The United States may deploy nuclear weapons in Eastern Europe, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said November 19. As the spokesman for the Alliance explained, this could happen if Berlin refuses to keep American bombs on its territory. The Russian Foreign Ministry described the words of the secretary general as a rejection of the “fundamental for European security” obligations enshrined in the Russia-NATO Founding Act. What is behind this signal was analyzed by independent military observer Alexander Ermakov.
History of the issue
On November 19, speaking at a NATO event in Germany, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg casually answered a question by making an unheard-of statement. NATO’s common nuclear weapons could be deployed in Eastern Europe. Let us recall what kind of common NATO nuclear arsenal we are talking about. This mission is “NATO nuclear sharing”, in Russian official diplomatic terminology “NATO joint nuclear missions”, whose roots go back to the 1950s, when the United States began to deploy tactical nuclear weapons (including aerial bombs) in Europe.
At that time, the attitude of politicians and military strategists to nuclear weapons was completely different. The concept of their nonproliferation in its current form was not accepted. The United States planned and began to implement a program to create a common NATO nuclear force. By transferring its weapons to its allies and forming special joint units. The plans included a group of surface ships with mixed crews armed with Polaris missiles. The idea of deploying numerous railway missile systems in Europe was considered. Ready to involve the allies even in their grandiose project of a huge rocket base under the Greenland glacier.
None of this was implemented. The Americans transferred medium-range missiles to a number of allies (in particular, Great Britain, Italy and Turkey) and deployed storage bombs in a number of countries. They also began training national crews for their use. The first such agreement was concluded in 1958 with Great Britain. Formal control over the charges was retained by the American military. They also played the role of instructors.
In 1968 NPT was signed
The USSR was much less actively engaged in nuclear armament of the allies . However, in the early 1960s. began to express considerations about the transfer of charges to the allies (they had carriers, and will continue to be). However, after the shock of the Cuban missile crisis, the attitude towards nuclear weapons became more serious. The United States and the USSR took the path of relative support for the idea of nonproliferation. They abandoned the idea of creating a full-fledged “NATO common nuclear force”. Deployed medium-range missiles were soon removed from service.
In 1968, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was signed. However, the United States did not completely abandon the practice of storing nuclear weapons in those countries where they had already been deployed at the time of its signing, and from training local personnel. First of all, this concerned aerial bombs, but during the Cold War, charges were also stored for tactical short-range ballistic missiles of the Allies (for example, for the German Pershing IA). At that moment it fit into the logic of the bloc confrontation and was not particularly criticized by the USSR, which was doing the same, albeit to a much lesser extent. Tactical nuclear weapons deployed in Eastern Europe were primarily intended to equip Soviet groups (they were deployed in Hungary, the German Democratic Republic, Czechoslovakia and Poland).
With the end of the Cold War, the USSR promptly withdrew its nuclear weapons from the countries of the collapsing Warsaw Pact. The last nuclear warheads were launched into the national territory in August 1991. Washington was in no hurry to follow Moscow’s example.
Puting junior partners in their place
Many Western European politicians are for the immediate withdrawal of American bombs. The United States to a certain extent take into account public opinion. The withdrawal from Great Britain took place under its pressure. However, they prefer to “work” first of all with the political elite. It consist of people loyal to the United States and associated with them. . There is the desire to economize on one’s own defense, having sold part of the sovereignty. Or unwillingness to independently make decisions and be responsible for them. Or a real fear of being left without protection.
This concerns Germany perhaps even more so than some others. For Germany, the issue of the bomb carrier is more acute. The country does not have the F-35, and it will have to spend specially for this task.
The NATO Secretary General, who is pursuing American policy, deliberately did not conceal or play up. “If you dare to demand the withdrawal of our bombs, then we will take them out to Poland on the basis of a bilateral agreement. And we will not even ask you on the fields of the Alliance.”
This does not make much sense
From a practical point of view, this does not make much sense. Installations in Poland will only be better observed by Russian intelligence. It is also easier to hit them due to their close location. “Approach time” in the case of air bases is not as important as in the case of the deployment of ballistic missiles – it should be counted from the detection of an aircraft flying towards the target, and not from the moment of takeoff.
Such rhetoric should be greeted in the diplomatic arena as unacceptable as possible, and recalled for as long as possible. This is complete arrogance, disregard for the same Founding Act. It runs counter even to the old American “excuses” why NATO nuclear sharing is legal and does not violate the NPT.
