Friday, November 29, 2013

Thawing a frozen conflict?

At 10:24 GMT on November 29, the News Az website was trumpeting the good news announced in Turkey that Yerevan was going to withdraw from two "occupied Azeri regions."   Less than one hour later,  Azerbaijani MP, Asim Mollazade, was quoted by the same site as saying this was nothing more than more lies from Armenia, and that they should return every inch of Azeri territory forthwith.

Is this all just political theater?  I don't know.  Clearly, the Ukraine joining the Russian Eurasian Customs Union must be upsetting to the Azeris.

In other news, Azeri bureaucrats accuse Armenia of "hydro terror" for not maintaining the Sarsang reservoir adequately.  It is a man made lake and damn built during Soviet times in the NK area.

Finally, on the website, a "Iskandaryan" assures readers that Putin's upcoming visit to Yerevan will cement Russia's strategic commitment to Armenia, though this commitment will not interfere with Russian business interests in Azerbaijan.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Russian Colonel, "Bring It On."

Well, he didn't exactly say that, but the commander of the 102nd Russian military base in Gyumri, Amermenia, Colonel Andrey Ruzinsky was quoted by the “Krasnaya Zvezda” (Red Star) newspaper as saying “If Azerbaijan starts military operation in Nagorno Karabakh, the military base can join the conflict.”

While the Russian Defense Minister, Army General Sergei Shoygu, claimed the statement was a misinterpretation by the journalist, it seems to be a clear indication of the Russian Bear ever so briefly pulling off the velvet glove to show the iron fist.  Stay tuned for Sochi!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Presidential Meeting in Vienna

The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan concluded their two hour meeting in Vienna this afternoon and left the building without making any comments to the press.  If not there to make a statement, then what exactly was the purpose of the meeting?  What can two people speaking different languages accomplish in two hours?

The Turkish foreign minister Davutoglu: "We hope that the Nagorno-Karabakh problem will be solved soon and stability will be restored in the Caucasus region,"

Russian foreign minister Lavrov:  "As I said, we will do our best to help create the necessary atmosphere to reach a resolution for the conflict upon the agreements reached earlier,"

Monday, November 18, 2013

February 14, 2014 and the "wildcard"

I'd like apologize to all of my non existent readers for my absence.  At first I was busy, then I was lazy.  I finally got around to reading the briefing by The International Crisis Group, "Armenia and Azerbaijan: A Season of Risks."

The entire briefing should be read by anyone interested in the subject, but I have my own thoughts.  The most interesting part of the briefing was the reference to Iran as a "wildcard" in the geopolitical standoff.  While Iran has failed to decisively support Armenia in this dispute, I fail to see how it could remain neutral much less not militarily support Armenia.  It has already participated in war games with Russia in the Caspian.  Who else but Azerbaijan could be the target?

Azerbaijan exists under Turkish protection.  Without it, they would stop their bellicose rhetoric.  They are in direct competition with Iranian and Russian oil exports.  The BTC pipeline conspicuously circumvents both Iran and Armenia on its way to Turkey. Azerbaijan's close cooperation with Iran's bette noire, Israel, should convince even the most dovish Iranians that Baku is a threat.

If you take a look at "Iranian Azerbaijan", you can see that any move by Baku to militarily claim territory on behalf of the ethnicity of its inhabitants will be met with Iranian hostility.  All of Azerbaijan was once part of the Persian empire until it was ceded to the Russian Empire after the Russo-Persian war in 1813.  A complicated conflict to be sure, it even involved Napoleon.  Incidentally, the richest regions of Turkmenistan's oil industry also belonged to the Persian Empire prior to 1881.

It is easy to see why Russia and Iran find it so difficult to work together due to their prior hostilities.  However, at this point, the two seem to share a common foe in the "Empire of Money."  Their shared historical antipathy toward Turkey is also a uniting factor.

We are now less than 3 months from my historic date.  Will I be proven right?  Only time will tell.

From Georgia with Love

According to the Russian UN delegation, everyone's favorite whipping boy, Saakashvili, launched a tirade not just against Russia, but against Russian history.

Labeling him as clearly unstable and needing professional mental help, the Russians walked out on his speech of September 25.  Even though Saakashvili's time in office is coming to an end, this can't bode well for Georgian/Russian relations.  Let's not forget, Georgia tweaked the Bear's nose during the Olympics in Beijing.  Could a repeat performance during the Sochi games be ruled out?  Stay tuned!

