Collective destructionism of Armenians - August, 2012

As the presidential election in Armenia gets nearer, the young republic's so-called political opposition is again preparing to cause unrest. While their approach and tactics will vary somewhat, they will be united in the hope that by putting pressure on the entrenched government and by disseminating poisonous propaganda, the masses will eventually rise-up against their leadership, similar to what happened in early 2008 when Levon Petrosian's and his gang of criminals attempted their ill fated revolution.

The intent of this blog entry is to help open eyes and prepare the reader for the coming election season in Armenia, which promises to be very interesting to say the least.

Below this commentary I am presenting you the work of a good comrade. His work is essentially about the dangerously negative mood presiding inside Armenian society today and it is aptly called "Collective Destructionism". Below his excellent work I have also posted several very rare voices of sanity and objectivity. Please read them all. We need to be informed of the political dangers that our newly formed republic faces, and armed with this information we need to fight against the negativity and the destructive criticism that is being engineered by Armenia's Western led, funded and/or inspired political opposition.

The following thoughts of mine are meant to serve as a prologue to the works featured below:

For much of the past two thousand years Armenia's most persistent and most dangerous enemy has been the Armenian. It was the Armenian that time-and-again rose up against his king. It was the Armenian that enthusiastically allied himself with enemies of Armenia. It was the Armenian that preferred the rule of foreigners to that of Armenians. It was the Armenian - and the Greek - that essentially allowed the Turk to settle in the Armenian highlands. It was the Armenian that tore Edessa's aging prince Toros into pieces so that a Frank can rule over them. It was the Armenian that beheaded the legendary Sparapet Mkhitar and presented his severed head to the Turkish sultan just so that he would not cause troubles for them. It was the Armenian that after being given an opportunity to form a nation in the Caucasus by the Russian Empire, betrayed the Czar by becoming socialists and Bolsheviks. It was the Armenian that did not want anything to do with a national independence movement inside the Ottoman Empire. It was the Armenian that betrayed many freedom fighters at the time to the Turks. It was the Armenian that took to the streets in their tens-of-thousands to support Levon Petrosian, a criminal and a traitor that had already once raped and pillaged Armenia. It is the Armenian that always prefers personal business and his ego over the nation or nation building. It is the Armenian today that is enthusiastically importing political poison into Armenia on behalf of Western interests...

For much of the past two thousand years it was the Armenian
that kept Armenia small, poor, weak, dependent and on the very verge of extinction. I'm afraid the problem we have may be genetic/cultural in nature. Yes, we have been blessed with many positive traits... but we have also been dammed with quite a few destructive ones as well. These destructive traits are again working against our nation today. When it comes to problems pertaining to Armenia, the fundamental problem ultimately lies within the human type we all call - the Armenian.

We have been patting each others back to feel good about ourselves since 1915. Now, with a real Armenian state under our care for the first time in one thousand years, our honeymoon is finally over. We need to stop our silliness and take a good close look at ourselves in the mirror. We need to put aside our petty concerns and strive to derive lessons from our past few successes and try to learn from our many mistakes. 

More importantly, we need to somehow suppress our overpowering emotions (the source of our irrationality), legendary egos (the massive depository in which most of our nation's many ailments currently reside) and for once take serious responsibility for our actions with regards to our fledgling homeland in the Caucasus. 

While many Armenians are finally beginning to waking-up to the harsh realities of the political world they live in today, many other Armenians are blindly continuing the destructive habits of their destructive forefathers.

Under the banners of "freedom", "democracy" and "human rights" there is an active information war taking place against the Armenian state. Instigated and supported by the political West via many Western funded NGOs, a multitude of propaganda outlets and a not so small army of operatives on the ground in Armenia and throughout the Armenian diaspora, the young republic's natural growing pains are being used to undermine its hard won political stability.

Although the political opposition's publicly stated goals are on the surface very innocent, their actions and their affiliations, however, pose a serious security risk to the Armenian state. Therefore, I'm afraid, their actions go well beyond merely fighting "corruption" or promoting "democracy" in Armenia. Whether they realize it or not, their actions are ultimately meant to topple the current Russian-backed Armenian government and replace it with one that more-or-less serves the Anglo-American-Zionist global order (i.e. Western oil/gas interests and their Turkic and Islamic allies).

Because of Russia's strategic military presence inside Armenia, the political West realizes that it cannot do what it has done in places such as Serbia, Iraq, Libya and Syria. Therefore, since NATO cannot bomb Armenia or fund militants to attack Armenia, and since they have not been very successful in economically strangling Armenia through the Turkish (i.e. NATO supported) economic blockade of the landlocked republic, they have instead resorted to attacking Armenian morale by funding a multi-pronged information war against the Armenian state. The sociopolitical climate we currently have in Armenia is essentially a result of this well organized, well funded psychological operations (psy-ops) campaign that is being carried out against it.

To realize their above stated geopolitical agenda against Armenia's Russian-backed government, they have been fully engaged in a serious information war, a media blitz if you will, that is using various propaganda organs such as Policy Forum Armenia, Radio Liberty (Azatutyun Radio), ArmeniaNow, Armenian Weekly, Asbarez, Hetq and Lragir to saturate the already volatile Armenian landscape with utter pessimism, anger and hopelessness. This destructive negativity being promoted inside Armenian society has become infectious. As a result of this psy-ops campaign, the level of despair inside Armenia has been on the rise in recent years. It's gotten to a point where Armenians today are utterly blinded to the many positive developments that are taking place right under their noses in their homeland and are only concerning themselves with the negative, which further serves to feed their fears and paranoia and encourages them to further spread their poison, thereby creating a vicious cycle of destructive pessimism and hopelessness.

The more horrid the news these days, the more likely it is for our compatriots to spread it around. Significant numbers of Armenians today have turned disseminating poisonous news about Armenia into a sadomasochistic sport of sorts. The nastier the news about Armenia, the further and the louder it travels. Needless to say, constantly emphasizing the bad has taken a serious toll on the Armenian psyche.

The destructive pursuits of Armenia's political opposition is the main reason why Armenians are demoralized to such a dangerous degree that they no long see any point in remaining in Armenia. The opposition's destructive political pursuits are the main reason why diasporan Armenians today are feeling disconnected from Armenia. Despite what we are told by those currently spreading fear, anger and despair, it isn't the nation's so-called "oligarchs" that are driving the people out of the country.  

All nations have corruption and all nations have oligarchs, and most nations on earth have corruption and oligarchs that are much worst than that of Armenia's!

Therefore, a question: Why are Armenians acting this hysterical these days over Armenia's natural growing pains and its relatively speaking mild problems? The answer: Negative/destructive forms of propaganda.

One of the main reasons why Armenians are seeking to abandon their homeland today is the opposition's persistently negative psy-ops, the kind of propaganda that is
not providing realistic solutions or hope, and the kind of information war that is grossly exaggerating the bad in the young republic and in doing so saturating the already volatile atmosphere there with poison.

This loss of hope, ultimately engineered by the political opposition, is the single most dangerous thing the Armenian nation faces today. Thinking of Armenia as a lost cause is one of the main reasons, for example, why many Armenians today want to abandon their homeland. Thinking of Armenia as a nation being ravaged by criminal oligarchs is also the main reason why large numbers of diasporans want nothing to do with the homeland. In my opinion, there are several fundamental reasons behind all this -
Reason number one: The ever-complacent Armenian diaspora, living very comfortably as Americans, Europeans, Arabs, Turks, etc. Diasporan Armenians are subconsciously (and sometimes consciously) seeking convenient excuses to justify their disengagement from the troubles of their homeland in order to continue their comfortable existence in their manicured surroundings. After all, building a nation from scratch is much-much more difficult than comfortably living in a society that was already developed when they got there. Anti-"հայաստանցի" attitudes that have prevailed in the diaspora for decades also shows no signs of subsiding. In fact, they are growing today. Diaspora's decades long negative attitude towards the homeland and its people has been infectious. Large numbers of Armenians have now taken up the infamous slogan - «երկիրը երկիր չի», roughly translated in English - this is not a country. It is precisely these types of unpatriotic attitudes and sentiments, not Armenia's so-called "oligarchs" or "corruption" that are the fundamental problems these days. If one can simply pack-up and move to a better, more developed sociopolitical environment, why bother with the many hassles of building one in one of the most inhospitable parts of the world? In the absence of true nationalism, in the absence of political maturity and in the overwhelming presence of constant complaining, pessimism and "the sky is falling" rhetoric, it always becomes better to simply move to greener pastures... where there are compatriots waiting for you with open arms nonetheless!
Reason number two: The decades long Western propaganda assault against Armenia. This information war, closely related to reason number one, began against Armenia during the Cold War period when Armenia was part of the Soviet Union. This Washington sanctioned information war is continuing today primarily due to Yerevan's strategic military alliance with Russian Federation and its friendly ties with Iran. This propaganda assault has gotten very serious in recent years due to a concerted Western agenda to push Russia out of the Caucasus and place the region under Turkish and Islamic management. As noted above, this propaganda is cleverly seeking to use Armenia's natural growing pains against the state, and masses of our politically illiterate compatriots (especially diasporans) are taking their bait. In fact, this Western campaign against Armenia is where Armenia's so-called opposition types have learned their doom&gloom trade. Simply put, the political West is providing the platform from which to spread fear, anger, despair and politically motivated Western fairytales for the ultimate purpose of initiating an Arab Spring type political unrest inside Armenia, and our political peasantry is more than happy to do their work.

Reason number three: Armenian genetic/cultural traits, as it exists today after one thousand years of damage. We know the positive ones - industrious, intelligent, resilient, hard working, independent, talented, resourceful, musical, family oriented, passionate, opinionated, compassionate, physically strong, etc... But for the purpose of this discussion we also need to address some of the negative ones - օտարամոլ,
jealous, clannish, insecure, egotistical, suspicious, never satisfied, emotional, possessive, loud, nonconforming, uncompromising, overly ambitious, stubborn, short-tempered, nervous, individualistic, politically naive, pessimistic, impatient, materialistic, arrogant, self-righteous, etc... We have gone from being a nation of warriors to being a nation of petty merchants, and as petty merchants we see the world today. We are seeing our nation's negative traits now beginning to work against our homeland. Therefore, before we rebuild Armenia we must first rebuild the Armenian. For example, the following phrase, a well known Armenian saying summaries much of what I'm trying to convey here - «որտեղ հաց այն տեղ կաց». The phase roughly translated means - settle-down (i.e. move to) wherever you find food (i.e. financial opportunity). This popular Armenian saying actually say a lot about the Armenian mindset today. It's true that Armenians love the good life. In fact, the Armenian craves a flashy/lavish lifestyle. Therefore, if those controlling the sociopolitical levers today provide the Armenian with the perception that he or she will find a better life abroad, he or she will almost instinctively desire to abandon their homeland. This, along with the previous two reasons I outlined above is the mental conditioning that is currently drawing thousands of Armenians out of the homeland, and turning-off millions in the diaspora to the homeland. Major powers of the world have for centuries realized that one of the keys to subjugating a nation is to use that nation's natural characteristics against it. And whether they realize it or not, Armenia's Western-led political "opposition activists", "rights advocates" and "independent journalists" are using the aforementioned Armenian traits in conjunction with Armenia's various growing pains against the Armenian state.
In the big picture, the aforementioned is essentially the toxic mix that has turned Armenia into a bad word in the minds of many Armenians today, and it is the reason why many in Armenia, including the nation's small but growing middle class wishes to leave their place of birth. After all, if Armenia is hell-on-earth according to all... then anywhere else must be heaven.

As a diasporan Armenian I reserve the moral right to add the following:

Immensely arrogant and nauseatingly self-righteous, diasporan Armenians in particular have a tendency of either treating Armenia as an exotic zoo where they aloofly observe the "primitive" natives from behind their protective shells; a public gallery where they proudly showcase themselves or their wares; or an open-air laboratory where they arrogantly mix all kinds of dangerous sociopolitical concoctions. Very few diasporans today actually appreciate their newly reborn homeland; very few diasporans today truly understand the predicament of their embattled homeland in the Caucasus; very few diasporans today genuinely feel any affinity toward their compatriots in their homeland; and fewer still understand what the homeland needs and - more importantly - what it does not need.

The diaspora's "open-air laboratory" approach is becoming more-and-more pronounced as more-and-more diasporans today are getting recruited by Washington-based organizations to foment political unrest in the embattled republic. The modus operandi of these Western activists are well known. They single out and emphasize all that is bad in the republic. God forbid there is a beating, a rape or a murder in the republic; it's quickly turned into an international showcase and predictions of impediment doom are heard from all corners. This modus operandi is how nations are in fact destroyed from within. The doomsayers, incidentally, are the same idiots that admire Jews for their ability to keep their internal problems internal and rally around their state regardless of their personal desires or opinions. Nevertheless, unfortunate incidents in Armenia, which rational people know are normal in all nations on earth, are exploited by our nation's opportunistic opposition types and made into a Greek tragedy. And the troubling irony in all this is that despite the fact that the United States is one of the most economically stressed, most corrupt and most crime ridden nations on earth today, the Armenia's political opposition takes their orders, inspiration and in many cases their funding from Washington-based organizations.

The last thing Armenia needs at this stage in its sociopolitical development is a forced regime change, especially one that we all know will ultimately be engineered - directly or indirectly - by Washington and its allies. Moreover, and more importantly, Armenia's political system cannot be tampered with today (or for the foreseeable future) simply because of the region's geopolitical volatility. The political climate in the Caucasus is far too Turkic, far too Islamic, far too volatile, far too unpredictable and far too dangerous for Western experiments in Armenia.

I'm not going to get into discussing pros&cons of the current leadership in Armenia at this time, but allow me to just say that the present system of government in Yerevan, even with all its faults (real and/or perceived), is a great improvement over the previous two governments. Thus, I see progress! We would have all liked for this progress to have taken place much faster of course, but it's progress nonetheless.

Armenia needs sociopolitical evolution, not a Western funded, led or inspired revolution!

Let's also recognize that the creature that we all call "Armenian" today is a very difficult organism to understand or to govern. In other words, with us Armenians things won't happen easily, efficiently or painlessly. Armenia will have to travel a long hard road to development. And in the course of this journey what we don't want or need is Western meddling. Having already traveled the long and bumpy road to development, the Western world is now attempting to harness the hungry/ignorant masses of developing nations and exploiting them towards self-serving imperial interests. In accordance with this plan, Armenia's natural growing pains (e.g. corruption, crime, domestic violence, censorship, abuse in the military, etc...) are being exaggerated and used by Armenia's political activists to undermine the Armenian state.

Thus, on
e of the fundamental problems with the sociopolitical situation in Armenia is this: Those who are waiting on the political sidelines to take advantage of political unrest pose an existential threat to the fledgling republic. Therefore, logic would dictate that it would be much wiser and much safer to stick with - and work with - the devil we know.
We need to keep today's fairly decent political system intact (which as previously stated is better than the previous two governments) but we also need to put pressure on them to continue their reforms. In other words, we as a people need to figure out an effective way to work with the current government and not against it. And more importantly, we need to learn to do all this free of Western meddling!

After all, let's also remember that governments are an accurate reflection of their peoples and nations deserve the governments that they have. Let's be honest enough with ourselves and admit that at this stage of Armenian evolution, we as a people couldn't realistically expect a better system of government. Having said that, however, I must also admit that Armenia's overall situation, relatively speaking, is really not all that bad!

Anyway, without any further ado, I now want to present the reader an excellent essay written by a cyberian colleague. In my humble opinion, this brilliant young Armenian patriot living in western Europe has a better, healthier and more patriotic vision than all of Armenia's so-called political opposition combined. His work titled "Collective Destructionsim" is posted immediately below this prologue. Moreover, in today's turbulent sea of "the sky is falling" rhetoric and predictions of impending doom, I have found several very rare voices of sanity, objectivity and optimism. The very rare works in question are posted on this page for all to read. It may just be that because the region's proverbial powder keg is getting close-and-closer to the verge of explosion, more-and-more self-respecting Armenians with clear vision and healthy minds are beginning to come forward and speak-up against our people's destructive politics, destructive habits and destructive attitudes.


August, 2012

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Collective Destructionism

As a young Diasporan Armenian, I have come to the conclusion that one of the biggest dangers facing our homeland and the Armenian people today is what I call the phenomenon of “Collective Destructionism”. I will try to explain this in further detail.


When receiving Armenian guests at our house, a typical conversation follows concerning the modern day Republic of Armenia, one that I have witnessed so many times in my young life. The core teaching of our most recent guests was that Armenia is a corrupt, defective state, whose governance consists of criminals and fraudulent officials. Armenia had no future. How could it be that a country in the 21st century is so poor and backward? The people in Armenia have no jobs, the salaries are low, and many people are still homeless. It is the worst place to live; everyone wants to leave the country. It is useless to go to Armenia and try something; one should simply not lay any hopes on Armenia developing in the near future. All this was being said in the presence of the next generation of young Armenians.

I sat by, listening, and sadly witnessing one of the root causes of why Armenia is in such a desperate situation as it is in now. I witnessed, as I have witnessed so many times in my life, the destruction of the Armenian spirit in the youth that was present during this conversation. As we all know, children usually make the opinions of their parents their own. The legendary Armenian hero Garegin Njdeh once said: “if you want to predict and see the future of a people, look at its youth”. Today, we are collectively (knowingly or unknowingly) destroying the Armenian spirit of our youth. What we are witnessing currently on a massive scale throughout the world is Armenians raising their children with this destructive mentality.

The next generation of Armenians has given up their battles long before they even started one. Growing up and hearing all the negative, pessimistic stories about Armenia, most of the new generation of Armenians does not have any connection to their motherland, nor feel the urge to have so. Criticism (positive, negative, factual, logical, constructive, practical, destructive) is good when at the same time also giving concrete solutions on how to improve the thing you criticize. The problem is that most Armenians are only good at negative and destructive criticism.

“The downside of negative criticism is, often, that it tells people what they cannot or should not do or believe, rather than telling them what they can or should do…” “The term destructive criticism is also used to mean that the level, scope or intensity of criticism is such, that it becomes mainly destructive. In this context, people believe that the criticism is so great, or there is so much criticism, that it only destroys things...”

Our youth is taught that there is nothing they can do. Our youth is being taught now to have any hopes. Our youth is not stimulated to take action to improve the current situation, on the contrary, the ones wanting to try to improve something are being discouraged and called crazy.

I visited Armenia for the first time in my life when I was 14. It felt amazing; I could not believe everyone on the streets was Armenian. Everybody spoke Armenian, even pets understood Armenian! I said to myself that with all its shortcomings, this was my country and we Armenians had to make the best of what little has remained ours. After all the hardships we had overcome as a nation, this period surely wouldnʼt be the hardest? And even so, after all, arenʼt we Armenians? A survivor nation!

In the years that past, I was flooded with massive amounts of negativity concerning our country. I can easily that 90% of the Armenians I met in Armenia and the Diaspora, even though I was a child, tried to convince and teach me how bad Armenia was, how corrupt Armenia was, how immoral Armenia was, that is was a defective insignificant country, not comparable to “amazing” Europe. I had nothing to search for in Armenia!

When telling that I wanted to do something to improve the situation, people would laugh and call me crazy. Oneʼs nationalism and love for his/her country has to be extremely strong to be able to cope with this kind of negativity. I can easily state that 95% of the ordinary Armenians have become alienated from their homeland because of this destructive mentality.

Political and Economic Situation

After my visit, I wanted to understand why Armenia found itself in the difficult situation it was in. I began reading much about Armeniaʼs history, the post-Soviet space, the current social and geopolitical situation and the development of nations in general. Having read a lot, I was surprised Armenia even existed taking into account all the hardships our nation had to overcome. I felt a sense of amazing pride.

The first years of its independence, Armenia was in utter social and political chaos. It is always easy looking back in time and say what went wrong, what should have been dealt with differently, but in the end what happened, happened and we just have to deal with it today. In such chaotic times, the opportunity for corrupt individuals to hijack powerful positions within the political and economic system in a country is great. This is exactly what happened in most of the post-Soviet states, including Armenia.