A wave of panic erupted in the media over the report of US Congressman Eliot Engel that Azerbaijan provided Israel with its bases to strike at Iran. This message is supported by a whole series of facts. While world is watching Taiwan and Sotuh China Sea, Central Asia is quietly preparing for a possible war involving number of countries.
This is to present the situation in Central Asia from a military-technical point of view. Not a political one.
However, one cannot do without a minimum of political information on the topic.
On October 1, the exercises of the armed forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) began on the western bank of the Araks River, which flows practically along the border of Iran and the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic (NAR), an exclave of the Republic of Azerbaijan (RA). The exercises are distinguished by a concentration of troops and weapons previously unseen for Iran. As well as an unusual location. In response, the Republic of Turkey (TR) began joint exercises with Azerbaijan and Pakistan on October 5. Turkish troops were delivered to the exercise area through the only short (9 km) section of the Turkish-Azerbaijani border in the NAR, the Dilak border crossing. The Azerbaijanis had to fly through Georgia to Turkey, then march through the same passage, but most of them were from the local contingent.
Is Azerbaijan really surprised?
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said in an interview with the Turkish state agency Anadolu that he was stunned by the development of events in Iran. “ Each country can conduct any military exercises on its territory. This is her sovereign right. But why now and why on our border? »A big, respected person is playing an innocent sheep. But he knows very well that it was his armed forces that created a pretext for exacerbating relations. We are talking about blocking the road between the Armenian cities of Goris and Kapan by Azerbaijanis, arresting two Iranian drivers and levying a duty and tax (about $ 100) for the trip. But this is a pretext. The reasons for the exacerbation, of course, are deeper.
Let’s not plunge into the jungle of geopolitics and the history of the Middle East. Just note that the decades-long US and Israeli struggle against Iran’s nuclear program is unsuccessful. Numerous sanctions, sabotage against nuclear enterprises and even the killing of specialists did not help to solve the problem.
Leaked information or rumors?
On May 8, 2018, US President Donald Trump announced the US withdrawal from the JCPOA (the so-called nuclear deal on Iran). In response, on the same day, Iran announced a phased withdrawal from the restrictions. There is an opinion that Iran has never stopped working on the creation of nuclear weapons. For example, the government of Israel on April 1 of the same year announced the continuation of the secret project “Amad” (started in 2000) to develop nuclear warheads for missiles. International attention has focused on Iran’s production of enriched uranium, while nuclear weapons include a range of specific materials. The JCPOA did not imply control over their production. In a word, the fears of the United States and Israel that Iran is close to production or has already produced nuclear warheads are quite justified.
According to leaked information (more rumors), after the failure of the Vienna talks, Iran is going to declare that it has nuclear weapons. In light of the impending aggression against them, the Ayatollah regime apparently hopes that this will have a powerful stopping effect on its main enemy, Israel.
I suppose that it was precisely this readiness of Iran’s nuclear weapons that became the main reason for the rush. And what we are now seeing is only the beginning of a large chain of events. The end of such a chain could be a full-scale global nuclear war. “
Interests of many countries involved
In the current geopolitical pyramid, with the foundations of Iran-Israel-Turkey-Pakistan-Azerbaijan-Armenia, the top is undoubtedly the United States. Although the pyramid should be drawn with this very top down. All those indicated in the base are more or less close. The Americans are on the other side of the globe.
At least 6 regional states and the United States can take the most direct part in the conflict.
USA, population 333 million.
Not a single serious mess in the last 70 years is complete without them. Against the background of a series of failures here and there and the permanently threatening default, the Americans need some kind of uplifting event. Best of all is the “shiny little war”. And it is desirable so that they do not fly by themselves. I don’t think I need to waste your time to describe their interest in this matter.
While keeping in the shadows, manipulating, directing, throwing intelligence and a little something. They can provide Azerbaijan with their Patriots, recently withdrawn from Saudi Arabia. Also Tel Aviv with the THAAD complex. They will not intervene immediately, but when the main hostilities subside in order to appropriate all the achievements. Americans can take part in air strikes with cruise missiles from their air bases in the Middle East and Turkey. And in naval operations. However, they may be the first to strike the main blow using nuclear weapons. Trident missiles from submarines. Other weapons are deeply buried – up to 500m, nuclear and missile objects cannot be hit in rocky soils. The United States has experience in bombing its bases with Iranian tactical ballistic missiles.
