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Armenia

Azerbaijan army has not gained superiority over Armenian forces

“NATO should carefully review its strategic purpose in working with the militaries of Caucasus states, particularly with respect to unresolved conflicts. It should focus its military cooperation with Azerbaijan strictly on efforts to improve democratic, civilian control of the armed forces and not move beyond the IPAP while Nagorno-Karabakh remains unresolved.”, International Crisis Group have said in their latest report entitled: “Azerbaijan’s Defence Sector Management and Reform”
The think tank have also noted that the U.S. and the EU should move resolution of Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict much higher up their agendas and “seek, in cooperation with Russia, to put pressure on both Azer­baijan and Armenia to compromise in line with the principles proposed by the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).”
The report also notes, that although Azerbaijan wants to create a strong army to regain Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent districts, either by improving its negotiating leverage with Armenia or going back to war.
According to the ICG, although Azerbaijan has exponentially increased its military budget, it has not so far gained clear superiority over Armenian forces.
“If the new military is to be not only stronger but also better governed, however, it needs deep reforms to make it less corrupt and personality driven, more transparent and better directed. So far there has been insufficient political will either to do the part that should involve increasing democratic and civilian control or to break the habit of treating the army as above all an instrument with which to protect elite interests.”,-the report has concluded.

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Armenia

Saakashvili's miscalculations and war in Ossetia

Georgia’s President Mikheil Saakashvili thought he had picked the perfect time to launch a massive attack against the peaceful population of its breakaway region of South Ossetia and Russian peacekeeping forces last night – the world would be preoccupied with the grand opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing, he thought, who would care about the Georgian attempts at Genocide in it’s own territory, right? Need I remind everyone, that even in old Greece wars were halted for the duration of the Olympic games not to overshadow the sacred meaning of the grand tournament? Need I qualify Saakashvili’s ‘Blitz Krig’ immoral, to say the least? And will this dumb macho ever understand, that being the president of Georgia is serious business, not games? I mean – one has to be a complete idiot to think, that:

  • an outgoing US President, a Republican facing a democratic majority in US Parliament will have the political resources to risk a new war after horrors of Iraq;
  • NATO – alliance of countries with stagnating and fuel hungry economies, who have just started to breathe freely because the oil prices have gone down a little bit, will engage in anything against the world’s largest oil and gas exporter, which will surely kick up the energy prices once again and finally kill their economies;
  • that if Russia gets really angry and decides to declare South Ossetia an independent country, UN will be able to do anything, given the Kosovo precedent and the fact that Russia is already quite sick and tired of UN trying to dictate things to it.

Now we have what we have – 1400 reported (unconfirmed) civilian deaths, 10 Russian peacekeepers killed and 30 wounded, heavy fighting on the territory of South Ossetia, Russian tanks and jets entering Georgian territory and according to Georgian claims bombing their military and civilian targets. There are no figures of losses from the Georgian side, but clearly, such an operation will cost them dearly. Saakashvili has already called back the Georgian contingent of 2000 from Iraq and has announced plans of declaring martial law and calling reserves to arms. A full scale war is looming and it doesn’t look like Georgia’s getting any help from anywhere. US President spoke of supporting Georgia’s territorial integrity – but will he dare to translate words into action, given the points I highlighted above? Hardly.
The UN Security Council met late last night only to reveal one more miscalculation of Mr. Saakashvili – with wourld leaders away in Beijing, away from their consultants and intelligence reports, the accusations of Georgian envoy were counterbalanced by the Russian envoy’s equally valid points and counteraccusations, so the Council broke on promise to meet again this morning, not that any results are to be expected anyway.
Meanwhile, we – Armenians have Azerbaijan to worry about – Ilham Aliyev might just decide to take advantage of general disorder in South Caucasus and attempt an attack on Nagorno Karabakh. Armenia’s defence Minister Seyran Ohanyan was in Artaskh yesterday – clearly not a simple sightseeing mission.

Photo: BBC NEWS