What occurred described in a very simplistic illustration

In the beginning, a large number of nasty individuals fight each other for power, after which usually some groups remain due to various circumstances. In their early years, they want to make a quick profit, and do this by just threatening every one they can get their hands on (ordinary people, small kiosks, shops, etc.) and also sell everything they can get their hands on like machineries in factories. Corruption is massive during these years, but this chaotic situation of threatening and blackmailing everyone openly cannot remain forever. These groups actually realize that they can make more money if the country is somewhat stable, especially compared to the total anarchy in the first years. Now they can own factories (instead of selling everything inside of them) and make huge profits by trading with foreign countries (import, export business etc.). They become bound to some political and international rules and the days of threatening people on the streets for a mere few dollars is over (for larger quantities of money, corruption remains present). As they also dominate the political life and the political culture itself is still not fully established, elections will likewise not resemble those in Western countries. Wanting to join international organizations, after which they can increase trade and thus their profit, they have to comply with required reforms, which are a prerequisite. Up until this time, monopolies are still present (I think this is the state in which Armenia is in today). The next step in evolution is that civil/labor groups become more powerful and active and more and more professionals will fulfill governmental positions. Steadily the country will develop in all aspects. If in the past the “oligarchs” were well known, these people will gradually hide behind their corporate businesses and will go underground, just like in Western societies. The political life will be in the hands of professional politicians, and the “rich” individuals will lobby behind the scenes, etc. This is called evolution, and evolution is only possible if there are no wars and/or (foreign sponsored) revolutions, as most of the time after such dramatic occurrences everything starts from scratch again.

The point I want to make here is that countries go into different stages of development. Indeed, we have to take into account dozens of factors, like the culture of the people itself and factors we do not have any influence on, like the geopolitical situation, etc. A whole book can be written on this. What I want us to realize is that the situation Armenia is in today, is one of development, even though most of the people are not willing to see or acknowledge this. The pace of development is slower than it should be, namely because of the Collective Destructionism.

The economic prospects of Armenia as a country are not that easy. There are numerous things we have to take into account, realize and understand, before criticizing everything and everyone. First of all, Armenia is a landlocked country, which raises the tariffs of transports. This wouldnʼt be a big problem in itself, but Armenia is not Armenia if we are not in a different situation as most of the countries in the world. The first thing you think of when setting up a factory in a country is how to transport it. The two largest borders of Armenia are closed, unfortunately due to various circumstances. This wouldnʼt be a big problem, if the two other countries we share borders with, were friendly and/or stable. Our northern neighbor charges ridiculously high tariff fees because they know we have no other options (the fees are higher than the fees they charge for Azerbaijan). Our other southern neighbor, Iran, is to put it softly, not in the best economic and political situation. Armenia may have transportation problems, but do we have any significant natural resources, which we could use effectively to counter these offsets? The answer is again, no. Armeniaʼs most significant asset is itʼs human knowledge. Unfortunately, most of the scientists have left Armenia during the last couple of decades in pursuit of a better life elsewhere. Where does this leave us?

After analyzing the socio-economic situation in Armenia (again, I simplify every subject I touch upon to make a point, I know in reality everything is much more complicated), one comes to the conclusion that even if corruption declines, without some sort of pan-national effort, Armenia will remain in a very difficult economic situation and most of the Armenians will remain poor. Also, a more democratic and capitalist (European/American) government would not necessarily make the lives of ordinary Armenians better.

Armenia, our motherland, is in need of a pan-national effort to overcome its difficulties! Do you think this can be done if we are constantly attacking it, constantly being negative, pessimistic, and constantly have negative and destructive criticism? If our children constantly hear about how bad, poor and corrupt Armenia is? If our children are taught not to have any hopes? If our children are taught not to be active, but passive, not to act, but watch, not to do, but only criticize!

Changing our mentality

What is the safest path we should follow for the development of our nation? Revolutions rarely bring any positive results, especially taking into account the volatile and dangerous situation Armenia finds itself in, and particularly taking into account that the last coupe dʼétat was initiated by a person who himself is in essence is the cause why Armenia did not start at year 0, but at year -20. We need evolution.

Even though Armenia is located in one of the most problematic regions, is landlocked, has no significant resources, is under constant threat of Turkey and Azerbaijan, and has two other instable neighbors, I still believe in our uniqueness and our ability to overcome all these problems. It may come to a shock to most, but I have come to the conclusion that corruption is not our main problem, but our current mentality is. We have fallen into an endless cycle of negativism, pessimism that leads to degradation and our ultimate self-destruction. We are collectively destroying ourselves.

Indeed a large number of Armenians leave Armenia, because Armenia today is not able to provide enough means for all its citizens, indeed, it has to do with corruption, it has to do with our landlocked situation, it has to do with the looming war, it has to do with many, many other things. I fully respect Armenians that leave Armenia because their motherland was not able to provide enough means to support their family (for whatever reason). The death trap is that these Armenians that go and live in Europe and or Russia, and subsequently have the ability and the resources to help their motherland, simply do not! We instead are killing the hopes and spirits of the next generation and make them handicapped. If you want to listen to someone destroying the image of Armenia and describing a doom-scenario, it will probably be another Armenian. A new generation of intelligent and educated Armenians that have the energy, creativity, and resources to mean something substantial for Armenia, will not do so anymore. Armenians have no idea how much they influence and damage their children by being pessimistic and negative all the time.

1: The way it should be (an Armenian leaving Armenia)

Armenia is in a dire condition and there are no possibilities for me to stay here, I have to move to another country. I maintain my Armenian identity and use all the resources and means to help Armenia develop, and some day I also will be able to hopefully move back. I will not kill the dreams of my children, I will not destroy their Armenian spirit, and I will always support them and motivate them as they are the next generation of Armenians who are able to bring change. I realize that Armenia is all that is left, and that everything in a foreign country will be in vein, as nothing, not my company, nor my house, will remain in Armenians hand in the long-term. Our motherland needs us, and we need her. The Diasporan communities of the Turks are a good example, the Israelis did it, Singapore is another good illustration. We Armenians will surely also be like them, even better!

2: The way it currently is (an Armenian leaving Armenia)

I hate Armenia, I blame all Armenians and the Armenian government, and I will leave this disgusting place. If that is not enough, I will spread the word how bad Armenia is, how there is no hope, nor progress, how corrupt and poor it is! I will support all of my relatives and friends to leave Armenia. I will not think of helping Armenia, as it is not my duty. I will forget Armenia. I will only criticize, or at most once a year attend a local genocide demonstration. At best, I will send 50 euroʼs to Armenia Fund. Only if Armenia is fully developed, if Armenia can provide me a free house, job, and money, if Armenia is exactly like Europe (although I do not realize that it took Europe hundreds of years to develop), only if Armenia is as rich as America (although I do not realize that 50% of the population in America lives in poverty), will I be positive about Armenia and support and motivate my children and not kill their Armenian spirit. Up until then, I will discourage and demotivate them. This is my duty as an Armenian, I thought my motherland should take care of me, and not vice-versa.

Yes, my dear friends, we Armenians have unfortunately developed a twisted defeatist mentality.

Now consider 100 Armenian families are living in Armenia. Armenia is not able due to various circumstances to provide enough means for these families to live on, thus we see that 60 Armenian families leave Armenia, and only 40 families remain. Now, indeed as Armenia is not as developed as it should be, those with a normal non-destructive mentality as shown in example 1, would help Armenia even though there is corruption, as they realize it will take time, effort, patience and persistence for Armenia to develop. Those in the beginning of this process will face the most corruption and other difficulties, and letʼs say the first year 90% of their effort will be in vain, but if there was a pan-national effort and Armenians would collectively contribute, the next year only 80% of their effort will be in vain, the year after 70% of their efforts will be in vain, etc., and Armenia would gradually but surely develop. Finally it will reach a point where Armenia will be able to provide enough means for 40 families to live on, and then there will be enough means for 1 family in the Diaspora to come back, and the population of Armenia will become 41, and then 42… and then 43… etc. It is possible to overcome any problem, it is possible to overcome the difficult economic situation, the corruption, everything, if we just take constructive effort and action, and realize that it needs time, persistence and constructive dialogue!

Dear Armenians, let us stop destroying our youth. Let us finally start taking real, constructive action. Let us raise our children to be active, to fight, to dream, to hope, to never give up, to be proud of being Armenian. If not for the destructive mentality, we would already have had a hundred centers like the Tumo Center for Creative Technologies. If not for our pessimistic, negative, passive mentality, Armenia would have been far more developed than it is today.

Concerning the government structures most Armenians think is the main problem our nation is facing today, we should support the next generation of young intellectuals to “infiltrate” into these power structures and bring change from within (this project is actually being implemented). We should be honest and realistic and understand that Armenia cannot be turned into a paradise overnight, but will take considerable time and effort.

Stop with the deadly negative and destructive criticism, but give positive and constructive criticism! Raise your children with the Armenian spirit alive! Stimulate and support your Armenian friends and family who want to bring a change, and do not demoralize them! Do not be the cause of people giving up their fights long before they started one. Let us not forget our obligation to our motherland; let us not forget of not having a state for centuries. Now we have the opportunity to contribute, now we have the opportunity all our forefathers have given their lives for, to live independently on our soil!

Concerned Armenian

*** *** ***

Save Us from Our Amateur Experts

‘’It’s easier to be critical than to be correct.”—Benjamin Disraeli

There is a tiny, remote, ancient, impoverished and landlocked country which is blockaded by two of its long-time foes. One of these enemies has the second-largest army in NATO, while the other is spending billions of petrodollars to buy weapons like there is no tomorrow. For exports/imports, the stamp-sized country is largely at the mercy of a capricious and untrustworthy neighbour which persecutes fellow nationals of the pocket-sized country. The only reliable neighbour of this hapless, diminutive country has become, in recent months, increasingly friendly with one of the embattled country’s major antagonists.

This constricted, mountainous country, where winters can be bone-chilling cold, has little arable land but is home to some 3 million souls. In the past quarter century the country has gone through tumultuous times: it has experienced a massive earthquake (25,000 killed and many more injured and left homeless); it has witnessed the collapse of the 15-member union it was a part of; has been dragged into war; has provided sanctuary to fellow nationals who had fled persecution and worse by a war-mongering neighbour. Another shock this venerable country has undergone is the forced 180-degree turn in its political-economic-cultural orientation as it has switched from communism to capitalism.

The above tribulations have so far failed to shake the country’s determination to move forward. Luckily, it’s not all doom and gloom in this land where God, according to religious tradition, decided to give humanity a second chance by navigating Noah’s Ark to land on a nearby majestic mountain. Among the blessings of the country are its bright, educated, sophisticated, and hard-working citizens who are immensely patriotic. Another boon is its Diaspora of nearly 6 million people. And more importantly, the overwhelming majority of Diasporans retain an abiding love for their motherland and help her financially, politically, morally, and in the knowledge industries.

However, in recent years there has materialized in Diaspora a tendency to throw indiscriminate darts at the motherland. The motivations of the Diasporan “Let’s Bash Armenia” crowd are not difficult to fathom. They are mostly well-intentioned people who want to see an affluent, accountable, corruption-free, democratic Armenia ASAP. Others rightly believe a lagging Armenia is detrimental to the well-being of its citizenry and impels many to emigrate. A third group identifies with Armenia so strongly that seeing a less-than-a-perfect homeland is a personal affront to them—resulting in uncalled for bruised egos. Seemingly minimizing the impact of the hits Armenia has absorbed even before its independence in 1991, these critics claim that two decades are more than sufficient for Armenia to have shaken off the cobwebs and miasma of the “bad, old, desultory” Soviet days.

Predictably, the “Let’s Bash Armenia” group suffers from the “sky is falling” Chicken Little paranoia. In their wisdom, these chattering classes also accuse Diasporans supporting Armenia of blind patriotism. To borrow the title of immortal Khachadoor Apovian’s masterpiece—“Verk Hayasdani” (Wounds of Armenia), the “verks” of our motherland are many. We all know what they are. But rather than incessantly slamming their Lilliputian homeland, these armchair diplomats, politicians, economists, generals, human rights promoters… should consider some facts.

It’s easier to find the proverbial needle in the haystack than to find an instance when Diasporan critique had a crucial impact on the government of Armenia. To criticize Serzh Sargsyan and Co. is pointless, if not self-defeating. Since Yerevan is obdurate about conceding to Diaspora criticism, it’s a waste of breath to dispatch unsolicited advice to Armenia from 8,000 miles away. Unlike brickbats, positive Diaspora contributions do have an impact on Armenia. So why not invest our energies in these beneficial efforts? When the last Armenian kingdom expired in 1375 (by then shrunken to a city-state called Sis and ruled by a monarch who had more French than Armenian blood in his veins), our nation had to wait 600 years to have a state again. Let’s support our precious and imperiled Armenia.

Let’s support it because it’s our homeland.

Let’s support it because it needs our support.

Let’ support it because our support does make a difference.

When we incessantly criticize the Yerevan government, we also hurt the morale of the citizens of Armenia and Artsakh. When we criticize Armenia, our words bounce back and demoralize Diasporan youth—our children who, like us, do daily battle to remain Armenian in these “odar aperoun” (foreign coasts). What kind of example, encouragement, message, and inspiration do we provide to our young when we viciously, virulently attack the Armenian government and even Armenia’s citizens for their shortcomings?

The bête noire of the “Let’s Bash Armenia” subscribers is the corruption of the RoA government. They are correct in perceiving corruption as an obstacle to the well-being and advancement of Armenia. But to lend some perspective to the corruption issue, critics should consider these numbers. According to Corruption Index, Armenia is number 88 among 159 countries.’s index is based on data from the CIA World Factbook, the United Nations, and the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development. Apart from Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia (all in Western Europe), Armenia has the lowest corruption standing among the former Soviet republics.

Among the former Soviet republics, Kazakhstan is the closest to Armenia, holding position number 107. The Russian Federation is a distant 127; Georgia and Kyrgyzstan, 131; Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan, 138; Tajikistan, 145. At 156, Turkmenistan is near the bottom.

Meanwhile, the influential American "Foreign Policy" magazine recently ranked Armenia 101 out of 177 in its Failed States Index 2010. The study, done in cooperation with The Fund for Peace public organization, placed Norway, Finland and Sweden 177, 176, 175 respectively as the most stable countries. Azerbaijan, Georgia and Iran ranked 55th, 37th and 32nd, respectively among countries in danger. Uzbekistan (36th) and Tajikistan (38th) were the most vulnerable countries among the former Soviet republics. The Fund for Peace uses its Conflict Assessment System Tool to compile and measure its data.

During the Vietnam War, some Americans used to wear “America—Love It Or Leave It” pins. Sometimes we are tempted to snatch that extreme slogan, turn it around, and tell our amateur consultants, “If you care so much about Armenia, why don’t you pack up and move to Armenia?” But most of the time we restrain that temptation.

Although Armenians have been around for at least 4,250 years, RoA is a young country. It is not strong, affluent and secure like America, Australia, Canada or France, where so many Diaspora Armenians live. It can’t afford the luxury of 24/7 criticism, which for most developed nations, is a fact of life. As well, nation building--while ones existence is threatened--is no job for boys or for intellectual dilettantes, or people who use the Internet as free therapy.

If you can’t help Armenia in these difficult times, keep your counsel. Please don’t pick the scabs of Verk Hayastani.


Change we don't believe in (but should)

Growing up with two older brothers has its advantages, regardless of being three boys who like to disappear in the mountains for days at a time and give our parents the mini-heart attacks associated with the worry if something happened to us. But, those times of being around them have taught me, the youngest of the bunch, values that build the core of most of my personality. Take for instance, change.

As Armenian-Americans, we perpetually talk about change. Every day an article comes out, or a discussion is sparked about the change we need in our: communities, cities, government, people, politicians, organizations, businesses, schools, the new generation and the 'homeland.' With all this talk of change, comes the fervent flavors of opinion. After every opinion calling for "change, change, change," one would assume the reader, or participant to be fired up. But fired up at what?

It was early on that I realized I was supporting, and even participating in the opinion stream, and nothing else. We all wanted change, but that's all we could do to achieve it; recognize change needed to happen. OK that step was necessary, but now what? I answered that question with something that I was raised with, my brothers. Both of them subscribe to the philosophy that if you want something in life, you must take it, no one is going to hand it out to you.

Beyond the complaints and excuses

Coming from Armenia recently, I've noticed a trend that Diaspora Armenians love to expose: all the shortcomings of the 'homeland.' We point out the negatives, yet are absent to suggest any constructive solutions that could benefit the same country we are shooting down. After a while, it just seems like we are playing 'whack-a-mole' with anything that is trying to pop up from the ground.

Teghut, for example, has riddled the news this last year with reports from every Armenian news media on the ground in the region, and from Diaspora news outlets. Other than the efforts from various organizations including the ARF-Shant chapter of Glendale, CA, whose continuous help to bring 21st century protest and environmental advocacy methods to the people has gained traction; there has been little discussion about what lies beyond the protests.

There has been an article almost every week highlighting the horrid aftermath of the mining, if it were to reach that level. The news also mentions how, for instance, the mine will create temporary jobs, but at too high of a cost, because there won't be a mountain to go home to after the mining is done. OK, that's fair; but now what?

From the people living in America, I expect more constructive plans. We talk about destroying old-growth forests. What does that mean to anyone outside of the United States who has taken a geography class? We talk about preserving nature and the people. What about a way to get both, but allow the latter to evolve. We protest about environmental rights! What environment is worth living in if people aren't present?

Why do I keep picking on the Armenian-Americans? Because we descend from the nation that took the idea of national parks and made it part of the national identity. Why can't we imagine, 'The Teghut National Forest,' full of campsites, excursions sites, guided hikes, fishing hotspots, backpacking trails, and community lodges where school children can visit throughout the year to learn about environmental issues. Jobs in tourism, construction, cartography, hotel economies, management, reforestation teams, conservation officers, a botany institute, environmental awareness programs, and international research could take the place of the miners. It won't be the estimated $20 billion promised by the mining company, but it's a start to build a sustainable and permanent future for the country.

People don't give themselves enough credit. Diaspora Armenians must shake off the idea that to help Armenia grow and preserve the heritage and advocate for the 'cause,' we must be 'rich, rich, rich!' As much as money helps, it isn't what creates ripples. A fan of Chaos Theory, I believe that everything is connected. From a geography teacher of an elementary school in Boston, to a software engineer graduate living in Gyumri, everyone matters to eachother. Both professionals stated above might not donate large sums of money to Armenian organizations, but imagine they meet and create an interactive software for Armenian-school children to learn about geography, weather patterns, and natural phenomenon, while at the same time the software is in English and Armenian to help children learn and refine both languages. I ask you, is that not change?

I'd like to take the time with the rest of this article to highlight some aspects of change that many Diaspora Armenian-Americans don't believe can help the country succeed. In an effort to rid ourselves of the idea that only money buys change, we can start with thinking outside of the rectangle shape of paper currency that we confine ourselves to, and start investing our time and criticisms into ideas that must grow and will develop. Enough of the excuse that we are twenty years old; I'm even sick of saying it. We're twenty years old as a country, that means this is the time to make new ideas germinate and flourish into foundational beams to build on.

This isn't only the land of opportunity, it is the nation that breeds scholars, logisticians, business owners, teachers, intellectuals, and advocates. Put showing the world what we can do on the back burner; that time will come. Let's show ourselves what we're made of; from what ancient kingdoms we descend from. Let's give testament to the kings and queens that live inside every one of us that we are what create the ideas (and follow through with plans) necessary for change.

The main topics below are the first set of professions I chose to highlight because most might ignore their profile descriptions based on the fact that they are not the conventional steps taken to 'help the homeland.' Because if it's anything that you love doing, it's going to make a difference in your life and influence those in the same reality.

We, the 'Armenians,' are the celebrated rugs we cherish. Every Armenian is of a different thread, texture and color. But in the process of the weave, we all add to the unity and patterns created. Every thread counts, no matter from the corner of the weave to the center of a pattern, we all make a difference in our own ways.

Digital revolution

E-commerce has become a stand alone economy within itself. Such websites as Amazon, E-bay, and Overstock, which have brought together vendors from all over the globe, and allowed them to set up shop from where they are and sell their products to anyone, anywhere in the world have dominated the Internet sphere. There is room for growth, but not only small growth, but rapid expansion and refinement; a digital revolution not unlike the industrial revolution that put so many superpowers on the map during the turn of the twentieth century.

There is a benefit to digital data, and that is its abundance, and absolute ease of transport. Digital data is one aspect of 'import/export' that allows the user, or creator, to transfer as much of it as they'd like, for cents on the dollar. Thereon lies the truth of the export of data. Data such as: scientific research in medicine, chemistry, physics, as well as the jobs in the service sector that will be briefly previewed below.

Graphic design

According to the United States Department of Labor and Statistics, graphic design jobs averaged $48,140 in 2010. In the United States alone, and according to the same data, there were less than 200,000 people that indicated their occupation as being graphic designers. What does this translate to you as a graphic designer who wants to live in Armenia, but be paid an American salary? Opportunity.

