More Garbage About Afghan Taliban “Reconciliation”/Sell-Out Psyop

[This is from the Indian press and for all we know, it may be total bullshit.  Does anyone really know anything about this alleged “negotiation with the Taliban” psyop, other than the drivel released through the Western media?  As far as I can tell, the West is looking for people connected with the Taliban resistance, who are willing and able to sell their movement out.  Whoever can help NATO put the Taliban in a box in the south will wind-up with half a country and a good start on the next Afghan civil war.]

War and priests

Battling for peace: Rocketi and Zaeef / Photo: Syed Nazakat


Five mullahs hold the key in Afghan peace talks

By Syed Nazakat

At the centre of US President Barack Obama’s plan to have an honourable exit from Afghanistan are five key figures—former Taliban commanders Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, Mullah Abdul Salam Rocketi, Mullah Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and Mullah Tayeb Agha. Obama’s war advisers have been talking to them in an effort to shift the focus from the battleground to negotiation.
Zaeef, a co-founder of the Taliban, has in recent months received American and European diplomats at his home in Kabul’s Pashtun-dominated Khush-Haal neighbourhood. Unlike other Taliban commanders who defected after the US-led forces swept Afghanistan, Zaeef still has credibility with the Taliban fighters and his views are said to reflect those of the Taliban leadership. “There are many foreign dignitaries who have asked my opinion and advice,” Zaeef told THE WEEK on phone. “I told them, ‘If you are sincere, we can end the war without further bloodshed’.”

The peace initiative has also made Rocketi, former Taliban military chief of Jalalabad and once a close aide of Taliban chief Mullah Omar, a central figure. Rocketi’s connections with Taliban commanders in the turbulent southern Afghanistan and his relationship with members of parliament have made him a good interlocutor. Muttawakil, former foreign minister, was one of the Taliban commanders invited by the Saudi king in 2008 to initiate the peace talks.

An Afghan tribal leader told THE WEEK that the Taliban leaders who had spoken to him wanted to end the war. He said they preferred direct talks with the US without Pakistan’s intervention. “They know the trouble in Afghanistan started because of foreign interventions—whether it was Russia, the US or Pakistan. We have to decide our fate on our own,” he said.
Reconciliation, however, is a delicate task. Omar, who has been hiding—presumably in  Pakistan—since the fall of Kandahar in 2001, is not a participant in the ongoing talks, nor does he attend the secret meetings of the Taliban leadership council. When he does communicate, it is through written statements. Therefore, one purpose of the peace initiative is to reach Omar and to know who among his close circle, if any, might be willing to negotiate.

To facilitate talks, a UN Security Council resolution has removed 14 Taliban leaders from the sanctions list. More importantly, the US has engaged Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and Mullah Tayeb Agha to persuade the Taliban. Baradar, Omar’s brother-in-law and his second-in-command, was captured in Karachi last year. According to a senior Afghan official, Baradar is now willing to be a part of the peace jirga.
However, it could be the youngest of the five mullahs, 30-year-old Agha, who is likely to lead the negotiations. A former personal assistant to Omar, he is in contact with the Taliban leaders in Quetta shura and has reportedly participated in at least three meetings with US negotiators.

But the pursuit of peace can be risky. The Taliban, despite having suffered massive losses in the past 10 years, controls areas in southern Afghanistan and, in the past two years, has even spread to the comparatively peaceful northern regions. This has alarmed the non-Pashtun, anti-Taliban militias, who are vehemently against the negotiations. A civil war along ethnic lines is a possibility. And then there is Pakistan, which has a history of interfering in Afghanistan by training and arming militias it favours.

Taliban Leader Disputes News Reports About Expelling Hakeemullah

North Waziristan Taliban leader Bahadar denies reports he expelled ‘militants’


The top Taliban leader in Pakistan’s lawless tribal agency of North Waziristan has denied that he ordered other “militants” to vacate areas under his control.

Hafiz Gul Bahadar, the emir of the Taliban in North Waziristan, said recent reports that he ordered Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan leader Hakeemullah Mehsud and others to leave the tribal agency were “fabricated.” Bahadar made the statement through his official spokesman, Ahmadullah Ahmadi, according to The News.

Ahmadi warned Pakistani reporters not to attribute false statements and said the Taliban had launched an investigation into the reports.

