With the likely passage of the Kurdish Indpendence referendum st for September 25th, Tehran Times reported that “Major General Mohammad Bagheri, the chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, made a rare visit to Ankara where he met with his Turkish counterpart, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Turkey’s defense minister.”
Iran has continually pushed back against Kurdish Independence as has Turkey. Both countries fear a free and independent Kurdistan will enable their large Kurdish populations to push for increased autonomy. In Turey there are 20 million Kurds that live in second class conditions in Southeastern Turkey. In Iran there are 15 million Kurds in the North West of the country.
“Holding the referendum is a natural and just right of the people of Kurdistan and no one other than the people of Kurdistan has the right to talk about it,” the Kurdish Peshmerga said in a statement released on Friday.
A rising Kurdistan will not only change the anatomy of the Middle East, but will thwart the hegemonic desires of both Turkey and Iran.
Although no one has declared armed conflict after the referendum, the threat is there. The USA has even warned the Kurds not to go ahead just yet, but will not stop the vote. Given the large unknown factor after September 25th, most countries in the immediate vicinity are on edge.
Iran has accomplished a lot by subverting Iraq through its Shiite agents in Baghdad, but an overt move to Kurdish independence would roll back its advances and create a defacto Israeli ally on its borders. That would mean boh Kurdistan and Azerbaijan could give Israel an ability to take out Iran’s nuclear arsenal with ease.
This would mean that Israel could remain independent of the Saudi led Sunni alliance. This alone would weaken the leverage the Trump administration and the Saudis have in regard to Jewish biblical areas in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) deisired by the Arab world.
Yesterday Alexander Lapshin was extradited to Baku to face his fate.
A couple of months ago, Alexander Lapshin, a Russian Israeli blogger spoke out against Azerbaijan’s oppressive policies and for the independence of Artsakh aka Nagorno-Karabagh. Azerbaijan has already faced strong condemnation for its oppression of reporters and the ill treatment of their journalists. On the other issue, Artsakh is historical Armenian land that was given unjustly to Azerbaijan in the ‘20’s. It is now 100% Armenian populated and is fighting for independence. Lapshin saw this and spoke out.
In the middle of December an INTERPOL notice was issued for his arrest and extradition. He was arrested in Belarus. He was imprisoned for nearly 2 months waiting for his release. Finally the Belarus president, announced that he would extradite him. He added that he didn’t understand why there was a delay. It is also purported that Alexander was given an ultimatum to apologize and recant his words, which he did not. Lapshin filed to appeal the decision but to no avail. Yesterday he was extradited to Baku.
Globally, Armenians protested numerous times for his release, crying out for world attention. No change. Last Friday in Tel Aviv, Israelis protested in front of the Belarus embassy. Again to no avail. The pleas fell on deaf ears. In a bold statement, Nagorno-Karabagh President Spokesperson Davit Babayan said that Lapshin’s extradition is a “challenge” to Israel. Even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not done anything to change the situation.
In closing, I reflect on an event of recent days in the Caucaus region. A few days ago, an Azeri soldier was captured during an attempted infiltration operation into Artsakh (Karabagh). Upon learning of his capture, the Azeri army immediately disowned him as an inactive soldier. While his mother vouches that he is indeed an active soldier. If this is how they treat their own soldiers, then who’s to say how they will treat Lapshin.
Freedom should not be muzzled and free-speech will not be muzzled.
What will the Israeli government do? Is the risk of hurting the Azeri-Israeli relationship worth saving Lapshin?
Israeli Russian Jewish blogger, Alexander Lapshin did something brave, he crossed over from Azerbaijan to Artsakh aka Nagorno Karabagh and came out speaking for Artsakh’s Independence which automatically steps on Azeri toes. The Azeri’s were furious and wanted him arrested and extradited. In spite of the democratic façade, Azerbaijan is an oppressive regime and this is proof positive of that.
He is sitting now in a Belarus jail waiting for the next step. From what I understand Israel has intervened and he will not be extradited to Azerbaijan. This blogger has been saved from sure torture and probable death if he ended up in Azeri hands.
