Russia Gained from the Caucasus Conflict, but Now Faces an Emboldened Turkey

Thanks to the Kremlin’s mediation, Azerbaijan and Armenia reached a ceasefire earlier this month, ending a six-week war over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh to Armenians), which Armenia seized from Azerbaijan during the collapse of the Soviet Union. Amir Taheri analyzes the current situation:

[S]uccessive Armenian governments, thinking that Russia will always . . . protect Armenia. as it had done since the 18th century, had neglected the new nation’s defense needs. Just over a month of fighting drove the Armenians onto the defensive, and then to defeat, on various fronts. But when the Azeris and their Turkish allies were about to swoop in for the kill, Russia intervened by calling the leaders of Baku and Yerevan to Moscow to agree to a confused ceasefire that, while stopping the fighting, left the deep causes of the conflict untouched.

In typical fashion, . . . Russia used the occasion to extend its military presence, already significant in Armenia, to Azerbaijan as well. Under the Moscow accord, a Russian “peacekeeping” force will seize control of the ceasefire line plus the borders of Azerbaijan and Armenia with Iran.

On balance, the Azeris didn’t gain much. Most of the disputed enclave . . . remains beyond their control while a good chunk of their own territory, notably the land route between Azerbaijan proper and its “autonomous” enclave of Nakhichevan, fall under Russian control. [For its part]. Yerevan will now have to consult—read obey—Moscow before attempting any revenge in the future. The message is clear: Transcaucasia was a Russian protectorate for two centuries and is again becoming a Russian glacis.

And, yet, Putin may turn out to be one of the losers in this deadly game. To start with, the mini-victory [over] Armenia may have whetted Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s appetite for further conquests. . . . Forty-eight hours after the ceasefire, Erdogan asked the Turkish parliament to let him send an expeditionary force to Azerbaijan. A Turkish military presence in Transcaucasia could entail the risk of direct confrontation between Moscow and Ankara which are already in conflict in a number of other places—notably Syria, Libya, and Kosovo.

Read more at Asharq al-Awsat

More about: Armenians, Azerbaijan, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Vladimir Putin


Spain’s Anti-Israel Agenda

What interest does Madrid have in the creation of a Palestinian state? Elliott Abrams raised this question a few days ago, when discussing ongoing Spanish efforts to block the transfer of arms to Israel. He points to multiple opinion surveys suggesting that Spain is among Europe’s most anti-Semitic countries:

The point of including that information here is to explain the obvious: Spain’s anti-Israel extremism is not based in fancy international political analyses, but instead reflects both the extreme views of hard-left parties in the governing coalition and a very traditional Spanish anti-Semitism. Spain’s government lacks the moral standing to lecture the state of Israel on how to defend itself against terrorist murderers. Its effort to deprive Israel of the means of defense is deeply immoral. Every effort should be made to prevent these views from further infecting the politics and foreign policy of the European Union and its member states.

Read more at Pressure Points

More about: Anti-Semitism, Europe and Israel, Palestinian statehood, Spain