Tag Archives: armenia

Tom Arms’ World Review

USA and Israel

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken this week subtly attacked Benjamin Netanyahu.  He didn’t directly criticise him, but the inference was clear. With a poker-faced Netanyahu standing next to him, Blinken pointedly listed the “core values” that the US and Israel shared: “respect for human rights. The equal administration of justice for all. Equal rights for minority groups. The rule of law, a free press, an independent judiciary and a robust civil society.”

Israel’s conservative press immediately and viciously attacked Blinken for “interfering in domestic Israeli politics.”  This is because by highlighting these “core values” Blinken implied that Netanyahu’s ultra-nationalist government is veering away from them and heading towards what Hungary’s Viktor Orban calls an “illiberal democracy.”

The government’s claim to the disputed West Bank (now populated with 400,000 Israeli settlers) undermines Israeli claims that it protects human rights and the equal rights of minority groups. As did the continuing and spiralling violence which in January claimed 30 Palestinian and seven Israeli lives.

The rule of law and an independent judiciary is threatened by plans to politicise the Israeli Supreme Court and empower the legislature to override Supreme Court Decisions. It is further damaged by the fact that Netanyahu himself has been indicted on charges of fraud, breach of trust, bribery and corruption.

Azerbaijan and Armenia

Nagorno-Karabakh is threatening to explode again. Either that or an estimated 120,000 Armenian civilians, including 30,000 children, will starve to death or die of disease because of an Azerbaijani blockade.

The Azerbaijan-Armenia dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh goes back to the 1917 break-up of the Russian empire. Stalin’s purges pushed it into the background but when the Soviet Empire dissolved frictions reappeared. The two countries have gone to war over the region in the 1990s, 2016 and most recently in 2020.

In each case Russia backed its traditional proxy Christian Armenia (the oldest Christian country in the world) and Turkey supported Muslim Azerbaijan. Turkish support has paid off for autocratic oil-rich Azerbaijan which has been able to buy the latest military equipment from Turkey. They soundly defeated the Armenians in the last conflict and substantially reduced the territory occupied by Armenians.

But that is not good enough for Azerbaijani President Ilhan Aliyev. On 12 December he sent in troops to block the Armenian community’s only access to the outside world, the Lachlin Corridor. He then told the Armenians they could either leave their homes in Nagorno-Karabakh, become Azeri citizens or starve.

They are starving. They are also without medical supplies, electricity is rationed, schools are closed and there is limited communication with the outside world. The Armenian Society of Fellows claims that Ilhan Aliyev is guilty of attempted genocide. The blockade has condemned by the EU, the US, The Council of Europe, Amnesty International and just about every developed country and a big chunk of the rest of the world.

But Aliyev ignores them all. His hand is strengthened by 1- Russia being distracted by Ukraine and 2- oil. Armenia was the birthplace of modern oil production and remains one of the world’s top producers. The current energy crisis is keeping prices high and allowing to hold at bay energy-poor Europeans. In the meantime, the Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh starve.

Tyre Nichols, USA

The sad case of Tyre Nichols has highlighted America’s problem of police brutality. It doesn’t matter if it is blue on black, black on black or white on black; America has a problem with police forces too quick to resort to violence.

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Observations of an expat: Geopolitical fault line

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Throughout history the Caucasus region has been one of the world’s key geopolitical fault lines and a potentially explosive ethnic, religious, cultural and political melting pot.

It links Europe and Asia. It connects the Black Sea to the riches of the landlocked Caspian. It straddled the Silk Road which connected the Turkic-speaking tribes which stretched from Anatolia to China’s troubled Xinjiang region. The Caucasus region is at the centre of dividing line between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Islamic world of Central Asia. It has been disputed, fought over and occupied by the Ottomans, Russia, the Mongols and Iran.

At the very heart of this fault line are Islamic Azerbaijan and Orthodox Christian Armenia. Separating these two countries is mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh; internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but with a majority ethnic Armenian population that has set up their own government (The Republic of Artsakh) which nobody – not even Armenia – recognises. However, Azerbaijan has not governed the area since 1988.

During the days of the Soviet Empire the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan was smothered by political control from Moscow. But when the Soviet Union fell apart the two South Caucasus nations fell out over Nagorno-Karabakh. From 1988 to 1994 they fought a war which left 30,000 dead and displaced a million people from their homes. In the end, Moscow managed to broker a ceasefire, but not a peace.

Since 1994 there have been sporadic clashes along a “Line of Control”, but this week the clashes quickly escalated into a proper renewal of hostilities. With the rest of the world distracted by the coronavirus pandemic and the US presidential elections, the conflict has the possibility to drag Russia and NATO Turkey into opposing positions.

Russia is doing its best to assume the honest broker position, but Turkey makes no bones about its diplomatic stance. It fully backs Azerbaijan and demands that the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh accept that they are part of that state.

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ELDR Council: between a rock and some very hard places indeed…

I’m not always the most prepared person in the world, especially when it comes to meetings. Usually, that doesn’t matter, because I’m surrounded by people who are prepared. But what happens if they don’t turn up on time?

The sun was shining in Armenia’s capital, in the shadow of Mount Ararat, and whilst one of the delegation’s Parliamentarians was meeting ‘Our Man in Yerevan’, I was off to attend the Resolution Working Group, where resolutions on a Common Consolidated Corporate tax base for Europe and on Cyprus were to be …

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ELDR: a caucus in the Caucusus…

When I was elected to the Liberal Democrat delegation to the Council of the European Liberal Democrats (ELDR), adventure was not necessarily high amongst my expectations, and trips to Dresden and Palermo last year were, whilst very nice, not particularly off the beaten path. And so, when it was announced that the Spring Council meeting would take place in Yerevan, I have to admit to an awakening of my passion for obscure routes and means of transport. So, why Yerevan, and what will be happening at the end of next week?

Sunday sees Parliamentary elections in Armenia, and this, combined with …

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Daily View 2×2: 11 October 2009

It’s Sunday. It’s 7am. It’s time for the Daily View, today with an science fiction meets ukulele musical extra.

2 Big Stories

English Defence League takes to streets, violence follows

Perhaps someone should tell the English Defence League that the best way for them to defend the values they claim to stand up for would be to wind themselves up given how little of that traditional English value of tolerance its members display. But in the meantime, here’s the latest news:

More than 40 people have been arrested during two political demonstrations in Manchester city centre.

At least 2,000 people attended the protests, by the English Defence League (EDL) and members of Unite Against Fascism (UAF) on Saturday afternoon.

Witnesses said “ugly scenes” broke out between rival protestors and police.

Forty-eight people have been arrested, four among them were held on suspicion of affray. Most of the other arrests were for public order offences. (BBC)

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