Some 700 body bags returning from the battlefront in Nagorno Karabakh have not dampened the resolve of the Armenian side, which continues to defend its ancestral land and the last frontier of Armenian history.

President Ilham Aliyev has exclaimed in amazement how Armenians have amassed the quantity of weapons which they are using now. The store of weapons may seem unlimited, but the young lives using them are in short supply.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has appealed to those who have completed their compulsory military service to volunteer again and head to the front.

Already, the deaths of those 700 mostly young men and women means that their families have been dealt a devastating blow, while the families they could have formed will never be.

Meanwhile, Azerbaijanis refuse to abide by humanitarian ceasefires to collect their own dead.

After the October 10 ceasefire agreement, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavusoglu called Moscow to let Russia know that Turkey was in command of the war and thus would have to be consulted. Again, after the October 18 ceasefire, Turkey placed a follow-up call, this time to President Aliyev, ordering him to break the ceasefire agreement, which the Azerbaijani leadership did.

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For all intents and purposes, Turkey has colonized Azerbaijan and has set its goals beyond the tiny sliver of land that is Karabakh.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s pan-Turanic plan is neither fiction, nor a figment of his imagination; in fact, it jibes well with the goals of major powers, in the atmosphere of intensifying new cold war.

In reality, Armenia and Azerbaijan are both the pawns of a larger geostrategic war that is developing concurrently.

It is reported that Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has placed a phone call to his Turkish counterpart, Hulusi Akar, complaining about Turkey’s involvement in the Caucasus and he has received a harsh rebuke.

The Turks are famed for their refined diplomatic skills. Therefore, wherefrom this arrogance?

Following that exchange, President Erdogan announced that Turkey would never recognize the annexation of Crimea to Russia. Then, he added that Turkey would support the Turkic Crimean Tatars. Between the 17th and 19th centuries, Russia and Ottoman Turkey waged almost 10 wars, during which Crimea changed hands. The present-day Tatars are left over from those wars and they still constitute a hardline group, even harder than the Ukrainians, opposing a takeover of the region by Moscow.

The two alarming threats by Turkish officials were followed by terrorist acts in Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan, Russia’s Islamic backyard.

In this context, we have to remember that a few months ago, one of Erdogan’s advisors had threatened that the Turks could cause Russia to implode from within the borders of the Russian federation.

In response to these threats, Russia began holding war games in the Caspian Sea.

To complete the parameters of the developing configuration of major powers, we need to mention the case of Azerbaijani rockets falling into Iran’s territory, in addition to its agitation of Iranian Azerbaijanis.

All these developments have to be viewed within the context of the US administration’s decision to withdraw forces from Germany, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

This may seem a sign of disengagement but in reality, it is not. President Trump made it clear that he was sick and tired of being involved in an unending war. Incidentally, he confessed that was the reason that he fired John Bolton (“If I listened to him, we would be waging World War V.”)

But refusing to send American youth in uniform into harm’s way did not mean that the US was scrapping its global political ambitions. Instead, those goals were relegated to proxy powers, like Turkey, in this case.

One of the goals of the US strategic planners is to contain Russia. In addition to integrating former Warsaw Pact countries within the NATO structure, it is in Washington’s interest to see Turkey challenge Russia in its backyard, in this case, the Caucasus.

Although Turkey’s bullying has angered France and Greece, Washington will not allow that anger to reach a breaking point within the NATO family.

It is apparent from Washington’s treatment of Russia that it does not view the latter as a world power anymore. Instead, it regards China’s rising power as a real threat to its world hegemony.

In this light, Turkey’s plans to crush Armenia, cut Meghri from its territory and extend all the way to Central Asia, can be considered positive for the US. It will diminish Russia further and threaten China’s backyard, particularly its vulnerable Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in Northwest China, as another way to advance into Central Asia.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may wish that Armenia could defend itself to make Armenian-Americans feel good in this uncertain period, but that will not deter him from pursuing the global plans of the US.