Iran has reported 80 deaths of American servicemen. The United States did not recognize the irrecoverable loss of personnel, only one destroyed plane, but on January 28, pressed by media footage about the evacuation of the wounded, they confirmed that 50 servicemen had received head injuries, on January 31 they agreed to 64, and on February 10 they announced that such injuries already diagnosed in 109 servicemen. Did it take a month for this diagnosis?
Iran, population 87 million. Azerbaijan, population 10 million.
Historically, Iran and Azerbaijan for centuries have been part of the same state. It was called by different names, with unstable borders. After a series of Russian-Persian wars, the Azerbaijani people were divided. Today, about 30 million Azerbaijanis live in Iran. This greatly strains the Iranian authorities. They fear an explosion of separatism. In this regard, the strengthening of Turkey’s influence in the Caucasus seems to them a real big threat. At the same time, there are many ethnic Iranians in Azerbaijan: Talysh, Tats, Kurds, Mountain Jews. Azerbaijanis have deep historical and cultural ties with Iran and even common ethnic and social traits. The population of the countries mainly professes Shiite Islam. That directly influenced the formation of similar morals and customs.
Talish- Iranian-speaking people living in the south of Azerbaijan. According to unofficial data, their number in this country reaches almost 2 million. Many of them are residents of Baku and Sumgait. They demand independence, though not very energetically.
Rulers on both sides swear love for their neighbors. So in the event of a war between them, there will be no occupation or seizure of Azerbaijan, but the “reunification” of fraternal peoples. There is an exchange of goods between the countries, but not much. Azerbaijan competes with Iran in oil and gas supplies to and through Turkey.
Armenia, 3 million people
Armenia, it seems, has chosen the role of a victim for itself and is not going to defend itself. Pashinyan is preparing, however, for a visit to Moscow. Both the head of parliament and the minister of foreign affairs came recently. Probably ask the Russians for weapons and protection.
The capture of Armenia is very desirable for Turkey. Entirely or in the form of a wide corridor to Azerbaijan.
Armenia is part of the CSTO. So when attacked Russia will be forced to intervene in full. So much for the 13th Russian-Turkish war. The 102nd base of the RF Armed Forces and the peacekeeping contingent in Nagorno-Karabakh are located in Armenia.
Turkey, population 87 million.
Turkey and Iran are sworn friends, they quarrel, then they reconcile. Both countries are fighting Kurdish separatists and hate Saudi Arabia. Turkey buys Iranian oil and gas. Iran buys Turkish goods with the proceeds, it turns out almost barter. But in Syria, they have fundamental contradictions. Turkey considers Syria the territory of the Ottoman Empire and opposes Assad. Iran needs Syria as a springboard for actions against Israel and Assad is a natural ally for them.
Recently, Turkey has taken some steps towards rapprochement with Israel and Saudi Arabia. This cannot but anger Iran. But what really strains the Ayatollahs is Turkish pan-Turkism, which is the basis of their policy towards the Caucasus and Central Asia.
In general, Turkey does not need Azerbaijan as a springboard for strikes on Iran. They have a common border, there are Turkish air bases near it. For example, Diyarbakir, 500 kilometers away. There are hard-surface airfields even closer. But it cannot let Israel into its bases. Not by concept.
And the sharply complicated relations with Israel after May 10, 2021 are not conducive to an alliance. In Azerbaijan, they will have to interact with each other in one way or another. God forbid that it does not work out.
Israel, population 9.2 million.
Relations between Iran and Israel are the simplest and most understandable. Absolute mutual hatred. An unconcealed desire to destroy each other. Between them lie Iraq and Syria, distances from 1300 km in a straight line, and above the enemy for Hel ha Avir – the Israeli Air Force, territory. It is extremely difficult for aviation to operate at such distances. That gave rise to talk that Azerbaijan is needed as a springboard for Israel.
However, Tel Aviv could have asked the United States to push through Iraq for the purpose of setting up “jump airfields” there. For example, at the Ain al-Assad airbase destroyed by the Iranian TBR. But with the organization of some kind of air defense. Otherwise, it will be like January 8, 2020. It is armed with medium-range ballistic missiles, supplied the LORA TBR (range 500 km, approx. 50 units) to Azerbaijan. Officially it does not have nuclear weapons, but everyone knows that they are.
“Israel has no nuclear weapons, but if necessary, we will use them” (C) Golda Meir (credited).