Coincidentally enough, Saakashvili posed for photos warmly shaking the hand of Turkey's president, Abdullah Gül, who according to News.Az,  "thanked" him for the cooperation and good relations with Turkey during his term as president.  

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Bloomberg takes notice

Imagine my surprise today when a Wall St. MSM outlet took notice in my favorite subject.  Unfortunately, this blog has turned more into a "coverage of the coverage" of the situation.  This subject really deserves an unbiased look at the historical realities by someone in a full time manner.  However, I'm just another working slob and cannot devote the time to the subject.  Mere survival in the "land of the free" is just too difficult.  

At any rate, the article warns that the conflict may soon "escalate" due to "rising violence" and an "arms buildup" in the region.  The articles expert on the subject is Lawrence Scott Sheets, head of the South Caucasus section of the "International Crisis Group".  I still need to read their paper on this subject.  It should be good!

The article was a tad dire, but it wouldn't do more than raise an eyebrow of a typical Bloomberg reader.  Nothing to see here folks, move along.... 

Monday, September 16, 2013

"trouble maker from Baku"

Due to work and other responsibilities, I've fallen behind in my writing.  I just now got to a rather poorly written or translated article in the Armenpress denouncing some cultural leader from Azerbaijan for stirring up trouble inside of Turkey for both Iran and Armenia.  Obviously, Azerbaijan is no match for the two of them, so Turkey must be brought to bear on them.

The allegations seem to center on the property of some church near the Armenian Turkish border, and the meddling of the Iranians by stoking grievances of the Armenians living in Turkey.

Such gossip should be of no interest to anyone, but everything must be examined in this powder keg.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

‘Liberate Karabakh’

According to the Asbarez website, the Turkish Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, vowed to “end the occupation of Azerbaijani territories by Armenia.”  Sound like fighting words to you?  They do to me.  

More interesting than the article itself was the comment section.  I guess as long as Russia/Armenia can maintain a military presence in the South Caucasus, there is a threat to the BTC pipeline.  If they can build more pipelines, the Russian dominance of the European energy market can be broken.  Hence, Russia is finished.

Friday, August 16, 2013


Another interesting development in the culture war between Azerbaijan and Iran today, Panorama revealed that the "5 manat banknote will bear the picture of a classic Iranian poet Nizami Ganjevi, who is considered an Azerbaijani poet in Azerbaijan."

Why is this important?  Well, for this blogger, Azerbaijan seems to be claiming that ancestral Azerbaijanis who 'happened to live in Iran' were really Azerbaijanis all along.  Iran is simply a foreign occupying power.  A simple analogy might be to call Ritchie Valens a great 'Mexican' musician.  However, this particular poet died over 800 years ago, and Azerbaijan is only 20 years old.

Iran's Deputy Minister of culture and Islamic orientation, Bakhman Dari, responded with the expected denunciation, claiming that a country with 'no culture' is forced to steal one from others.

It does seem to be a provocative move.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


According to Armenpress, the Armenian army won't confirm that 5 Azeri soldiers were killed during the August 8 flare up.

Back at it

Dear Non-Existent Readers,

I'm back.  This topic really deserves a full-time blogger.  I'd rather read one, but since nobody else will step up to the plate, I'll do what I can.

August 6, according The Guardian, a 75 year old Georgian woman cut off internet access to 90% of Armenia while scavenging for scrap copper.  Sure!  Did she use a backhoe?  Haha!  There is nothing too ridiculous for the paid press to print.  Georgia/NATO is showing Armenia who is the boss.

On the 5th anniversary of the Georgia Russia war (can you really call it a war?), gunfire was exchanged by the Armenians and Azerbaijanis.  According to Azernews, the Armenians were the aggressors, and the Azeris 'gave due rebuff to the enemy.'  On the same night, an Armenian soldier lost his way and was apprehended by the Azeri authorities.

On August 9, senior fellow at the Cato institute, Doug Bandow, penned a commentary deploring the idea of admitting Georgia into NATO.  Does NATO really want to fight for South Ossetia and Abkhazia?  I would think not, but then I don't stand to gain anything either.

August 14, the Armenian Panorama noted that in the first meeting between Iran's new president and the Azeri speaker of the parliament, the Azeri flag was missing.  Strangely, the flag has been absent, upside down, or mis-colored at various international events.  Are they getting ready for a new flag?  New boundaries?

