Deutsche Bahn, Bankset test PV systems on railway in Germany    Misr Cement Group starts operating and maintaining its own factory in Qena    Kira Wal Gin movie breaks records at Egypt cinemas    Gold prices in Egypt on July 6    Egypt condolences Iran over recently earthquake – minister    Egypt introduces first beach for visually-impaired guests in Alexandria    Egypt's athlete Basma Emad wins bronze in weightlifting in Mediterranean Games    Egypt's Petrojet returns to Libyan oil sector after 11 years    Saudi citizens could enter Schengen countries visa-free    Cemex, VeryNile sign deal for Egypt's Nile River    Congo needs Egypt's expertise to diversify its economy – FPI official    Dostarlimab drug cures rectal cancer patient 100%, trials show    Egypt: A royal train turns into a new tourism attraction    For the first time John Legend to perform in Egypt    Noura Al-Mutair – first Gulf female boxer in World Championships    Liverpool fans: "You'll Never Walk Alone" to Cristiano Ronaldo    Egypt to play key role in integrating water, climate issues globally – World Bank official    Maha karara joins AAIB as Head of Corporate Communications, Sustainability    Egypt works on charting cooperation strategies with international institutions for 5 years: Al-Mashat    Over 2.4 million newborns examined for hearing impairment: Health Ministry    Netflix releases trailer of Arab adaption of 'Perfect Strangers' film    Balqees to headline concert celebrating launch of streaming giant LIVENow in MENA    Sawsan Badr to be honoured at Aswan Women Film Festival    MP Abdel Hady Al-Qasby calls government to facilitate and support NGOs    Al-Sisi follows up on 'Great Transfiguration Project' in St. Catherine    Cairo, London stress need to strengthen cooperation to face climate change    Foreigners account for 22.6% of Egypt's T-bills issuances in 1H 2021: CBE    Egypt's ambassador to Italy passes away    Egypt confirms readiness to help African countries face terrorism and extremism    An estimated 235 million people needed humanitarian assistance and protection in 2021, an increase of 40% compared to 2020: IOM Egypt    Egypt, DRC discuss water cooperation during WYF    Egypt, DR Congo discuss boosting bilateral cooperation during WYF    Cameroonian police probe assault on three Algerian journalists covering AFCON    Pharaohs start AFCON 2021 campaign with fierce clash against Nigeria    Foreign Ministry opens capacity building course for French-speaking African diplomats    Egypt's trade with Nile basin countries climbs 26% y-o-y in 9 months    Russia says it's in sync with US, China, Pakistan on Taliban    It's a bit frustrating to draw at home: Real Madrid keeper after Villarreal game    Shoukry reviews with Guterres Egypt's efforts to achieve SDGs, promote human rights    Sudan says countries must cooperate on vaccines    Johnson & Johnson: Second shot boosts antibodies and protection against COVID-19    Egypt to tax bloggers, YouTubers    Egypt's FM asserts importance of stability in Libya, holding elections as scheduled    We mustn't lose touch: Muller after Bayern win in Bundesliga    Egypt records 36 new deaths from Covid-19, highest since mid June    Egypt sells $3 bln US-dollar dominated eurobonds    Gamal Hanafy's ceramic exhibition at Gezira Arts Centre is a must go    Italian Institute Director Davide Scalmani presents activities of the Cairo Institute for ITALIANA.IT platform    

Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.

