rick rozoff marathon catch-up

US nuclear-capable B-52s, Turkish F-16s fly over Black Sea in message to Russia
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, Jun 19 2021

USAF reported that two US B-52H Stratofortress strategic bombers flew over the Aegean Sea escorted by Greek F-16 Fighting Falcon multirole combat aircraft and over the Black Sea with the same warplanes from Turkey. The B-52s are part of the US Bomber Task Force Europe that has deployed all three long-range bombers formerly the triad of the American nuclear/nuclear-capable bomber fleet during the Cold War: the B-52H Stratofortress, B-1 Lancer and B-2 Spirit. The three bombers have flown over almost of all Europe in recent months. B-52s recently flew over the ongoing US-led Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) war games on Russia’s northwest border and on May 31 B-52s flew over all thirty NATO member states escorted at times by 80 NATO combat aircraft. The Black Sea is a Pentagon/NATO stronghold, with every littoral state there except for Russia a NATO member or Enhanced Opportunities Partner: Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine. The US has recently deployed its fifth guided-missile warship there this year. Hardly a week goes by that doesn’t see a US and/or NATO military exercise in the sea and in the nations bordering it. This summer the annual Sea Breeze naval and air war games will begin in and off the coast of Ukraine in its Mykolaiv, Kherson, and Odessa regions. This year’s iteration will include 30 warships, 30 military aircraft and military personnel from 27 NATO member and partner states. Perhaps a nuclear-capable bomber or two will fly over to deliver a firm warning to Russia.

NATO confirms direct role in Mali war
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, Jun 18 2021

NATO reports that its Support and Procurement Agency signed a Framework Technical Agreement with the Takuba Task Force in Mali in Luxembourg on Jun 9. The task force has been a de facto NATO operation since its inception. The contributing nations are NATO member states Belgium, Britain, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Portugal, and NATO Enhanced Opportunities Partner Sweden. The US has been involved in war against ethnic Tuaregs in Mali since the beginning of the century. Former colonial master France was in charge of NATO nations’ troops under Operation Barkhane. In addition to the US and France, the other two members of NATO’s Quad, Germany and Britain, are also involved in the war in Mali and neighboring Niger. Berlin has recently announced that it was expanding its military training mission in Mali, increasing its troop numbers there and setting up a military hospital. It has also provided fifteen armored vehicles to the Niger armed forces and will send 100 instructors to that nation to train Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected crews. German naval commandos are training Niger’s special forces and the Luftwaffe has an air base in the country as part of the United Nations’ Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) operation. Britain recently deployed 400 troops to Mali, the beginning of a three-year mission there. British forces are not only supporting the UN mission but actively participating in French-led counterinsurgency operations as well. The meeting of NATO and the Takuba Task Force was attended by a French delegation headed by led by Air Vice-Marshal Laurent Marboeuf, head of Joint International Affairs, and other senior officials of the French Defense Ministry. According to Peter Dohmen, general manager of NATO’s Support and Procurement Agency:

The signing ceremony is a key milestone after months of teamwork between NSPA and the French Army. We are grateful and honoured for the trust bestowed on the Agency. This an excellent opportunity for the Agency to strengthen its capacity to support NATO allies and partners, wherever is required.

NATO personnel will be deployed to Mali this summer and will supply a camp in the east of the country. This marks at least the fourth formal NATO mission in Africa. The first three were the airlifting of African Union troops to Sudan (Darfur) in 2005, the airlifting of African Union troops into Somalia in 2010 for the war there, and the seven-month Operation Unified Protector air war against Libya in 2011.

Turkey ready to open military base in conquered Nagorno-Karabakh: Erdoğan
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, Jun 18 2021

Erdoğan announced on Jun 17 that his nation may build a military base in Nagorno-Karabakh as part of what has been named the Shusha Declaration on cooperation, mainly military cooperation, between his country and his “one nation, two states” satrapy Azerbaijan. His comments came the day after his leaving Nagorno-Karabakh land seized by Azerbaijan, with the active assistance of the Turkish armed forces, and two days after his lecturing fellow NATO leaders on the need to join him in his anti-Kurdish war in Syria. Turkey’s Hurriyet talked of the new Turkish military base as being in Azerbaijan, but in reality it will be in Nagorno-Karabakh. The Turkish daily quotes Erdogan as stating:

This issue is not outside the provisions of the Shusha agreement. Further consideration of the issue is possible.

The same source quotes the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry as follows:

The 13th meeting of the Azerbaijani-Turkish High-Level Military Dialogue in the capital of Azerbaijan discussed “the current state of bilateral cooperation between Azerbaijan and Turkey in the security, military, military-technical, military-medical, military-educational, defense industry, and in other spheres.

