Vestnik kavkaza - Orkhan Sattarov
The Russian mass media can hardly be called indifferent to Caucasus topics.
The region has always been and remains in its focus. However, in recent time information agencies often write about some ambitious geopolitical projects of Russia on three countries of the South Caucasus region. And some Russian and Azerbaijani experts and analysts directly state that in case of the Western coalition’s military campaign against Iran Moscow will try to destabilize and “reformat” the South Caucasus. The arguments are well-known. According to these experts, the West put pressure on Russia in the Middle East. Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria will fall soon. The next victim will be Iran, and in this context Russia will decide to recover its losses and restore influence in the South Caucasus using military force, these experts are sure.
The arguments are dubious. First of all, it is still unclear what the result of the Syrian crisis will be and whether Russia will lose or win. The situation is ambiguous. First of all, almost all deserters in Syria, including top officials and army generals, are representatives of Syrian Sunni. The framework of the military command and special services consists of Alavis, and Syrian President belongs to them as well. There are no centrifugal processes within Alavi elite.
The developments of the civil war don’t look like a triumphal attack of the opposition. The army of the ruling regime managed to clear Damascus from rebels, and now they are clearing the second large city – Aleppo. Even rebels assume the fact that soldiers of the opposition Free Syrian Army have to withdraw from some districts of the city. 8 thousand rebels consolidated in the city have few chances to defeat 20 thousand well-armed elite soldiers of Bashar Assad. Support of the Western audience is useless if you have no appropriate armament and aviation. It seems “the crucial battle for Aleppo,” as the mass media called it, might become a serious failure of the FSA and regional forces supported it. Foreign intervention still seems to be unreal. Of course episodic raids by Turkish army are possible in the Kurdish regions of Syria, but Ankara will hardly dare to attack and capture Damascus.
Nevertheless, if we assume that Assad’s regime falls in the nearest future, the question arises: why are some experts sure that the US and Israel will immediately start a wide-scale military operation against Iran? The military command of both countries is aware of high risks of aggression against IRI, considering the growing military-technical power of the country. Iran possesses sufficient amount of leverages for influencing the US oil interests in the region.
Israel also has reasons for fearing Iran’s response. Many experts believe that this fear holds Tel-Aviv from immediate strike at the Iranian nuclear facilities, because usually Israel doesn’t hesitate in the national security issues. Even effectiveness of such bombing is dubious as the Iranian regime dug its major facilities deep underground, and even the most modern American missiles couldn’t reach them.
Furthermore, the question arises: why do they think that Russia plans to cut through “a corridor from Georgia to Armenia” with a direct entrance to the battlefield between Armenia and Azerbaijan which will appear by that time due to a provocation (which Russia seems to organize by Armenia). The analyst of Baku newspaper Mirror, Rauf Mirkadyrov, states that the war games Caucasus-2012 are a part of “preparation works” of Russia for this provocation. He believes they will involve Abkhazia and South Ossetia. However, several days ago the General Staff of Russia stated that the maneuvers will take place on the Russian territory only.
There is no doubt that Russian army is capable to make a battle march in 150 km to the Armenian border. Also there is no doubt that Armenia would be ready to make a provocation if they were ordered to do it by Moscow. But reasonability of such a step by the Kremlin is questionable. Geopolitical results of the August war 2008 were not really successful for Russia. It controlled Abkhazia and South Ossetia even before it, but after the war and recognition of Sukhumi and Tskhinval Russia actually lost any possibility to influence Georgia. In the international arena there was no success as well. It appeared the Russian-Georgian war was disadvantageous not only for Georgia, but also for Russia. It seems the USA became the only winner of the war, as Saakashvili became its most devoted supporter. Why should Moscow repeat the mistake and make a provocation which will weaken its positions?
Therefore, it seems concerns on Russian plans on provocation in the Caucasus are too exaggerated. Influence in the South Caucasus cannot be restored with confrontation mechanisms.
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