We will have to interact with Iran, despite many acute contradictions, especially on the Palestinian issue.
Pakistan. Population 228 million people
Relations with Iran have been good for a long time. Tensions between the countries arose after the US flight from Afghanistan. There was active trade between the countries. Pakistan has actively supported the Taliban government. It is an ally of Turkey and Azerbaijan in pursuing a pan-Turkist policy in Central Asia. Iran is totally unhappy with this. Pakistan also has nuclear weapons. Pakistan stated that if Iran starts a war with Azerbaijan, then Pakistani troops “will enter Iran through Tehran and leave through Tabriz.”
Does Iran have allies?
Two allies who will even take part in the hostilities – Syria and Armenia – are very weak and will not be able to seriously affect the balance of forces. Syrian airspace will not be friendly. Israel will have to take this into account.
Iranian tactical missile systems Fateh-110, Fateh-313, Hormuz with ranges of 200-250 km and drones may be in Syria with a high probability. It is not for nothing that Israel is bombing Damascus airport so thoroughly. As soon as the plane lands from Iran, F-16I Sufa with GBU-39 bombs take off in 10 minutes.
Iranian electronic warfare systems and special forces DRGs can also operate from Syria and Armenia. Iranian special forces are worthy of a separate topic. There are whole divisions and brigades in the Army and the IRGC.
Armenia separates Turkey and Azerbaijan. It can become an insurmountable border for the Turks and Israelis. Taking into account Russian ability to block the delivery of military contingents, the transfer of aviation, and any military cargo to Azerbaijan through Georgia both by sea with transshipment and by air over the Black Sea, this line could, in principle, completely disrupt the ground operation. In the event of the outbreak of hostilities, Russia, of course, will formally make a request to Georgia to open a transport corridor to Armenia. With a probability of 500% it will be refused. This means that Russia will have to use the experience of the “Syrian Express” and deliver everything through Iran.
China and the DPRK
These two states, of course, will not take direct part in hostilities. China needs Iranian oil. Negotiations were under way to supply 150 Chengdu J-10 fighters (analogous to the F-16). However, the Chinese themselves still lack them. With the help of the Chinese, Iran developed the Bavar-373 air defense system, an analogue of the S-300 PMU-2, and Khordad-15, an analogue of the C-350. Both the PRC and the DPRK transferred their missile technologies to it, this is a fact. There are assumptions that they could have transferred nuclear technologies and materials. And even ready-made nuclear weapons, but this is not a fact.
Giant Chinese survey vessel spent over seven weeks in Indonesia’s EEZ but Jakarta has opted to look the other way
When Britain’s Premier Oil entered into a joint venture last year with state-owned Russian oil giant Zarubezhneft to exploit the Tuna natural gas block in the North Natuna Sea, upstream regulator SSK Migas said the deal would strengthen Indonesia’s sovereignty in the area.
Fast forward a year and almost the opposite has happened. Officials struggling to explain why a Chinese survey vessel was allowed to spend seven weeks conducting intensive seabed mapping inside Indonesia’s economic exclusion zone (EEZ) south of the Harbour Energy concession.
The 6,900-tonne Haiyang Dizhi 10 and its Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) escort pulled out of the area on October 22. Only four days before the start of the three-day virtual Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) summit.
It has done that before, sailing to the Fiery Cross Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands for replenishment in late September before returning on October 4 to continue its unlawful research.
This time, ship-tracking data shows it heading back to its homeport of Guangzhou. Chinese Coast Guard cutter 6305 remains in the vicinity of the drilling rig. Appraisal operations will continue for at least another month.
Analysts say the survey ship’s extended stay has served as a tacit recognition of China’s vaguely-defined nine-dash line. That intrudes into Indonesia’s EEZ near its confluence with Vietnam’s maritime border.
No protest by Indonesian government so far
The Indonesian government has yet to protest the incursion. Chinese ships were being watched most of the time by up to nine Indonesian Navy and Maritime Security Agency (BAKIMLA) patrol craft. However, with apparent orders not to intervene.
“I think Indonesia is hedging its bets and not doing anything that will lead to increased tensions,” Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) analyst Malcolm Davis told Asia Times. “If the presumption is that China will be satisfied with that, then Indonesia is in for a big shock. Give the Chinese an inch and they will take a mile.” It is worth saying that ASPI by default pushes anti China opinion.