“We always respected journalists and will continue our cooperation with them in future as well but request them to show honesty and professionalism while writing about sensitive issues,” Ahmadi told The News. “We will not tolerate those involved in defaming the Taliban by such fabricated stories.”

As recently as July 26, a report emerged at IRNA that Bahadar’s Shura-e-Mujahideen had issued a “last warning to those who had attacked the [Pakistani] security forces” after Pakistani troops were killed in an IED attack in North Waziristan. “They should avoid any such action in future otherwise practical steps would be taken against them,” read the statement attributed to Bahadar.

Ahmadi also claimed that there were no “militants” in North Waziristan, and that Bahadar’s Taliban faction has lived up to its terms of a peace agreement with the Pakistani military. But, as documented here at The Long War Journal numerous times, Bahadar provides support and shelter for top al Qaeda leaders as well as terrorists from numerous Pakistani and Central Asian terror groups, including the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan.

North Waziristan serves as a base for the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan and non-aligned Taliban groups, the Haqqani Network, al Qaeda, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Islamic Jihad Group, and a host of Pakistani terror groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and the Punjabi Taliban.

The Religion of Evil

The Religion of Evil

The Moscow Times

While the left argues with the right and nationalists argue with pro-Westerners, a new ideology has arisen in society that has the potential to win supremacy over the minds of the masses.

People do not have faith in free-market forces, much less in the government. In place of all the failed ideologies of recent decades, people are believing more in conspiracy theories.

But this is not to say these people believe that conspiracies are behind specific events or phenomena. The conspiracy theories have more to do with a new global vision, a worldview contending that every social event of any significance is being guided by some external and inexorable evil force.

According to this theory, an anonymous elite uses the political process to manipulate and control people’s behaviors: The financial and political elite stage revolutions, organize economic crises and finance social discontent. In short, they control the global chaos.

To Russian adherents of this type of conspiracy theory, the United States is the main conspirator, regardless of which president is in the White House. These adherents exploit the cultural baggage accumulated during the Soviet era for their own purposes.

The difference is that Soviet propaganda critical of the United States was focused on exposing the evils of capitalism, whereas the current criticisms serve as an excuse and a cover for Russia’s own corrupt form of state capitalism.

There is no talk of the universal shortcomings of capitalism that affect Russia and the West equally, but only of the ill will of the Americans who, for some reason, have supposedly sent economic and political crises to Russia.

Believers in modern conspiracy theories assert that even floods, tsunamis and earthquakes are the handiwork of evil plotters.

We are thus confronted by the appearance of a new and pagan religion. The world is not guided by the will of a single, benevolent higher power, but by a vast number of conflicting dark forces.

What’s more, adherents of this belief hold that the only way to counter this threat is not to oppose evil with good but to oppose it with even more powerful evil.

What is the secret behind the stunning success of this religion of evil? It frees the common man of any responsibility for his life and actions. It does not promise him the ability to influence the course of history or even to be the master of his own behavior. Rather than promote the idea that people are nothing but cattle, this belief system is the natural outcome of people who agree with this assessment.

This belief in an all-embracing conspiracy not only reinforces people’s tendency to view themselves as little more than cattle, but also makes them smugly self-satisfied in rejecting enlightenment and reason. Even worse, they consider any grassroots attempt to change society from below, including social protest, as pointless.

The people’s reflexive tendency to pacify themselves and to rationalize their own passivity is what finally transforms people completely into cattle.

As the joke about the psychologist says: “The treatment was a success: The patient continues to wet his bed, but now he is proud of it.”

Boris Kagarlitsky is director of the Institute of Globalization Studies.

