyev against the backdrop of an incompletely resolved conflict with Armenia, including over the issue of the transit corridor.

“In general, Erdogan has repeatedly spoken about Turkic unity. Close relations between Baku and Ankara fit well into this framework, ”the expert said.

Nadein-Raevsky is sure that

Azerbaijani President Aliyev is not ready to share power with anyone, and therefore is not interested in a significant strengthening of Turkish influence in his country.

The role of Shushi and the road through Armenia

“This is evidenced by the fact that Turkish military bases have not appeared in Azerbaijan. He also suspended the settlement of territories by Turkomans, who traditionally cover the faces of women. The Azerbaijani population is still not ready to accept such a return to the Middle Ages, they are Europeanized. The role of religion in this country was significantly reduced during the Soviet era, and Azerbaijan became largely secular, ”reminds the Turkologist.

Shusha is a key city in Nagorno-Karabakh with a population of 4.5 thousand people. In Armenia and Karabakh there is an expression “who owns Shushi, he owns Karabakh”. During the 1992-1994 Karabakh war, victorious for the Armenians, the Azerbaijani population left the city.

Shusha is a key city in Nagorno-Karabakh with a population of 4.5 thousand people. In Armenia and Karabakh there is an expression “who owns Shushi, he owns Karabakh”. During the 1992-1994 Karabakh war, victorious for the Armenians, the Azerbaijani population left the city.

During the operation on November 8-9, 2020, the city was again under the control of Azerbaijan. And it was the date of November 8 that was chosen by Aliyev for the Victory Day holiday in the whole war.

Later, he laid the foundation for the construction of a new mosque in Shusha, citing the fact that allegedly “at one time there were 17 mosques”, and began restoration of the Cathedral of Holy Christ the All-Savior, which had suffered during the war. A number of Armenian observers are suspicious of this initiative, seeing the possible motives of the Azerbaijani authorities in the desire to destroy the Christian heritage.

The corridor

The Syunik (or Zangezur, as it is called in Azerbaijan) automobile corridor through the territory of Armenia, which is mentioned in the Shusha Declaration, existed in the Soviet years until the early 1990s – the message was interrupted due to the events of the first Karabakh war.

Under the terms of the peace treaty concluded with the participation of Moscow in November 2020, it is envisaged to build a road linking the main territory of Azerbaijan with its exclave – the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic, surrounded by the territories of Armenia, Turkey and Iran.

“By agreement of the Parties, the construction of new transport communications linking the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic with the western regions of Azerbaijan will be ensured,” says the 9th clause of the agreement without specifying a specific route for the future road.

At the end of April, the head of Azerbaijan already said that in case of Armenia’s refusal to voluntarily agree to the construction of the corridor, Baku could use force again. Yerevan is in no hurry to agree on the construction of infrastructure, calling Aliyev’s threats a provocation.

As earlier Vadim Mukhanov from MGIMO explained to Gazeta.Ru, now in the Armenian society revanchist sentiments are gaining popularity. At the same time, they are not completely satisfied with the results of last year’s war in Azerbaijan, where they just want to unblock old and create new communications. “This is a very interesting attempt on the part of Aliyev. Therefore, we can in this regard Erdogan’s visit to Karabakh as support for the expansion of Azerbaijan, ”the expert said.