The website,, is by far the greatest example of the potential for a graphic designer to make their fortune from their computer, as long as they have the skill set necessary to meet client demands and an Internet connection. As the websites states, "Elance provides instant access to the world's top pool of rated programming, marketing, creative and administrative contractors...hiring on Elance is easy, just post a job and receive competing proposals from qualified contractors." The contractor in this case is the graphic designer, or the over 80 professions listed on the site. Designers are encouraged to refine their online profile to be competitive and attractive to clients, as well as showcase their experience, projects, and recommendations.

The benefit of going down this career path, and living in Armenia is the untaxed data being sold to clients. You're paying Internet fees and the costs of living (rent, groceries, electricity, etc). But, since you're still dealing with clients from the America's, Europe, Asia, the Middle-East and Russia, you're getting paid the same as you would in the United States. But in this case, there are no office building owners to raise your lease, no worry about location, and there is no risk of extortion or corruption.

There are countless examples of who would require these services. Small businesses in need of logos, brochures, fliers, and information pamphlets. The Department of Tourism needs more animated themes on their websites to attract tourists. Schools, universities, existing businesses need better graphics to refine their image in the eyes of potential partnerships and business ventures. With an international clientèle, your business can grow to include internships for locals, where you can train locals to work for you, and multiply your success.

Software engineers/computer programming

Software, like graphics and the digital creative arts is likewise, digital data. You don't need a store on the street to sell it, it doesn't need to come in a box, nor does it need to be transported by ship or plane. Software and computer programming do much more than create a product that can be sold on the international market. In a country like Armenia where such knowledge is abundant in the universities, it is one aspect of data that can help solidify the foundations to our prosperity as a country. The potential to hire able bodied employees is abundant, even if your skills are more business management; you can be a puzzle master and fit the pieces together; bringing together the talent and marketing their skills to the global economy.

Software and computer systems are taken for granted in countries where everyone always seems connected. It is this way in such countries because such software is profitable. With clients looking for conveniences in website functionality, enhanced audio programs, design applications, navigation systems, and smart-phone applications, the world of the Digital Revolution was born. Those interested in such fields have the advantage to be connected to the world that demands these things. In Armenia, where students are required to be analytical, one could bring together groups, "digital think-tanks" of sorts, and build wonderful software for Armenia, Russia, Europe, Asia, and North and South America.

This is an example of internal growth, where the resources come from the country, and your ability to bring together the will necessary to create a successful business. As with graphic design, your costs are minimal, as you must pay for some of the research you seek to refine and make it profitable.

It may come as a surprise, but there is no 'MapQuest' or 'Google maps' in Armenia. Meager if not any resources exist that tell the world a business exists in Goris, Ijevan, or Sevan. No ability to give the opportunity of podcasts for the politically active or independently creative. There is no such thing as 'WebMD' for Armenians. There are no systems designed to record weather patterns or Geographical Information Systems (GIS) used to substantially strengthen the efficiency in agriculture and irrigation methods.

Even if there were, the people living in the country who could benefit from the information have limited access to it. There is existing software in America, Europe, even Russia, and one way or another it can be acquired by Armenians, but then there could be a technical miscommunication in the language that won't allow such existing products to function to their full potential. That's where the next category of professionals comes in.


People might take for granted the fact that anywhere in their travels, they have had the advantage of finding someone who speaks English. Either in a bakery in Marsailles, France, down to a manufacturing city such as Guangzhou, China - English is spoken wherever people have found that it leads to better business. Yet, such is not to claim that English is the only business language necessary to allow ones business to increase, but for the sake of this article, it will be.

As a native English speaker, who also understands Armenian, you put yourself at a very valuable position in the country. You make yourself the mouthpiece in which Universities, Government departments, Corporations, and small-businesses can speak through. You are the person who makes available University research to the Western world, and build a bridge for government programs such as tourism. You can be the liaison between a joint program between Caltrans, California's hi-tech transportation department, and Armenia's transportation department.

Your skills in translation can help bring to light 3000 year old histories that a team of anthropologists in Armenia have compiled, or to translate the latest middle-class finance solutions used in advanced societies. Your skills can be used for the two professions mentioned before, to promote the services of a graphic designer, and help market the product of a software engineer. You can be the arbiter of creativity as you weave the poetry of Baruyr Sevag and Siamantos into products that the whole world can know about, and can inspire a Diaspora Armenian to search their ancestry between the lines of those poets' translated texts.

Communications and marketing

Digital connectivity is one concept that the world is still new to. Just observe the popularity of email, and the ability to communicate faster with the globe at the push of a button. Websites like 'Myspace' and 'Facebook', which allow a deeper connection to be built between people. Now 'Facebook' has turned into the fastest and most intimate form of communication available. Websites like 'HuffingtonPost' have local and global news stories within minutes of events happening, while it constantly updates. There is one thing that is perpetual in the world: information is always in demand.

A great advantage to being in Armenia and exploring the career section of the communication branch is that you are in a country that is at the center of Asia. You are closer to Europe, industrial East-Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. With the latter of these locations, consider the path of a journalist or photographer. Not as a conflict journalist, but one who is keeping up with Syria, Egypt, Israel, and post- war Iraq. This path is only if you're ambitious to be a correspondent of news to the Western world that is hungry for news from these regions because of the key roles they play in foreign policy.

These things have secondary advantages. Perhaps you start to rise as the main source of media in Armenia for Diaspora Armenians wanting to know what goes on daily in Armenia (but written in English). Your team grows and you ask the Graphic designer for a website and logo. You recruit camera operators, and ask the software engineer to help refine a high-definition video editing software.

Your reporters start to learn English as they help write stories, and report the news so that it can be posted on 'YouTube', or besent to Armenian new outlets, Al Jeezera, and the RT network. In effect, your news story has helped three occupations keep their jobs, while strengthening your own. Why not work with businesses that are already established, with Western marketing practices that allow the business and your own expertise to grow simultaneously.

Your ability to reach out to the world and communicate with the international community, the Diaspora and Armenia also adds its own marketing factor. Sometimes it's not about having the right major, or a specific skill set other than being interested in promoting a product or service, and being able to bring what we learned in high-school economics to Armenia. Coming with the idea that you can bring to light the skills of the young, intellectual professional graduates is already something that pays dividends for you as a developing professional, and them for their own portfolio and experience.

You can work with the country to market businesses, tourist sites, and special programs that Diaspora Armenians or European tourists might otherwise not be aware of. The winter resort town in Tsakhkadzor, the 359 bird species of Armenia, and Archaeological sites from the surrounding epicenter of civilization. Rock-climbing the monoliths in the Syunik province, wine tasting in Areni and Ararat, Sevan lake summer cycling, and Tatev Monastery tours in the south.

Everything is connected, and I hope by now you realize that no matter what you do in Armenia, it's going to make a difference. Not only because I say it should, or know it will; but because we are the threads that make the weave in this reality possible.

As for myself, so that you know I've put my money where my mouth is (and it tastes surprisingly good), I'm working with a software designer to create a phone application to be released in December. The vibrant graduate is from the engineering school of Yerevan Polytechnic Institute; and boy is he diligent when it comes to work.


Excessive Negativism and Constant Attacks Jeopardize Armenia's Development

By Benon Sevan (former Under-Secretary-General of UN)

It is truly disheartening to read the ongoing negative reports and columns in some news outlets in the Diaspora and Armenia regarding the current political, economic and social conditions in the Republic of Armenia, as well as the constant efforts by certain personalities and political parties to denigrate the Government of Armenia and its record.

Of all the hundreds of negative reports, is not there at least a single positive development to report on? Contrary to the ongoing politically motivated negativism, there are indeed many successes and improvements achieved in Armenia which deserve to be congratulated and encouraged. One gets tired of reading what is being said by all these so-called pundits, rabble-rousers, including self-serving former government officials pursuing their own personal agenda to bring about a regime change not through the ballot box but through encouraging a mob culture. Unfortunately, what we have been witnessing is indeed tragic with the potential of dire consequences to the stability of the young Republic that recently celebrated its 20th Anniversary.

No country has become democratic right away. It is categorically wrong and naïve to measure democracy in Armenia, which gained its independence only twenty years ago, with the same measuring stick used for democracies in other countries, such as France, the United Kingdom and the United States, which took centuries to reach their current stage of democracy. I ask all those who have adopted a negative attitude to read history. It was not the Armenians who invented the guillotine; it was not the Armenians who hanged their opponents from the Tower of London; and it was not the Armenians who practiced slavery and/or segregation based on color or race. How long did it take for some of Europe’s democracies to give their women the right to vote?

In as much as one can understand the impatience and frustration expressed with regard to the current situation in Armenia, we have no alternative but to be patient. One cannot simply bring about democracy through legislation alone; nor can it be imported or imposed through the barrel of the gun or by rousing the mob. We must fully bear in mind our history: over 70 years of communist rule, preceded by about two years of a most fragile independence, and by over five centuries of Ottoman rule.

We simply cannot divorce ourselves from the burden and dire consequences of having lived under occupation for so many centuries. Regardless of our impatience and desire to witness a truly democratic state of Armenia, we have no alternative to being patient, because it takes time to develop democracy, economic and social development, and civil society, as well as true democratic reforms. We need to develop, among other things, political maturity, change of mentality and outlook, which take time and cannot be achieved through legislation alone. Nor can they be achieved through the mob.

Undoubtedly, the Republic of Armenia, similar to many other countries, has its own share of serious difficulties, compounded by the current political and economic crisis and uncertainties worldwide, and its geographical location in a rather dangerous neighborhood, blockaded by Turkey and Azerbaijan, and with an ambiguous relationship with Georgia. Undoubtedly, there is much to be desired with regard to the prevalent political, economic and social conditions in Armenia. There are, among others, corrupt practices, inconsistencies in the application of the justice system, as well as poverty and unemployment that forces many Armenians to emigrate. Are these conditions unique only to Armenia? How about the current high unemployment figures and the deteriorating social conditions in some of the strongest democratic states as well as their financial difficulties requiring massive bailouts, and facing possible defaults?

It is long overdue for Mr. Levon Ter-Petrossian, the first President of the Republic of Armenia, to stop his corrosive activities pursuing his personal agenda through endless rallies to bring about a regime change. He should look into the mirror and remember what went on during his own administration and should review his own record and legacy before throwing stones at others. Some of the current practices, which he has been so critical of, started during his own administration. Mr. Ter-Petrossian, if you want to become the next President of the Republic of Armenia, organize yourself peacefully and put your candidacy during the next election. Let the people decide who should be the President through their ballots. Stop your divisive and destructive actions, calling constantly for demonstrations which might get out of hand with very serious consequences.

Irrespective of the negativism prevailing among certain circles, both within Armenia and the Diaspora, Armenia has indeed a considerable number of talented and fully committed professionals, both within the Government, the Ministries and the private sector, as well as in different segments of the society. We should recognize and give credit where it is due for all the progress being made. We should all unite and spare no effort in supporting and encouraging them to speed up the development of democratic institutions, as well as strengthening the economy and raising the living standards.

In conclusion, I appeal to all political leaders, political pundits, and the media, both in Armenia and the Diaspora, to refrain from any action that may incite violence. I should also like to appeal to all my compatriots to concentrate their efforts and energies towards the strengthening of the young Republic. All Armenians should unite because we complement each other; our survival as Armenians is truly inter-dependent. The strengthening and the security as well as good governance, economic and social development of the Republic of Armenia should be the primary objective of all of us, above all other interests.
Benon Sevan

Airing Armenia’s Dirty Laundry in Public

President Serzh Sarkisian made an important appearance at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg last week. In a whirlwind 30-minute speech, he covered Armenia’s internal and foreign affairs, presenting his country in the best possible light before a distinguished foreign audience.

On the domestic front, Pres. Sarkisian spoke about fighting corruption, holding “fair and transparent elections,” and overcoming “the consequences of the tragic events of March 2008.”

The President then reminded the European Parliamentarians about Armenia’s “shared historical and cultural legacy” with Europe and discussed the ongoing negotiations to resolve the Artsakh (Karabakh) conflict. He condemned “the extreme level of Armenophobia and racism” in Azerbaijan, and spoke of the difficulty of making “a concession to the side that is looking for a convenient excuse to shoot at us.”

Sarkisian went on to accuse the Turkish government of undermining the “normalizaton” of Armenia-Turkey relations “by setting preconditions and failing to honor its commitments, which rendered the ratification of the signed Protocols impossible.” He called on Turkey and Azerbaijan to end the “unlawful blockade imposed on Armenia” and accused Turkey of “not only failing to recognize, but also engaging in a policy of blunt denial of the Genocide of Armenians committed in the Ottoman Empire in 1915.” He pledged that Armenians and all those concerned with crimes against humanity “will henceforth remain focused on the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide.”

After his speech, Pres. Sarkisian spent another 30 minutes answering questions from PACE delegates representing Lithuania, France, Switzerland, Russia, Moldova, Holland, Armenia, and Ireland. Five Azerbaijanis had placed their names on the list of Parliamentarians to ask questions, but none of them did so. The delegates from Turkey had also made a unanimous decision not to question the Armenian President, as reported by Hurriyet Turkish newspaper.

The question that attracted most attention was the one asked by Parliamentarian Zaruhi Postanjyan from Armenia, a member of the opposition Heritage Party. She told Pres. Sarkisian: “Since an authoritarian regime has been established in Armenia and all elections from 1995 on have been rigged,” wouldn’t it be preferable if he organized special and fair elections and then “resigned”?

As the Turkish President of PACE, Mevlut Cavusoglu snickered at the question, Pres. Sarkisian calmly responded that he was well aware of Ms. Postanjyan’s views which she had freely expressed in the Armenian Parliament, on the street and in the media. He added that he was not prepared to hold special elections because it is neither necessary nor constitutionally feasible to organize such elections. He urged Ms. Postanjyan to participate in the next regularly-scheduled parliamentary elections.

Not surprisingly, Pres. Sarkisian’s PACE speech was welcomed by his supporters and criticized by his opponents at home. The most important issue for all concerned should have been whether the President’s impressive words would translate into action in the near future. However, the immediate controversy revolved around the appropriateness of Ms. Postanjyan’s criticism of the President, while on foreign soil.

Some Armenian politicians were of the opinion that it was improper for Ms. Postanjyan “to attack” Pres. Sarkisian in the chambers of the European Council. Others felt that her “harsh words” inadvertently made the President look good, because in a truly “authoritarian regime,” she would have been excluded from Armenia’s delegation, stripped of her parliamentary immunity and prosecuted. In fact, some European Parliamentarians wondered whether Turkish or Azeri delegates would dare to criticize their President at PACE?

American politicians use the expression “politics stops at the water’s edge” to indicate their willingness to set aside internal disputes for the sake of presenting a united front to outsiders. Applying that adage to Armenia, one could question the wisdom of making such disparaging comments before the Council of Europe, regardless of whether one agrees with the President or his policies. Since Armenia is routinely attacked by Turkish and Azerbaijani delegates in international forums, it is unwise to add one’s voice to those tarnishing Armenia’s reputation.

This issue also comes up when some Armenians try to pressure their authorities by taking their internal disputes to foreign governments and international courts. While their frustration is understandable, dragging a foreign entity into an internal dispute detracts from Armenia’s image overseas. In such cases, however, the blame must be shared by the Armenian government for failing to ensure the integrity of domestic courts, thereby forcing citizens to turn elsewhere for justice.

Before making critical comments about Armenia’s leadership outside the country, especially by Parliament members who have ample opportunity to express their views at home, one must weigh the benefits of pressuring the authorities to respect the people’s rights with the damage caused to the country’s international reputation.


The Middle East, Russia, Armenia and the rampaging menace of Globalism, the political West and the vital importance of Russia on the global stage - August, 2012

The following is an excerpt from a recent book by veteran Mideast correspondent David Hirst -
"The total disintegration of Lebanon into five regional. localized governments is the precedent for the entire Arab world...The dissolution of Syria, and later Iraq, into districts of ethnic and religious minorities following the example of Lebanon is Israel's main long-rage objective on the Eastern Front. The present military wreaking of these states is the short-range objective. Syria will disintegrate into several states along the lines of its ethnic and sectarian structure...As a result there will be a Shiite Alawi state, the district of Aleppo will be a Sunni state, and the district of Damascus another state which will be hostile to the northern one. The Druze-even those in Golan- should form a state in Huaran and in northern Jordan...The oil rich but very divided and internally strife-ridden Iraq is certainly a candidate to fit Israel's goal...Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation...will hasten the achievement of the supreme goal, namely breaking up Iraq into elements like Syria and Lebanon. There will be there states or more around the three major cities, Basra, Baghdad and Mosul, while Shiite areas in the south will separate from the Sunni north, which is mostly Kurdish...The entire Arabian Peninsula is a natural candidate for (dissolution)... Israel's policy in war or peace should be to bring about the elimination of Jordan..." (Beware of small states, David Hirst, p. 125-126)
For additional insight on the topic of remaking Syria please see two additional articles (a news report and an opinion piece from Israel and the United States respectively) towards the bottom of this page. Calls to break Syria apart are fast growing. Failed states, in this case small/fragmented states are the Anglo-American-Zionist global order's best friend, not only in the Middle East but everywhere. And this should be the general perspective from which we need to observe the actions of the Western alliance around the world. As they seemingly champion the causes of "self-determination", "democracy" and "human rights" in various targeted nations, they are in fact covertly engaged in the systematic process of destroying nation-states that they no longer have any use for.

This all brings to mind former US general and war criminal Wesely Clark's lucid public confession several years ago -

General Wesley Clark tells of how Middle East destabilization was planned as far back as 1991:
While they normally use Western grants, economic blackmail and cultural invasion as a way to undermine nations that are not enslaved by them, it's very clear now that they have resorted to remaking the Middle East at the very tip of a sharp bayonet. The old format put together by England and France between the two world wars less than a century ago no longer seems workable for them in the Middle East. If the world does not descend into yet another a major war as a result of this cruel manipulation of humanity, a best case outcome of all this bloodletting would be a much stronger Turkish, Islamic (i.e. Saudi), Zionist and Kurdish presence in the region. The following previous blog commentaries delve further into this topic -
West, Arab League and Turkey Supporting Armed Islamic Militants in Syria:

CIA arms Islamic rebels, Syria downs Turkish warplane:

NATO plans campaigns in Libya and Syria to tighten noose around Iran:

Target Iran:

Obituary: Libya 1951-2011:

US Launches Cyber Spy Operation Against The World:
That the political West is openly supporting Islamic militancy in places such as Libya and Syria is beyond question. But why? Why would Western/Zionist officials be interested in creating a more powerful Islamic presence in the region? Simple, for the same reason why Israel helped create Hamas inside the concentration camp known as Gaza Strip. History of the region during the past sixty years have taught us that the biggest threat the Anglo-American-Zionist alliance faces in the Middle East is the rise of secular Arab and Iranian nationalism. 

From the days of Gamal Abdel Nasser and Mohammad Mosaddegh, secular forms of nationalism in the region have been seen as a serious danger to Western designs. Therefore, for the West, militant Islam is an effective antidote to nationalism in the region.

Of course there are other reasons as well. Islamic societies tend to be tribal, backward, oppressive, economically stagnant, militarily incompetent and thus easily manipulated and/or controlled. Moreover, Wahhabi or Salafist forms of Sunni Islam is an effective way to curb Iranian Shiism. Anyone familiar with the Arab world knows that Sunni Arabs have an almost instinctual disdain towards Iranians and Shiites and vis-versa. In fact, the historic rivalry between Sunni and Shiite sects of Islam are much deeper and much bloodier than Islam's rivalry against Christianity or Judaism.

Therefore, as they go on pitting one group against the other, as they replace one leader with another, as they form and reform nations, as they divide and conquer...
it could be said that the West is, simply put, managing the much troubled region.

Nevertheless, for the past century, the Middle East has systematically become radicalized as a result of numerous foreign interventions. Today, the region stands on the verge of a radical Islamic transformation. One does not need to be a rocket scientist to realize that Washington and its client states in the Arabian peninsula have helped Islamic forces advance in the region at every pivotal point. The Iranian-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon is of course a notable exception to this. Nevertheless, disregard what you have been reading, hearing or seeing on state-sponsored propaganda organs such as CNN and BBC and realize that in the Middle East senior Western officials actually prefer dealing with backward Islamic societies and governments rather than secular ones with independent nationalistic agendas.