Eight Afghans killed by Tajik forces

Eight Afghans killed by Tajik forces

Posted on July 29, 2011

AIBAK (NNI): Eight Afghan citizens were killed by Tajik forces after they crossed the border into the neighbouring country from northern Samangan province, residents said, but local officials expressed unawareness about the incident.According to an Afghan based news agency, a former member of the Wolesi Jirga, Ahmad Khan Samangani said that a 45-member group of Afghans went to Tajikistan for tourism few weeks back.They were arrested by Tajik forces while collecting herb plants in Kolab area, he said, claiming four of the detainees were killed four days after their arrest.Samangani said he had shared the incident with parliament and had called for seriously investigating into the killings.He also said the Wolesi Jirga secretary had promised to take up the issue with Tajikistan embassy in Kabul.A resident of Gul Qishlaq village in Aibak city, Hafizullah, said his brother Abdul Samad along with 44 others people from Samangan had gone to Tajikistan with a trader Haji Faqir 45 days ago.He added that a dozen of Afghans who were able to escape had reached northern Takhar province through Badakhshan.Mohammadullah, one of the escapees, said that the dead bodies of his eight friends had been transferred to Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, by Tajik soldiers and relatives of the victims had been informed that the bodies had been released to Afghan embassy in Tajikistan.Samangan Governor Faizullah Anosh said he had no details about the incident.A relative of one of the victims, Asadullah, said the dead Afghans were of ages between 20 and 30 and they were residents of Tota, Gul Qishlaq and Orlamsh and Hazrat Sultan districts of Samangan.Calls seeking comments in this reagard from the Ministry of Interior and Foreign Affairs were not answered.

Taliban didn’t kill Kandahar mayor, daughter says

‘Corrupt people’ working for government among those family blames for slaying


Kandahar Mayor Ghulam Haider Hameedi, 63, was killed this week because he was a fearless crusader against corruption at all levels of Kandahar’s governments, his daughter says.

“It was not the Taliban who killed him,” Rangina, 34, said.

Rangina, who said she was her father’s closest confidante, said “criminals and thieves and corrupt people working for the government” killed her father.

Hameedi was killed Wednesday morning in the courtyard garden of city hall by a suicide bomber who had concealed the explosives in his turban. While the Taliban have claimed responsibility, they have been known to take credit for killings in which they had no real involvement.

Rangina said Afghan “gangsters” often worked with the Taliban, but it was not the Taliban who killed him.

When she was reminded that he was killed by a suicide bomber, she laughed and said: “These corrupt gangsters are capable of doing anything.”

She said her father was a man of powerful convictions. “He believed that if the criminals in government saw that honesty was the best way to help the people they would change their ways.”

Rangina said her father knew he was a marked man, not from the Taliban but “from the corrupt people in the Karzai government.”

Hameedi grew up in the city and was working as an accountant in the Afghan government’s Finance Department when the Soviets invaded in 1978. He fled Afghanistan in 1981 and eventually moved to the United States with his three daughters and two sons.

His daughter Wazma, 42, lives in Toronto and was visiting Kandahar when her father was killed.

Hameedi was considered the only politician who tried to improve the city by building schools, imposing health regulations, installing sidewalks and lighting, and helping to create low-cost housing projects.

The mayor was well known for exposing corrupt officials and power brokers who had seized government land for their own financial benefit.

Eight months ago, he bulldozed a market with 100 shops owned by a powerful clan in Kandahar called the Mazalai. The land was located behind the governor’s palace and belonged to the city. The land had been slated for the construction of a school.

More recently, he planned to take back government land that corrupt businessmen had seized to build housing so they could collect rents. Many had built walls around the parcels of land they seized but had not yet built houses.

Hameedi wanted to tear down the walls and divide the land into 2,000 small lots to be sold at low prices to lowincome people, government workers and teachers.

“He wanted to legalize it all and anybody who had built a house on the land already would be allowed to stay but with a smaller lot,” Rangina said.

She said her father never hesitated to confront and expose people who tried to bribe him and often warned representatives of coalition forces about corrupt officials or businessmen.

Hameedi believed, for instance, that a contractor paid by Canada to install solar lighting in the city was using substandard solar panels.

He also imposed health regulations on food production. For instance, he forced bakeries to use natural gas instead of burning wood or plastics that polluted the air.

Rangina said that unless the West stops Pakistan from arming and giving insurgents a safe haven, there will be no peace in Afghanistan.

She runs the only business in Kandahar that is owned by a woman. It’s called Kandahar Treasures and it markets Afghan scarves and purses and other items made by Afghan women.

She said she plans to leave the country. “There is nothing left for me here,” she said. “It is very difficult to have hope for the immediate future.”

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

The Price of Our Imperial Wars Hitting Home, With Frontline Troops Hoping Their Wives Get Paid

“My soul aches when I think about hungry soldiers, unpaid officers and their families, who have been suffering for years without a home of their own.”–Boris Yeltsin

Anxiety in Afghanistan over troops pay if US defaults

* Aug. 2 deadline raises anxiety for U.S. troops

* Fallout on U.S. forces from a default unknown

* U.S. troops seen reporting for duty regardless

By Phil Stewart

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, July 30 (Reuters) – It is unclear if the United States will be able to pay troops on time in the event of a debt default, the top U.S. military officer told troops in Afghanistan on Saturday.

