Russia’s Recent Moves in the Caucasus Are Part of Its Strategy to Keep Ukraine, the Middle East, and Other Areas in a State of Crisis

Nov. 29 2021

Earlier this month—just a year after the end the 2020 conflict—a short period of intense fighting broke out between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the long-disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. Once again, Vladimir Putin, who has inclined toward the Armenians, stepped in to broker an “interim solution.” It’s worth noting that Baku has important security ties to Israel, while Yerevan retains warm relations with Iran. Amir Taheri examines what the latest flair-up says about Russia’s strategy in the region, and beyond:

[Putin’s] “interim solution” makes the regimes in both Baku and Yerevan dependent on Russian power for at least the next five years. It also keeps Turkey out, thus depriving Azerbaijan of a powerful regional ally. On the opposite side, Armenia is deprived of an opportunity to seek meaningful support from potentially sympathetic powers in Europe and North America. Moscow also benefits from its new military presence in the region by gaining control of borders with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Is the situation that has developed in Transcaucasia a model of Russian behavior in the international arena? Several examples could be cited in support of a “yes” answer.

By keeping [various] nations in a state of crisis with their neighbors, Putin achieves one of his two geostrategic goals: preventing NATO expansion to Eastern Europe, Transcaucasia, and Central Asia. Because no country in conflict with its neighbors would be allowed to join the U.S.-led coalition, it is important for Russia to keep all those wounds open with its knife in them.

Russian activism in Syria and Libya, and its strange alliance with Egypt in the Libyan theater, are also calculated to exert pressure on the EU. . . . At another level, the openly pro-Russian path taken by the Khomeinist leadership in Tehran gives Putin another card to play with minimum, not to say zero, actual political and/or economic investment by Russia.

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Read more at Gatestone

More about: Azerbaijan, Iran, Middle East, Russia, Vladimir Putin, War in Ukraine

Reforms to Israel’s Judiciary Must Be Carefully Calibrated

The central topic of debate in Israel now is the new coalition government’s proposed reforms of the nation’s judiciary and unwritten constitution. Peter Berkowitz agrees that reform is necessary, but that “the proper scope and pace of reform, however, are open to debate and must be carefully calibrated.”

In particular, Berkowitz argues,

to preserve political cohesiveness, substantial changes to the structure of the Israeli regime must earn support that extends beyond these partisan divisions.

In a deft analysis of the conservative spirit in Israel, bestselling author Micah Goodman warns in the Hebrew language newspaper Makor Rishon that unintended consequences flowing from the constitutional counterrevolution are likely to intensify political instability. When a center-left coalition returns to power, Goodman points out, it may well repeal through a simple majority vote the major changes Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition seeks to enact. Or it may use the legislature’s expanded powers, say, to ram through laws that impair the religious liberty of the ultra-Orthodox. Either way, in a torn nation, constitutional counterrevolution amplifies division.

Conservatives make a compelling case that balance must be restored to the separation of powers in Israel. A prudent concern for the need to harmonize Israel’s free, democratic, and Jewish character counsels deliberation in the pursuit of necessary constitutional reform.

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Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli Judicial Reform