Lost in the Caucasus
Published in Ahram Online on 27 - 10 - 2020

If Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan did not exactly light the fuse that reignited hostilities between Azerbaijan and Armenia, he is less than keen to see the flames doused in the war that is now over a month old. He has committed hardware, “personnel” from Syria and his incendiary oratory to support Baku in the hope of securing a victory for his ethnically Turkic Azeri cousins and another “conquest” in his glorious march towards his envisioned empire. However, it appears this hope is about to sputter out as Ankara finds itself increasingly criticised and sidelined in the international management of the conflict over the predominantly ethnically Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh enclave.
On Sunday, 25 October, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev announced that his country would commit to a ceasefire on the condition that all parties adhere to the principles of the Minsk Group, Fox News reported. Ankara has fumed at the Minsk Group on a number of occasions. Last week, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay, accused the group — formed to mediate the conflict and led by France, Russia and the United States — of trying to keep the conflict unresolved and, also, of supporting Armenia politically and militarily.
Ironically, Aliyev's announcement came soon after a phone call with Erdogan who, after the call, reaffirmed his rejection of all international appeals to silence the guns immediately and give reign to the voice of reason through dialogue. Turkey would support Azerbaijan to the end, Erdogan said, alluding to this vice-president's call to send Turkish troops into Nagorno-Karabakh “if there is a need and Azerbaijan makes such a request”. Then in a show of flexibility, which was in fact a bid to win a place at the negotiating table, Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul that he hoped Moscow and Ankara could work together to resolve the dispute. He also insisted that his country had a right to become one of the Minsk Group co-chairs, as “brother Aliyev” had suggested some days earlier. The Minsk co-chairs, Washington, Paris and Moscow, snubbed Ankara's bid and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo topped it off by accusing Ankara of escalating the conflict.
It also appears that Erdogan and his clique have failed to grasp the significance of the security alerts issued by the US embassies in Ankara and Baku over the weekend. The embassies warned of potential terrorist attacks and kidnappings targeting US citizens and other foreign nationals in Baku as well as in Istanbul and elsewhere in Turkey. Was this a reproach against Turkey's state-controlled media for inciting hostility against the US and certain European countries for their support for Armenia? Although the US State Department did not explicitly link the two warnings, the coincidence speaks for itself, as does the fact that a similar warning was not issued by its embassy in Yerevan. Turkish opposition forces saw the terrorist warnings as one of the boomerang effects of their government's precipitous foreign adventures.
As for Moscow, while reluctant to criticise Ankara officially, the Russian press has frequently condemned Turkey for fanning the flames of conflict in the region and, especially, in areas that were once a part of the Soviet Union. Sergei Yeshchenko, in Svobodnaya Pressa, urges his government to act firmly “before it is too late”. It is impossible to deny that Baku instinctively refuses to take the hint to go to the negotiating table, because it is feeling its military strength and wants all of it (Nagorno-Karabakh) and now, he wrote, suggesting that Turkey was encouraging Baku in this regard. Vahgarshak Harutyunyan, senior adviser to the Armenian prime minister, went further. This war was planned by Turkey from the outset, he said. “Their goal is to create a neo-Ottoman Empire and swallow up Azerbaijan. Whereas they used to say there is one people and two states, when talking about Turkey and Azerbaijan, now we can say there is one people and one state.”
What would Erdogan gain if he succeeded in implementing this formula? At the very least, direct access to the Caspian Sea and all its strategic oil resources and pipelines, which would, of course, necessitate a Turkish military base or two on its shores. Clearly Russia would not take well to the consolidation of such a project in a zone vital to Russian interests. It was not for nothing that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier this month, “we have never considered Turkey as our strategic ally.”
Last Thursday, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan ruled out the possibility of a diplomatic solution to the Nagorno-Karakbakh conflict at this stage. “Everything that is diplomatically acceptable to the Armenian side... is not acceptable to Azerbaijan anymore,” he said, claiming that Baku refuses to compromise. He urged Armenians to volunteer to fight at the front and added, “there is victory and there is defeat. There is no middle ground.”
Could Armenia, which is not as strongly armed as Azerbaijan, possibly settle the dispute in its favour militarily? We should not underestimate the fighting capacities of the soldiers of this small Armenian nation which has lived more than 4,000 years in a hostile environment, said one observer. However, the balance of military powers is not the crux of the matter here. Pashinyan would not have ventured such a hardline position unless he were certain that he had some solid support from the international community. That support is growing by the day, in large measure thanks to the efforts of Armenian communities abroad that have forged some dynamic and influential lobbies, especially in the US.
Congress, at present, is considering a number of actions, not least of which is the resolution submitted to the House of Representatives by Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, calling on her government to work with allies in removing Turkey from NATO. Although the NATO charter provides no mechanism for suspending or expelling a member state, as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has pointed out, developments such as this are writing on the wall for the Erdogan regime. It says that this regime has become a threat to international peace and security and something needs to be done to stop it.
With regard to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, this threat has taken the form, as Gabbard's resolution puts it, of contradicting NATO's position by publicly supporting and assisting with Azerbaijan's continued military aggression, participating in or outright asserting control of Azerbaijan's air command and military offensives using Turkish F-16 fighters, and sending in Syrian mercenaries, many linked with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group, to fight against the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Third time, no charm
BROKERED by the US this time, a third ceasefire was agreed upon on Monday, at 08:00 AM local time, between Armenia and Azerbaijan. This ceasefire too was violated after only 45 minutes from its implementation time.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump hurried to twitter saying: “Congratulations to Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, who just agreed to adhere to a ceasefire, effective at midnight. Many lives will be saved. Proud of my team @SecPompeo & Steve Biegun & @WHNSC for getting the deal done!” and went on rallying for the upcoming elections, demeaning Biden and tweeting “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
On Tuesday morning, the South-east border of the Republic of Armenia, shared with Iran, was shelled with combat UAVs; one of which fell inside Armenia's territory. “Having regularly adopted the policy of violating ceasefires,” Armenia's Ministry of Defence stated that “it will have to strike back in response, in the direction of Azerbaijani forces.”
Pompeo called Pashinyan and Aliyev separately and pressed them to abide by their commitments.
Last week, Washington hosted Armenia's and Azerbaijan's foreign ministers and “facilitated intense negotiations between the top diplomats”, as described by the State Department. This is the third ceasefire agreement since war erupted between the two countries. The first was brokered by Russia, and the second by France.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 29 October, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

Clic here to read the story from its source.