The deliberations certainly addressed the prospect of a Turkish base in conquered Nagorno-Karabakh. Another NATO nation’s or NATO base in the FSU, along with those in Estonia, Georgia, Latvia and Lithuania. Today’s Turkish press reports that the Russian government was “closely monitoring” the development and that it might view it as “a move that could require Russia to take steps to ensure its own security and interests.” That is as empty a statement as even the Russian government is capable of making. The report said that Dmitri Peskov was in touch with Ankara, and that he stated:

The deployment of military infrastructure by the alliance countries near our borders is cause for our special attention, as well as a reason for us to take steps to ensure our security and interests.

A translation from Kremlinese: We will mention it, though the English-language Russian news media says nothing of the affair. We may even grumble a little, but we won’t do a thing about it, any more than we did about last year’s 44-day war against our CSTO partner Armenia, than we did about Azerbaijan shooting down a Russian military helicopter over Armenia and killing two crew members during that war, and about Azerbaijan sending troops onto the territory of Armenia in May. A Turkish military base in conquered Nagorno-Karabakh will be an additional “lily pad” in the direction of Afghanistan and Central Asia. For Turkey and for NATO.

Azerbaijan: NATO’s outpost on the Caspian Sea
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, Jun 18 2021

On Jun 17 the defense minister of Azerbaijan, Colonel General Zakir Hasanov, recently a “hero” of the Great Patriotic War against what is or was little more than a settlement, Nagorno-Karabakh, met with Raimonds Bergmanis, a member of the Latvian delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and his nation’s former defense minister. The topic, of course, was the further military integration of the Caspian Sea nation into the thirty-nation military alliance’s global network. Azerbaijan is NATO’s main outpost on the Caspian where the military bloc intends to confront Baku’s fellow littoral states Iran and Russia. In the past two decades NATO has assigned member states as liaison nations (Contact Point Embassies) to partner states and aspirants. The officials of the two former Soviet republics, on Russia’s northwestern and southern borders, on the Baltic and Caspian Seas, discussed bilateral and general military cooperation to assist Azerbaijan in gaining NATO interoperability. According to Azerbaijan’s Trend News:

Azerbaijani-Latvian military cooperation has been successfully implement[ed] both within NATO’s various programs and on a bilateral basis.

Another Azeri news source quotes the Latvian official stating:

Latvia, being a NATO member, positively assesses the relations between Azerbaijan and NATO. Azerbaijan and NATO are actively cooperating in the field of military education. Azerbaijan has also carried out reforms in the field of military education recommended by NATO. NATO and Azerbaijan are united by the action plan signed by the sides in the field of political cooperation.

Trend reported that Azerbaijan has sent military aircraft, two MiG-29 fighters and two Su-25 attack aircraft, to Turkey for the Anatolian Eagle 2021 air combat exercise. The two nations’ air forces operated jointly last year in the military assault against Nagorno-Karabakh. The Anatolian Phoenix 2021 air force exercise was just completed in Turkey as well, with the participation of forces from Azerbaijan, the US, Qatar, Slovakia and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. The last is particularly noteworthy, as the US participating jointly with the air force of the unrecognized Turkish puppet state in military drills is a clear signal to the Republic of Cyprus. After Erdoğan’s appearance in conquered Nagorno-Karabakh territory the day after he left the NATO summit in Belgium, the government in Nicosia should be on the alert for the next Turkish “war of liberation.” On Jun 16 the Azerbaijani press printed comments attributed to a Russian political analyst:

NATO collectively believes that the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict ended as a result of the military defeat of Armenia and the return of the liberated territories to the jurisdiction of Baku.

That appears to be a fairly plausible appraisal of NATO’s position. The article cited above also stated:

Commenting on the fact that the statement following the NATO summit in Brussels did not mention the conflict as a threat to Europe’s security, the analyst noted that not only the alliance member states, but the rest of the world recognized this fact.

That, also, seems an accurate interpretation of events. For as NATO in no manner reproached Baku for its war of aggression or NATO member Turkey’s integral role in waging it, NATO in fact has sanctioned it. The war against the tiny nation of Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia, which is by no means over, is in fact another NATO proxy war, as are those in Syria, the Donbass and Mali. On Jun 16 it was reported that James Appathurai, the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, spoke at an international conference titled Azerbaijan’s Contribution to Euro-Atlantic Peace and Security, and made this comment, even as Nagorno-Karabakh territory has been seized by Azerbaijan and Turkey, which has mentioned building a military base there, and Azerbaijani troops remain on Armenian soil:

We support the territorial integrity, political independence and sovereignty of the countries of the region. We want to see stability, peace and development in the South Caucasus, as well as good relations between the three countries of the region. The relations between Azerbaijan and Georgia are especially commendable.