Therefore, it should not surprise anyone that Washington helped create Al-Qaeda to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s; it should not come as a surprise that Washington teamed-up with Al-Qaeda to help Muslim Albanians and Bosnians defeat Christian Serbians; it should not come as a surprise that Western intelligence supported the Al-Qaeda backed Islamic insurgency inside southern Russia throughout the 1990s; it should not come as a surprise that Washington has been encouraging/funding Islamic militants in Kurdistan, Iraq and Pakistan to carryout terrorist operations inside Iran; it should not come as a surprise that Washington has been training Islamic political parties in Egypt; it should not come as a surprise that Washington openly supported Al-Qaeda connected Islamic rebels to overthrow Qaddafi's government; it should not come as a surprise that Washington is currently overseeing the transfer of Al-Qaeda connected Islamic terrorists into Syria...

In short, for much of the past thirty years, "Al-Qaeda" type Wahhabist/Salafist organizations have essentially been the Islamic military wing of the Anglo-American-Zionist alliance. Please bare in mind, however, the following important nuance: Saudi Arabia (and until recently Pakistan) plays the role of liaison between militant Islamist groups and Western intelligence.

The Turkish factor in all this is quite interesting. The overall agenda for the region, including American and Israeli support for a Kurdish state in northern Iraq has been one of the main reasons of contention between Ankara and the Western alliance in recent years. Turkish leaders recognize that Western designs for the Middle East can potentially harm Ankara's state interests. However, being that Ankara is somewhat dependent on the West for survival and being that geopolitics is more-or-less a game of chess (or poker), Ankara seems to be cautiously going along with the current Islamo-Western campaign against Syria hoping to extract some benefits from the situation along the way.

In other words, while Western officials have hegemonic fantasies on their minds, Ankara for its part may be entertaining neo-Ottoman dreams.

Nevertheless, watching Western powers with their Zionist, Turkic and Islamic allies turn yet another stable nation in the Middle East into a failed state I'm again reminded of the crucial importance of Russia's role on the global political stage as well as the immense strategic importance of Armenian-Russian relations today and well into the foreseeable future. Going forward, I'd like to revisit some major points because the typical Armenian today (regardless of wealth, age, education or patriotism) has a hard time assessing or understanding serious political matters.

The global menace

Very similar to what the Vatican had done for centuries with Catholicism, the Western alliance today is using a new form of global religion known as "democracy" and/or "Globalism" to either make or break nations around the world. Similar to Christian emperors of the past, democratic emperors of today are deciding who lives and who dies. As in medieval times, false notions are being spread within human society simply in order to better manage it or to simply exploit it. Which brings me to the now oft asked question: How has the political West become so powerful?

In the big picture, we the sheeple are at fault!

Simply put: If we desperately want to learn their language (i.e. English); if we want to sing their songs; if we want to dance to their music; if we want to watch their films; if we want to dress like them; if we want to eat like them; if we want to trade with their money; if we seek to get our information from their propaganda sources (i.e. CNN & BBC); if we dream of living in their countries; if we dream of attending their universities; if we dream of working for their institutions; if we enthusiastically want to emulate their political system... then how can we ever think of them as the enemy?!

Their hold over humanity is essentially a psychological one. Our willing submission to anything and everything Western today (Anglo-American in particular) is exactly how they are easily succeeding in invading and subverting targeted nations around the world.

For instance, when a Western official visits a developing nation and the natives there fall allover themselves to impress the visiting official, the Western operation in that nation is already mostly a success. When the Whore of Babylon recently visited Yerevan, she did not need to speak a single word in Armenian, she did not feel the need to ask her friends in Baku to stop killing Armenian soldiers on the border, she did not feel the need to pay her respects at the genocide memorial, she did not feel the need to do or say anything positive or constructive about Armenia... She simply handed out medals to her many active mercenaries in the country. D
espite her unholiness's overt and often blatant anti-Armenianism, Armenians bent-over-backwards to kiss her behind.

This type of willing/conscious subservience to Western officials is essentially why the political West is so powerful today. And this is why the political West has become a serious global menace.

As I have reiterated in numerous previous occasions, the West has carefully crafted for itself unprecedented control over humanity as a result of the two world wars in the first half of the 20th century and as a result of the rise and fall of the Soviet Union. For the past seventy years, Western officials have been busy creating levers to monopolize the global economy; impose their financial system upon humanity; impose their trade currency; impose their laws; and control what the global masses sees, reads and hears. The unexpected dissolution of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s served to propel Western power and influence to heights never before seen. Consequently, for the past twenty years the Western world has enjoyed an unprecedented financial, economic, cultural and psychological hold over humanity.

With the imposition of their English-language driven new religion known as Globalism (i.e. corprotocracy, the rule of multinational mega corporations; democracy, the rule of the ignorant masses; free trade, economically enslaving lesser economies; interracialism, race mixing; multiculturalism, the destruction of indigenous cultures; and ultra-liberalism, sexual perversion and decadence) the civilized world, traditional western/European/Christian civilization in particular, is being systematically broken apart. This imposition of Globalism upon humanity is destroying the traditional family unit; ending patriotism; ending ethnic/racial identity, undermining apostolic Christianity; and eroding the very foundations of the traditional nation-state.


Without God (i.e without religion and moral guidance); without country (i.e. without nationalism and ethnic/racial identity); and without family (i.e. without having an extended genetic support structure to which one belongs to) - man is nothing but a instinct driven animal easily manipulated by those controlling the global levers. Thus, Globalism is the tool with which the political West conditions and manages the global sheeple and attempts to lead them towards enslavement. A "global citizen", a modern perception/title today's world's so-called "progressive" sheeple take pride in being is nothing but a thoroughly enslaved animal at the mercy of the Globalist elite.

A most recent example:

The corrosive cultural/psychological effects of Globalism and Western political incitement (via propaganda organs such as CNN and BBC and NGO financing) is what encourages young women to go topless and cut down Christian crucifixes, perform sex acts in public to make a political statement, form punk bands with names like Pussy Riot, desecrate places of worship, break laws, vandalize public property, insult religious people, smile shamelessly while being filmed by news cameras, call it all "freedom of expression" and when arrested... expect everyone to help them.
I'm glad that the authorities in Russia have stood their ground against this form or barbarism -

Pussy Riot verdict read, all get two years in jail:
Humanity will only cure itself of Globalism when evil vermin from Washington are barred from entering civilized nations. Humanity will only cure itself when the global commodity exchange is taken away from Anglo-American-Jewish control. Humanity will only begin curing itself when financial levers are taken away from Western control. Humanity will only begin curing itself when the sheeple of this world strives to learn languages other than English. Humanity will only cure itself when American POP culture (Hollywood and MTV) gets recognized for what it is - primitive, animalistic, subversive and dangerous to the health&well being of human society. But as long as we look-up to the political West and adoringly import their cultural elements, we will remain at their mercy. Therefore, as I said, it is our political ignorance and our personal preferences that has turned the political West into the monsters that they are today.

Today, using large numbers of political, financial and sociological levers that are traditionally under Western control, false notions about governance and society are being meticulously spread worldwide. And a great number of brainwashed/hypnotized/zombified masses, including countless idiots right within our very own society are being lured into becoming unsuspecting tools for their imperial wishes.

Of course their subversive activities take place under the banners of "democracy" and "human rights". It is under these banners that nations have been enslaved and/or mutilated in recent years. It is under these banners that non-aligned nations around the world have been targeted with sanctions (i.e financial blackmail), political unrest and regime change. In short, the gradual and sometimes forceful imposition of self-serving Western fairytales is fast turning large areas of the world into a volatile powder keg.

And whether they realize it or not, Armenia's "right advocates" and "political activists" are taking their marching orders from Western institutions. Some take their orders directly from Washington affiliated organizations such as Policy Forum Armenia (PFA) and Civilitas which are setup by the help of Western grants for the primary purpose of promoting "western" values in Armenia, and others take their orders indirectly, primarily through persuasion brought about by societal hype created by Western activists and their propaganda organs. Therefore, in the big picture and regardless of their seemingly noble intentions, Armenia's "civil society" activists serve the long-term strategic agendas of the political West. Needless to say, this imperial agenda could prove fatal for Armenia if it is allowed to get out of control.

Speaking of Western instigated regime change, a little word about the situation regarding the Syrian-Armenian community:

I do not know much about what Armenian officials have or have not been doing about the plight of Syrian-Armenians. But I do know for a fact that there are many unsavory diasporans with dangerous sociopolitical agendas walking the streets of Yerevan these days. Being a diasporan Armenian myself, I would be amongst the first to say that freely allowing large numbers of diasporans into Armenia is a serious security risk for the fledgling republic. Therefore, let no one be surprised that official Yerevan is not enthusiastically jumping at the opportunity to allow a large influx of Armenian refugees from the Middle East. Besides the obvious fact that Armenia is simply incapable of supporting large numbers of refugees, besides the fact that diasporan Armenians are culturally very different from Armenian natives, another reason why Armenian authorities have been rather reluctant in opening Armenia's gates to Syrian-Armenians are the types of characters represented by the following idiot from Aleppo -

Alarmingly, the kind of self-destructive politics represented by the strange character featured in the interview above is not a rare occurrence in Armenian society these days. For instance, consider the following character. His name is Rafael Hambartsumyan and he is said to be a "historian". In the following Armenian language article, this "historian" writes that Moscow is seeking to sacrifice Syria's Armenian community simply to use it as a pretext to send troops into Syria. According to this "historian", this action is similar to what Russia did with Ottoman Turks about a century ago which, according to him, led to the Armenian genocide... The lesson that this hysterical "historian" wants to teach us Armenians about the situation in Syria is that Russia cannot be trusted because it is essentially out to destroy the Armenian race -
Մոսկուան ցամաքային զօրք է ուզում մտցնի Սիրիա:
The following links are to older garbage from the same "historian" in which he more-or-less claims that Russians and Turks are equally guilty of carrying out the Armenian Genocide -
Ռաֆաել Համբարձումյան. «Հայոց ցեղասպանության մեջ հավասարապես մեղավոր են Ռուսաստանը եւ Թուրքիան»

Historian Rafael Hambartsumyan condemns Russia of supporting the Armenian Genocide:
But there's more. The following rabidly Russophobic article by some Haik Aramyan just appeared in an rabidly opposition propaganda organ known as Lragir. Please observe the dangerous stupidity taking place inside Armenia's opposition -
Having scores of strange characters like these in our society, do we still honestly expect Moscow to fully trust Armenians? Heck, if I were a high ranking Kremlin official I'd make sure to keep a strategically important Armenia on a very short leash primarily due to strange characters such as this "journalists" and "historian".

Having said that, the opposition propagandist's views and the the hysterical "historian's" historical assessment are so skewed, so twisted and so one-sided that I will not even bother wasting my time responding to them. If these men are not working for Western interests, the only alternative I see for them is that they are idiots. Since I want to give this Haik Aramyan and Rafael Hambartsumyan the benefit of my doubt, I'll just consider them both idiots. I'm bringing these strange characters to the reader's attention simply to reveal the dangerously low caliber of Armenian "intellegencia" today and the self-destructive nature of Armenia's political opposition.

Besides Arabs and Africans, I cant think of a people more stupid than us Armenians when it comes to serious political matters. And the one thing that scares me even more than pan-Turkism is paranoid, hysterical and irrational forms of Armenian nationalism.


Let's face it folks, the Armenian nation has a terminal cancer growing within it. If these carcinogenic cells in the country are not eradicated or their growths somehow stunted, they could very well spread and destroy the nation one terrible day. Thus, one of the greatest dangers facing Armenia today is the Armenian. And it is this Armenian that Western officials seek to exploit for their imperial interests in the Caucasus.

Make no mistake about it, Armenia is under threat from its Western led and/or inspired political "opposition", including the nation's Western funded "rights" activists and "independent" journalists.
Armenia's many Captain Americas today are spreading hysteria, hopelessness, frustration and anger in the name of truth, justice and the American way. The small, poor, remote, fledgling, embattled, landlocked and blockaded republic's natural growing pains are being used against it by Western led and/or inspired individuals.

The great German philosopher Nietzsche once said: That which does not kill you makes you stronger. To which I add: If Armenia's Western led opposition does not kill Armenia, it may make her stronger.

But I'd rather not risk it. As we have seen around the world in recent years, these people have a proven track record of lethality.

Fortunately there is hope

They loved Gorbachev because he killed the Bear... They adored Yeltsin because he allowed them to freely feed on the carcass of the Bear... They now hate and fear Putin because he resurrected the Bear!

Under the very capable leadership of Vladimir Putin, Russia has returned to its rightful place on the global political stage.
Under Putin, after nearly twenty years of near total Western hegemony, the foundations of a desperately needed bipolar political world has finally been laid -

Under Putin, Russia has recovered from its imposed "democracy", the thing that utterly decimated the Russian nation throughout the 1990s. Under Putin, Russia quickly brought under control the nation's powerful Jewish robber barons, also known as oligarchs. Under Putin, a large and affluent middle class has been born inside Russia. Under Putin, Russia has embarked on a massive rearmament program. Under Putin, Russia has more-or-less monopolized Central Asian energy production and distribution. Under Putin, Russia has reversed Western gains inside Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. Under Putin, Russia deepened and institutionalized its strategic alliance with Armenia. Under Putin, nations like Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Syria and Iran have been given a fighting chance. Under Putin, Russia has become a major international political player. Putin's Russia has also recently begun curtailing foreign funded NGOs operating within the country and barring officials from marrying foreigners and owning real-estate in foreign lands. And equally important, USAID, perhaps one of the most dangerous organizations on earth, has finally begun its long overdue exist from the country -
Parliament to label externally-funded NGOs as foreign agents:
Under Putin, the Russian Federation has been busy in recent years fortifying its Eurasian fortress in anticipation of a major global conflict. Under Putin, a powerful nation has risen from its ashes to oppose the great menace threatening the world today. Under Putin, the Russian Federation has emerged to become the last front against American imperialism, NATO expansionism, Globalism, Islamic fanaticism, Zionism and pan-Turkism.

But for us Armenians the formula is rather simple: No Russia in the Caucasus means no Armenia in the Caucasus!

Think of the Caucasus essentially as a table where Turks, Iranians, Azeris, Islamists, Georgians, Armenians and Russians sit. Now try to imagine that same table with the absence of Russia...

I dare any rational Armenian to imagine Armenia's situation in the Caucasus without a Russian presence there.

Instead of wasting our very limited resources in an anti-Armenian viper's nest like Washington, Armenians should be engaging in a pan-national agenda within the halls of the Kremlin. We Armenians have wasted decades pathetically crying at the feet of imperial powers in the West. What do we have to show for it? Last I checked, Turks and Islamists were still the spear with which the political West was curbing Arab nationalism, Russian influence and Iranian expansionism in the region. Last I checked, highest offices of the Western world were still collaborating with Turks and Azeris to gain access to Central Asia's much coveted energy resources...

Those waiting
on the political sidelines for a regime change in Yerevan are essentially those serving Western interests in the Caucasus. Therefore, I ask: If Armenia's democracy now(!) idiots managed to oust Armenia's so-called "oligarchs" today, where would Armenia be tomorrow?

I'll stick with the devil I know.

For the West and their Islamic/Turkic allies in the region, our small, poor and landlocked homeland in the volatile Caucasus is a political nuisance, an obstacle getting in the way of their grand geostrategic schemes. Simply put, Armenia does not have what it takes to sit at the table with Western powers. Despite what many of our democracy now(!) idiots think, Western powers are in the Caucasus not because of "rights" issues but because of the following three things - Russia, Iran and Central Asian energy.

For Russia, Armenia is a very important ally in a very strategic region. As long as Islamic, Turkic and/or Western interests threaten the Caucasus, Armenia will remain a crucial factor in the geostrategic formulations of Kremlin officials. Therefore, for the foreseeable future, and as long as ethnic Russians are at the helm in the Kremlin, Moscow will not spare any efforts in protecting Armenia from any threat. This is Armenia's historic opportunity I keep speaking of. This is the opportunity Armenians need to begin collectively exploiting in order to finally break Armenia free of its mountainous prison -

For the first time in well over one thousand years a major regional superpower is fully allied to Armenia. Am I the only one that sees an opportunity in this? Haven't we learned anything from the Jew all these years? Instead of doing Turks and Western officials a big favor by idiotically spreading Russophobia within Armenian society, Armenians need to get their political act straight and begin getting fully active inside the Kremlin to harness that superpower's capabilities for Armenia's benefit.

The Russian Federation today is providing us with an opportunity of immense proportions yet significant numbers of Armenians either do not realize it or fully appreciate it, and some are in fact actually opposed to it. Even today, even when the political West with its Islamic, Turkic and Georgian allies in the region have brought the Armenian world to the very brink of yet another major disaster, large numbers of our self-destructive peasantry (especially in the Armenian diaspora) continue fear-mongering about Russians. I hear more "Russia wants Armenia without Armenians" from Armenian mouths today than I ever did in my life. By bringing this one hundred year old overly exaggerated half-truth into modern politics today, Armenians are in fact participating in the Western agenda to drive Russians from the Caucasus and turn the region into a Turkic-Islamic cesspool financed by Western oil and gas interests.

Some of those professionally working on driving a wedge between Yerevan and Moscow have been - Levon Petrosian and affiliates, Paruyr Hayrikian and affiliates, Raffi Hovanissian and affiliates, Richard Giragosian and affiliates and Vardan Oskanian and affiliates... Certain circles within the ARF (the Hollywood branch in particular) are also active participants of this Western agenda. In the big picture, Armenia's many Russophobes and Cold War rejects are as dangerous to the security of Armenia as pan-Turkists. 

I ask you to please revisit the following blog posts about this topic -
New Western led Opposition Slogan in Armenia: "Russia wants Armenia without Armenians!"

Russian expert: U.S. ousting Russia from Armenia:

Is Russophilia Hindering Armenia?
Like I said, the one thing that scares me more than pan-Turkism is paranoid, hysterical and irrational forms of Armenian nationalism.

While I realize that for many of us our overpowering emotions, political illiteracy and arrogance of biblical proportions coupled with a victim's mentality does not allow for clear thinking when it comes to political matters related to Armenia, I do nevertheless suggest that we Armenians finally come to our good senses and realize that in a Turkco-Islamic region like the Caucasus Moscow has been and will be for the foreseeable future the alpha and the omega of Armenia's existence as a nation-state.

In the meanwhile, Armenians also need to finally end their EUrotic fantasies and American dreams and come to the somber realization that Armenia’s future in the Caucasus is tied to that of Russia’s. Even if every single Armenian turned gay today, Armenia would still remain is a "Eurasian" nation – genetically, culturally, historically and more importantly geographically! Therefore, Armenia's natural place is in the Moscow-led Eurasian Union! And I remain hopeful that Armenia will join this economic pact once Tbilisi is finally cleansed of its Anglo-American-Zionist-Turkic infections. Some additional thoughts on the Eurasian Union -

Vladimir Putin Wants Eurasian Economic Union:
The Eurasian Union can provide Armenia with a vast market that is easily accessible and a market that is also familiar with Armenian products. In fact, such a market is a must for Armenia because Armenia is simply too small for the Armenian businessmen. Such an economic union can help our nation's voracious business sharks to let go of each others throats (and that of the people's) because it gives them the perfect opportunity and the landscape to apply their cutthroat talents elsewhere. In this regard, as the very impressive successes of countless Russian-Armenians plainly reveal, the Russian Federation is a natural playing field for the Armenian. Simply put, Armenian businesses need to pursue closer and deeper cooperation and collaboration with their Russian counterparts.

Through good times and bad, we have lived with our northern orthodox brothers for over two hundred years. We know the Russian better than we know any other people today. Moreover, we have in the Russian Federation by-far the most powerful and the most affluent Armenian diaspora in existence. This diaspora is firmly and deeply embedded in virtually all layers of Russian society, including within Russia's highest echelons. Unlike our utterly Turkified, Arabized and Americanized diasporas elsewhere, the Russian-Armenian diaspora, even if they don't all speak the Armenian language, is culturally, financially, emotionally and physically much more connected to the Armenian homeland.

What this diaspora desperately needs, however, is organization and an ideological calling.

To this effect, well connected Russian-Armenian personalities such as Ara Abrahamyan, Karen Karapetyan, Arthur Chilingarov and Ruben Vardanyan need to be fully embraced and supported by all Armenians regardless of political persuasion. In other words, diasporan Armenians need to put aside their divisive Western Armenian egos and help our compatriots in Russia better organize - because Armenia's future is directly tied to that of Russia's.