Bill Hayton, an associate fellow at London’s Chatham House and author of a book on rising tensions in the South China Sea, agrees. “If the Indonesian government has not already sent a protest, then it needs to do so urgently or it will risk creating a precedent and losing its rights,” he was quoted as saying this week.
Diplomats have been unable to determine why the Indonesians have kept quiet. As one put it: “We share your perceptions and concerns, but some think it may not be the time to anger our ‘northern friends’ given the recent moves in the South China Sea.”
Although the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) have always enjoyed a much closer relationship with the United States, China did join the unsuccessful effort to salvage the Indonesian submarine KRI Nanggala-402, which sank with all 53 hands aboard north of Bali last April.
Chinese companies are very important for Indonesian economy
More importantly, Chinese companies are playing a leading role in Indonesia’s entry into the global supply chain, with its flourishing nickel industry acting as the foundation of a highly-promising lithium battery and electric vehicle industry.
He said the Indonesian government respected freedom of navigation in the North Natuna Sea, adding: “We have discussions with our contact partners in China. We agree to disagree in some areas,. I think we’re able to manage so far.”
“We don’t feel we have issues with China. It’s like brothers and sisters. Sometimes you have problems, but don’t make it into a big problem. I don’t see it as a big deal as long as they don’t claim officially that it belongs to us (China). That’s different.”
Davis and other maritime experts point out that freedom of navigation is not the issue. They note that apart from an incident in 2016, in which a Chinese Coast Guard vessel seized back a captured trawler in Indonesia’s territorial waters, Jakarta has appeared to back off when confronted with more robust pressure.
“This is quite serious,” says Davis, a former Defense Department strategist. “The Indonesians may not want to rock the boat, but at some point, Jakarta is going to have to decide what to do with China. The Chinese are using soft power very successfully.”
In addition to its economic value, the Tuna block has a strategic geopolitical role because it is located close to the border with Vietnam.
Tensions between Dushanbe and Kabul will remain high until the Taliban forms a truly inclusive government
By NIKOLA MIKOVIC
With a growing hub of Afghan resistance figures and political exiles, Tajikistan has emerged as the primary foreign power ready to face down the new Taliban government. Reports of a push to form an alternative Afghan administration in the Tajik capital Dushanbe will only deepen hostilities between the neighbors.
Since the Taliban stormed Kabul, the militant group and Tajikistan have not lost time in trading threats. The Taliban accused Tajikistan of interfering in the internal affairs of Afghanistan. Kabul moved its special forces to their vast shared border. Tajikistan had already deployed 20,000 additional troops to the frontier. It also conducted a nationwide military drill involving 230,000 service personnel.
While a full-scale military confrontation remains unlikely, the tensions allow Russia to exert further influence over the region through a mediation role between the former Soviet republic and Kabul’s new rulers. Meanwhile, the saber-rattling from Tajikistan also reflects the domestic position of long-serving president Emomali Rahmon.
Tajikistan is one of the few neighbors of Afghanistan that have openly stated that they do not intend to recognize a Taliban government “formed through oppression.” President Rahmon has repeatedly criticized the Taliban for their actions. He demanded more rights for Tajiks in Afghanistan. They are the largest ethnic group in the country after Pashtuns.
Tajikistan has also made no secret of its support for the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan. It is the only force opposing the Taliban, in Panjshir province. The majority of the population of Panjshir is also ethnic-Tajik.
Growing number of Afghan exiles in Dushanbe
After the Taliban launched an assault on the valley, resistance leader Ahmad Massoud and former vice-president Amrullah Saleh fled their final holdout for Dushanbe. There they joined a growing number of Afghan exiles plotting their next steps.
Complicating matters for President Rahmon, however, is that not all Tajiks look to Tajikistan for support.
A number of Afghan Tajiks have already sided with the Taliban. Authorities in Dushanbe fear that Afghanistan’s new rulers could use Jamaat Ansarullah. It is a militant group founded in Afghanistan by Tajik national Amriddin Tabarov in 2010. They might be used as a force against Tajikistan.
Tajik officials have said on several occasions that some of the Taliban-controlled gangs consisting of ethnic Tajiks are “ready to invade Tajikistan.” The Taliban rejected such reports, saying that no group would be given permission to launch an attack on any of Afghanistan’s neighbors.
Tajikistan does not seem to trust the new authorities in Kabul. The country recently conducted joint military exercises with its ally Russia and other members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). All along the 1,400-kilometer Tajik-Afghan border.
