Azerbaijan distances itself from the USA and the EU

Turning point in Eurasia: Azerbaijan distances itself from the USA and the EU

pressenza

Barcelona, Spain Nazanin Armanian

This post is also available in: Spanish

Turning point in Eurasia: Azerbaijan distances itself from the USA and the EU
Panorama of Baku, capital of Azerbaijan, by night (Image by user Urek Meniashvili on wikimedia commons)

 

Not even the extravagance of Ilham Aliev’s government on the European Olympics in June 2015 – which included the payment of transport costs and a breakfast of Azeri kuku for the 6000 athletes during the games – could change the decision of European leaders to boycott the opening ceremony in protest, supposedly, because of the persecution of dissidents. Are they also thinking about punishing the Saudi sheikhs for banning political parties, trade unions, a free press or for decapitating women and men in public squares? Or the Emirs of the mediaeval Qatari regime for exploiting to death almost 1200 immigrant-slaves working on construction projects for the 2022 world cup?

The real reason is something else: the change in Baku’s foreign policy led by Ilham Aliyev, son of Heydar Aliyev (1993 – 2013) – the former US-aligned president – who keeping the same political system of “market and repression” has opted to relax tensions with Russia instead of being a NATO military base in the South Caucasus in exchange for nothing.

Only two years ago, Azerbaijan (which means “Land of Fire” in Persian) welcomed the USA-Azerbaijan: Vision of the Future meeting with the presence of dozens of politicians and businessmen such as vice-president Joe Biden, Paul Wolfowitz, one of the butchers of the Iraqi and Afghan people, and representatives of a dozen or so oil companies such as BP, Chevron and ConocoPhillips. They went to consolidate US-EU domination over the hydrocarbons and the Caucasus enclave at the very gates of Moscow.

Russia defends its border territory

Nevertheless, the geopolitical dynamics of the region have changed, stealthily: Putin’s doctrine which includes recovery of Moscow’s influence in the former soviet space, is advancing relentlessly and has accomplished:

– the prevention of the USA and the EU from building the Nabucco pipeline

– Frustration of the GUAM Project, a military Alliance between Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova, a NATO subsidiary in the zone.

– That the quintet of countries surrounding the Caspian Sea said “no” to US presence unanimously.

– That Azerbaijan abandoned naval cooperation projects with the USA in the Caspian Sea (KASFOR). This initiative was proposed by Russia when Moscow was cooperating with NATO, and raised so much suspicion that Iran also rejected it. Now that Vladimir Putin is reactivating the project as an initiative unlinked to the USA, Baku and Teheran can show interest.

– the closing of the North route for sending NATO military equipment to Afghanistan, as a reprisal for the provocations by the Alliance in Ukraine, leaving thousands of soldiers to fend for themselves against Pakistan and the Taliban.

Moreover, Russia has the following assets:

– a rapid response force unfolding on the Caspian Sea coast.

– Influence in the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave and troops in the Gyumri base, Armenia, a country of great strategic value. Requests by the USA-EU to Ankara to approach Yerevan and recognise the Armenian Genocide (in order to thereby remove the country from Russia’s influence), were frustrated and added insult to injury by increasing Baku’s mistrust towards the west.

– Cooperation by Giorgi Margvelashvili, the new Georgian Prime Minister, who in 2013 dislodged the pro-Nato Mikheil Saakashvili from power. US refusal to support them militarily in the war with Russia in 2008 was a big lesson.

– The possibility to block Azerbaijan pipelines in any moment. Also Georgian ones.

– Increase the standing of Turkmenistan (the world’s fourth largest gas reserve) in the region, to the detriment of Azerbaijan.

– Build a pipeline with Turkey, the Turkish Stream, destined for Europe that will compete with the Trans-Anatolia Gas Pipeline project, sponsored by the USA, the EU and Azerbaijan.

– Expand the stationing of anti-missile radars that it possesses since the Soviet Era in the Azeri city of Qabala.

A solid front composed of Russia, Iran and Armenia is watching with satisfaction and concern the disintegration of the USA-Israel-Azerbaijan-Turkey axis.

A Jihad and Maidan for Azerbaijan

Richard Morningstar, US Ambassador to Baku, has threatened Aliev with his own “Maidan Square” as a result of his policies. What he hasn’t revealed is if in Azerbaijan there will also be a “colour revolution” or a coup d’état. Morningstar, sent by Barack Obama to the zone to distance Russia from the energetic projects in the Caspian region, promoted the Southern Gas Corridor (Azerbaijan-Turkey-Greece) and after burying plans for the Nabucco gas-pipeline, it was proposed to take gas from the Shah Deniz fields, among the world’s largest, to Greece, Albania and Italy, as long as Russia keeps its fingers out.