August, 2012


The Importance of Being Russia

It has been a long time since I was as acutely aware of Russia’s importance as during the recent conference on the Syrian crisis in Ankara. The conference participants, mostly delegates from Turkey, the Syrian opposition and several regional countries, said that everything depends on Russia, which alone can tip the scales. They said that if not for Russia’s veto in the UN Security Council and military assistance to Bashar Assad, the country would have a new regime and would be democratizing by now. They said it again and again, closing their ears to Russia’s arguments about other circumstances that may be more important and painful.

Representatives of the opposition and the majority of Turkish experts said, often quite convincingly, that the Syrian government could fall any day. However, belief in Assad’s imminent fall has diminished in the past two months. What is the reason for the relative stability of the Syrian regime, which has withstood the impact of the Arab Spring for over a year?

First, there is a large group of people in Syria who stand to lose from a revolution. According to Russian experts, only 15 to 20 percent of Syrians firmly support Assad but a third of the population, comprising of influential minorities, Christians (including Armenians), Kurds, Druze and Ismailis fear that any change would only worsen their lives and that the overthrow of the Alawis would bring Sunnis to power who would start persecuting them all. This is why the Syrian population is split in two, creating conditions for a protracted civil war and allowing the government to claim that they have popular support. The opposition claims that the minorities are gradually shifting towards it but there are no facts to prove this.

Second, the military balance is not in favor of the opposition; the fall of Homs was a major victory for Assad, changing the international view of events in Syria and quelling speculation about Assad’s imminent defeat.
Third, the regional context is favorable to Assad. The Libyan operation, which was hailed as a NATO success, has dampened arguments for military intervention. On the one hand, European countries, which bore the brunt of the conflict in Libya, have used a considerable part of their military potential. On the other hand, the rise of Islamic parties in the wake of the Arab Spring has increased Western doubts about actively supporting the opposition. Although the recent meeting of the Friends of Syria group of Western and Arab nations sought to bolster the opposition, the West is not eager to expedite the delivery of weapons.

Fourth, Gaddafi’s Libya had no friends because it had harmed neighboring and more distant countries too much, but Assad’s Syria can expect support from Iran, Russia and China and at least silent neutrality from neighboring countries ranging from Iraq to Jordan, which dislike the idea of an all-out war so close to home.

And lastly, after the UN Security Council adopted a resolution that ultimately led to the invasion of Libya, Russia and China have refused to support any document if it leaves the window open even a crack for military intervention. They say that NATO and other participants in the Libyan operation took advantage of the resolution to overthrow Gaddafi.

Russia has never been criticized so sharply as in the case of Syria. For its support of the Syrian regime, Russia has been accused of complicity in mass murder and a desire to profit from arms deals. Less emotional people wonder why Russia is supporting a doomed regime instead of diversifying its ties and building bridges into the future. Yet Moscow continues to stand its ground, disregarding the possibility of its own isolation.

The game is far from over and Russia has not lost the latest round. Of course, business with Syria cannot be carried on as before because Assad will be pressured to step down, although the conditions of his departure may differ. Those who will replace him will not favor ties with Russia anyway, as the Libyan experience has shown. Russia played the key role in the overthrow of Gaddafi as its veto could have prevented the intervention and hence the revolution. And yet, the first thing the new authorities did is refuse to honor contracts with Russia.

Moscow is not trying to preserve its Syrian contracts but to reaffirm its status in international affairs. By resisting powerful psychological and diplomatic pressure, Russia has shown that although it has lost ground in the Middle East (Syria is its last close partner in the region), it is still a power whose opinion cannot be disregarded. Russian diplomats have clearly said that it will not allow intervention to be legalized through the UN Security Council. No country has so far risked acting without a UN mandate in Syria, even though the opposition is urging them on, as the Iraqi example is still fresh in their memory. As a result, the Arab League and the West have launched dialogue with Russia, which they condemned only the day before. Kofi Annan’s plan and the UN Security Council’s statement in its support were mostly brought about by Russia’s firm stance.

But Russia’s possibilities are not unlimited; it can hardly achieve much more. As for Annan’s plan, it should have been enacted a year or six months ago at the latest. The sides have likely reached the point of no return, as too much blood has been shed to hope for compromise. Besides, talks cannot be held with unconsolidated opposition groups.

Russia must decide what it will do if violence in Syria erupts with fresh force. Supporting the Syrian government may be logical but there is a limit, after which Russia should think about selling its critical vote in the Security Council to the highest bidder since the Syrian opposition and their allies put so much stock in it.


The Bear Rises: Putin Orders Russia’s Nuclear and Aerospace Arsenals Ready for Action to Defend Peace, Security and Sovereignty

President Vladimir Putin held a meeting on Thursday ordering the supplying of weapons to the Strategic Nuclear Forces and Aerospace Defence Troops to ensure Russia’s security, sovereignty and regional stability to be on standby. The meeting was part of a series of meetings on implementing Russia’s armament program that initiated in June.

“Nearly all the nations that possess nuclear weapons and aerospace assault weapons are working to improve and develop them. They are actively developing control systems to make reconnaissance, surveillance, and information-gathering operations more efficient,” he said.“It must be kept and remain in constant combat readiness, taking into account the plans of a potential enemy to develop the first-strike means and plans for developing offensive measures, and ensuring precise and operational coordination with other arms of service,” Putin said, without spelling out the name of the “potential enemy”.

With destabilizations, “regime change” efforts and “defection” psyops of the USA with their media spin doctors in various parts of the world like Libya, China and the latest deliberate “weapons of mass destruction” out of context propaganda on Syria, Putin has been cautious and self-aware of the agenda.

Prime example is his recent signing of the mandatory registration and audit of NGOs which receive funding from overseas as “foreign agents” into Russian federal law. The bill was initiated and pushed by his political party, United Russia, in order to crack down any covert subversions towards Russia that started many months. He said nuclear weapons remained the “most important guarantee” of Russia’s sovereignty and integrity, adding they still played a key role in keeping global and regional equilibrium and stability.

Russia said that it was not going to start a new arms race, but would keep its nuclear weapons and aerospace defense “constantly ready for action”. President Vladimir Putin told a government security meeting on the country’s armament program “… no one should doubt the reliability and efficiency of our nuclear potential, as well as the aerospace defense”.

Meanwhile, Putin also highlighted the importance of allocating considerable funds for the upgrade and development of the aerospace and nuclear forces. Russia plans to upgrade up to 85 percent of its strategic nuclear weapons and up to 70 percent of aerospace defense weapons by 2020, paralleling America’s Pacific Century 2020 plans . The government has earmarked 20 trillion rubles (about 600 billion U.S. dollars) for the massive re-armament program until 2020.

Vladimir Putin initiated the series of meetings on the implementation of the state armament program which began in June, ordering the supply of aviation systems for the Russian Army and Navy. Subsequently, Putin held another detailed meeting early in July on the supply of modern weapons and equipment to the Russian Land Forces and Airborne Troops which plays a key role in ground operations. He addressed the tasks related to the defence of the Russian Federation state border, the neutralisation of possible local conflicts, as well as participation in peacekeeping operations.

“Nearly all the leading countries in the world are increasingly focusing on capacity building of their land forces and airborne troops, as well as other rapid reaction units. New intelligence and control systems, precision complexes and modern armoured vehicles are being actively put into service,” he said. He also said that the ground forces “must bear all of these trends in mind and emphasise relevant aspects in our defence planning” and should havethe ability to operate effectively as part of multi-service forces, their high mobility and combat readiness.”

The Russian armament program allocated funds through to 2020, with more than 2.6 trillion rubles [about $80 billion], is assigned to be used in reequipping the troops and to fully satisfy their needs for new equipment. By 2020, the proposed share of new equipment would be at least 70%. There is also a plan to deliver new communications and command systems, cutting-edge intelligence systems and individual equipment. The ground troops are to receive ten Iskander-M missile systems, nine S-300V4 air defence missile systems, over 2,300 tanks, about 2,000 self-propelled artillery systems and weapons, and over 30,000 units of automotive vehicles.

Putin want to lay the groundwork for the future as there is an “obvious imbalance” for a number of important directions in weapons and military equipment development are “severely underfunded”. With more than 75% of the total funding accounts for only five research areas, he also highlighted the need for research and development in the equipping of servicemen, for small arms, individual body armour and communication equipment.

It is essential to ensure a balanced and comprehensive development of weapons systems” and ”that all weapons and equipment orders must be completed in full” and “on time”, Putin urgently stressed.


Putin’s Geopolitical Chess Game with Washington in Syria and Eurasia

Since reassuming his post as Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin has lost no minute in addressing the most urgent geopolitical threats to Russia internationally. Not surprisingly, at the center of his agenda is the explosive situation in the Middle East, above all Syria. Here Putin is engaging every imaginable means of preventing a further deterioration of the situation into what easily could become another “world war by miscalculation.” His activities in recent weeks involve active personal diplomacy with Syria’s government as well as the so-called opposition “Syrian National Council.” It involves intense diplomacy with Erdogan’s Turkey regime. It involves closed door diplomacy with Obama. It involves direct diplomacy with Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu.

Syria itself, contrary to what most western media portray, is a long-standing multi-ethnic and religiously tolerant secular state with an Alawite Muslim President Bashar Al-Assad, married to a Sunni wife. The Alawite sect is an offshoot of Shia Islam which doesn’t force their women to wear head scarves and are liberal by Sunni standards, especially in the fundamentalist places like Saudi Arabia where women are forbidden to even hold a driver’s license. The overall Syrian population is a diverse mix of Alawites, Druze and Kurds, Sunnis, and Armenian Orthodox Christians. Were the minority regime of Al-Assad to fall, experts estimate that, like in Egypt, the murky Sunni (as in Saudi Arabia) Muslim Brotherhood organization would emerge as the dominant organized political force, something certainly not welcome in Tel Aviv and certainly not in either Russia or China.1

According to an informed assessment by Gajendra Singh, retired Indian diplomat with decades of service in the Middle East and a deep familiarity with the ethnic mix inside Syria, were the minority Alawite regime of Al-Assad to fall, the country would rapidly descend into a bloodbath that would make estimates of 17,000 killed to date a mere prelude. Singh estimates, “A defeat of Assad led regime will lead to slaughter of Alawites, Shias, Christians, even Kurds and Druzes. In all, 20 % of a population of 20 Million.”2

That would be some 4 million Syrians. That ought to be food for thought for those in the West cheering on a murky dubious opposition “Syrian National Council” that is dominated by the ominous Muslim Brotherhood, and an armed opposition “Free Syrian Army” that has been reported even by the New York Times as rife with factional armed splits. Moreover the conflict were it to descend into a Libya-like internal bloodbath, would spill over across the Syrian border into Turkey. Syrian coastal area has a significant Alawite population and a large number of Alawites live in the adjoining Turkish provinces of Hatay and Antakya.

To sort out fact from fiction inside Syria is daunting as media are limited and opposition spokesmen have been repeatedly caught lying about events. In one recent instance, a UK journalist claimed he was deliberately led into a potential death trap by rebel opposition forces to score propaganda against the Damascus regime. The UK Channel 4 News's chief correspondent, Alex Thomson, told AP that Syrian rebels set him up to die in no man's land near the Lebanese border, saying they wanted to use his death at the hands of government forces to score propaganda points.3 And in one brazen example of political manipulation, BBC was recently caught publishing a photograph it claimed was of a massacre at Al-Houla on 25 May 2012, in which 108 persons are known to have died including 49 children. It turned out the picture had been taken by Italian photo journalist, Marco Di Lauro in Iraq in 2003.4

The stakes in this geopolitical chess game are nothing less than survival first of Syria as a sovereign nation, whatever its flaws and defects. More, it ultimately involves the survival of Iran, Russia and China as sovereign nations together with the other BRIC states Brazil, India and South Africa. Longer term, it involves the matter of survival of civilization as we know it and avoidance of a world war that would decimate the world population not by tens of millions as seventy years ago but likely this time by billions.

The Syria stakes for Moscow
Russia’s Putin has drawn a deep hard line in the sand around the survival of Al-Assad and Syria as a stable state. Few ask why Russia is warning of possible world war if Washington persists to demand immediate regime change in Syria as Hillary Clinton is doing. It is not because Russia is intent on advancing its own imperialist agenda in the Middle East. It’s in little shape militarily and economically to do so even if it had wanted. Rather, it is about preserving port rights to Russia’s only Mediterranean naval port at Tartus, the only remaining Russian military base outside the former Soviet Union, and its only Mediterranean fueling spot. In event of a showdown with NATO the base becomes strategic to Russia.

Yet there is more at stake for Russia. Putin and Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, have made clear were NATO and the USA to launch military action against Assad’s Syria, the consequences would be staggering. Reliable sources in Damascus have reported the presence of at least 100,000 Russian “technical advisers” in the country. That’s a lot, and a Russian freighter carrying rebuilt Russian Mi-25 attack helicopters is reportedly bound for Syria, while several days earlier a Russian naval flotilla sailed for Tartus led by the Russian destroyer, Admiral Chabanenko.

An earlier attempt to send the rebuilt helicopters back to Syria which had earlier purchased them, was blocked in June off Scotland’s coast when it sailed under a non-Russian freighter flag. Now Moscow has made clear it will tolerate no interference in its traffic with Damascus. Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, Vyacheslav Dzirkaln, announced that “The fleet will be sent on task to guarantee the safety of our ships, to prevent anyone interfering with them in the event of a blockade. I remind you there are no limits,” he soberly added.5 In so many words, what Moscow is announcing is that it is willing to face a 21st Century version of the 1962 Cuba Missile Crisis if NATO foolishly persists in pressing regime change in Damascus.

As it has openly emerged that the so-called democratic opposition in Syria is being dominated by the shadowy Muslim Brotherhood, hardly an organization renowned for multi-ethnic democratic tendencies, a victory for a US-backed Muslim Brotherhood regime in Syria, Moscow also believes, would unleash a wave of Muslim-led destabilizations across Central Asia into republics of the former Soviet Union. China is also extremely sensitive about such a danger, only recently confronted with bloody riots of Muslim organization in its oil-rich Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Province, quietly sponsored by the US Government.6

Russia has joined firmly with China since both nations fell into a catastrophic trap over abstaining in the UN Security Council from vetoing the US Resolution. That US resolution opened the door to NATO destruction of not only Mohammar Ghaddafi, but of Libya itself as a functioning country. This author has spoken personally in Moscow and in Beijing since the Libya debacle asking well-informed persons in both places how in effect they could have been so short-sighted on Libya. They both clearly have since concluded that further advance of Washington’s agenda for what George W. Bush called the Greater Middle East Project is diametrically opposed to the national interest of both China and Russia, hence the iron opposition to the NATO agenda in Syria for regime change. To date Russia and China, Permanent veto members of the UN Security Council, have three times exercised their veto over new US-sponsored sanctions against Syria, the latest on July 19.

Putin and his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov insist on a strict adherence to the proposed peace plan of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Unlike what Washington prefers to generously read into it, the Six Point Annan Plan calls for no regime change, rather for a negotiated settlement and end to the fighting on both sides, a ceasefire.

Washington’s Janus-faced duplicity

Aligned on the side of violent regime change in Syria are a bizarre coalition that includes, in addition to Washington and its European “vassal states” (as Zbigniew Brzezinski called European NATO members),7 most prominently Saudi Arabia, hardly a regime anyone would accuse of being a paragon of democracy. Another lead role against Damascus is being played by Qatar, home to US military as well as the blatantly pro-NATO propaganda channel Al-Jazeera. In addition, the Turkish government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is providing training and space to prepare armed mercenaries and others to flow over the border into neighboring Syria.

An attempt by the Erdogan government to send a Turkish Phantom air force fighter jet into Syrian airspace flying provocatively low, apparently in order to incite a “Gulf of Tonkin” incident to fan flames of NATO intervention a la Libya two weeks ago, fell flat when Turkey's general staff issued a statement saying: "No traces of explosives or flammable products were found on the debris recovered from the sea." Erdogan was forced to shift his line to cover face, no longer using the phrase, "shot down by Syria" and instead referring to "our plane that Syria claimed to have destroyed."8 NATO has established a command and control center in Iskenderun, in Turkey’s Hatay province, near the Syrian border months ago to organize, train and arm the “anything but” Free Syrian Army.9 The Obama Administration, not wanting a full Syria war before US elections in November, reportedly also told Erdogan to “cool it” for now.

Most westerners who take their knowledge of world affairs religiously from the pages of the Washington Post or CNN or BBC are convinced the Syrian mess is a clear cut case of “good guys” (the so-named Syrian National Council and its rag-tag makeshift “Free Syrian Army”) versus the “bad guys” (the Al-Assad dictatorship with its armed forces). For more than a year western media has run footage, some as noted, not even filmed in Syria, claiming that innocent, unarmed opposition civilian pro-democracy populations are being massacred ruthlessly in a one-sided butchery by the regime.

They never explain how it would serve Assad to alienate his strongest asset to survival, namely the support of a majority of Syrians against what he has accurately named foreign intervention into sovereign Syrian affairs.

Indeed numerous eyewitness journalist accounts from inside Turkey and Syria including RT have alleged that from the beginning the “peaceful democratic opposition” had secretly been provided with arms and training, often inside camps across on the Turkish side. Professor Ibrahim Alloush from Zaytouneh University in Jordan told RT,

“Weaponry is being smuggled into Syria in large quantities from all over the place. It is pretty clear that the rebels have been receiving arms from abroad and Syrian television has been showing almost daily shipments of arms being smuggled into Syria via Lebanon, Turkey and other border crossings. Since the rebels are being supported by the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] and by NATO it is safe to assume that they are getting their financing and weaponry from the same sources that are offering them political cover and financial backing.”10

One veteran Turkish journalist whom this author interviewed in Ankara in April, just back from an extensive tour of Syria, gave his eyewitness account of the capture of a small band of “opposition” fighters. The journalist, fluent in Arabic, was astonished as he witnessed the head of the rebels demand to know why their military captors spoke Arabic. When told that was their native language, the rebel leader blurted out, “But you should speak Hebrew, you’re with the Israeli Army aren’t you?”

In short, the mercenaries had been blitz-trained across the border in Turkey, given Kalashnikovs and a fistful of dollars and told they were making a jihad against the Israeli Army. They did not even know who they were fighting. In other instances, mercenaries recruited from Afghanistan and elsewhere and financed by Saudi money, including alleged members of Al Qaeda, make up the “democratic opposition” to the established regime of Al-Assad.

Even the ultimate US establishment newspaper, The New York Times, has been forced to admit that the CIA has been pouring arms into the Syrian opposition. They reported, “C.I.A. officers are operating secretly in southern Turkey, helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arms to fight the Syrian government, according to American officials and Arab intelligence officers. The weapons, including automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition and some antitank weapons, are being funneled mostly across the Turkish border by way of a shadowy network of intermediaries including Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood and paid for by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the officials said.”11

The International Committee for the Red Cross now classifies the conflict as a civil war.12

Peter Wallensteen, a leading peace researcher at the University of Uppsala and the director of the Uppsala Conflict Data Program, stated that, "It's increasingly an internationalized civil war, and as we know from previous history, the more internationalized, the longer the conflict will be... there is a civil war, but now so many weapons are coming from the outside, that there is actually an internationalized civil war."13

According to Mary Ellen O'Connell, a respected legal scholar and professor of law and international dispute resolution at the University of Notre Dame, "The International Committee of the Red Cross statement means that the Assad regime is facing an organized armed opposition engaging in military force, and it has the legal right to respond in kind. The Syrian military will have more authority to kill persons based on their being part of the armed opposition than when Assad was restricted to using force under peacetime rules."14 The rebel opposition groups claim it means just the opposite.

While the US State Department makes pious pronouncements of their supporting “democracy” and demanding Al-Assad step down and recognize the dubious and factionalized opposition of the Syrian National Council, an exile group dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, Russia is working skillfully on the diplomatic front to weaken the Western march to war.

Putin’s shrewd diplomacy

Now, no sooner did Vladimir Putin again take the office as Russia’s President on May 7 than he embarked on a complex series of diplomatic missions to defuse or hopefully derail Washington’s Syrian game plan. On July 16 Putin hosted a Moscow visit of Kofi Annan where he repeated Moscow’s unflinching support for the Annan Peace Plan.15

Because of the considerable media distortions it’s useful to read the actual text of the six-point Annan plan:

(1) commit to work with the Envoy in an inclusive Syrian-led political process to address the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people, and, to this end, commit to appoint an empowered interlocutor when invited to do so by the Envoy;
(2) commit to stop the fighting and achieve urgently an effective United Nations supervised cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties to protect civilians and stabilise the country.