Putin was visiting with the President at the same time, and according to the Panorama, doused Aliyev's desire for NK with a "cold shower."  Aliyev has always maintained that 'all options are on the table.'  In other words, Putin told him to fuggedaboutit.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Mr. Merry speaks on Nagorno-Karabahk

Big time interview on the Voice of Armenia youtube channel.

A Mr. E Wayne Merry, "Senior Fellow for Europe and Eurasia at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington DC," was interviewed by the ARMVOA anchor.  The AFPC's board of directors include Newt Gingrich, and Dov Zakheim.  I'll let the reader draw his own conclusions.

Despite his self-righteousness, Mr. Merry was quite informative.  He enlightened this blogger about the history of  the Kazan negotiations and did a decent job of outlining the major players and the issues involved.  However, he protested a little too much that the failure to arrive at a deal on N-K was in no way the fault of "Washington."  I thought that choice of words was quite interesting.  The ARMVOA anchor mentioned to possibility of the outbreak of war a couple of times hoping to get Mr. Merry to play his hand.  Mr. Merry kept his cards rather close to his vest.

Highly recommended!

Monday, August 5, 2013

5 Year Anniversary

Thursday will mark the 5 year anniversary of the beginning of the Russia Georgian war.  The war ended a few hours later with the Russian Army demolishing all of the expensive runways built for the eventual attack on Iran.  Washington was peeved.  Turkey wouldn't allow them access to the Black Sea, so Treasury Secretary Paulson went to China to beg for time.  He got what he wanted, and nuclear war was averted....for a while, anyway.

Interesting interview with Medvedev here:

Such a week really demands a book written by an insider, not speculation by a know-nothing like myself.  Unfortunately, anyone on the inside who breaks the code of silence is ripped to shreds.  Personally, I'm convinced most of the "whistle-blowers" are just pretending.  The government wants to make an example out of some one before anyone actually spills any beans.

At any rate, 8/8/8 was not destined to go down as the spark for WW3.  What will the date actually be?  Would anyone out there care to guess?  Right now, if I had to bet....I'd be thinking the last week in September, but no one ever went broke betting against me!  LOL.

The Armenians and Azerbaijanis have traded cease fire violations again today.

Friday, August 2, 2013

August in the Caucusas

I'm trying hard to get the Caucasus region in focus.  What is going on there?  Who are the players?  What is at stake?

Today, I was confronted by another round of finger pointing by the Azeris against the Armenians.  Specifically, the Armenians were violating the ceasefire.  It's an old story, one we've all heard before, and we'll probably hear again.

According to the Asbarez online journal, "Russia Tightens Grip as Armenia Moves Closer to Europe."  This independence of Armenia has brought the great "displeasure of Russia."  Asbarez describes itself as the "the official publication of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Western United States Central Committee."  Russia increased the price of gas to Armenia by 50% during the month of July, and some hapless Armenian truck driver was reportedly dressed in women's clothes to be vilified before an angry Moscow audience after massacring 18 locals in a negligent vehicle accident.  Boohoo?

The Russians have further undermined Armenia by granting citizenship to anyone (or their descendants) who held Soviet citizenship.  It is feared that this will draw Armenians out of Armenia and make it demographic deficit with Azerbaijan even worse.  Furthermore, Russia really wants Armenia to be "poor and intimidated", so it can keep a military base on the Turkish border.

Interesting.  Armenia seems to have only two friends in the world: Russia and Iran.  Unfortunately, these countries can't offer them the prosperous future that should be Armenia's.  This can only come from the West, which can't seem to keep its own head above water and already has a long history with Turkey and has chosen Azerbaijan's side in the NK dispute in no uncertain terms.

It would seem to this blogger that Armenia will have to hand over NK and depend on the generosity of strangers, and maybe they will get a pipeline through their country after Iran is reduced to rubble.  Of course, Turkey and Azerbaijan might be happier if there were no Armenia at all.  After all, there is only 3 million left, and they have been an eternal headache for the Turks.  Is Russia really that bad?

Ho hum.  It's back to work for me.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Double Snore!

The accusations and counter accusations have been sparse for the last few days.  There seems to be a parting of the Red Sea of the blogosphere while the Palestinians and the Israelis sit down for a little tete a tete.

