A Recipe for Peace or Perpetual War?

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Since the fall of the Soviet empire, the pitch of the Cold War rhetoric has never been this intense. All it needed was a spark to blow up the conflagration. The poisoning in the UK of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, was that necessary spark to create a diplomatic crisis.

Tensions were already building up and if the poisoning had not happened, there would have been another excuse to launch the crisis.

While Russia still is asking for tangible proof to substantiate British accusations, its voice is stifled in the exchange of the diatribes. For some time now, the US and Europe had been accusing Moscow of meddling in their election processes, as if the practice was not mutual. Europe and the US were never going to tolerate Russia once again to get on its feet and attempt to regain its superpower status.

And Russia, under President Vladimir Putin, was moving in that direction. The gradual building up of the sanctions regime proved to be insufficient to slacken Russia’s progress. Therefore, a more dramatic course of action became necessary. Britain began expelling Russian diplomats, followed by some 20 countries in the West, topped by the US’s 60 expulsions, in the wake of this most recent poisoning controversy.

Ironically, there is a disconnect between the White House and the State Department. While President Donald Trump congratulates President Putin on his reelection, contrary to the will of his advisors, and while he calls Putin to have “substantive discussions” and promises to meet him in the near future, the US State Department expels 60 Russian diplomats and closes down the consulate in Seattle.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. During President George W. Bush’s term, Iraq was destroyed at the behest of Vice President Dick Cheney, during President Obama’s administration Libya was invaded under the direction of Hillary Clinton. Today President Trump is seeking to improve relations but a new configuration of war mongers is shaping up to join the world chorus of Moscow-bashing. Indeed, the combination of Mike Pompeo and John Bolton is the most combustible political duo which does not shy away from the specter of a third world war.

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After Iraq, Libya and Syria, the next target is Iran, which means war is getting closer to Armenia’s borders.

The forces which unleased the “Arab Spring” knew in advance the outcome of their actions, which certainly was not the democratization of those countries. The goal was to reduce those countries into rubble. Today, Iran is on their radar.

In the current East-West confrontation, Turkey has assumed a very critical role, playing one camp against the other. As a member of NATO, Ankara has broken every rule of that association, but it is still considered a “trusted ally.” For a while, there were calls in the media and think tanks to drop Turkey as an ally, and as Ankara got closer to Russia, ironically those calls were muted and even voices were heard that no matter what, Turkey must be kept as an ally. Even Washington signaled its friendly intentions when it dropped the charges against bodyguards of President Erdogan who had in May 2017 beaten US citizens during the Turkish leader’s visit to Washington. Those charges were being used against Ankara as a political bargaining chip.

Historically, Russia, Turkey and Iran have been enemies, fighting several imperial wars to occupy each other’s territories. But today, they have found common ground in Syria, extending their mutual interests in other areas as well.

As the Cold War winds are blowing globally, Iran, Russia and Turkey are meeting not only to settle the seven-year-old conflict in Syria, but also to reshape the region.

In the shadow of that political rapprochement, there is another military alliance which is shaping up: the ministers of defense of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia have already met to coordinate their military plans. Georgia’s former renegade president, Mikheil Saakashvili, had said several years ago, during his regime, that an enemy of Azerbaijan is an enemy of Georgia. Although supposedly there was a regime change in Tbilisi, it looks like that anti-Armenian policy still holds in Georgia. It would be viewed as a normal cooperation between neighbors, had those countries signed treaties about trade and cultural exchange. But a military treaty with Armenia’s mortal enemies is alarming to say the least.

Topics: Armenia, Iran, Russia

President Putin is flying to Ankara to be followed by Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani. Before the summit meeting, Putin will attend the inauguration ceremonies of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant to be built with Russian technology and capital, scheduled to go online by 2023, in celebration of the founding of the modern Republic of Turkey.

There are more plans on board to build other power plants. Most probably, the Turkey Stream, which carries Russian gas to Europe will be on the agenda.

As Erdogan has been rash in revising historic treaties, (such as the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923), he may also try to convince Mr. Putin to finalize the 1921 Treaty of Kars, which had determined the current border between Armenia and Turkey.

The main objective of the summit remains the settlement of the Syrian conflict, based on the principles of Astana laid out in 2016 between the same powers.

The Syrian conflict is too complicated to settle in one conference, as too many forces have been engaged. After the defeat of ISIS, all conflicting sides had come to the realization that their common enemy was eliminated. But that realization brought forth the conflicting interests of the participants.

Moscow’s goal all along has been to keep Bashar al-Assad in power, whereas Turkey, the West and its regional allies (Saudi Arabia and Israel) were pushing for Assad’s removal.

The US armed and used the Kurds in Syria and then abandoned them to Turkey to chase them out of Afrin.

Although Turkey claims that it has no territorial intensions in Syria, if the Cyprus precedent is any indication, Ankara will stay put on the Syrian territory citing the Kurdish threat to its borders. There was a tacit understanding between Russia and Turkey. While the Russian and Syrian government forces were pounding rebel positions in Eastern Ghouta, unhampered, Turkey was given a free hand to slaughter the Kurds in Afrin.

Russia controls Syria’s air defenses and without the green light from Moscow, Erdogan could not be that bold to settle scores with the Kurds in Syria.

The third party at the conference is Iran, whose military presence in Syria and by extension Hezbollah in Lebanon, is anathema for Israel.

Every time there was a semblance of peace in Syria, Israel bombed or sabotaged any peace process, because it would mean Iran’s military presence in neighboring Syria.

Erdogan’s anti-Israel rhetoric has also angered Prime Minister Netanyahu over the recent flare up in the Gaza Strip. Israel has used its Armenian Genocide card again to respond to Erdogan’s anti-Semitic remarks. Indeed, the minister of internal security, Gilad Erdan, has called Israel’s government to recognize the Armenian Genocide.

The Syrian peace process seems to be in the offing. Additionally, forces which had come together to resolve the Syrian conflict have extended their cooperation in other areas of mutual interest while at the same time undermining the political interests of other parties, like the US and Israel, which will not sit back and watch a powerful Syria resurrect itself from the ashes and Iran and Turkey become its beneficiary.

It looks like a recipe for perpetual war.

 

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