On Jun 17 the deputy defense minister of Azerbaijan, Air Force Commander Ramiz Tahirov, met with Pakistani Air Vice Marshal Tariq Zia to discuss strengthening cooperation between the two nations’ air forces. The Azerbaijani defense chief thanked his military counterpart for training Azerbaijani pilots at the Pakistan Air Force Academy, and was paraphrased as saying:

The development of cooperation in the military aviation sphere and ties between the Air Forces contribute to further strengthening the Azerbaijani and Pakistani armies’ combat capability.

The two sides praised what was identified as a strategic partnership. Trend added this paragraph to its report of the meeting between the two air force commanders:

During the 44-day war with Armenia in 2020, Pakistan was among the first countries voicing political support for Azerbaijan. Pakistan also supports Azerbaijan in the restoration of the country’s liberated territories.

In fact there’s evidence that Pakistan provided direct support for last year’s war. Azerbaijan’s increased cooperation with Islamabad parallels that of its “one nation, two states” partner Turkey. Closer Turkish-Pakistani political and military collaboration doesn’t bode well for Afghanistan. Or Tajikistan. Or India. Or Russia. Or China. Or Iran. It is a catastrophe for Armenia.

If NATO allies won’t back multi-front war, “Turkey will take it in its own hands” – Erdoğan
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, Jun 18 2021

Shortly after being received as a veritable guest of honor at Monday’s NATO summit in Brussels, Erdoğan joined his “brother” Ilham Aliyev, president of Azerbaijan, in a visit to the city of Shusha/Shushi in Nagorno-Karabakh, conquered last year by the latter with the assistance of the former. On the occasion of the joint visit the two leaders announced a declaration of bilateral cooperation primarily focused on defense and military components. Afterward Erdoğan addressed the press in Azerbaijan’s capital of Baku and laid down the law to his NATO allies regarding support for his war against what he terms terrorism (by which he meant Kurds) in his own nation, Syria and Iraq (and perhaps tomorrow Iran). Regarding the results of the NATO summit, he said that Turkey “conveyed its expectations on regional issues to its allies.” He went on to assert that if that assistance is not forthcoming Turkey “will take matters into its own hands,” the governments of Syria and Iraq and international law notwithstanding. In language suggesting the activation of NATO’s Article 5 mutual military assistance provision, he added:

We expect them to respect our country’s sovereign rights and security sensitivities. We want them to display solidarity, which is a necessity of the spirit of an alliance.

Turkey has already succeeded in having NATO invoke its Article 4 for consultation and intervention four times: against Iraq in 2003 and against Syria twice in 2012 and once in 2020. NATO deployed Patriot missile batteries to Turkey in 1991, 2003 and 2012. They remain there, manned by US, German and Dutch military personnel to this day. There has been discussion over the past five years of activating Article 5 at Turkey’s request and behest. Stoltenberg praised Turkey ahead of the summit, in the words:

You can just look at the map and realize the importance of these lands, the landmass of Turkey, and also the only country, the only NATO Ally that borders Iraq and Syria.

NATO expressed gratitude for its role in assisting Syrian refugees in the summit’s communiqué. Turkey has every reason to expect and exact NATO’s support, as it’s been able to secure it in the past. In fact Erdoğan said he expects such assistance for his wars in Syria and Iraq, as the Turkish press reminded its readers, shortly after meeting one-on-one with Biden on the sidelines at NATO HQ. The Daily Sabah reported that he also met with the presidents of France, Latvia and Lithuania and the prime ministers of Britain, Germany, Greece, Hungary, the Netherlands and Spain. While in Baku he revealed that he had presented those heads of state and government with an “exclusive book” on Turkey’s war against the Kurds entitled “Turkey’s Fight Against Terrorism.” The newspaper said that the volume was “highly welcomed” by among others Biden, Johnson and Merkel.

It has not been the Turkish leader’s manner to refrain from confronting any nation in the world in recent years. For example, he steadfastly demands Russia give up Crimea and stop supporting the Donetsk and Lugansk republics in eastern Ukraine. He was uncompromising in denouncing the other of NATO’s two-largest member states, the US, for its support of the ethnic Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria. He said:

I believe this: We will solve our problem by our own means. There is no other way. We trust our security forces and we are strong. I have spoken all these things openly with Mr Biden.

In the event the US and other NATO allies were slow on the uptake, he added hours after leaving territory in the Caucasus recently conquered by his Azerbaijani client and his own armed forces:

We have proven our power in Syria and Libya and will continue to do so.

Turkey continues a policy of browbeating and strong-arming, from Syria to Libya, Nagorno-Karabakh to Cyprus, Iraq to Yemen, Afghanistan to the Eastern Mediterranean. Even the US and NATO are being given orders and ultimatums. As disturbing as anything else, that policy is working.

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