To this end, the Syrian government should immediately cease troop movements towards, and end the use of heavy weapons in, population centres, and begin pullback of military concentrations in and around population centres.

As these actions are being taken on the ground, the Syrian government should work with the Envoy to bring about a sustained cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties with an effective United Nations supervision mechanism.

Similar commitments would be sought by the Envoy from the opposition and all relevant elements to stop the fighting and work with him to bring about a sustained cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties with an effective United Nations supervision mechanism;

(3) ensure timely provision of humanitarian assistance to all areas affected by the fighting, and to this end, as immediate steps, to accept and implement a daily two hour humanitarian pause and to coordinate exact time and modalities of the daily pause through an efficient mechanism, including at local level;
(4) intensify the pace and scale of release of arbitrarily detained persons, including especially vulnerable categories of persons, and persons involved in peaceful political activities, provide without delay through appropriate channels a list of all places in which such persons are being detained, immediately begin organizing access to such locations and through appropriate channels respond promptly to all written requests for information, access or release regarding such persons;
(5) ensure freedom of movement throughout the country for journalists and a non-discriminatory visa policy for them;
(6) respect freedom of association and the right to demonstrate peacefully as legally guaranteed.16

There is no demand in the Annan Plan for Bashar al-Assad to step down before any ceasefire, contrary to what Hillary Clinton repeats after insisting the US also backs the Annan Plan. The Annan Plan calls for a diplomatic solution. The US clearly does not want a diplomatic solution. It wants regime change and evidently widening war across the Shi’ite-Sunni divide of the Muslim world.

Moscow and Beijing just as clearly want to draw the line and prevent chaos spreading from Syria. On July 19, again Russia and China, both veto members at the UN Security Council blocked a new US-backed resolution on Syria they insisted was designed to open the door to a Libya-like military intervention into Syria. The resolution had been drafted by British Foreign Secretary William Hague, and would have opened the door for a Chapter 7 resolution of the UN Security Council on Syria. Chapter 7 allows the 15-member council to authorize actions ranging from diplomatic and economic sanctions to military intervention.17
The Hague resolution demanded that the Syrian government in 10 days pull out all its heavy weapons from urban areas and return troops to barracks. Nothing was said about disarming the “Free Syrian Army.” Washington claimed it would only be interested in economic or diplomatic sanctions, not military. Of course. Hmmmm...

Putin has more than a little leverage to use with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan. Erdogan was in Moscow just prior to the July 19 UN Security Council vote to discuss Syria with Putin.18 Turkey is the second-largest buyer of Russian natural gas, some 80% of its natural gas coming from Russia’s state-controlled Gazprom.19

Turkey’s entire “energy hub” strategy of playing a key role in gas flows from Eurasia, the Middle east to Europe depends on gas from Russia and Iran. One year ago a $10 billion pipeline deal was signed between Iran, Iraq and Syria for a natural gas pipeline from Iran’s huge South Pars field to Iraq, Syria and on to Turkey, eventually connecting to Europe.20

Putin had also gone to Tel Aviv on June 21 to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu.21 Russian influence inside Israel is not minor. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union some six million Russians, mostly Jews, have emigrated to Israel over the past two decades. Ultimately Israel cannot be overjoyed at the prospect of a Muslim Brotherhood-run Syrian opposition coming to power in neighboring Syria. While few details emerged of the content of the talks, it is clear that Putin delivered the message that a “destroyed, disoriented and broken up Syria would not help Israel. Syria has the second, most well-organized Muslim Brotherhood organization after Egypt,” according to former Indian Ambassador K. Gajendra Singh.22

Then on July 11, Putin and Lavrov invited Abdel Basset Sayda, the new head of the US-backed opposition organization, Syrian National Council, to Moscow for “talks.” Sayda, who is from the Kurdish Syrian minority and has lived twenty years in Swedish exile, is a curious figure as opposition spokesman, from the Kurd minority in Syria, a man with little or no active political experience, clearly chosen mainly to hide the dominant Muslim Brotherhood profile of the SNC. Russia reportedly made it clear to Sayda they would continue to block any attempts to oust Assad and that the opposition need seriously adhere to the Annan Plan and negotiate a settlement. Sayda for his part made clear no negotiations until Assad is gone, a stance that is feeding the bloodshed.23

There are signs in all the bloodshed and escalation of violence that Putin reached some quiet deal as well with Obama to keep war off the table until Obama is past the November elections. Russia recently agreed to reopen supply lines for US military supplies in Afghanistan at the same time Washington orchestrated an “apology” for the recent killings of civilians in Pakistan with its drones.24

Veteran roving journalist Pepe Escobar recently summed up the situation in all its grim reality:

“Turkey will keep offering the logistical base for mercenaries coming from "liberated" Libya, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Lebanon. The House of Saud will keep coming up with the cash to weaponize them. And Washington, London and Paris will keep fine-tuning the tactics in what remains the long, simmering foreplay for a NATO attack on Damascus. Even though the armed Syrian opposition does not control anything remotely significant inside Syria, expect the mercenaries reportedly weaponized by the House of Saud and Qatar to become even more ruthless. Expect the not-exactly-Free Syrian Army to keep mounting operations for months, if not years. A key point is whether enough supply lines will remain in place - if not from Jordan, certainly from Turkey and Lebanon.”24


Former Russian Gen.: Russia Is ‘Defending the Entire World From Fascism,’ Is Ready to Use Military Power to Defend Iran, Syria

Former member of Russian Joint Chiefs of Staff Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov appeared on Russia Today TV to boldly announce that Russia is “defending the entire world from Fascism” — waged, of course, by the U.S. and Israel — and that his country is ready to use military force to defend Iran and Syria from its aggressors. He added that an attack on Syria or Iran would be an indirect attack on Russia. The retired colonel also compared U.S. presence in Libya to Hitler and his armies’ aggression against Poland and later, Russia. The Following are excerpts from an interview with Ivashov on RT February 1, 2012. Translations provided by the ever-vigilant staff at MEMRI:

Interviewer: “Dr. Leonid, do you think that these preparations and very large maneuvers, which will soon be conducted by Russia, are meant as preparation for war, or rather, a military strike against Iran?” […]

Leonid Ivashov: “These maneuvers and training will demonstrate Russia’s readiness to use military power to defend its national interests and to bolster its political position. The maneuvers show that Russia does not want any military operations to be waged against Iran or Syria. I assume that the people in the West and in Israel who design the schemes for a large geopolitical operation in the greater Middle East region draw a direct connection between the situation in Syria and in Iran. Indeed, these two countries are allies, and both are considered guaranteed partners of Russia. The only question, therefore, is who they will try to destroy first as a stable country: Syria or Iran. […]

“A strike against Syria or Iran is an indirect strike against Russia and its interests. Russia would lose important positions and allies in the Arab world. Therefore, by defending Syria, Russia is defending its own interests. “In addition, Russia is thus defending the entire world from Fascism. Everybody should acknowledge that Fascism is making strides on our planet. What they did in Libya is nearly identical to what Hitler and his armies did against Poland and then Russia. Today, therefore, Russia is defending the entire world from Fascism.”


The West's Most-Cherished Desire: The Disintegration of the Russian Federation

Old bear does not dance to Western tunes

-Should a "revolution" take place, the primary target of shock will be Russia itself. The worst nightmare would be the disintegration of the Russian Federation. This is the result the West most desires to see most.

-Personal trust is the reason that facilitated the strategic relations between China and Russia. However, the foundation of these ties is built upon a mutual dream of national revival which outstripped the interests that connected the West and Russia. China wants a stable Russia. The West is on the opposite side.

Will a "Russian Spring" occur? Russian police have arrested hundreds of protestors recently. But the pro-liberal protestors claimed that they will not succumb to such moves and continue to hold protests every day. This scenario is similar to the initial phrase of the Arab Spring, where the revolutionary movement was triggered by small- scale protests. It is hard to predict the outcome of the current protest on Russia's election scandal, but everything is possible.

Vladimir Putin's rule will face increasing scrutiny and it will become much harder for him to withstand the challenges. However, this is not a victory for the West. Putin losing authority will not automatically gain the West influence in Russia. The future of Russia will be shaped according to its own interests. This is the principle set by its democratic environment. Putin's own authority came because he put the country back to track. He saved Russia from the confusion and chaos when the USSR disintegrated two decades ago.

The relation between election and a candidate's authority is complicated. However the latest State Duma elections did not suggest that Russia's understanding of its national interests has become obscure, as during the Yeltsin era. Ballots lost by the United Russia are now in the pocket of the Communists and the Liberal Democrats, which does not reflect the expanding of the West's ideology.

Russian interests are dominated by a combination of geopolitics, culture and ambition. The differences and even the hostility between the West and Russia will persist if these interests contradict each other, no matter who sits in the Kremlin. Should a "revolution" take place, the primary target of shock will be Russia itself. The worst nightmare would be the disintegration of the Russian Federation. This is the result the West most desires to see most.

Russian society does not want to undergo this nightmare again. This concern has partly resulted from Putin's lasting authority. The unity United Russia can bring to this country is limited, but unity under democracy is not that convincing either. The painful lessons of the past will make Russians more reluctant to give up their trust in strongman politics to its democratic peers.

Personal trust is the reason that facilitated the strategic relations between China and Russia. However, the foundation of these ties is built upon a mutual dream of national revival which outstripped the interests that connected the West and Russia. China wants a stable Russia. The West is on the opposite side.

Russia has undergone many tough challenges. The "revolutions" in the Middle-East is a cakewalk compared to the movements the former communist state experienced. The country has made several twists and turns in choosing its own path. Russia is not similar to the countries swept by the Arab Spring. It is a unique state and will remain so.


Russia-China Victory in Syria a Sign of Declining US Power

It sets an important precedent in international relations, and is perhaps the clearest sign of declining US power in the Middle East. For the first time since the end of the Cold War, Russia and China have effectively thwarted the United States and its allies from pursuing its interests in a fiery Middle Eastern flashpoint, Syria. The Russian-Chinese double veto at the UN Security Council - the last in February - signalled to the West that the two powers were drawing a red line on Syria. Notably, China's second veto on Syria was only its eighth in history, highlighting the importance of the matter to Beijing. The message was clear: UN-sponsored regime change, military intervention, or arming of Syrian rebels - as seen in Libya - would never pass.

Understanding the regional and global battle over Syria is to recognise that no external power in the world has Syrian democracy or human rights as the fundamental drive behind its policies on the crisis. Despite the fluff coming from Western capitals, no leader among them is truly concerned for the welfare of the Syrian people, as noted by the West's double standard silence to Bahrain's ongoing revolution. Likewise, calls for Syrian democracy emanating from the most repressive regime in the world in Saudi Arabia are laughable to say the least. And as we are so regularly told, Russia, China and Iran are the antithesis to the liberal democratic values the West espouses to represent.

What the West and its Gulf Arab proxies saw in Syria was an opportunity to either snatch the Arab world's influential outpost for Iran and Russia, or destroy its regional power altogether by way of a destructive civil war. The former seemed almost completely out of reach short of US military intervention. After spending his entire first term disengaging from wars in the Middle East, the last move president Barack Obama would make in an election year is committing a broke United States to yet another Middle East war. Delegating intervention to its NATO allies was always going to be an unlikely option. Despite French and British eagerness to strike Moamar Gaddafi's forces in Libya last year, the US once again eventually assumed the bulk of the workload.

The threat of a civil war still beckons, as oil-rich Gulf states ponder arming rebels, but decisive military victories by the Syrian army in recent months have made it increasingly unlikely that president Bashar al-Assad will be dislodged by force, either from within or beyond. The international wrangling does not delegitimise the legitimate demands of the Syrian people for democracy and an open society ruled by fairness and equal treatment. Rather, it highlights that for the majority of the Syrian revolution thus far, the battle for Syria has been mostly waged beyond its borders.

The Syrian revolution became no longer a question of the inalienable rights of the Syrian people, but - as so often in the Middle East - a pretence for an intense struggle for regional supremacy. The Saudis and Qataris threw all gloves off when Saudi King Abdullah openly declared his support for the revolt in August 2011. The king's call was not one of solidarity with the Syrian people, but a declaration of proxy war against its regional nemesis, Iran. Riyadh and Doha saw an opportunity to gain a strategic Arab ally on the simple calculation that the majority of Syrians are Sunni Muslims, and thus Assad - member of the minority Alawi sect - would meet the same fate of the fallen Arab dictators before him.

Turkey also hedged its bets on a quick Assad downfall, a strategic blunder that is now under sharp criticism from leading Turkish commentators and opposition leaders as the Syrian dictator appears to have held sway. Although it still hosts Syrian opposition groups and armed rebels, Turkey has notably toned down its harsh rhetoric of Assad in recent weeks. The US and Europe have also moved away from explicit calls for regime change, to endorsing - alongside Russia and China - UN envoy Kofi Annan's six-point plan for a political solution.

Annan's plan is a clear victory for Russia and China, as it reinforces their position on what it considers to be the sensible approach to resolving the Syrian crisis. Annan's peace plan suggests a "Syrian-led political process" echoing Moscow and Beijing's repeated calls for dialogue among Syrian parties and without external interference. It also calls for a cessation of violence "by all parties" without apportioning blame to either the regime or the opposition. Russia had previously drafted a UN Security Council resolution blaming both sides for the crisis, a move rejected at the time by France as "unacceptable" as it could not equate the crimes of rebels to the regime. And the only hint of foreign intervention in Annan's plan is a UN monitoring team to oversee a ceasefire.

This contrasts sharply with the two previous Western-backed UN resolutions that suggested a regime change via transition, and opened the door for further action without compliance, or as Russia and China interpreted, military action. Moscow and Beijing got the Annan plan they wanted, denying the West its traditional position of decision-maker in the Middle East.

Last week's "Friends of Syria" summit in Turkey, a gathering of Western and Arab states alongside a number of Syrian opposition groups, revealed only the lack of options available. The summit's pledge to aid the opposition was as hollow as the rhetorical statements issued in support of the revolution. The US promised communications equipment - certain to defeat a heavily-equipped and trained Syrian army - while Saudi Arabia and Qatar would use its oil-wealth to entice Syrian generals to defect - a strategy it has deployed largely unsuccessfully since mid-2011.

The most telling international meetings were the summits that preceded the "Friends of Syria" gathering. On March 29, Arab leaders met in Baghdad, while the BRICS summit of emerging powers was underway in Delhi. The Arab states, including Riyadh and Doha, had thrown its backing behind Annan's Russian-friendly plan.

The BRICS - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - showed its new global clout by rejecting military action and endorsing dialogue as the path to a solution. The BRICS have stood firm on Syria, and as testimony to its growing global influence, have forced the West to take a backward step. There will be no Libya-repeat in Syria, and there will not be a pro-Western proxy emerging in Damascus anytime soon. Civil war still remains a threat, albeit distant given the rebels' devastating defeats in Homs and Idlib, and its inferiority to the Syrian army.

The retreat of the West from Syria does not, however, signal complete doom for the Syrian revolution. Assad's forces may have won militarily, but large segments of the Syrian population have broken their silence, and will not return to the shadows. Indeed, overt Western and Gulf involvement in the Syrian crisis created more rifts among Syrian activists than resolved disputes. Many Syrian opposition activists and leaders that I met in Syria have been dismayed at what they perceived was the hijacking of the revolution by foreign powers for external interests.

But the threat of Western intervention seems to have subsided, for now. If Iraq was the catalyst for America's decline in the Middle East, Syria has sounded the death knell as a resurgent Russia and emerging China step up to the plate.


Syria escalation puts Russia's security interests in danger

Efforts by the Western powers and Persian Gulf Arab states to undermine and finally topple the Syrian regime pose a serious threat to the security interests of Russia, an analyst says. Press TV has interviewed Michael Malouf, former Pentagon official from Washington about Russia's increased warnings in terms of its geo-political and geo-strategic concerns surrounding the US/Israeli-led threat to Syria and Iran. What follows is an approximate transcript of the interview.

Press TV: You're a military man, what do you make of Russia's warning the West not to arm the opposition saying that armed groups will never be able to defeat the Syrian army even if it's 'armed to the teeth', which may cause slaughter for years?

Malouf: Foreign Minister Lavrov made that point saying that Russia would not vote in favor of the UN Security Council resolution and he's right. The resolution only addressed the Syrian government, it did not address the opposition or the arming of the opposition. Unfortunately, what's now occurring in Syria and even the threat to Iran by the Israelis is having a very serious effect on the Russians in terms of their own vital interests in the Middle East. So they see the crisis in Syria as a much larger problem regionally also for their own vital security interests. Their point is well taken that as long as you have outsiders aiding and abetting the opposition and arming them… When the opposition first started out they didn't have very much in terms of arms; now they have very exotic weapons. Where did they get those weapons? They had to come from the outside. You had Saudi Arabia arming and providing that kind of assistance; also to the Sunnis in the provinces in Iraq. The western-most provinces in Iraq now are being used as a springboard for the opposition to go in and wreak havoc on the government. The government of Syria has a right to defend itself; has a right to maintain law and order. And as long as you have opposition members shooting at them, the crisis is going to continue; the shooting is going to go on unabated and I think this actually plays into the hands of the insidious US plan to try to upset the regime. And the reason for that is that it is all aimed at trying to overthrow al-Assad and to divorce the Syrian government from any influence and relationship with Iran.

Press TV: So back to the question when Russia says that even if you are armed to the teeth in terms of the opposition that you're never going to be able to defeat the Syrian army - What does that mean? Does it mean that this is Russia's way of saying if you're going to play this game of arming the opposition, they're going to continue trying to defend their home and you are going to lose? So, what is this - a confrontation between Russia indirectly through Syria with the US and its allies?

Malouf: It's turning into that, ultimately. Not only the crisis in Syria, but in the larger geo-political and geo-strategic stand point this is also going to be the problem with respect to the potential threats that you're hearing from not only the US, but from Israel in wanting to bomb Iran. It's making Moscow increasingly uneasy in terms of the instability in the region. Syria is just one aspect of the larger problem that Moscow is now seeing in terms of its own vital interests. For example, they are now moving more and more troops and modernizing their base in Armenia in anticipation of the whole crisis in the Middle East from Syria to Iran exploding. And of course Russia has some major military assets in Syria itself that will probably come into play if the opposition continues the way it is right now in continuing to bombard unabated.

Press TV: What do you make of Kofi Annan - Do you think he is objective in this case in point? He has said on a few occasions yesterday that any transition should be a Syrian-led process, which should not involve outside intervention and violation of its territory. He's got to be aware of what's going on on the ground - He can't come out and say exactly in terms of his address to the UN… so, given that, do you think that he is aware of this and that he is impartial?

Malouf: I think Kofi Annan is trying his level best through diplomacy in as far as he can go, but I think he is very aware of the realities on the ground and I think he's under no assumption that what any diplomatic approach is going to prevail as long as you have the opposition being armed from the outside. He should be pointing fingers at those elements outside who are continuing to provide arms and support to the opposition. The Syrian government has every right to protect itself. As long as it's being shot at, it's going to shoot back - it's just that simple.


Putin's Russia is Pivotal For Future U.S. Foreign Policy

Russia is back, at least in the minds of U.S. national security leaders. From halting Iran's nuclear program to squeezing Syria's regime to listening to President Obama's hopes for fewer nuclear arms, "Russia is the key," as one former official says. Past-and-present Russian President Vladimir Putin "still aspires for Russia to be a superpower," says one former senior U.S. diplomat. Next week, U.S. officials will join Germany and its four other permanent counterparts from the U.N. Security Council for talks with Iranian leaders about Tehran's atomic weapons program.

But that process, known in diplomatic circles as the P5+1 talks, "is flawed," says Nicholas Burns, undersecretary of state during George W. Bush's presidency. The talks are flawed because China and Russia are P5 members, and have long worked against American whims within the Security Council. On Iran, China has become the main stumbling block. Beijing has found ways to avoid violating U.N. sanctions on Iran while becoming Tehran's top trading partner, Burns said at a forum this week. In short, China has ample economic and security reasons to help Iran. But in Moscow, Burns says Washington might find an ally.

"Russia does not want to see a nuclear Iran," Burns said. "Russia has a more highly strategic view of this than the Chinese do."

Moscow has also joined Beijing in rejecting U.N. council measures that would have dealt diplomatic blows to Syrian president Bashir al-Assad in his brutal war against opposition elements, which has been frustrating White House officials. But Russia's backing of Assad gives Washington leverage over Putin because if Moscow also assists the Iranian regime, "the Russians will hurt themselves long term in the region. We should be playing on this," says Dennis Ross, a senior U.S. diplomat and presidential adviser under Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama.