To promote another conflict with Armenia; an ethnic-religious conflict (such as, for example, to support the separatism of the Talysh people, a 300,000 strong community of Iranian origin); to fill the press with cases of torture, to use political prisoners or the tragedy of a million refugees from the Armenian War; “fight against terrorism” and convert the Jihadists that, after unfathomable support of the Saudis, are appearing in this Muslim state into the excuse so that the USA and the EU prepare another plan to change the status quo in the region. For Barack Obama in his first mandate, an anti-China alliance with Moscow was more important than overpowering the complicated former Soviet republics. Now the intrepid President is fighting against both, and after his great anti-Russia offensive from Ukraine, he has opened another front of the conflict in the Caucasus.

In Azerbaijan, jihadists from the Jamaat (Community) Group are already operating, connected with Chechen Islamists, the Caucasus Emirate, and with Syria’s Islamic State: the attack on Eurovision in 2012 and the murder of several Shiite clerics carry their hallmarks.

The response by Georgia’s Margvelashvili to US and EU interference has been to close the office of Radio Free Europe, to deny visas to several European media staff and also George Soros’s Open Society Foundation.

Day after day, and in the midst of a bloody war for gas, the USA has ended up without any points of support in Eurasia.

The 5 Littoral States Vote To Ban Foreign Militaries From Caspian

For Members Only The Consequences of the Caspian Summit’s Foreign Military Ban

diplomatic intel

caspian sea 

5VIENNA, September 01, 2015 – Last September brought with it major changes to the hotly contested Caspian Sea region. These changes were revealed at the IV Caspian Summit held on September 29th in Astrakhan, Russia.

Of the greatest significance was the unanimous vote by the “Caspian 5” (Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan) to no longer allow foreign military presence in the Caspian region and that all issues that were to arise would be solved between the littoral states only. The political declaration, according to an announcement by Vladimir Putin and signed by all five presidents “sets out a fundamental principle for guaranteeing stability and security, namely, that only the Caspian littoral states have the right to have their armed forces present on the Caspian.” [1]

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani echoed this sentiment stating “there is consensus among all the Caspian Sea littoral states that they are capable of maintaining the security of the Caspian Sea and military forces of no foreign country must enter the sea.” [2]The five further agreed to expand cooperation on the Caspian Sea in terms of meteorology, natural disasters, and environmental protection. [3] The declaration also revealed clear formulations on the delimitation of the seabed with each country having exclusive sovereign rights to a 15 mile area. [4] This puts to rest an issue that had been contested since the breakup of the Soviet Union and the emergence of the new independent states. [5]Apart from being a unique body of water in terms of its bio and ecological resources, the Caspian Sea comes with a massive amount of oil and gas reserves, an estimated 18 billion tons with proved reserves of four billion tons. These numbers put the Caspian Sea directly behind the Persian Gulf in terms of the world’s largest oil and gas reserves. [6]

This corresponds with what prof. Anis H. Bajrektarevic described as the lowest common denominator of 5 littoral states in both theatres – the Caspian and Arctic. “The Five will be: (i) Dismissive: Erode the efforts of international community/external interested parties for creation of the Antarctica-like treaty (by keeping the UNCLOS referential); (ii) Assertive: Maximize the shares of the spoils of partition – extend the EEZ and continental shelf as to divide most if not the entire body of water only among the Five; and (iii) Reconciliatory: Prevent any direct confrontation among the riparian states over the spoils – resolve the claims without arbitration of the III parties. (preferably CLCS). [7]

Therefore, no wonder that this declaration also outlined many corresponding projects in the works for this region – a major one being the joint construction of a railroad that would encircle the Caspian Sea, connecting key Caspian ports and cutting transportation time in half. The five states also signed an emergency prevention and response agreement which called for joint efforts in responding to emergencies in the region. Additionally, plans were revealed for a joint emergency response exercise to take place in 2016 that will test the capabilities and partnerships between the nations and develop procedures of notifying and coordinating rescue units. [8]

Disguised underneath these projects, exercises, cooperation, and initiatives is a very real threat to the United States and NATO. Russia and Iran have long felt threatened by the possibility of a foreign military presence in the Caspian Sea and Moscow was determined to find a way to ensure it would not lose any more influence in the global energy sector (this in light of Europe slowly but surely diversifying away from Russian gas after the Ukrainian crisis began). The best way to do this was to bring these nations into the fold of Kremlin interests, while making them feel their own interests were also being served. By strengthening relations in their own backyard Russia has been able to increase influence and gain back power in the region. Shutting NATO out of the region also significantly increases Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan’s dependence on Moscow in many different aspects. [9] Another added bonus is that a clear alliance made up of Iran, Russia, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan, Ukraine (absent any ‘outsider presence’) would be comparatively easy to control. [10]