This week Armenia’s Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan is arriving in Washington to meet Mr. Pompeo, who certainly will not share with him American intentions in the Caucasus.

But hopefully, the Armenian diplomat will have on his agenda Turkey’s use of F-16 combat aircraft from NATO’s arsenal against Armenia and Israel’s access to US satellite systems to guide drones to kill civilians in Karabakh.

Israel’s participation in this war has been most deadly. Drones supplied by Israel to Azerbaijan have been very effective in hitting civilian targets and devastating cities.

The expert opinion is that those drones cannot hit their targets precisely without satellite guidance, which could only be provided by the Pentagon.

Many statesmen and scholars in Israel have been questioning the morality of the descendants of the Holocaust survivors helping genocide perpetrators to commit a second genocide.

In this new power play, Turkey will tempt Russian into a major confrontation. But Turkey is not Georgia, where the Russian army can march in and annex a chunk of territory. Ankara is covered by the NATO shield. It may engage in any adventure for its selfish goals, but it has the assurance that any attack on Turkey will be considered an attack on all members of NATO.

This paradigm has already created a pattern; thus Turkey challenged Russia in Syria and Libya. Although Russia could fight and defeat Turkey, it did not for the above reason. Instead, it reached an accommodation with Ankara. In view of these two precedents, it is not difficult to extrapolate Turkey’s intentions in the Caucasus as well. Turkey will not allow Russia to have control of the Caucasus singlehandedly.

During the two ceasefire negotiations, Turkey tried to interject itself, once as a member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and another as Azerbaijan’s partner; it was rebuffed both times.

Consequently, it will continue instigating the war, particularly when Aliyev lose his willpower. In all the countries where Turkey has its occupation forces, no power has been able to challenge Ankara. It is clear that now, Turkey’s new phase of aggression is in the Caucasus.

Tehran is worried about Turkey’s aggressive posture as much as Armenia. Iran is also a target on the US hit list, at the behest of Israel. Israel would love to see Iran, Turkey and Russia embroiled in a Caucasian quagmire.

The conduct of the war also reflects Turkey’s and Israel’s interests.

Recent bombings are concentrated in two specific areas; targets in the vicinity of Meghri, the piece of land Turkey plans to occupy, and the area closest to the Iranian border, which may become handy if Israel needs a launching pad in Azerbaijan.

Iran has a demographic fault line with 20 million restive ethnic Azerbaijanis in its north. One of the strategic targets of the US war planners has been to implode Iran along those fault lines.

Thus far, the combined forces of Turkey and Azerbaijan, together with Israeli armaments, could not make a major breakthrough. That speaks highly of the ability of the Armenian army to fight a modern-day technological war. Turkey is counting on the exhaustion of the human resources in Armenia. It believes a war of attrition will yield results.

Along with fighting an existential war, Armenians are guarding Russia’s southern gate in the Caucasus yet it is apparent that Russia will avoid confronting Turkey. It will avoid triggering Article 5 of the NATO Alliance; nor will the Azerbaijan-Turkish tandem push Armenia to the point of involving the Collective Security Treaty obligations.

Instead, they all will allow Armenia and Azerbaijan to pay the price of this war in blood.

After the first ceasefire agreement, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov proposed an old plan which calls for complete surrender on the Armenian side. That plan was discussed many times within the framework of the OSCE and proved to be a non-starter.

If the US will watch Turkey tempt Russia into a major confrontation, and Russia will avoid the temptation, the retribution will come from the Armenians in terms of territorial concessions.

As we can see, the Karabakh war is not just a regional conflict between historic enemies. It is a war with global implications.

Realistically it is apparent that Armenians will not occupy additional territories as they are fighting defensively. Victory means holding on to the present territories which they are defending.

If there is a silver lining in this somber story, it is the solidarity of the Armenians around the world. Armenians rally when there is an existential danger, like they did during the earthquake in 1988. That solidarity, support, political actions are paramount.

Let us see what remains of that solidarity when peace is restored in Armenia and Karabakh.




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