Analyst: West may launch dual proxy wars in Caucasus, Donbass this spring

Over the weekend a penetrating analysis by Lebanese scholar Yeghia Tashjian appeared on the Armenian Weekly website under the title Aliyev, once again, threatens Armenia with war, referring to the president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev.

Less than three months after the end of the 44-day war waged by Azerbaijan and Turkey against minuscule Nagorno-Karabakh last year, the two countries – whose joint motto is “one nation, two states” – conducted military exercises in Turkish city of Kars, near the border with Armenia.

Tashjian also mentioned the large-scale four-day war games that would commence today in Azerbaijan, which according to today’s Azerbaijani press include 10,000 troops, 100 tanks, 200 missiles and 30 planes and drones. That arsenal alone would be more than sufficient to attack and subjugate what’s left of Nagorno-Karabakh (the Republic of Artsakh), which lost 300 towns, villages and settlements last year, and the scale of the ongoing drills indicates that Baku, with inevitable Turkish guidance and assistance, is training for war with Armenia next.

And so the author predicts. He indicates that Armenia’s Syunik Province, which lies between the main bulk of Azerbaijan and the latter’s Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, may next face the fate of Nagorno-Karabakh.

With a degree of perspicacity rare in geopolitical analyses, Tashjian traces the scenario, as dangerous as it already is, several steps further:

“However, my greatest fear is on a regional level. It is no secret that Ukraine is preparing for war or at least triggering an armed conflict in Russian-controlled Donbass with Turkish and Western blessings. It has been two weeks since I began monitoring the Ukrainian and Russian army’s supply routes and deployment of heavy weapons near Donbass. Kyiv, motivated by the Turkish and Azerbaijani victory in Artsakh, tried to establish military relations with Turkey and bought Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones. Russia, aware that it may engage in a two-front war and knowing well that Armenia cannot defend itself against another Turkish-Azerbaijani invasion, is consolidating its presence in southern Armenia by building military posts and reopening the abandoned airfield of Sisian in Syunik.”

Earlier this month the Pentagon announced a $125 million military aid package for Ukraine, the first of its kind under the Biden administration. As for a variety of reasons President Biden is committed to escalating U.S. military assistance for the government of Ukraine in its efforts to wage war in the Donetsk and Lugansk republics in the Donbass, it should be no surprise that the Ukrainian armed forces have escalated attacks in the area in recent weeks.

The now seven-year war in Eastern Ukraine has been titled by the Kiev government an Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO). The war games launched in Azerbaijan today are described by the country’s Defense Ministry as “counter-terrorism exercises.”

Yet this morning Afghan-born American scholar Zalmay Gulzad informed me that over a hundred Afghan and Pakistani jihadis have been honored in a cemetery in Azerbaijan by the Aliyev government for dying in the war against Nagorno-Karabakh.

During last year’s war Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan accused Pakistan of sending terrorists to the South Caucasus to assist Azerbaijan and Turkey, stating, “We have information that armed fighters from Pakistan are participating in the war raging in the Karabakh region.”

At the same time Syrian President Bashar al-Assad accused Turkey of sending Syrian and Syria-based jihadis – his word was terrorists – to participate in the genocidal onslaught against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Those hiding behind the blind of fighting terrorism are in fact those employing it.

Yeghia Tashjian’s article also indicates that the coordinated series of Western-backed proxy wars against Russia and its allies may cast yet a wider net to include the Middle East and North Africa:

“Most concerning is that Turkey and Azerbaijan may take advantage of a possible war in Ukraine to divert Russian attention from the South Caucasus and conduct an operation against Armenia. According to Greek City Times, the question begs whether Moscow would be able to handle simultaneous conflicts in the South Caucasus and Ukraine, if Azerbaijan and Ukraine are to launch simultaneous offensives in the spring. To add fuel to the fire, Turkey may open new fronts in Syria and Libya thus putting Russia in a difficult position. Turkey would likely be urging Azerbaijan and Ukraine to make simultaneous actions to gain concessions from Russia, such as forcing Armenia to open a transportation corridor between Azerbaijan-proper and Nakhichevan and giving a certain status to the Tatars of Crimea. The fear is that Russia may choose the first, as Crimea falls within the current territories of the Russian Federation and any Turkish intervention in Russia’s domestic affairs would be disastrous for the Kremlin.”

The above-mentioned Professor Gulzad warned as early as last year that a Biden administration in the U.S. would escalate the wars in Ukraine and Syria as well as pushing a Yugoslav-type separatist movement among Crimean Tartars that could eventuate in a Yugoslav- or Libya-type NATO armed intervention.

In what may prove to be a clairvoyant analysis, Tashjian quotes from a Stratfor study of nine years ago regarding Azerbaijan’s (and Turkey’s) plan for a so-called Zangezur Corridor connecting both parts of Azerbaijan through southern Armenia in these words, “whoever controls the Zangezur Corridor can project power into the Turkish sphere of influence in Anatolia, the Russian sphere of influence in the intra-Caucasus and directly into the Persian core territories.” The Armenian government interprets Azerbaijan’s claim to Zangezur as a provocation.

Today I sent this to the analyst in response to his article:

“The connection you make between increased military activity in the Donbass and today’s massive Azerbaijani war games designed transparently for the final assault on Artsakh (and perhaps Armenia as well) is persuasive. Comparable to the Hungarian uprising/Suez Canal crisis coupling of 1956, where the first distracted Russia from the second. You might look at a third simultaneous war front – Transdniester (where Russia has peacekeepers) – against which Ukraine, Romania and Moldova would move as the Donbass and the South Caucasus erupt in war.”

During the opening days of Azerbaijan’s and Turkey’s attack on Nagorno-Karabakh last year the government of South Ossetia, which suffered a comparable attack from NATO-backed Georgia twelve years earlier, warned that with the war against Nagorno-Karabakh as both diversion and precedent forces in Georgia were preparing new hostilities against the country. As goes South Ossetia, so goes Abkhazia, the other former Georgian region that declared itself an independent country in 2008.

Collectively Nagorno-Karabakh, Transdniester, South Ossetia and Abkhazia are what have been known as the frozen conflicts in the former Soviet Union. Unlike Nagorno-Karabakh, however, the latter three all have Russian troops on their territory.

If Azerbaijan, Turkey, Ukraine, Georgia, Romania and Moldova, with the connivance if not open support of the U.S. and NATO, launch coordinated offensives in several nations where Russia’s vital interests are involved the result may be nothing less than catastrophic.