Meantime, Putin could make or break what insiders say is a major foreign policy goal for Obama's possible second term: Continuing to shrink the number of U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons. Obama talks often of his vision of a "nuclear-free world," and has pushed hard for nuclear weapons reductions between the Cold War foes. More pragmatic Obama administration officials simply want nuclear arsenal cuts because they feel the nation has more than enough and it would perhaps free up billions.

The United States has nearly 1,740 nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles, sub-based ballistic missiles, and warheads for heavy aircraft, according to the Pentagon. Russia has around 1,490. Under a nuclear-arms reduction pact struck last year, the U.S. and Russia are in the midst of reducing their nuclear arsenals. But is Putin willing to do more?

The Russians "seem to be going the other way," says Michele Flournoy, Obama's former Pentagon policy chief, citing an renewed emphasis on nuclear arms in military doctrine and increased atomic weapons spending. "Even though a second Obama administration might see it possible to do more reductions," Flournoy says, "the challenge is getting the Russians to that point."


Russia says action on Syria, Iran may go nuclear

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev warned on Thursday that military action against sovereign states could lead to a regional nuclear war, starkly voicing Moscow's opposition to Western intervention ahead of a G8 summit at which Syria and Iran will be discussed. "Hasty military operations in foreign states usually bring radicals to power," Medvedev, president for four years until Vladimir Putin's inauguration on May 7, told a conference in St. Petersburg in remarks posted on the government's website.

"At some point such actions which undermine state sovereignty may lead to a full-scale regional war, even, although I do not want to frighten anyone, with the use of nuclear weapons," Medvedev said. "Everyone should bear this in mind."

Medvedev gave no further explanation. Nuclear-armed Russia has said publicly that it is under no obligation to protect Syria if it is attacked, and analysts and diplomats say Russia would not get involved in military action if Iran were attacked. Russia has adamantly urged Western nations not to attack Iran to neutralize its nuclear program or intervene against the Syrian government over bloodshed in which the United Nations says its forces have killed more than 9,000 people.

Medvedev will represent Russia at the Group of Eight summit in place of Putin, whose decision to stay away from the meeting in the United States was seen as muscle-flexing in the face of the West. Putin said previously that threats will only encourage Iran to develop nuclear weapons. Analysts have said that Medvedev also meant that regional nuclear powers such as Israel, Pakistan and India could get involved into a conflict. As president, Medvedev instructed Russia to abstain in a U.N. Security Council vote on a resolution that authorized NATO intervention in Libya, a decision Putin implicitly criticized when he likened the resolution to "medieval calls for crusades".

Medvedev rebuked Putin for the remark, and some Kremlin insiders have said the confrontation over Libya was a factor in Putin's decision to return to the presidency this year instead of letting his junior partner seek a second term. Russia has since accused NATO of overstepping its mandate under the resolution to help rebels oust long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi, and has warned it will not let anything similar happen in Syria.

Since Putin announced plans last September to seek a third presidential term and make Medvedev prime minister, Russia has vetoed two Security Council resolutions condemning Assad's government, one of which would have called on him to cede power. Russia's G8 liaison Arkady Dvorkovich said Russia will try to influence the final version of the G8 statement at a summit in Camp David this weekend to avoid a "one-sided" approach that would favor the Syrian opposition.

"In the G8 final statement we would like to avoid the recommendations similar to those which were forced upon during the preparations of the U.N. Security Council resolutions," Dvorkovich said. "A one-sided signal is not acceptable for us."

Russia successfully managed to water down the part of the statement on Syria at a G8 summit in France in May 2011, removing the calls for action against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. "We believe that the United Nations is the main venue to discussing such issues," Dvorkovich said.


The G8 summit is likely to be the last appearance among all the leaders of industrialized nations for Medvedev, who embraced U.S. President Barack Obama's "reset", improving strained ties between the nations. Dvorkovich said Putin's absence from the summit, the first time a Russian president has skipped one, would not affect the outcome: "All the leaders, I saw their reaction, are ready to comprehensively work with the chairman of the government (Medvedev)."

Dvorkovich said that at a bilateral meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama, Medvedev will raise opposition to attempts by some U.S. lawmakers to introduce legislation which will address human rights violations in Russia. Such legislation could take a form of the so-called Sergei Magnitsky bill, named after the Russian lawyer who died in prison in 2009. The Kremlin human rights council says he was probably beaten to death.

The bill would require the United States to deny visas and freeze the assets of Russians or others with links to his detention and death as well as those who commit other human rights violations. "New legislation which will address new political issues as imagined by some U.S. congressmen or senators is unacceptable," Dvorkovich said, promising a retaliation.


Reset Regret: Russian Global Strategy Undermines American Interests

According to the Obama Administration, the U.S. is not competing with Russia for global influence. Unfortunately, Moscow has not received this memo. Instead, Russia attempts to extend its influence to constrain U.S. policy. Russian leaders like Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov habitually invoke a “polycentric” or multipolar model of the world, with Russia working with her partners toward a future where U.S. power is so diminished that it cannot act without Moscow’s permission.

Moscow has continuously promoted in word and deed the idea that there is or should be a multipolar world order that constrains U.S. foreign policies. Moscow’s concept of multipolarity entails an uncontested sphere of Russian influence in the CIS and with key actors in critically important regions: Europe, East Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America.

Anti-American Partnerships

Moscow has formed partnerships with China, Iran, and Venezuela to prevent the U.S. from consolidating a regional order under its auspices. Like the U.S.S.R, its predecessor and inspiration, today’s Russia pursues key allies in the Middle East and Latin America, such as Syria, Iran, and Venezuela, with whom it can jointly frustrate American and Western efforts to consolidate a peaceful regional order. Such partners may resist U.S. policies and actively counter them to distract the U.S., force the U.S. to accommodate Russian interests, or compel an American retreat.

In East Asia, Moscow joins China to advocate “a new Asian security order” based on “mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, and cooperation.”[1] According to the two great powers, all states would respect each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, not criticize their domestic politics, and support each other on outstanding territorial issues.

To translate: Beijing, Moscow, and their allies will respect Russia’s claims to the Kurile Islands (the Northern Territories) and Georgian territories of Abkhazia/South Ossetia, as well as China’s claims to Xinjiang, Taiwan, and Tibet; China’s territorial claims against Japan regarding the Senkaku Islands; and possibly even China’s claims on the Spratly Islands.

Both countries also support non-alliance principles, equal and transparent security frameworks, and equal and indivisible security. Russia also seeks India’s assent to this formulation and covertly solicits Japan’s endorsement—even as it humiliates Japan over the Kurile Islands, a sure sign of Moscow’s endemic desire to play both sides against the middle and its fundamentally anti-liberal and anti-American orientation. The proposal’s vagueness benefits only Russia and China and squarely denounces the U.S. alliance system in Asia. Ultimately, Russia’s concept of Asian, if not global, multipolarity is self-serving.

Moreover, the joint proposal resembles Russia’s equally self-serving, anti-American, and Anti-NATO proposal for a European Security treaty of 2009–2010. Moscow even applies the same rhetoric to this Asian security proposal that is present in its European Security Treaty draft. At the International Institute for Strategic Studies Shangri-La Dialogue conference in Singapore in 2011, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said:
Russian–Chinese proposals are aimed at helping the countries of the region to realize that security is indivisible and at abandoning attempts to strengthen one’s security at the expense of others. New regional security architecture should be based on the universal principles of international law, non‑aligned approaches, confidence and openness, with due regard to the diversity of the APR and an emerging polycentric balance of forces.[2]
The Unsavory Clients: Tehran, Damascus, Caracas

In addition to diplomatic support for China, Russia has sold Iran, Syria, and Venezuela large amounts of weapons. Despite the laudable cancellation of the S-300 air defense missiles sale to Iran, Moscow still preserves the option of selling other weapons to Tehran. It signed major energy deals with Tehran in 2010 and this summer has advocated easing sanctions on Iran provided it cooperates with the International Atomic Energy Agency—an institution that has long since demonstrated how easily Iran can deceive it concerning its nuclear program.

Moscow clearly wants to retain ties to Iran, which it regards as the rising great power in the Gulf and Middle East and with whom it wants to collaborate against any Western effort to consolidate a peaceful order. Moscow has sold weapons such as anti-tank missiles to Iran and Syria, and these weapons continue to migrate to Hamas and Hezbollah.

Russia defends Bashar al-Assad’s murderous regime despite its bloody repression of its own citizens. This is, among other reasons, because Russia has signed an agreement with Syria to return Soviet naval bases in Latakiye and Tartus to Russian control. Therefore, Russia obstructs U.N. resolutions of censure against Syria. French diplomats who negotiated with Russia believe that Moscow most fears the loss of another ally in the Middle East.

Moscow has also sold billions in weapons to Hugo Chávez’s regime in Venezuela, including fighter jets, tanks, and whole Kalashnikov assault rifle factories. Chávez used his increasing military power to aid the terrorist group FARC directly and run narcotics from West Africa and Latin America into Central and North America.

The notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout, who now awaits trial in a New York federal court, was caught offering to sell weapons to the FARC. Given Bout’s longstanding connections to senior officials of the Russian government, Moscow moved heaven and earth to prevent his extradition from Thailand, where he was arrested, to the U.S. It is quite likely that Bout’s weapons would have been earmarked for the FARC and/or similar narco-terrorists throughout Latin America.

Likewise, Russia has been China’s largest source of foreign weapons since 1990, even though those sales have declined due to Russian fears about Chinese intentions and anger over Chinese piracy and subsequent sale of weapons in competition with Russia in third-party markets. Nevertheless, arms sales and advanced technology transfers from Russia to China still occur.

What Should the U.S. Do?

The optics of Moscow’s ties to anti-American states, which build power to challenge the U.S. regionally and support and control extensive terrorist and intelligence networks, clash dramatically with the optics of the Obama Administration’s “reset.” Tehran, Damascus, and Caracas have an interest in destabilizing their regions and in acquiring advanced conventional—and likely nuclear—weapons. Such proliferation makes for a most problematic multipolarity, which piles up obstacles to U.S. interests and security.

Despite the “reset,” it is in U.S. interests to find out to what degree Moscow orchestrates or participates in joint activities among these problematic states, including arms sales from Iran and Syria to Hamas and Hezbollah. Moscow surely knows of the expansion of the Iranian intelligence, military, economic, and political infrastructure in Iraq, as well as Iran’s ties to Venezuela and those two states’ collaboration in uranium prospecting.

U.S. policymakers should reassess the “reset” and develop regional strategies that counter Russia’s (and China’s) agendas. Such policies should increase pressure on Iran, the most anti-American regional power, and cause the Assad regime in Syria and the Chávez government in Venezuela to stop supporting terrorism.

The Trying Times Ahead

A “reset” policy that ignores Russia’s global efforts to undermine the U.S. recalls the ill-fated détente of the 1970s. It ran aground on Russian expansionism and wars in the Third World, especially Afghanistan. Despite profound changes since then, Russia’s basic anti-American strategic orientation, “reset” rhetoric aside, seems to be the same. In the trying times ahead, when it comes to global challenges, the U.S. should relearn and practice international balance-of-power politics.


Do We Really Want To Pick a Fight With Moscow?

America’s most vital national security concern is to maintain calm, productive relations with Russia.The reason is obvious: Russia and the United States have thousands of nuclear warheads targeted on each other. Many are ready to launch in minutes. Compared to this threat, all of America’s other security issues are minor. Avoiding confrontations with a major nuclear power is obvious. Yet the United States and Russia are ignoring such common sense in their increasingly heated war of words over Syria’s civil war.

The US and its allies have been actively trying to overthrow the Assad regime in Syria for over a year. They have been pouring arms, money, communications gear and fighters into Syria to take advantage of a popular Sunni uprising against the Alawite-dominated regime. Washington’s intervention in Syria is driven by its obsession to undermine Iran by bringing down its most important Arab ally. Israel, which exerts enormous political pressure over US Mideast policy in an election year, sees destabilizing Syria as a triple win: a blow to its arch enemy Iran; a blow to Syria’s efforts to regain its strategic Golan Heights that Israel captured in 1967, then annexed; and wrecking the key backer of Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the Palestinians.

Last week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose presidential ambitions are increasingly evident, accused Russia of selling MI-24 helicopter gunships to Syria. Russia angrily denied the charge and asserted that US anti-riot gear was being used against demonstrators across the Mideast. Washington scourged Syria for attacking civilian targets. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. The same week, the US-installed president of Afghanistan pleaded with Washington to stop its air strikes that are killing many civilians. Pakistan’s feeble government begged Washington to halt its drone attacks.

The angry Russians could have added that the US has been buying rocket-armed Russian-made MI-17 combat helicopters from them for use by Afghan government forces, and using helicopter and AC-130 gunships in Afghanistan. Or citing US sales of advanced Apache attack helicopters to Israel that were used to attack civilian targets in Gaza. Syria has long been a close ally of Moscow. US attempts to overthrow the Assad regime were sure to infuriate and alarm Moscow, which sees US plots everywhere to undermine Russia. The Kremlin must find a way to answer the US challenge or lose face.

Meanwhile, another US-Russia fracas is brewing up in the Caucasus. Relations between the two great powers are still raw due to the 2008 mini-war between Georgia and Russia over South Ossetia. Washington helped overthrow the former Georgian government of Eduard Shevardnadze in the so-called "Rose Revolution," replacing him with close US ally, Mikhail Shakashvilli. The new Georgian leader quickly turned his small Caucasian nation into a base for US and Israel intelligence and military operations. In 2008, Shakashvilli foolishly picked a fight with Russia. US warships were moved into the Black Sea, setting of a war scare in the region before tempers cooled.

Now, the US is back playing the Great Game in the Caucasus while the Georgia feud still simmers. This time it’s in oil-rich Azerbaijan, which has become a key American and Israeli ally. The Baku regime just bought $1.6 billion worth of Israeli arms. Azerbaijan and Armenia, a close Russian ally, have been warring for a decade over disputed Nagorno-Karabakh. This obscure conflict is heating up again as Russia and the US back opposite sides. CIA has been busy for some time trying to stir up Azeri separatists in northern Iran. The US and Israel might use Azerbaijan as a base to attack Iran.

As if Russo-American relations were not bad enough, US Republicans demand President Barack Obama "get tough" with Moscow. Threats fly back and forth over the planned US missile defense shield in Eastern Europe that enrages the Kremlin. Provoking or antagonizing Russia over areas that are of no vital US strategic interest is dangerous and childish. Moscow and Washington should be seeking peaceful resolutions in Syria and the Caucasus, not playing silly Cold War games. Hopefully, Presidents Obama and Vladimir Putin will sit down and talk some grown-up sense when they meet at a summit this week in Mexico.


Syria's Russian Connection

Syria's embattled regime laid plans to use Russian banks as part of an emergency effort to sidestep American and European sanctions on oil and financial transactions, according to Syrian government documents and correspondence reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The documents offer an inside look at how a shrinking group of regime loyalists is working to prop up Bashar al-Assad's government. Over the past several weeks, senior Syrian officials have held a series of meetings to discuss how to conduct business after being cut off from most Western banking institutions and trade, the documents indicate.

The documents, which span a period from March until early July, also underscore the difficulties facing Western governments in sustaining comprehensive sanctions against Syria, as long as Damascus keeps its strong diplomatic alliance with Moscow. Earlier this month, Russia received a delegation of top Syrian economic officials, including its oil and finance ministers, to discuss the possibility of government loans and long-term oil deals, Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil said in a news conference.

The sanctions, which began last year and were strengthened this spring, are aimed at Syria's oil and financial sectors. The unilateral actions are coordinated by Western and Middle Eastern countries allied against Syria, but aren't legally binding on Russian and other companies that don't have operations in the U.S. or Europe. Russia and China have used their veto power at the United Nations Security Council to block the possibility of international sanctions.

A cache of documents reviewed by the Journal includes what appears to be authentic correspondence between Syrian government officials and certain foreign companies. In interviews with the Journal, some people who were parties to correspondence confirmed details. None of the people reached by the Journal questioned the authenticity of documents referenced in this article, although some denied conducting any business with Syrian entities.

Syria isn't a globally significant oil producer. The 360,000 barrels of crude it pumps daily represent less than 1% of the world's daily oil production. But Syria's oil sales are one of the last sources of foreign currency for President Assad. The roughly 150,000 barrels per day Syria has available for export, after its domestic needs are met, are worth approximately $380 million per month at current prices. That is a key reason why the U.S. and the European Union targeted Syria's state oil companies, its central bank and financial sector. The sanctions have cut Syria off from its traditional buyers in Europe, including in Italy, Germany and Spain.

Last summer, the Syrian government announced it had approximately $17 billion in foreign-currency reserves, a figure that some Western diplomats believe has fallen by between one-third and one-half. The U.S. imposed sanctions on Syria's central bank and oil sector in August 2011. The EU placed limited sanctions on the Syrian oil sector last September, then strengthened them this March. Both the EU and U.K. imposed sanctions on the Syrian central bank in February.

The Russian government has long been opposed to international sanctions, both in general and in the case of Syria, saying they hinder political solutions. Diplomats at the United Nations say Moscow's strong views have kept other countries from initiating debate on sanctioning Syria's oil or banking sectors. Although Russian companies don't have any legal obligation to follow U.S. and EU sanctions against Syria, such commerce has the potential to complicate diplomacy on other issues.

Syria's plan to work around Western sanctions took shape this summer in a series of meetings between four officials—the central-bank governor, the ministers of oil and finance and the head of the state oil-marketing company in charge of selling Syrian oil, one government document shows.

After a July 1 meeting, the four officials drafted a letter to then-Prime Minister Riad Hijab saying that international sanctions had limited their ability to collect revenue by cutting off "conventional solutions [and] customary banking" practices, according to a copy of the letter reviewed by the Journal. A copy of the letter was included in correspondence between the Syrian central bank and Syria's oil-marketing company, known as Sytrol, whose head was one of the letter's four signatories. It isn't known if the prime minister received the letter. Mr. Hijab defected on Aug. 6.

So far this year, despite the sanctions, Sytrol has secured 11 contracts to sell oil, that letter said. In addition, the letter said, Sytrol had secured deals to import half the diesel fuel Syria is projected to need each year—fuel it doesn't produce at home but needs for military and industrial uses. In that letter, the officials recommended a change in Syrian laws that would allow them to set up offshore companies and conduct business through them in order to minimize the impact of sanctions.

"Offshore companies are being formed in Russia and Malaysia and bank accounts are being activated in Russia in euro and Russian-ruble [denominated accounts] and could be ready Thursday July 5, 2012…. [T]hen we would be able to pay for the value of the imports and receive the money for crude exports easily, while all concerned parties will take all the necessary actions to ensure the confidentiality of the proceedings in order not to open the way to the European Union and the United States to track the work of these companies and include them on the list of sanctions," according to the letter.

It isn't clear from the documents reviewed by the Journal whether the steps outlined in that letter were completed. The letter addressed to the prime minister didn't include any names of offshore companies or Russian banks. Separate documents reviewed by the Journal indicate that as recently as June Syrian government entities on the U.S. and EU sanctions lists were considering commercial transactions that would involve Russian banks. Those documents suggest that Syria was looking to do business with Gazprombank, the lending affiliate of Russia's natural-gas monopoly.

A sample contract form sent by Sytrol in February to prospective oil buyers, after both the U.S. and EU had imposed some sanctions, listed Gazprombank as the financial institution through which payments for crude could be made, according to documents reviewed by the Journal, suggesting that Syria intended to clear foreign-currency payments for oil via that bank. It isn't known whether Gazprombank ever cleared any such payments, or what companies were involved in the 11 contracts that the Syrian government letter says have been signed this year.

In March, officials from Syria's central bank traveled to Moscow and met with executives from Gazprombank, in part to try to strengthen business relationships, including exchanging information to facilitate electronic money transfers, according to a separate document.

Gazprombank didn't respond to the Journal's question about the authenticity of the documents that mention the bank. It said it had a "correspondent banking relationship" with the Syrian central bank before the U.S. and EU sanctions were in place, but it "is no longer engaged in business (including international settlements) with the central bank of Syria and other Syrian financial institutions."

Correspondence in June between Sytrol and a small, Dubai-based oil trader identified Moscow-based Novikombank as Sytrol's "nominated bank" through which the trader would send money to the Syrian government. A June 21 letter from the trading firm, called Intertrade, to the head of Sytrol strikes an apologetic tone for the delays in closing an oil contract due to what the writer refers to as "your banking issues." It isn't clear from this letter whether any such contracts were closed.

