Russia and Iran Might Be Behind the Flare-Up in the Caucasus

Aug. 26 2020

Last month, one of the cold war’s so-called “frozen conflicts” grew hot when Armenia attacked border outposts in neighboring Azerbaijan, killing eleven soldiers and one civilian. Most observers have linked the attack to the two countries’ decades-long conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region—occupied by Armenia since the early 1990s—but Irina Tsukerman argues that larger geopolitical forces are at play:

[T]his most recent attack was not launched from the occupied region, but rather along the international border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, in close proximity to geopolitically essential oil pipelines. . . . The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, [which flows from Azerbaijan, through Georgia and Turkey, to the Mediterranean], provides Israel with 40 percent of its oil, but also ensures that Russia and Iran cannot monopolize delivery to Europe and Israel from the Caspian region.

Azerbaijan, already a top competitor to Russia and Iran in supplying European energy needs, is about to bypass Armenia and Russia to become a significant supplier of [natural] gas to southern Europe via the Southern Gas Corridor, which is scheduled to be fully operational by year’s end. The diversification of Europe’s natural-gas sources undermines Russian and Iranian political power, which is premised on the threat of leaving Europe out in the cold.

Indeed, in retrospect, there were warning signs, such as Iran’s growing presence in the vicinity and more direct assistance to Armenia for weeks prior to the attack. . . . Armenia and Russia are also interested in developing joint military forces. Not only is Russia completely running the show, but it is increasingly erasing any semblance of Armenia’s independence and asserting its own military presence in the region in a manner that can only be described as menacing.

In short, the Armenian attack served the interests of Tehran and Moscow, at the expense of those of Jerusalem, Ankara, and Europe.

Read more at Algemeiner

More about: Armenians, Azerbaijan, Iran, Russia


Iran’s Four-Decade Strategy to Envelope Israel in Terror

Yesterday, the head of the Shin Bet—Israel’s internal security service—was in Washington meeting with officials from the State Department, CIA, and the White House itself. Among the topics no doubt discussed are rising tensions with Iran and the possibility that the latter, in order to defend its nuclear program, will instruct its network of proxies in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, and even Iraq and Yemen to attack the Jewish state. Oved Lobel explores the history of this network, which, he argues, predates Iran’s Islamic Revolution—when Shiite radicals in Lebanon coordinated with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s movement in Iran:

An inextricably linked Iran-Syria-Palestinian axis has actually been in existence since the early 1970s, with Lebanon the geographical fulcrum of the relationship and Damascus serving as the primary operational headquarters. Lebanon, from the 1980s until 2005, was under the direct military control of Syria, which itself slowly transformed from an ally to a client of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The nexus among Damascus, Beirut, and the Palestinian territories should therefore always have been viewed as one front, both geographically and operationally. It’s clear that the multifront-war strategy was already in operation during the first intifada years, from 1987 to 1993.

[An] Iranian-organized conference in 1991, the first of many, . . . established the “Damascus 10”—an alliance of ten Palestinian factions that rejected any peace process with Israel. According to the former Hamas spokesperson and senior official Ibrahim Ghosheh, he spoke to then-Hizballah Secretary-General Abbas al-Musawi at the conference and coordinated Hizballah attacks from Lebanon in support of the intifada. Further important meetings between Hamas and the Iranian regime were held in 1999 and 2000, while the IRGC constantly met with its agents in Damascus to encourage coordinated attacks on Israel.

For some reason, Hizballah’s guerilla war against Israel in Lebanon in the 1980s and 1990s was, and often still is, viewed as a separate phenomenon from the first intifada, when they were in fact two fronts in the same battle.

Israel opted for a perilous unconditional withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, which Hamas’s Ghosheh asserts was a “direct factor” in precipitating the start of the second intifada later that same year.

Read more at Australia/Israel Review

More about: First intifada, Hizballah, Iran, Palestinian terror, Second Intifada