We must show our support and let our voices be heard for Alex Lapshin. He must be released. There is no crime in speaking the truth.
ISRAEL SHOULD NOT SELL AZERBAIJAN IRON DOME TECHNOLOGY
This past December Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev met in Azerbaijan to have discussions. Soon after we read the following headline in the news: Azerbaijan wants to purchase Iron Dome technology. Next day, it was a done deal.
When I read this headline, I asked myself do they realize the potential consequences of this deal? I marveled over this agreement for quite some time and concluded either Israel is extremely naive and careless or the political analysts don’t see beyond their noses.
This Technology is defensive but can embolden this regime
Can you guarantee the Iron Dome technology will not facilitate a war with Artsakh?
This Technology will be in Shiite hands.
Can you guarantee it won’t get in other Shiite hands?
In my strong outcry and numerous commentaries, I was reminded by members of the group, Israeli Armenian Solidarity, ‘Keren, it’s a defensive technology so you have nothing to worry about.’
I recall reading a couple of years ago after Operation Protective Edge, the UN told Israel to give Hamas ID Technology. I remember scratching my head when I read that, smirking at the absurdity. Why would Israel do that? Let Hamas not start wars and no one will need IDT.
So I came up with my follow up question. “Why doesn’t Israel sell this defense technology to Hamas?”
Don’t jump out of your seat! I know why. But can the reader start to empathize now why it’s a bad idea for Azerbaijan to buy this technology? Let me try to answer, but first let me give a little background.
We, who follow Middle East politics, know about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but is the public know about the Azerbaijan-Nagorno Karabagh conflict?
Let me explain it in a quick nutshell. Back in 1920’s about the same time Palestine was being discussed, the Caucus region was also discussed for drawing out borders. Stalin promised to give us, the Armenians our historic lands of Artskah aka Nagorno Karabagh and more to us. What did he do? Definitely not as he promised. Stalin divided up the lands in another way. He gave OUR historical lands to Azerbaijan.
There was bloodshed over the years including pogroms against Armenians who were living in Baku, reminiscent of the Hebron Massacre.
In 1991 when Armenia became independent of the Soviet Union about the same time we claimed Artsakh to be ours. At that point the Armenian population was very high. Today it’s one hundred percent and Azerbaijan does not want to let go of our lands. Hence our conflict.
The same way parts of Israel have been given to this false owners who dub themselves Palestinians, this territory land was given to Azerbaijan.
The ‘Palestinians’ or Hamas attack and break ceasefires – Azerbaijan the same. (We are in a ceasefire mode as I write today). Nearly every day Azerbaijan breaks the ceasefire, it is just too tempting from their high ground vantage point.
Muslim aggressors (Hamas and cronies) against Jews & in our case: Muslim aggressors against Christians.
As a side note but one that can not be neglected, there are many other parallels the most notable being: the Armenian and Jewish holocausts. Both of our peoples went through attempted annihilation. The Armenian Genocide in WWI and the Jewish Holocaust in WWII.
With that setting in mind, let’s go back in time a little – just a little. Last year in April 2016, Azerbaijan received a shipment of Israeli drones – THE VERY NEXT DAY, they started war with Nagorno Karabagh. The drones were used in kamikaze style and against the Geneva Convention laws. They killed civilians with these drones. Azerbaijan also committed war crimes by the horrendous murders and mutilations (including decapitations) Nagorno Karabagh soldiers. This is what I call the Hamas of the Caucuses.
Now fast forward to today, Azerbaijan wants the Iron Dome technology. Is an attack from Iran imminent? No. Azerbaijan will start a war with Armenians in Artsakh.
They want to finish the Armenian Genocide that their big sister, Turkey started a century ago. Israel I beseech you, Bibi and Likud, I beseech you to not sell Iron Dome technology to Azerbaijan. They will start a war with us.
Don’t be naive or careless. Rethink your analysis. You have been informed and God is awake and never slumbering. If Israel is to be a light to the nations as you are to be then stop being scared of saying no. Trying to wash your proverbial hands will not wash away the stains.
