On July 24, 1923, the Lausanne Treaty was signed to determine the borders of the current Republic of Turkey. This year, on the 97th anniversary of that treaty, Greece and Turkey were on the brink of war. However, there was not much coverage in the world media about that tension between the two neighboring countries.

Without interest by world media in shining a light on such issues, rogue states like Turkey and demagogues such as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan survive and even thrive.

Writing in the National Interest, Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute, states: “Greek and Turkish fighter jets engaged in mock dogfights this week, over the Greek island of Kastellorizo, just a mile and a half from the Turkish coast, causing tourists to flee. Meanwhile, there is a growing risk that the Turkish and Greek navies will clash hundreds of miles to the west, if Turkey pushes forward with its plan to survey for gas in Greece’s exclusive economic zone. Greek officials say that all options are on the table and German Chancellor Angela Merkel has rushed to mediate as the US officials remain largely absent.”

US officials are certainly absent by design and not necessarily by default, given the increasingly warmer relations between Ankara and Washington. The US has relegated the dirty work of the NATO to Ankara and in turn has been looking the other way as Turkey bullies its neighbors and creates quagmires for Russian forces in Syria and Libya, while intending to do the same in the Caucasus.

A few weeks ago, a secret military document was made public in Turkey about the latter’s plans to invade Greece and Armenia. Ankara did not disavow the news and its ensuing actions are coming to prove that they mean business and perhaps even deliberately to relayed its intent to those countries.

What is the upshot? What are Turkey’s plans? Once again, Rubin answers in the same article, “For reasons of ideology, economics and ego, Erdogan now seeks to undo the Lausanne Treaty: ideology because Erdogan seeks to regain control of certain Ottoman territories and change the demographics of areas outside Turkey’s borders; economics because Turkey seeks to steal resources from recognized Greek and Cypriot exclusive economic zones; and ego, because Erdogan wants to top Ataturk’s legacy as a military victor.”

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Besides Greece and Cyprus, Erdogan’s Drang nach osten (“drive to the east”) has another dimension extending to Central Asia, marching through the Caucasus.

President Erdogan not only is talking about his intentions, but he is making good on his word, yet the international community is not alarmed, nor is it taking appropriate measures to stop his aggression.

Last year, the European Union offered a slap on the wrist for Turkey for its bad behavior. Only French President Emmanuel Macron has been consistently vocal in the face of Turkish aggression. He believes that additional measures are needed to stop Turkey.

“I am in full support of Cyprus and Greece, whose sovereignty is breached by Turkey. It is unforgivable to allow the territories of EU members to be compromised and threatened. The responsible party must be punished,” Macron stated recently.

There are divisions within the EU member countries’ policies vis-à-vis Turkey. But there is a completely different perception regarding Turkey’s actions in Washington. Recent statements by President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo indicate that the US has shifted its focus from Moscow to Beijing. Today, China is the main adversary for the US, while Russia has been left to face Turkey in the wars named above. In addition, Turkey is vying to replace China as an economic supply chain for the US, as the Trump administration has been levying economic sanctions on China.

When President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger undertook their China trip in 1972, they intended to drive a wedge between the two communist powers (China and the USSR), by offering economic incentives to Beijing.

As a result, the Soviet Union eventually collapsed and President Reagan rightfully bragged “we destroyed the Soviet Empire without firing a single shot.” Of course, other domestic factors also contributed to the implosion of that empire.

But in the meantime, the US got more than what it had bargained for. China developed into a major economic powerhouse, which fueled its military might.

On the one hand, Washington will try to challenge China, which has staked a claim in the economies of Africa and South America, while Turkey will be tasked with dealing with Russia. Mr. Erdogan’s plans to dominate Central Asia, the space between China and Russia, matches perfectly the US’s geostrategic goals. Turkey has already weaponized religion as an extension of its military hardware. It has been threatening to weaken Russia by mobilizing its 25 million Muslims and has been agitating the Uyghurs, in China’s Xinxiang Province. (There is little doubt that China is wreaking havoc on that minority but Turkey is making sure to insert itself in that issue as a voice of compassion.)

As the facts are sorted out in the Tavush region of Armenia, where Azerbaijan attacked Armenia starting July 12, it looks more and more as if the incident was stage managed by Turkey.

For almost 30 years, the Karabakh conflict was considered a regional issue, which called for a local solution between Armenia and Azerbaijan. But with the advent of Erdogan’s imperial plans, it has become a component of a larger international problem.

As analysts have discovered in Armenia, Erdogan needs Karabakh more than Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev does. It is an excuse for Turkey to face Armenia and that falls perfectly in line with the goals Turkey has been pursuing.