Tajikistan is Afghanistan’s smallest neighbor and the poorest country in Central Asia. As such, it represents a relatively easy target for the Taliban. Still, the Afghan group is unlikely to attack a CSTO member. It would have a serious impact on relations with Russia.
Tajikistan’s tough position regarding the Taliban was almost certainly coordinated with Moscow. However, the Kremlin seems to play a double game in Afghanistan. Russia held several meetings with Taliban leaders, and unlike many Western countries, it never closed its embassy in Kabul.
No recognition of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan by Russia
Yet the Kremlin still refuses to remove the radical group from its list of terrorist organizations. Let alone to recognize the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Russia is actively arming Tajikistan and sending additional troops and military equipment to its base there.
Such a policy could allow Moscow to increase its influence in Central Asia. It might become one of the key players in post-American Afghanistan. If, however, the Taliban or their proxies eventually launch an incursion into Tajikistan, Russia would have no option but to provide full support to its ally.
For the Kremlin, a destabilization of Tajikistan could have a serious impact on Russia, which is the major destination for Tajik migrant workers.
More important, Russia has a Muslim population of 25 million and has an interest in them following a traditional form of Islam, rather than an extreme version like the one fueling the Taliban. That is why Moscow strongly supports Rahmon and his policy of active secularism in Tajikistan.
Taliban is accusing Tajikistan of interfering in Afghan internal affairs
The Tajik leader is reportedly preparing the ground for the transfer of powers to his son. Until Rustam Emomali, or some other figure, takes the helm of the country, Emomali Rahmon – who has ruled Tajikistan for 30 years – will unite the Tajik people against “the Taliban threat.” That is why Dushanbe will continue to support opponents of the Taliban openly.
Taliban’s acting first deputy prime minister accused Tajikistan of interfering in Afghan internal affairs, pointing out that “for every action there is a reaction.”
Indeed, Tajikistan firmly insists on the formation of an inclusive government in Kabul. It should protect the interests of ethnic Tajiks in Afghanistan. Until such a government is formed, Tajikistan is expected to keep treating the Taliban as a terrorist organization. Tensions between Dushanbe and Kabul will remain high.
The warnings of some political scientists about the importance of a small piece of land in Armenia called Syunik for the geopolitical coordinates of the countries of the region and large countries – economic and political giants, were ignored by practicing politicians. Russia, in fact, which allowed the 44-day Karabakh war to begin, stood up as a peacemaker and coordinator before the difficult and controversial elections. On both sides of the dividing line, there are countries with which Russia has the closest economic ties.
Having won the war, Azerbaijan set out to break through the so-called “Zangezur corridor” under the pretext of opening communications. He is fully supported by Turkey. In turn, “breaking through” the corridor is accompanied by infringement of the rights of Iranian carriers, since Azerbaijani checkpoints have been erected on the section of the Goris-Kapan road connecting Armenia and Artsakh with Iran, in the territories that came under the control of Azerbaijan.
They are clearly being cunning, since the road has never passed through the territory of Azerbaijan. Simply taking advantage of the defeat of Armenia, Azerbaijani troops advanced a couple of extra kilometers and took control of an almost 20-kilometer section of the road. In response to decisive protests, and then actions to transfer military units and heavy weapons to the Iranian-Azerbaijani border, Iran warned Azerbaijan that it would not allow the redrawing of borders and would not allow obstacles to its trade with Armenia, through which Iran has the ability to bypass tough US and Western sanctions have been dominating Iran for several decades.
Joint military exercises by Azerbaijan, Turkey and Pakistan
In response, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Pakistan held joint military exercises, demonstrating the readiness of these countries to resolutely rebuff Iran. Having stood on the side of Azerbaijan during the Karabakh war and provided assistance in the form of weapons and a special forces detachment that reportedly participated in the capture of Shushi, Pakistan, as an ally of Azerbaijan, somewhat changed the alignment of forces, since it possesses nuclear weapons. And if Azerbaijan achieved victory thanks to active Turkish participation, which cannot but irritate Iran, Turkey’s competitor for the right to be a regional leader, Pakistan’s participation caused an immediate reaction in India, which is working with Iran on the North-South project.
For more than 30 years, Indian officials, who had not visited Armenia, unexpectedly visited Armenia in the person of Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on October 12-13. This was the first visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of India to the Republic of Armenia.