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Pentagon officials were working hard to plan for a potential default but cautioned that the circumstances were extraordinary.

“So I honestly can’t answer that question,” he told troops at Kandahar air base in southern Afghanistan, as several expressed anxiety over budget wrangling in Washington.

Potentially suspending pay to U.S. forces waging wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is an extremely sensitive subject in the United States and Mullen acknowledged that many troops lived paycheck to paycheck.

“So if paychecks were to stop, it would have a devastating impact,” Mullen said, answering questions from troops.

“I’d like to give you a better answer than that right now, I just honestly don’t know,” he said.

The United States has warned that it will run out of money to pay all of its bills after Aug. 2 without a deal from Congress to raise a $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. Where U.S. troops fall in priority for payment in a default has not been made clear.

With $172 billion of revenue between Aug. 3 and Aug. 31, the U.S. Treasury could fully fund Social Security payments, Medicare and Medicaid, interest on the debt, defense vendor payments and unemployment insurance, found a study by the Washington-based Bipartisan Policy Center.

But that would leave entire government departments — such as Labor, Commerce, Energy and Justice — unfunded, and many others unpaid, like active-duty troops and the federal workforce.

Mullen said he believed that troops would be paid eventually, and added that there was an expectation U.S. forces, seen as essential to national security, would need to show up for work.

“I have confidence that at some point in time whatever compensation you were owed you will be given,” he said.

“But I don’t know mechanically exactly how that would happen. And it is a huge concern.”

While a group of congressmen pushed forward a bill this week to ensure that the active military servicemen still get paid in the case of default, there’s no firm plan yet.

The White House hasn’t made any assurances and neither has the Treasury Department.

Some financial organizations that service military clients, like USAA and the Andrews Federal Credit Union, have stepped up to say that they will advance pay if there is a default. (Editing byMichelle Nichols)

NATO Bombing Libyan TV In Vain Attempt To Win Propaganda War

[Qaddaffi’s words seem to be a bigger threat than his weaponry.  Just as in the NATO aggression in the former Yugoslavia, Western interventionists try to silence the cameras and voice recorders, while they attempt to enforce an Islamist government on the people there.  In Serbia, TV and radio stations were hit repeatedly to create the news blackout needed to provide cover to NATO’s monstrous deeds.  Libyan infrastructure, like that in Serbia is being reduced to rubble to force primitive conditions upon the civilized people, hoping to break their will to resist.]

Radio Television Serbia- April 22, 1999

Libya conflict: Nato targets TV satellite dishes

Nato says it has disabled three Libyan state TV satellite transmission dishes in the capital, Tripoli, through a “precision air strike”.

It said the operation was intended to stop “inflammatory broadcasts” by Col Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.

Nato said it was in the process of assessing the effect of the strike.

Libyan state TV broadcasts remained on air following the Nato statement about the raid.

Coalition forces began operations in Libya in March, under a UN mandate authorising military action for the protection of civilians.

Libyan rebels began an uprising against Col Gaddafi in February. Despite Nato’s intervention, they have struggled to break a military deadlock.

A Nato statement said the strike was “performed by Nato fighter aircraft using state-of-the-art precision guided munitions”, and that there had been “due consideration and careful planning to minimise the risks of casualties”.

“Our intervention was necessary as TV was being used as an integral component of the regime apparatus designed to systematically oppress and threaten civilians and to incite attacks against them,” it said.

It said the strike would “reduce the regime’s ability to oppress civilians” but also “preserve television broadcast infrastructure that will be needed after the conflict”.

Reports from Tripoli said a series of loud explosions were heard in the city centre late on Friday evening.

Libyan state TV reported that civilian targets had been hit, though this could not be verified.

The Libyan capital has been a regular target for Nato air strikes in recent weeks.

Setting Western Eurasia On Fire, While NATO Slips Into Central Asia

[The would-be masters of the known universe are betting their asses on their behavior modification capabilities.  They are setting more fires than they have firemen.]

War Clouds Gathering Again in the Caucasus

28 July 2011

Three years after the Russia-Georgia armed conflict, war clouds are again gathering in the Caucasus.

Already deadlocked for years, the peace negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan hit a brick wall on June 24 in Kazan, when a much-anticipated peace summit broke up without agreement. PresidentDmitry Medvedevhad put his personal authority behind the talks, having personally convened nine previous meetings between the two leaders over the past two years.