In a telephone interview, the head of Intertrade, whose name appears on the letter, denied having any commercial relationship with Sytrol or Syria. After he was shown the correspondence reviewed by the Journal, he responded in writing that "we were just preparing the road for future commercial relations once it is legal and feasible to do so."

Novikombank, whose chairman is a former officer of the Soviet-era secret service and a colleague of President Vladimir Putin, said in a statement it doesn't do business with Syrian entities. A spokesman said that the bank doesn't comment on "rumors," and he declined to answer other questions about the bank's clients, citing Russian bank-secrecy laws.

Other Sytrol and Syrian government documents describe efforts to find buyers for the nation's surplus oil. In pitches to several prospective customers, Sytrol officials agreed to discount Syrian crude, pricing it between $10 and $15 a barrel less than the Brent and the Dubai averages from which Middle Eastern oil is sometimes set.

One logistical problem posed by the sanctions was how to ship oil to buyers. Documents reviewed by the Journal show that Russian buyers of Syrian crude made plans to load Syrian oil onto leased tankers from Singapore and Russian-owned tankers based in the Black Sea. Correspondence between potential Russian buyers and Sytrol indicate that the buyers planned to use Russian insurance companies to cover the shipments.

Other documents showed that Syrian oil officials had found suppliers for diesel fuel. Sytrol agreed to buy 200,000 metric tons of diesel per month for 12 months from Angola's state oil company, Sonangol, at a price of $855 per ton, according to a contract reviewed by the Journal.

A South African firm, Avon Oil Trading Ltd., negotiated the deal on behalf of Sytrol after Syria's ambassador to South Africa approached the firm, according to Avon Chief Executive May Kiefer, who said she had tried unsuccessfully to do business with Syria previously. "At the beginning of the year, they came back to us and said, 'Look, there's an opportunity if you guys are interested,' and of course we were interested," Ms. Kiefer said.

South African officials said their government has generally remained neutral on the issue of sanctions against Syria. In July, South Africa, which currently holds a rotating seat on the U.N. Security Council, joined Pakistan in abstaining from a vote that could have laid the groundwork for international military intervention. Russia and China vetoed the measure.

The Angolan state oil company, Sonangol, didn't respond to written requests for comment. Ms. Kiefer said that when she was negotiating the deal, Angolan executives said they were aware of Western sanctions against Syria but that they and their government felt no obligation to follow them. Ms. Kiefer confirmed the contract terms laid out in the document reviewed by the Journal. The contract says her firm would be paid a commission of $1 million per month for the diesel deliveries from Sonangol.


Russia in the Middle East

The world is living through a veritable slow-motion earthquake. If things go according to plan, the US obsession with Afghanistan and Iraq will soon be one of those ugly historical disfigurements that — at least for most Americans — will disappear into the memory hole. Like Nixon and Vietnam, US President Barack Obama will be remembered as the president who “brought the troops home”. But one cannot help but notice the careful calibration of these moves to fit the US domestic political machine – the Iraqi move to show Americans that things on the international front are improving (just don’t mention Guantanamo), the Afghan move put off conveniently till President Barack Obama’s second term, when he doesn’t need to worry about the fallout electorally if things unravel (which they surely will).

Of course, Russia lost big time geopolitically when the US invaded Afghanistan, and thus gains as regional geopolitical hegemon by the withdrawal of US troops from Central Asia. Just look at any map. But American tentacles will remain: Central Asia has no real alternative economically or politically anymore to the neoliberal global economy, as Russia no longer claims to represent a socialist alternative to imperialism. The departure of US troops and planes from remote Kyrgyzstan will not be missed — except for the hole it leaves in the already penurious Kyrgyz government’s budget and foreign currency reserves. Russia is a far weaker entity than the Soviet Union, both economically and politically. Thus, Russia’s gain from US weakness is not great.

Besides, both Russia and the US support the current Afghan government against the Taliban — as does Iran. In fact, in case US state department and pentagon officials haven’t noticed the obvious, the main beneficiary of the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq has been Iran, again by definition. The invasion brought to power the ethnic Persian Tajiks in Afghanistan, and the invasion of Iraq set up a Shia-dominated government there. Similarly, when the US invaded Iraq, Russia lost politically and economically. The US cancelled Sadam Hussein’s state debts, which hurt the Russians and Europeans but not the US. The US just happened to be boycotting Iraq for the previous decade and took pleasure from shafting its sometime allies for ignoring US wishes. However, once Iraqi politicians begin to reassert some control over their foreign policy, Russia will be seen as a much more sympathetic partner internationally.

Ironically, on many fronts, Iran now holds the key to readjusting the political playing field and establishing rules that can lead away from the deadly game being played by the US, including in Afghanistan, Iraq, with broader implications for broader nuclear disarmament, EU-US relations, but above all, for the continued role of the dollar as world reserve currency. This encourages Russia to maintain its alliance with Iran over vague (and empty) promises of US-Russian world hegemony as envisioned by the now-discredited Medvedev Atlantists in Moscow.

Russia’s relations with both Central Asia and the Middle East since the collapse of the Soviet Union have been low key. In the Middle East, it maintains relations with Palestine’s Hamas, and, as a member of the so-called quartet of Middle East negotiators (along with the EU, the US and the UN), insists that Israel freeze expansion of settlements in the Occupied Territories as a condition of further talks. It appears to be trying to regain some of the goodwill that existed between the Soviet Union and Arab states, supporting the UN Goldstone Report which accused Israel of war crimes in its 2008 invasion of Gaza.

It embarked on a diplomatic offensive with Arab states in 2008, offering Syria and Egypt nuclear power stations, and is re-establishing a military presence in the Mediterranean at the Syrian port, Tartus, though Syria’s current civil war, with Russia and Iran lined up against the West and the Arab states could leave Russia on the losing side. Western attempts to portray Russia as the power-hungry bad guy in Syria do not hold water. Russia is concerned about heightened civil war in an evenly divided population, with rebel groups openly armed by Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s Arab and Western foes. The hypocrisy in the Arab world is appalling: Gulf monarchies and Saudi Arabia loudly demand that Egypt’s new government swear off any attempt to ”interfere” in their internal politics, but brazenly arm Syrian rebels.

Russia is still struggling to leave its own tragic civil war in Chechnya behind, and to make sure there’s a place at the table for its Muslims. With its 16 million Muslims (about 12 per cent of the population), it has expressed interest in joining the Organization of Islamic Conference. Its unwillingness to let Syria slide into civil war does not gain it any brownie points among its own separatist Muslims in the Caucasus and elsewhere, but it is not willing to carve up either Syria or the Russian federation in the interests of some fleeting peace. The importance of Jewish financial and economic interests in post-Soviet Russia – both the banking and industrial oligarchs and the Kosher Nostra mafia – ensures that Israel gets a sympathetic hearing from Russian leaders. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is a Russian Jew who emigrated from the Soviet Union in 1978.

Israel is also able to take advantage of the persistence of Muslim unrest and dreams of independence in the Caucasus within Russia to prevent Moscow from taking any strong position to pressure Israel. Russia’s prickly neighbor Georgia harbors Chechen rebels and Georgia’s president, Mikheil Saakashvili, uses Israeli and US military advisers. Of course, the US benefits from Israeli pressures on Russia. This is a key feature of the current Great Game, where the US and Israel act as the new imperial “centre”.

It is popular to call this era a new Cold War. However, history never repeats itself. There certainly is a new tension in world politics following 9/11, and the failure of the newly aggressive US to successfully assert its hegemony around the world, including Russia, keeps the fires of chauvinism hot in the US. On the US right, Russia is seen merely as the Soviet Union reborn, a ruse to hide the KGB’s agenda of world communist control. For the saner Obamites, it is a more diffused Cold War, dominated by a new US-Israeli imperial centre, the “empire-and-a-half”, with shifting alliances of convenience, though with a strong, new opposition player on the horizon – a savvier, more articulate Islamic world, with Iran, Turkey and Egypt in the first rank.

The desire by both the US and Israel to overthrow the Iranian government is now the only common goal left in this “empire-and-a-half”, but it is a common goal only because Israel is in the driver’s seat. Israel resents Iran as an existential threat not to Israel itself, but to Greater Israel and regional domination. Iran serves as a powerful example, a third way for Muslim countries, and is most definitely a rival to Israel as Middle East hegemon. Among the new Arab Spring governments, it is only Egypt’s that worries Israel. Just imagine if Egypt and Iran start to cooperate. Add in Shia-dominated Iraq, Turkey and Russia, as Russia has good relations with all four, and common objects on the international scene. Suddenly the Middle East playing field takes on a totally different appearance.

A rational US policy to join with Russia and China to accommodate Iran could save the teetering dollar, or at least give the US a chance to prepare for an orderly transition to a new international currency. If Russia, China and Iran defuse the current nuclear crisis between the US and Iran peacefully, with a nod to Turkey and a resolve to make Israel join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, this could pave the way for a new Eurasian playing field. If and when the US withdraws from Afghanistan, Pakistan and India will be drawn in as well.

This would set off a chain of events that could change the whole nature of the current Great Game leading to a Russia-India-Iran-China axis (Russia-India-China summits have already been held yearly since 2001), leaving Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Israel to sort out their regional conflicts outside of a new, very different great game. US interests would be considered but without US diktat, forcing, or rather allowing the US to put its own house in order. Iran would finally be accepted as the legitimate regional player that it is. If the US cannot bring itself to make a graceful exit from its self-imposed crisis in the region, this will only accelerate its decline.

Russia inherits fond memories across the Middle East region as the anti-Zionist Soviet Union’s successor. It now has the chance to gain long term credibility as a principled partner not only in the Middle East but to non-aligned countries everywhere, and should hold the fort, the anti-imperial one, against what’s left of empire.
Eric Walberg is the author of Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games.


Michael Doran: Syria's Coming Sectarian Crack-Up

The Obama administration has been decrying the spread of sectarianism in war-torn Syria and calling for the preservation of state institutions there. A "managed transition" is the new mantra in Washington. This isn't a policy but a prayer. Syrian state institutions are inherently sectarian, and they are crumbling before our eyes. Syria is like Humpty Dumpty. Made up of four or five diverse regions glued together after World War I, the country is an accident of great-power politics. Like neighboring Lebanon, it has now dissolved into its constituent parts. The Free Syrian Army isn't a unified force but rather a network of militias, each with its own regional power base and external patron.

Consider Aleppo. Syria's largest city, its economic hub, is the central battleground in the current civil war. In the early 1920s, the French dragged Aleppo kicking and screaming into the new Syrian state, which they created. Today, Bashar al-Assad's schools teach that Ibrahim Hananu, the leader of the Aleppine rebellion against the French, was a great patriot who fought for independence. He did fight the imperialists, yes, but for Turkey—not Syria.

In 1920 Aleppo was closer—economically, socially, and geographically—to Turkish Anatolia than to Arab Damascus. It was Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, who armed and equipped Hananu and his men. When the Turks were forced to cut a deal with the French, Hananu's rebellion collapsed. As a result, the border between Syria and Turkey fell 40 miles north of Aleppo. It could just as easily have fallen much further south, with Aleppo nestling comfortably in the bosom of modern Turkey.

It was anything but comfortable in the new Syria. In the decades that followed, two parties dominated the country's political life—one representing the interests of Aleppo, the other of Damascus. Each had its own separate foreign policy: Aleppo aligned, naturally, with Turkey and Iraq; Damascus with Egypt. By the mid-1950s, the Syrian state was disintegrating. Iraq, with the help of Turkey, stood poised to take control of the country—a development that would have privileged Aleppo over Damascus.

Then Gamal Abdel Nasser, Egypt's charismatic proponent of pan-Arab nationalism, came to the rescue of his Damascene allies (just as, today, Iran is rescuing Assad). Nasser quickly founded the United Arab Republic, a Syrian-Egyptian amalgamation, in 1958. Within four years, the Syrians bolted from the union. The country descended into a period of turmoil that ended only in 1970, when Hafez al-Assad imposed a new order with an iron fist. The core of the new regime was a group of close associates of Assad, almost all of them from the Alawite sect, a despised religious minority concentrated in the mountains of the north, above Latakia. The Alawites, who were marginal to the life of the main cities of Syria, rose to power through the military.

The new regime disguised its sectarian character by, among other tactics, stressing its pan-Arab credentials and its hostility to Zionism. There is no little irony in the fact that Assad, an Alawite, played the scourge of Israel. Historically, his sect was immune to the call of Arab nationalism. In 1936, for instance, Hafez al-Assad's father joined a delegation of notables who petitioned the French to establish an autonomous Alawite canton—one centered on the mountains of the north, the minority's heartland.

The delegation justified their demand as a necessary defense against Muslim intolerance. As evidence, the Alawite notables cited the unjust treatment that the "good Jews" of Palestine were receiving. The Jews, their petition stated, "scattered gold, and established prosperity in Palestine without harming anyone or taking anything by force, yet the Muslims declare holy war against them and never hesitated in slaughtering their women and children." As a result, "a dark fate awaits the Jews and other minorities" when the Muslims would receive their independence.

By the time Hafez al-Assad took control of the Syrian state, he and his fellow Alawites had learned to embrace the anti-Israeli norms that prevailed among their Sunni neighbors. But beneath this veneer of agreement, the fear of the Muslim majority remained. The sectarian nucleus of the state has always been a defining characteristic of the Assad regime. But the Alawite order is collapsing today, and it will never be reconstituted. Syria is now a regional battleground, with Tehran and Moscow backing Assad while Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan back the rebels.

When Assad loses Aleppo and Damascus—and this loss is almost a certainty—his Russian and Iranian patrons won't abandon him. They have no other horse to ride in Syria. Instead they will assist in establishing a sectarian militia, an Alawite analogue to Hezbollah. In fact, such a militia is already rising up naturally, as Sunni defections transform the Syrian military into an overtly Alawite force. If the rebels finally succeed in dislodging the regime from the main cities, it will retreat to the north, and the autonomous Alawite canton that Bashar al-Assad's grandfather envisioned will finally be born. "Alawistan," as the Mideast scholar Tony Badran called it, will join Hezbollah in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon as another sectarian island in the Iranian archipelago of influence.

If the breakup of Syria and the rise of an Iranian-backed canton are indeed undesirable, then Washington must get to work immediately to create an alternative. The planning should begin in Turkey, which borders not just Aleppo but also the future canton of Alawistan.

Mr. Doran, who served as a deputy assistant secretary of defense from 2007-08, is a senior fellow in the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution.


Danny Ayalon: Syria, then Lebanon, will eventually fragment

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said Friday that first Syria and then Lebanon would eventually fragment, Army Radio reported. Speaking at a meeting in Kibbutz Gavim, Ayalon added that he does not expect an Arab alliance to form against Israel within the next decade, and that Arab countries would come to see the advantages of cooperation with Israel. Turning to Iran, Ayalon said he believes there is still time to stop the country's nuclear program through economic pressure. "Even as of now, the measures taken have placed significant internal pressure within Iran," Ayalon said.


Russia, Armenia ‘close strategic partners’ - Presidents

Russia’s annual trade with Armenia is back to the pre-crisis level of about $1bn, and there is room for it to grow even further. Presidents Vladimir Putin and Serge Sargsyan discussed this and other matters at their meeting in Moscow on Wednesday.

Their meeting closely coincided with the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Russia and Armenia and the 15th anniversary of the Russian-Armenian friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance treaty. After emerging from the talks, Mr Putin spoke for the press:

"We have discussed Russian-Armenian coordination within international organizations, including the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Collective Security Treaty Organization. We also devoted time to post-Soviet integration and agreed to set up a bilateral commission which would look into how Armenia can build cooperation with the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Unfortunately, the Customs Union does not share land borders with Armenia. This obstacle, however, can be successfully overcome with the help of international agreements, signed by the Customs Union countries."

Mr Sargsyan reaffirmed Armenia’s commitment to strengthening the Collective Security Treaty Organization, which brings his country together with Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. In September, his country is to host exercises of the Collective Rapid Deployment Force of the CSTO. He also spoke about joint projects in the economy:

"These are long-term projects. They include several new generating units at Armenia’s Metsamor nuclear power plant and important infrastructure installations on Armenian territory."

The Armenian President described Russia as a powerful factor of strategic stability in the South Caucasus. He also accepted Putin’s offer of further Russian mediation on the issue Nagorny Karabakh, a breakaway Armenian-populated enclave inside Azerbaijan. Mr Sargsyan praised Russia’s role in Karabakh as ‘constructive’ and ‘conducive to stability and peace’.


Armenia, Russia interested in the further development of ties

President Serzh Sargsyan received today the Chairman of the State Duma of the Russian Federal Assembly Sergeyn Naryshkin. The President voiced hope that his visit would give new impetus to the development of Armenian-Russian strategic relations. Serzh Sargsyan highly appreciated Sergey Naryshkin’s personal contribution to the reinforcement of friendly ties. President Sargsyan said Armenia is interested in the further deepening of relations based on a solid historic basis, noting that those relations are the milestone of Armenia’s security. Chairman of the State Duma also praised the high level of strategic partnership between the two countries and underlined that Russia values the development of relations with Armenia. Sergey Naryshkin attached importance to the role of diplomacy in the reinforcement of ties between the two countries and assured that they would do their best together with Armenian counterparts to ensure the further deepening of ties between the two friendly peoples and countries.


Chairman of the Russian State Duma pays tribute to Armenian Genocide victims

Chairman of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation Sergey Naryshkin and his delegation visited the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial Complex accompanied by Vice President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia Edward Sharmazanov. Chairman of the State Duma of the Russian Federation laid a wreath at the memorial to the Armenian Genocide victims after which the members of the delegation put flowers at the Eternal Fire and honored the memory of the innocent victims with a minute of silence. Members of the Russian delegation visited the Armenian Genocide Museum where they get acquainted with the temporary exhibition titled “Book as a witness of the Genocide” dedicated to the 500th anniversary of the Armenian printing and proclamation of Yerevan as 2012 World Book Capital City by UNESCO. Afterwards Chairman of the State Duma of the Russian Federation left a note in the Commemoration Book. The delegates from the Russian Federation had a tour of the Memorial Alley where Chairman of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation Sergey Naryshkin planted a fir.


Russia Leader Calls Genocide ‘A Crime Against Humanity’

The Armenian Genocide was “was a crime against humanity and civilization,” said the chairwoman of Russian Federal Council (Senate), during a visit to Dzidzernageprt memorial monument on Thursday. Valentina Matviyenko led a delegation to the Armenian Genocide Museum and Institute and laid a wreath at the memorial. “No matter how many centuries pass, such crimes can never be forgotten nor can they be repeated again,” said Matviyenko adding that it was the right decision by the Armenians to build such a memorial dedicated to the innocent victims. “As long as the memory lives on, such things will never happen again.” The visiting dignitary was given a guided tour of the Museum-Institute, after which she signed the Book of Records and watered the tree she had planted on an earlier visit to the “Memory Garden.” At a press conference later Thursday with Armenia’s Parliament Speaker Hovig Abrahamian, Matviyenko said the Russian Federal Council was interested in strengthening cooperation with Armenia’s National Assembly. Matviyenko added that since establishment of diplomatic relations, Armenia and Russia have reached mutually beneficial cooperation in most different spheres. “Armenia is an active member of the CSTO and the Armenian-Russian military-technical cooperation is productively developing within that framework,” said Matviyenko. Abrahamian praised Armenian-Russian cooperation adding that the visit of the delegation will further contribute to the development of that cooperation.


Russia’s Armenian millionaires to arrive in Armenia

Chairman Ara Abrahamyan of the Union of Armenians of Russia, Tashir Group Company’s owner Samvel Karapetyan (a.k.a Samvel of Kaluga), Armenian capital city Yerevan’s former Mayor Karen Karapetyan, and Bamo Holding’s founders—the Muradyan brothers—, soon will arrive in Armenia from Russia, Chorrord Inknishkhanutyun daily writes. “According to some news, this visit to Armenia by the [Armenian] millionaires, who have settled in Russia, has a very concrete reason and objective. Irrespective of everything, these business circles—which are connected to Armenia with numerous strings—first and foremost are preparing to determine their tasks and the number of votes required in connection with [the] 2013 [presidential elections in Armenia]. Second, some [of them] will attempt to once again lobby for the [ruling Republican Party] RPA in their places of birth and to take care of the matter of future local little authorities, since the upcoming elections’ result and securing the necessary amount [of votes] will depend on them,” Chorrord Inknishkhanutyun writes.