“India as the largest democracy in the world, a large, fast-growing economy, as well as a peace-loving state can contribute to stability, development and peace in the South Caucasus,” Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan said at a press conference.
India stepping in
In this context, the Foreign Minister again recalled the position of Armenia regarding the fact that the use of force cannot be the basis for resolving the conflict, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict should be resolved through peaceful negotiations within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, based on well-known principles.
Ararat Mirzoyan stressed that Armenia highly appreciates the statement of the Indian Foreign Ministry made in May this year on the need to withdraw the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan from the sovereign territory of Armenia. In turn, Armenia confirms its position on assisting India in the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, which are under Pakistani control.
If until recently India was ready to be content with a highway running through Azerbaijan, then in the new realities only the Armenian transit is seen by the Indian side as promising and profitable from a political point of view.
North-South Transport Corridor
Subramaniam Jaishankar fueled Yerevan’s optimism by proposing to make the port of Chabahar a part of the North-South transport corridor and take part in its construction and further operation.
It should be noted that the Pakistani port of Gwadara is located 200 kilometers from the Iranian Chabahar, which, as part of the Chinese Belt and Road initiative, is reaching its design capacity.
Since the visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of India was rather unexpected, let us inform you that Armenia, or rather Armenians with India, have long-standing ties, the Armenians controlled the market of precious stones and metals, enjoyed the right of duty-free trade, as during the time of Catherine II in Russia. Today in Yerevan one can meet a large number of Indian students studying at Armenian universities, mainly at the medical university. Indian students come to study in Armenia with pleasure, because for them the ratio of “quality education” and an acceptable price is ideal here.
Armenia-India relations in the international arena have been marked by serious support. In 2008, India for the first time openly took the position of Armenia, rejecting at a meeting of the UN General Assembly the resolution proposed by Azerbaijan, recognizing “NKR” as an Armenian-occupied territory. Indian diplomats do not avoid using the phrase “Armenian genocide” in official statements and documents. During the 44-day war, the Indian media supported Armenia. The India Today newspaper wrote; “If the Armenians fail to stop the pro-Turkish mercenaries who have arrived in Karabakh, tomorrow they may end up in arms in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.” In May of this year, India officially condemned Azerbaijan’s aggression against Nagorno-Karabakh ..
It is safe to say that India views Armenia as a strategic partner in the South Caucasus against the alliance of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Pakistan. And India is ready, together with Iran, to help her resist the pressure and threats of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Pakistan.
By joining efforts, Russia, India, Iran and Armenia can completely cancel out Turkey’s ambitious plans to reunite the Turkic states and create the Great Turan, on the way of which the Armenian region of Syunik stands.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
The official reactions to the announcement of the Australian-British-US pact (AUKUS) are only about the termination of the Australian-French arms contract. As terrible as this is for the shipyards, it is only a collateral consequence of a reversal of alliances aimed at preparing for a war against China
by Thierry Meyssan
The announcement of the Australian-British-US (A-UK-US) pact was like an earthquake in the Indo-Pacific region.
There is no doubt that Washington is preparing for a long-term military confrontation with China.
Until now, the Western deployment to contain China politically and militarily has involved the United States and the United Kingdom as well as France and Germany. Today, the Europeans are left out. And tomorrow the area will be controlled by the Quad+ (US and UK, plus Australia, India and Japan). Washington is preparing a war in one or two decades.
France and Germany have not been consulted on this strategy. Nor even warned of its public announcement! However, some other countries had been warned, such as Indonesia.
It is logical that London and Washington should rely on Camberra rather than Paris. Australia is a member of the “Five Eyes” with which France is just associated. The entry into the game of Japan and especially India puts an end to a long period of uncertainty. More troubling is the role assigned to Germany. Germans could join the “Five Eyes”, but not the Quad. Meaning – spying on telecommunications, but not military action.
Alliances shaken up
The A-NZ-US, which linked Australia, New Zealand and the United States, has not been in operation since 1985. It has been definitively buried. New Zealand had affirmed its policy of nuclear disarmament and consequently refused entry to its ports to nuclear-armed or nuclear-powered ships. Since the Pentagon refuses to reveal these “details”, no US warship has entered the country. Future Australian submarines will also be banned.
For the moment, the European Union has not reacted. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who was giving a state of the Union address on the same day the AUKUS pact was announced, is paralyzed. She was talking about her new strategy in the Indo-Pacific area! All while the Brexit Brits were pulling the rug out from under her. Not only is the European Union not a military power, but those of its members who are, will no longer have a say.