Now, there is increasing talk of war — a war that would be presumably started by Azerbaijan in a bid to regain the province of Karabakh and the surrounding districts that were seized by Armenian forces during the war from 1992 to 1994. Armenia argues that the Armenian residents of Karabakh have a right to independence and that it is unrealistic to expect Armenians to live as a minority under Azerbaijan’s rule given the history of animosity between the two sides. Each side cites atrocities against civilians committed by their adversary during a conflict that erupted in 1988.

It has become common to describe the standoff as a clash between two competing principles — “self-determination” for Karabakh versus “territorial integrity” for Azerbaijan. This makes the dispute sound like a technical difference of opinion, one that a few good lawyers could easily resolve.

In reality, there is no difference over moral or legal principles between the two sides. Rather, as in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, it is a question of “two peoples — one land.” The disagreement is over who owns a specific piece of real estate: Karabakh, a land-locked mountain region having no particular economic or strategic value and with a population of just over 100,000.

Karabakh has come to have deep symbolic significance for both parties. For Azerbaijan, it is a question of erasing the humiliation of military defeat and seeking justice for the 600,000 refugees that fled into the remainder of Azerbaijan as a result of the war. The refugees are roughly equal to the number of Palestinians who fled Israel in 1948, yet they have been virtually ignored by the international community. For Armenia, it is about holding on to territory after a century during which Armenian residents have been progressively driven from their lands. That process culminated in the massacres — or genocide — that occurred during World War I, a tragedy that still overshadows and immeasurably complicates the conflict over Karabakh.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe proposed some basic principles for a peace settlement back in 2007. The core idea is temporary recognition of Karabakh’s self-rule in return for the withdrawal of Armenian forces from the other occupied districts. These Madrid Principles fudge the question of sovereignty by allowing for a referendum on self-determination in Karabakh at some point in the future. Armenia is being asked to give up something concrete —occupied territories — in return for something ephemeral — promises about a future referendum.

The main carrot being offered Armenia in return for leaving the occupied districts around Karabakh is the opening of the border with Turkey, which was closed by Ankara in solidarity with Azerbaijan in 1993. The 2008 Russia-Georgia war threatened Armenia’s land transit route through Georgia, leaving them dependent on access from Iran. A concerted international effort to persuade Turkey to open the border narrowly failed in October 2009, when domestic political opposition caused Turkey to retreat from an agreement to open the border that was signed with great fanfare in Zurich.

Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, has repeatedly stated that independence for Karabakh is non-negotiable, so Armenia’s reticence about moving ahead with the peace process is understandable. Why is Aliyev continuing to negotiate in the face of Armenian intransigence? If Aliyev can convince the international community that Armenia is blocking the Madrid Principles, that could give him some political cover for launching a war. Aliyev claims that time is on Baku’s side, since Armenia’s population is shrinking due to its stagnant economy, while Azerbaijan is booming thanks to its oil wealth. But Aliyev faces re-election in 2013, and keeping the lid on the opposition will be more difficult absent some progress on Karabakh. In addition, starting in 2014, Azerbaijan’s oil production will be past its peak, and revenues will start to fall.

Even some liberals are saying that a short war — a war in which neither side would probably achieve victory — could clear the way for real negotiations. The model is the 1973 Yom Kippur war, which Egyptian President Anwar Sadat claimed as a victory and which opened the door to the Camp David peace talks.

More important, an indecisive war would discredit the hawks on both sides, enabling peacemakers to strike a bargain without facing a coup when they returned home. Azerbaijan’s gross domestic product is five times that of Armenia, and Baku spent $3 billion in 2010 on its military, more than Armenia’s entire budget. But Armenia has taken delivery of sophisticated Russian hardware, including the S-300 air defense system and is home to a Russian military base housing 5,000 troops, whose tenure was extended last year through 2044.

Thus, an attack on Armenia by Azerbaijan could well trigger Russian intervention, just like Russia’s response to the Georgian attack on South Ossetia in 2008. Aliyev has been trying to maintain good relations with Russia in the hope that Moscow will press Armenia to agree to a settlement and will stay on the sidelines in a future conflict.