No worries, give the devil his due.  We can't have war until we have peace.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Thar's gold in them thar Azeri provinces in Iran

According to Azerbaijan's "Trend", 98 thousand tons of proven reserves to be exact, but who's counting?  It belongs to Iran at the moment, but the Azerbaijanis and the Kurds are coveting thy neighbors gold.  Nothing to see here folks, move along....

Let's face it, the mineral wealth in this area is beyond calculation.  Wars have been fought for less, and I personally can't imagine a peaceful outcome to this one.

Probably won't check back in till Sunday.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Anyone need copper?

According to some fee based Azerbaijani web site, a copper mine has been discovered inside Iran's west Azerbaijani province with over 600 thousand tons.  Of course, we all know that anywhere an Azerbaijani lives should be part of Azerbaijan.  In fact, there is a movement in Azerbaijan to call themselves "North Azerbaijan" to differentiate itself from "Southern Azerbaijan" which is being 'occupied' by the Iranians.  For their part, the Iranians claim that the entirety of Azerbaijan was ceded by them to the Russian empire back in the 19th century, and it is time for it to return to the motherland.  Unfortunately for the Iranians, most of their Azerbaijani population lives around the Caspian sea.  If these territories were to be handed over to Baku, Iran would lose its access to the sea and untold treasure in terms of oil and natural gas.

Let's just say that whatever other mineral riches might be there would be nothing more than icing on the cake.  Hence, whatever the claims Azerbaijan might have on Nagorno-Karabahk, you can count on Tehran to side with Armenia.  Let me give you an example:  Suppose their is a colony of Mexicans living in Guatemala, and the Mexican government wants to annex part of Guatemala because of this.  At the same time, they are considering calling themselves "Southern Mexico."  "Northern Mexico" is the southwest US.  Washington would certainly support the Guatemalans in their border dispute.

Well, I think I covered a very large topic quite succinctly!  I'm a busy man, don't you you?

Monday saw another accusation by Azerbaijan that Armenia had violated the ceasefire by firing on Azeri troops once again.  This will get repetitive, but eventually, one of these incidents will make world headlines.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Not much happening today.  This might be a good opportunity to do cover some of the background, but I'll have to see if I have the time and energy later on.  According to an Azerbaijani news site (APA), an Iranian Ambassador affirms that “Peace and security won’t be achieved in the region, unless the Nagorno Karabakh conflict is solved”.  Yes, that is the whole crux of the issue is it not?  Another tiny plot of land that has the capacity to bring the world to the point of a hellish conflagration.  Of course, the land and the issues behind it or not so important in and of themselves.  It is simply where Russia and Iran have decided to draw the line.  NK will remain independent/Armenian come hell or high water.  The "West" has armed Azerbaijan to the teeth, and it has Turkey's implicit backing.  More on this later..

Georgia's president Saakashvili has accused the Russia of bribing his own prime minister.  Russia is also guilty of sabotaging the Georgian nation and provoking it countless nefarious ways.  Strong words for a president who launched a losing war against the same Russia just 5 years ago.  Some people never learn. :(

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Where's the Humanity?

According to, Azerbaijan is 'blaming' both Greece and Cyprus of selling French/German missiles to the Armenians for the last few years.  What troubles me here is not missiles were sold or who is selling them or where they're headed.  I'm confused by the term "blame."  Perhaps it's just a bad translation, but it really lacks any punch.  Unless it's said by someone so powerful, that their mere displeasure is enough to scare the bejesus out of you.  If Don Corleone said he blamed you for something, you would either run for your life, or beg for forgiveness.  I doubt Azerbaijan's frown carries that much weight.

Perhaps the significance in this is that Greece is trying to distance itself from NATO (ie Turkey) and the genocidal EU.  Who knows?  WW3 is going to be mostly fought behind the scenes.  The world is far too poor to field standing armies, and the weapons are so powerful as to make any substantial conglomeration of troops nothing more sitting ducks.  This is going to be more a game of poker than a football game.  However, don't be too surprised if someone finally has their bluff called.  The Light Show will be legendary!