After suffering a debacle in Tavush, Azerbaijan dispatched a military delegation to Turkey to discuss the conflict with the leadership there. Turkey’s National Security Council held a meeting chaired by President Erdogan, and came up with a stern warning to Armenia: “We condemn Armenia’s aggression against Azerbaijan, whose territories it has occupied illegally, disturbing peace and trampling international norms.”

What was more alarming, however, was Erdogan’s personal threat to Armenia: “This is not a border skirmish but it is an aggression on the very territory of Azerbaijan. Armenia has landed a punch beyond its capacity. We will defend our friend and brother, Azerbaijan. We will bring to its conclusion our mission in the Caucasus, left as a legacy to us from our forefathers.”

Earlier, Turkey’s Minister of Defense Hulusi Akar had warned, “Azerbaijani blood will not be left unavenged.”

Following these warnings, Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defense announced on July 27 that joint military exercises will take place with Turkish forces July 29 through August 10. This is an initiative to intimidate Armenia, after Turkey’s verbal warnings.

There is a serious debate in Armenia whether Turkey can and will invade Armenia. Lillit Makunts, a member of parliament, and Turkologist Ruben Melkonyan, believe Turkey will not dare attack Armenia for two reasons: the international community still remembers Turkey’s genocidal acts against Armenians and second, the Russian military base in Gyumri will serve as a deterrent.

However, Gen. Vagharshak Harutyunyan, the former minister of defense, insists that “Ankara has already crossed the Rubicon and it is in the game.”

Erdogan is in the same headspace that Hitler was in the 1930s when he became the revanchist leader to avenge Germany’s humiliation in the wake of World War I. That scenario was enacted in Istanbul during the ceremony converting the Hagia Sophia back into a mosque, where Erdogan derided Ataturk’s legacy, who had saved the present territory of Turkey from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire, and instead exulted Fatih (“conqueror”) Sultan Mehmet II, who had occupied Constantinople in 1453. On that day, Erdogan assumed the conqueror’s mantle as he is set to rebuild his empire.

After striking a punishing blow to Azerbaijan’s forces, Armenians are in a state of euphoria. During that confrontation, Armenia’s armed forces proved their superiority not only on the battlefield, but also in their innovations in military hardware, which brought down 13 Azeri drones, including one from Israel, which had been considered invulnerable.

But the war is closing in on Armenia’s borders; Turkish forces are both in Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan. Armenia should compound its military ingenuity with corresponding diplomacy. This is no time for anti-Russian rhetoric, as Russia remains our strategic partner.

Turkey has alienated a number of countries, creating a niche for international diplomacy for Armenia. Greece, Cyprus, Egypt, Israel and Armenia have a common interest in forming a coalition to confront Turkey. Of course, Turkey and Israel are strategic competitors in Azerbaijan, working at cross-purposes. Even Saudi Arabia could find interest in the above proposed coalition, as it considers Turkey a competitor in the leadership of Sunni Muslims.

In terms of military prowess, Armenia must think also about the unthinkable as a nation, which has experienced genocide and has the right to deter another. Erdogan’s intention is to complete the grizzly task “his forefathers” have left unfinished.

Along this line of thought, prominent political analyst Hagop Badalyan believes that Azerbaijan’s threat to strike the atomic power plant in Armenia allows the latter country to consider the nuclear option.

“We can understand how delicate and complicated the issue is. For many even the idea may sound unthinkable, i.e., that Armenia can become a nuclear power. On the other hand, other nations have had the same hesitation before attaining nuclear forces. However, everything depends on the task ahead, the international situation and other factors.”

Since Armenia’s weapons designers are so ingenious, they have to consider the nuclear option as a deterrent or any other super weapon that can prevent another genocide.

The spent fuel at Metsamor power plant is shipped to Russia for storage. That is the ingredient which may serve to develop a warhead.

Since the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, no country has used the atomic bomb, instead using it as a deterrent against potential aggression. Even the rogue state of North Korea brought the leader of the US to its doorsteps, because it obtained nuclear arms.

Currently, the following countries are members of the nuclear club, with their corresponding warheads: US (4,435), Russia (4,900), China (290), Pakistan (150-160), India (130-140), North Korea (20-30), and Israel (?), France (300), and Great Britain (215). No one knows how many warheads exist in Israel’s arsenal. Some unconfirmed reports estimate it to be 200. But the country has never asked anyone’s permission to become a nuclear power nor has it allowed inspections by international agencies.

With Turkey’s current aggressive posture and track record, Armenia does not have the luxury of receiving anyone’s consent to stop the next genocide which may be looming on the horizon.

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