Iran like Turkey consistently supports Azerbaijan, the fourth Shiite Islamic majority nation in the world, while refraining from roundly condemning Christian Armenia, at a time that the two Caucasian nations are locked in fierce combat over the Nagorno Karabakh enclave. The fighting this week escalated to reciprocal attacks on their major cities.
Iran, whose supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is an ethnic Azeri, is home to four Azeri-speaking northwestern provinces, to which some separatist extremists refer as “South Azerbaijan.” Encouraging them could spark secessionist movements among Iran’s other minority groups. So while Iranian officials have voiced support for Azerbaijan’s integrity – Nagorno Karabakh was internationally recognized as part of its territory although the majority of it population are Armenian Christians – they did not echo Azeri lawmakers in Tehran, who this week accused Armenia of forming “an evil Islamophobic trio in the region” with Israel and the United States. Condemning Armenia as the aggressor would present Tehran with another problem: its clandestine supply of arms to Azerbaijan’s enemy. Video footage of Iranian arms trucks in Karabakh last April evoked strong denials in Tehran as being “utterly false,” after raising hackles in Baku. In the current outbreak, Iran was accused of allowing the transit of Russian arms to Armenia through its East Azerbaijan Province. This prompted another denial. Iran and Armenia are moreover long trade partners, and Tehran looks after important Armenian churches in the Azeri northwest.
Caught in the middle, Tehran has not surprisingly joined US, Russian and French calls for a ceasefire in the hostilities which erupted last month.
Those hostilities intensified this week, Nagorno-Karabakh claimed to have destroyed Azerbaijan’s military airport in Ganja, a city of 300,000 after its own town of Stepanakert was hit by enemy missiles. Both reported heavy casualties including many civilians.
Turkey had no qualms about accusing Armenia of “targeting civilians” in Ganja, after reportedly sending fighters from its Syrian proxy rebel groups to fight for Azerbaijan. Over and above Erdogan’s Islamic leadership pretentions, his stake in the former Soviet republic is substantial, two pipelines run from Baku’s oilfields into Turkey for re-export to Europe. It is also Ankara’s only supplier of gas.
Russia is a traditional ally of Armenia and maintains a large military base in that country.
Azerbaijan acknowledged using Israel-made drones in the fighting, with “devastating effect.” According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Israel sold Azerbaijan some $825 million worth of weapons between 2006 and 2019. Those exports included drones, loitering munitions, anti-tank missiles, and a surface-to-air missile system.
Azerbaijan’s ties with Israel are another factor in Tehran’s preference for a truce in the conflict. Iran certainly does not want to see Israel’s influence taking root near its borders.
Turkey is tilting towards the East, and its growing relationship with China and Russia bode a major increase in the minefield of enemy warmongers along Israel’s northern border. In the meantime, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s strong-arm president, has undermined NATO by installing Russian S-400 anti-aircraft batteries pointed towards Israel and Europe, and is ramping up his support for terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah while allowing other jihadist groups like ISIS to launch terror attacks unhindered in the region.
To get an insider’s look at these disturbing developments, Israel Today spoke with Mustafa, a pastor and leader of Turkey’s underground church just barely surviving under the growing Islamization of the newly radicalized Turkish regime.
“Most people have no idea what is really happening in this country,” said Mustafa, who cannot reveal his real name for fear of violent retribution against his wife and three children. He explained that just having contact with someone from Israel is now considered an act of treason as Erdogan continues to push the once secular democracy towards a regional Islamic power. Taken from Israeltoday.com
US-Russian coordination for holding back Turkey’s operation against Syria’s Kurds goes forward smoothly amid a flurry of talks. On Tuesday, Oct. 15, the US secretary of state held talks with his Russian counterpart, as did the two defense chiefs. That night, Turkish President Recep Erdogan held phone conversations with both US President Donald Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Putin invited him to visit Moscow before the end of October, while Trump informed him that Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary Mike Pompeo would be arriving in Ankara on Thursday, Oct. 17. They would be coming with national security adviser Robert O’Brien and special Syrian envoy James Jeffrey. Erdogan was quoted as refusing to receive the Vice President, but the highly volatile Turkish leader may have backtracked on this snub. Very little was disclosed about the content of this burst of high wire parleys. DEBKAfile’s sources have learned that Putin warned Erdogan that if the Turkish army attacked the Syrian forces which arrived to defend Kurdish districts against a Turkish onslaught, the Russian air force would intervene. Trump is believed to have focused his warning against a Turkish assault on the key SDF-held town of Kobani and its environs. He demanded a pledge from Erdogan to stop his forces and allied Syrian militias from entering this town and to halt attempts to seize control of the strategic M4 highway. The Turkish leader demanded as a quid pro quo that the US president guarantee that the Syrian forces not far from Kobani won’t enter the town. However, since Moscow holds the whip hand over the Syria army, it was necessary for the American and Russian foreign and defense ministers to confer on this. For now, the SDF retains control of the town, shielded by Russian special forces. Erdogan finds his troop movements increasingly constricted by the tough dictates coming at him from Washington and Moscow. They are operating in concert in a still unpredictable, inflammable situation.Posted by Bill Salus at 5:09:00 AM