In other news, the Kyiv Post, reports that the US has an illegal biological laboratory in Georgia.  This is puzzling.  What could they be making there that they couldn't make better and cheaper in the US and then ship to Georgia?  Beats me, unless there is some new compound that doesn't travel well and must be made in large enough quantities to really make an impact in a regional war.  Then again, maybe it isn't true at all?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Another Day and Another....

claim of ceasefire violations.  Anyone following this region can only be fatigued by the seemingly endless accusations and counter accusations between Armenia and Azerbaijan.  Today was a report of no less than 250 (!) ceasefire violations in the last week (!).  "Over 1000 shots fired at Armenian frontline positions."  I don't doubt any of it for a minute, as I have no doubt that tomorrow, the Azerbaijani propaganda ministry will claim even worse transgressions on the part of Armenia.  

The PR/propaganda/news outfits for both sides seem quite well funded, but I think the average American would be more comfortable with the Azerbaijani version.  It is obviously run by either an Israeli or American PR firm.  The money spent on it must be impressive.  The Armenian side seems to be funded by the prosperous diaspora community, and they probably get more bang for their buck directly hiring native English speaking Armenians.  Their press is more clumsy, but I'd guess it's a lot cheaper.  For the dozen or so people world wide who are interested in the subject, the quantity and quality of the two sides versions are very compatible.

In the July 19 version of the "Voice of Russia" UK edition, Dr Marcus Papadopoulos did an impressive job of explaining "Georgia's geo-political significance."  According to the good Dr, the US interest in Georgia is two-fold:  It is on the path of the Nabucco pipeline taking Azerbaijani oil to European markets through Turkey, and it's location offers a excellent means of containing Russia from the prized Middle Eastern Oil.  He mentions twice that this tiny country has the potential to bring Russia and the USA into direct conflict.  

Sakashvilli tried it in 2008, but it seemed that since Turkey would have had to do most of the fighting, they got cold feet and wouldn't allow the US fleet into the Black Sea.  The whole operation went sideways, and our grand leaders decided to nuke Lehman Brothers instead of the Russians.  The rest is history.  

Friday, July 19, 2013

Turkey ruffles it's feathers

The voices in Armenia calling for lands 'stolen' by Turkey are getting louder and more prominent.  Their prosecutor general (whoever that is), Aghvan Hovsepyan, has called for Turkey to relinquish lands taken long ago.  Naturally, Turkey frowned on the idea.  Whoever, Mr. Hovsepyan is, he does work for the government, and he wasn't censored for saying this.

Let's face it, there isn't one border in the world that isn't disputed.  Governments have only one interest, taxing everything that moves and everything that doesn't.  They will never willingly give up any parcel of land, no matter how unimportant it may seem.  The fact that Armenia feels confident enough to say this being nearly surrounded by hostile countries can only mean that Russia has given them a green light: More on this later!

Well, Turkey's ethnic cousins in Azerbaijan are beating the drums every day for a return of the province of Nagorno-Karabakh.  Is not what's good for the goose also good for the gander?  Indeed it is!  At least in theory.  The fact is that these age old hatreds are boiling up with nuclear armed patrons on both sides.  

I really don't have enough time to dedicate to this important subject, but I'll do the best I can.

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Hello World!  I have been following the events and studying some of the history in the south Caucasus for over a year now.  In spite of the near spark of WW3 in Georgia in 2008, there has been painfully little coverage of the area in the so-called alternative media.  The MSM, of course, doesn't know it exists.  I chose the title for this blog from a statement from Russia's Deputy Prime Minister for the Defense Industry, Dmitri Rogozin who said something to the effect of Russia's policy to it's defense being to use a 'velvet glove with an iron fist.'  It's sort of like FDR's policy of "walk softly and carry a big stick."

Anyway, I am going to try to dedicate a 1/2 hour per day on the subject until the nuclear bombs start going off.  The hatreds seem to run deep in that part of the world.  Americans are only allowed a superficial and commercial version of hatred.  We have no tribe or collective memory.  The television screen guides us from one villain to another located in places we've never heard of or could even find on a map.  The south Caucasus (SC) on the other hand, have grudges and disputes that go back centuries.  Grudges that they claim have resulted in genocides.  My intention is not lay opinion on these disputes, rather, if there is anyone in the world interested in the subject, I'll do my best to explain them to the best of my ability.  Unfortunately, I don't think I can do the topic justice in the short time available before the shooting starts.

Of course, the fighting won't be limited the SC anymore than WW1 was limited to the Balkans, but that was the spark that led to deaths of countless millions of people.  The Balkans were worth watching in 1913-1914, as the SC are worth watching today.

I'm not of professional blogger, so this will all take part very much in my limited spare time.


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