The effects of this agreement have already resulted in major changes to relations between Caspian nations and the United States. For years Azerbaijan has welcomed American-Azeri relations by stepping up logistical support for NATO operations in Afghanistan and even serving in Afghanistan as part of the ISAF, but relations have clearly cooled between the two nations. There were also serious talks between Kazakhstan and the United States for building a base on the border in Aktau that would cater to the needs of the United States and NATO troops, but since the signing of this declaration the project has been halted. Finally, the geopolitical shift in the region has resulted in the closing of the North route for NATO military equipment being sent to Afghanistan. [11]Prior to this Caspian Summit agreement the United States had played an active role in helping Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan bolster their military defenses and develop their own navies. [12] The maintaining of close relations in this region was of great political and strategic importance to the United States, not only due to its vast oil and gas riches (originally outside of Russia’s control) but its strategic location that connects it with many regions of Western interest.

Other ways that Russia has benefited from this deal include: the creation of a rapid response force unfurling along the Caspian Sea coast as a means to extend influence over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave and its troops in the Armenian Gyumri base; jumpstarting cooperation with Giorgi Margvelashvili, the new Georgian Prime Minister; maintaining the ability to block Georgian and Azerbaijan pipelines; improving relations with Turkmenistan; beginning plans for building a pipeline with Turkey (named the Turkish Stream) out to Europe, which will compete with the Trans-Anatolia Gas Pipeline project (sponsored not coincidentally by the US, EU, and Azerbaijan). [13]

The United States has another reason to worry about being blocked from the region – Chechnya. In Azerbaijan, jihadists from the Jamaat (Community) Group are already operating and maintaining connections with Chechen Islamists, the Caucasus Emirate, and Syria’s Islamic State: the attack on Eurovision in 2012 and the murder of several Shiite clerics all carry their hallmarks. This insurgency is threatening to turn the region into one of the most ungovernable locations in the world where neither aggressive use of military/intelligence force (counterterrorism operations courtesy of Russia) nor engaged economic assistance has helped the situation. With the United States not being able to join together with forces in the region this threat will not just remain present but will likely only continue to grow. [14]

Arguably, the signing of this agreement to ban foreign militaries has been the biggest game-changer to take place in the Caspian over the last 20 years. The West not being able to be involved in the region not only decreases energy development and security in the oil and gas-rich Caspian sea basin, but also wounds in several other respects: it reduces the ability to deter adversaries in the region against attacks; it weakens what were growing U.S. alliances; it allows Moscow to project its power over the other Caspian nations with little interference; it cuts off access to ports for deployments to the Middle East; it does not allow for responses to humanitarian crises in the region; and it does not allow for the U.S. to project its own power and reach as easily as it once did. All of these make the United States and NATO much weaker than before the Summit began. Round One in this heavyweight prize fight has clearly gone to the Russian bear.


[1]Dettoni, J. (2014). “Russia and Iran Lock NATO Out of Caspian Sea.” The Diplomat. Retrieved from http://thediplomat.com/2014/10/russia-and-iran-lock-nato-out-of-caspian-sea/

[2]Ibid.

[3]PressTV. (2014). “No foreign military force must enter Caspian region: Rouhani.” PressTV.ir. Retrieved from http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2014/09/29/380453/no-foreign-force-in-caspian-region/

[4]Belinksi, S. (2014). “Caspian Sea Could Be Key To Russian Control Of Eurasian Energy Markets.” Oilprice.com. Retrieved from http://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Caspian-Sea-Could-Be-Key-To-Russian-Control-Of-Eurasian-Energy-Markets.html

[5]PressTV. (2014). “No foreign military force must enter Caspian region: Rouhani.” PressTV.ir. Retrieved from http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2014/09/29/380453/no-foreign-force-in-caspian-region/

[6]TASS, (2014) “Real breakthrough reached at 4th Caspian Summit – Putin.” TASS Russian News Agency. Retrieved from http://tass.ru/en/russia/751856

[7] Bajrektarevic, A. (2014), The Caspian Five and the Arctic Five—Critical Similarities, Geopolitics of Energy, CERI Canada 34(4)2014.