Bibi Netanyahu touched on the following two points in his weekly cabinet address:
The Amona agreement (video was recorded before the agreement was accepted by the community)
His trip to Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan last week
On the second point, the Prime Minister points out that both Islamic countries desire a real relationship with Israel and admire the Jewish people. The visits were breakthroughs in building serious partnerships emerging countries that have real economic potential and a desire to reach out as representatives of an emerging moderate Islam originating in central Asia. Israel already imports 40% of its oil from Azerbajan and has growing defense contracts with the small country that borders Iran and Armenia.
For several years, Azerbaijan has played an important role in helping Israel, by providing a base of operations for clandestine missions involving intelligence gathering on Iranian nuclear progress. Azerbaijan is a secular Muslim nation that has had friendly ties to Jews and Israel. It is known as the safest place for Jews in the Muslim world. 40% of Israel’s oil is said to be provided by Azerbaijan via the Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhancom (BTC) pipeline. Israel supplies state of the art weaponry to Azerbaijan in its off again on again war with Armenian separatists.
In November I reported on the possibility that Israel already has the ability with drone technology to use Azerbaijan to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities at Arak. With Bibi Netanyahu’s state visit to Azerbaijan today, one has to wonder what the need is for a face to face with President Ilham Aliyev in Baku unless it is to further both covert and overt defense ties in relation to Iran and Azerbaijan’s on again and off again war with Armenia, an Iranian ally.
As Donald Trump prepares to take over the White House on Jan. 20th, the Iranian Nuclear Deal is likely to be scrapped. Azerbaijan will become ground zero for any Israeli response to Iranian aggression.
Turkey is more than just the second strongest NATO member besides the USA. It is one of the world’s largest crude hubs. With three pipelines running through the country and the Turkish straits made up of theDardanelles, the Sea of Marmara, and the Bosphorus, millions of barrels of oil transverse Turkey daily.
To get an idea about the effect of the failed coup had on oil prices, crude futures rose 1.5 percent on Friday as the news of the coup became public. Oil prices have settled back down to $44 a barrel from $46 on the July 18th, but the continued counter-purge and growing friction between Erdogan and the other NATO members now cements and ongoing risk for oil shipping.
As of today, shipping has remained normal, but this can change quickly depending on how the events unfold.
“Any uncertainty in that region almost invariably results in an increase in oil prices, particularly given the interaction between what goes on in Turkey with Syria,” Craig Pirrong, director of the Global Energy Management Institute at the University of Houston’s Bauer College of Business, said Friday in a phone interview with GCaptain. “Analysts will be looking for whether there’s a “spillover to the major oil producers,” Pirrong continued.
Ceyhan is Key
Ceyhan, a city of 157 thousand in Southern Turkey is the terminus for three oil pipelines that run through Turkey. It is also the destination point to and from the Turkish Straits for oil tankers. Although the unrest seems to be dying down, any future turmoil in Turkey or the border region with Syria has the potential of affecting this point. If Erdogan goes after the Kurds in southern Turkey and Northern Syria, Ceyhan becomes the prime target of Kurdish counter attacks.
However, there is one thing that protects Ceyhan from potential Kurdish retaliatory attacks, and that is it too is being used by the Kurds of Iraq to ship their oil out below the radar by way of the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline. One of the biggest recipients of Kurdish oil is none other than Israel, which is why Israel’s interest in renewed diplomatic relations with Turkey has become key to ensuring Kurdish oil flows to Israel.
The Ceyhan-Iran Connection
Israel has gone out of its way to empower and build overt and covert relationships with regional players in order to block Iran’s drive westward. The Kurds have always been a moderating and strong force in northern Iraq and have helped with degrading ISIS as well as helping to block Iran.
Another regional partner of Israel is Azerbaijan. The country is both a nemesis of Iran and sits on the strategic Caspian sea. The Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan pipeline stretches 1,768 kilometres (1,099 mi) bringing oil from Azeri–Chirag–Gunashli in the Caspian sea to shipping routes in the Mediterranean Sea. The oil field produces 710,000 barrels a day. Although it is lower than its peak of 810,000 daily barrels it is still vital for Azerbaijan.
Israel has a strategic interest in making sure Ceyhan is untouched and the free flow of oil from both of its allies reach their destination.