NATO is silent. It had ambitions to expand in the Indo-Pacific and understands that it will not be part of the game.
ASEAN has not reacted either, but the Indonesians who host its general secretariat have already expressed their disappointment. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations was conceived during the Cold War like ANZUS or the EU to contain the communist bloc. However it evolved afterwards. Unlike the EU, which has become a supra-national bureaucracy, ASEAN, influenced by the ideology of the Non-Aligned Movement. It aspires to form a vast free trade area that includes China. Without delay, many Indonesian intellectuals have denounced the torpedoing of this dream of peace by the AUKUS.
Beijing is offering economic exchanges to all, while Washington is offering war
China and Russia, the main enemies designated by the Anglo-Saxons, have not yet reacted. Unlike the West, they never communicate about their intentions. But they communicate about the decisions they have already taken and implemented. Speaking for itself, China has expressed indignation at the Anglo-Saxon mentality of forming the broadest and most powerful alliances possible without regard to the intricacies of each player. This is not a communication trick: the Chinese consider everyone as an equal with their own particularities. The day after the AUKS announcement, China formally applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). It is the successor organization to President Obama’s proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership. The coincidence of the two events is officially purely fortuitious. In practice, Beijing is offering economic exchanges to all, while Washington is offering war.
The nuclear Spectre
Until now, and probably still today, the United States considers that having nuclear-powered ships opens the way quickly to the construction of atomic bombs. This is why it has only offered nuclear propulsion technology to its British ally. Therefore – and whatever the Australians say – building nuclear-powered submarines prepares Australia for entry into the club of atomic powers. The war against China will be a nuclear war!
From this point of view, Japan’s entry into the Quad after the traumas of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is an achievement.
Until now, only the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council had nuclear-powered submarines. India has become the sixth and Australia is expected to be the seventh.
Since the United States can no longer maintain its rhetoric of dual-use nuclear technology, it can no longer claim that Iranian nuclear research is for military purposes. This should pave the way for open cooperation between Washington and Tehran, which Israel immediately anticipated.
THE downgrading of the Europeans
The first loser in this new architecture is France. It has lost its status as a global power. It still retains its permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.
The decline of Paris was foreseeable since its armies were placed under U.S. command within NATO’s Integrated Command in 2009. Today, they are no longer able to defend the entire French territory. Instead they send expeditionary forces to defend US interests in Africa. Indeed, the United States has still not managed to deploy AfriCom on the black continent. It uses French ground troops, which it supports with its air surveillance system.
Paris reacted… by canceling a gala event at its embassy in the United States. The Quai d’Orsay asked the State Department for urgent explanations in the hours preceding the AUKUS announcement. In the end, it considered that Australia had knowingly hidden this project from it, which was instigated by the United States. He therefore recalled his ambassadors in Canberra and Washington. France decided to communicate about the contract of the century cancelled by the Australians. This $90 billion agreement is not much compared to what is at stake and what it has lost.
Paris is all the more stunned because it had thought it had established a privileged relationship with London. Secret negotiations were under way to move the base of the British nuclear-powered submarines (Trident) to France in the event of Scotland’s secession from the United Kingdom.
France can take comfort in the fact that its downgrading is taking place in the context of the more general downgrading of all Europeans. The fact that Germany may eventually fare less badly is incidental. Berlin is only allowed to be an economic power and never since the Second World War to be a global political power.
French presence in Indo-Pacific region
France is not only a European metropolis. It is also a constellation of territories all over the world that gives it the second largest maritime domain in the world (after the United States). In the Indo-Pacific region, it has the departments of Reunion and Mayotte, the communities of New Caledonia and French Polynesia, the territory of Wallis and Futuna, the French Southern and Antarctic Lands (TAAF). All of this is inhabited by 1.6 million French nationals.
France is therefore a power in the Indo-Pacific. As such, it has offered to help its European Union partners, which it has taken care to place outside the US-China strategic rivalry. It is a member of the Indian Ocean Commission. France participates in the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ summits, in its police and intelligence coordination (ASEANAPOL) and should soon join the Regional Cooperation Against Piracy (RECAAP). Ultimately, France, which is to assume the presidency of the European Council during the first half of 2022, planned to make use of its roots in the Indo-Pacific as one of the European Union’s challenges.