[8]Sputniknews. (2014). “Countries bordering the Caspian Sea will hold joint emergency exercises in 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday.”   Sputniknews.com Retrieved from http://sputniknews.com/military/20140929/193422433.html

[9]Belinksi, S. (2014). “Caspian Sea Could Be Key To Russian Control Of Eurasian Energy Markets.” Oilprice.com. Retrieved from http://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Caspian-Sea-Could-Be-Key-To-Russian-Control-Of-Eurasian-Energy-Markets.html

[10]Ibid.

[11]Armanian, N. (2015). “Turning point in Eurasia: Azerbaijan distances itself from the USA and the EU.” TheFifthColumnews.com. Retrieved from http://thefifthcolumnnews.com/2015/06/turning-point-in-eurasia-azerbaijan-distances-itself-from-the-usa-and-the-eu/

[12]Ibid.

[13]Ibid.

[14]Cohen, A. (2012). “Anti-Terrorism Operation in North Caucuses Exposes Russia’s Vulnerabilities.” TheDailySignal.com. Retrieved from http://dailysignal.com/2012/10/23/anti-terrorism-operation-in-north-caucasus-exposes-russias-vulnerabilities/

Written by Megan Munoz

Megan Munoz – Bellevue University, Nebraska. She works as an intelligence analyst for the state of New Jersey, previously served as an intelligence analyst in the United States Air Force for 10 years, and remains a reservist.

Svoboda Nazis Riot After Ukrainian Parliament Vote—1 Dead So Far

svoboda        1 dead, 100 injured in Ukraine clashes

usa_today_long

One Ukrainian national guard member was killed by a grenade and 100 people were injured Monday  as nationalists protested a parliamentary vote to grant autonomy to areas held by Russian-backed separatists.

The escalation in violence took place as the parliament in Kiev approved a draft constitutional amendment proposed by President Petro Poroshenko. His decentralization plan would give more power to the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, which are held by the separatists.

In a televised address, Poroshenko called the bill “a difficult but a logical step toward peace,” and he insisted  it wouldn’t give any autonomy to the rebels, the Associated Press reported. He described the clashes outside parliament as an attack on him and pledged to prosecute “all political leaders”  behind the violence.

Photographs and video showed the grenade emitting a trail of smoke. Ten injured police officers were in serious condition. There were no reports of serious injuries among the protesters.

Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk called for life imprisonment for the person who threw the grenade and said the protesters were worse than the separatist rebels because they are destroying the country from within “under the guise of patriotism,” the AP said.

“The cynicism of this crime lies in the fact that while the Russian federation and its bandits are trying and failing to destroy the Ukrainian state on the eastern front, the so-called pro-Ukrainian political forces are trying to open another front in the country’s midst,” he said.

The nationalist Svoboda party that led Monday’s unrest blamed the government, saying  it “provoked Ukrainians to protest” by presenting a bill  tantamount to “capitulation to the Kremlin.”

The legislation, if approved, would allow some communities in eastern Ukraine to take ownership of state assets and natural resources. The amendment would permit Ukraine’s president to overrule local authorities  to protect national sovereignty.

Critics of the plan, including the far-right Svoboda and Right Sector parties, say the bill would give too much power to the separatists waging war against Ukrainian security forces.

“This is not a road to peace and not a road to decentralization,” said former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, the leader of another party that opposes the measure. “This is the diametrically opposite process, which will lead to the loss of new territories.”

Supporters argue that Donetsk and Luhansk will benefit from the decentralization of power, which was a condition of the Minsk agreement in February that formally ended major combat between Ukraine’s military and the separatists.

Despite evidence of Russian weapons and military troops fighting alongside the self-described rebels, Russia has consistently denied any involvement.

More than 6,800 people have died in the Ukraine conflict that began last year and is still active in places despite the cease-fire signed in February.

A final vote on the amendment is likely during the parliament’s fall session, which starts Tuesday. The Svoboda party holds only a handful of seats in the parliament.

Russian Air Force NOT GOING TO SYRIA NOW…Stinking Zio Disinfo

Russian jets in Syrian skies

Ynet

[NO STORY HERE]

http://www.rt.com/news/314010-syria-russia-planes-isis/

Russia-Today

No Russian jets were deployed to Syria in order to launch attacks against Islamic State militants (IS, formerly ISIS, ISIL) and Syrian rebels, a military source told RT, dismissing reports in Israeli media.

“There has been no redeployment of Russian combat aircraft to the Syrian Arab Republic,” the source told RT on Tuesday. “The Russian Air Force is at its permanent bases and carrying out normal troop training and combat duty.”