The main factor preventing a war is that none of the great powers want to see a resumption of hostilities. The West does not want to see a disruption of oil supplies, and for Russia a war would trigger a wave of refugees and possibly increased Western intervention in their Caucasus backyard. But the Russia-Georgia war of 2008 was a reminder that the major powers cannot always control their smaller allies and client states. If war were to break out, Russia would probably back Armenia because it must be seen as standing up for its main ally in the region. The mere threat of Russian intervention serves as a deterrent to Turkey entering the war in support of Azerbaijan. At the same time, however, Azerbaijan is arguably a more valuable ally for Russia than Armenia because of its important strategic location on the Caspian. Winning Azerbaijan away from the United States would be a substantial strategic gain for Moscow.

In any event, given the large and influential Armenian diaspora in the West, Armenia should not be placed indefinitely in the Russia camp. A few years down the road and a color revolution in Yerevan could see a pro-Western government there. Hopefully, cool heads will prevail, and the existing situation of neither war nor peace will stagger on through another hot summer.

Peter Rutland is professor of government at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.

The Moscow Times

Armenian President Pisses-Off Turkish President In Provocative War of Words

Yerevan claims Sarksyan’s words ‘misinterpreted’

Armenian President Sarksyan’s controversial words sparked harsh criticism from Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan.
In defense of recent remarks made by Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan that were considered by Turkish officials an encouragement for young students to fulfill the task of their generation and occupy eastern Turkey, Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharyan rejected the interpretation, saying Sarksyan’s words were “interpreted out of context.”
“I believe Turks failed to read the full text, interpreting the president’s words out of context. Serzh Sarksyan’s statement is serious and reasonable,” Kocharyan was quoted as saying in a news report by Armenian news web portal on Wednesday. Claiming that all the attention to the remarks, which he called “hysteria” in his statement, was created by Turkey, Kocharyan suggested that Turkey refuses to make sense of the remarks on eastern Turkey “because the country [Turkey] does not need to do so.”

The argument was initiated when Sarksyan replied to a question from a student whether “Western Armenia,” including Mount Ağrı (Mount Ararat), would ever be united with the rest of Armenia, saying that the success of this task depended on future Armenian generations. “When it was necessary, in the beginning of the 1990s, to defend a part of our fatherland — Karabakh — from the enemy, we did it,” said the Armenian leader in a justification of the Armenian occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh, an issue still awaiting resolution, and repeated that “each generation has its responsibilities and they have to be carried out with honor.”

Sarksyan’s words sparked harsh criticism from Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who responded harshly during a joint press conference with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku, condemning the remarks. He called them a “historic mistake” that should be corrected. Erdoğan stated that the remarks amount to an invitation to schoolchildren to occupy eastern Turkish lands which Armenia considers their historical homeland. The significance for Armenians of Mount Ağrı stems from a belief that the Armenians first adopted Christianity as an official religion in A.D. 301 in the area surrounding the mountain, which is now located on the eastern Turkish border with Armenia.

On Tuesday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry released a written statement strongly condemning Sarksyan’s remarks, which they interpreted as an “indication that Mr. Sarksyan has no intention of working for peace,” adding that “it is the responsibility of statesmen to prepare their societies, particularly their youth, for a peaceful future instead of provoking them into adopting an ideology of hate.”

Meanwhile, Turkey’s EU Affairs Minister Egemen Bağış also stated on Wednesday that Sarksyan’s remarks show that he does not comprehend the peaceful hand Turkey has extended to his country. “What Sarksyan has done was shoot himself in the foot. We hope the best response to Sarksyan’s delusion is given to him by the Armenian youth,” Bağış told the Anatolia news agency.

Two years ago, Turkey and Armenia were on the verge of signing a twin protocol aimed at normalization between the two countries and establishing diplomatic ties, but the parties failed to agree on preconditions, which ended up blocking the path to normalization.

On a separate note, Armenia has held the upper hand over the thorny Nagorno-Karabakh issue since the country occupied the landlocked region inside Azerbaijani borders in 1994. The dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the region is still awaiting the outcome of an international project for a solution, supervised by the Minsk Group, founded in 1992 by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and co-chaired by Russia, France and the United States. The efficiency and legitimacy of the Minsk Group has been disputed as Azerbaijan has, at times, pointed to a biased attitude of the chairing countries, which host populous Armenian diasporas, and to the fact that the Minsk Group has failed, for almost two decades, to come up with an effective solution. Armenia is currently in possession of 20 percent of Azerbaijani territory.