October 11, 2020

Help Wanted: Armenia seeks allies. Iran encouraged to apply

Landlocked and surrounded by unfriendly neighbors, Iran seems to be the lone friend by allowing Armenia to use their trucking routes for exporting. Will Iran help them defeat Turkey? How else can Armenia prevail against Turkish aggression – even with the possibility of Russian help? Hard to say, but Brad Johnson believes Erdogan won’t back down easily.

Brad is a retired senior CIA operative and station chief of 25 years. He now devotes his life to his non-profit, Americans for Intelligence Reform. Bringing a unique perspective of a “spy’s spy” and a keen interest in global and domestic issues, you can follow him at intelreform.org. Subscribe, share, support and help AIR and other independent media outlets get the news mainstream media refuses to cover.


brad johnson it is october 7 of
00:03
2020 and the war
00:07
and it would be hard not to call it a
00:08
war at this point between
00:10
azerbaijan and armenia proxies
00:13
for respectively turkey and russia with
00:16
other countries showing interest
00:19
it’s really escalating both in terms of
00:21
the amount and kinds of territory being
00:23
attacked and
00:24
numbers of people that are being killed
00:26
or injured can you give us an update on
00:28
that
00:29
yes this is this has been heading kind
00:32
of the way we’ve been predicting here
00:34
for quite some time
00:35
and it’s it’s based on uh all of the
00:38
factors that i’ve been pointing out for
00:40
a long time now on the actual conflict
00:41
itself
00:42
uh the the basic conflict is between
00:46
tiny armenian armenia on the one hand
00:48
backed by russia
00:50
and the larger better financed
00:53
uh azerbaijan on the other backed by
00:56
turkey
00:57
so uh azerbaijan has the advantage in
01:00
pretty much every respect militarily
01:02
population economy everything
01:05
they are a oil and gas develop country
01:08
so they
01:08
have developed some of those resources
01:10
and are selling them so they have
01:12
some cash flow advantages and are on the
01:14
black sea
01:15
in a better position overall armenia has
01:18
long been
01:19
uh you know is landlocked and has has
01:22
long had problems because it’s
01:24
surrounded by
01:25
neighbors that basically don’t work with
01:27
them
01:28
so kind of an interesting aspect out of
01:30
all of this is their only
01:33
your door into the rest of the world for
01:36
example for trucking and all of these
01:37
things that come in in
01:39
large numbers where they can do massive
01:41
commercial
01:42
shipping if you will it’s by truck by
01:45
land through
01:46
iran so the uh
01:49
commercial uh relationship that they’ve
01:52
had with iran has been very robust for a
01:54
long time
01:55
so uh iran is turning into kind of an
01:59
interesting
02:01
factor in this war so at the
02:04
at the battle lines they’ve gone back
02:06
and forth about five or six
02:08
days ago azerbaijan fired a couple of
02:11
missiles
02:11
at the main source of electricity in
02:15
armenia which is the nuclear power plant
02:18
those were
02:18
stopped in midair and shot down by
02:21
counter missile fire
02:22
and uh so it wasn’t blown up but that
02:26
would have been a
02:27
it is a strategic target of course to
02:30
destroy the electricity of a country but
02:32
it’s also uh
02:33
uh it’s the only source of electricity
02:35
to the country so that would have been a
02:38
fantastically huge blow but that started
02:41
off
02:41
a series of rockets shooting at each
02:43
other and
02:44
for example in steponakert which is the
02:48
main town in the breakaway region of
02:50
nagorno-karabakh
02:51
there’s actually several regions that
02:53
are all kind of generally everybody
02:54
calls them nagorno-karabakh
02:56
but there’s two to the north that are
02:57
separate and
02:59
uh all are people mainly armenian people
03:02
that live in those areas but
03:04
um stephanie kurt is the largest town in
03:07
those
03:07
zones and that’s where they parked the
03:10
tanks and
03:11
trucks and all that so it also then has
03:14
become a target
03:14
so innocent civilians are getting killed
03:17
the same thing is going back the other
03:19
way these little towns along the way are
03:20
the staging points
03:22
and armenia has fired some rockets back
03:24
at those so there have been civilian
03:26
casualties on both sides there’s been a
03:27
lot of military equipment destroyed on
03:29
both sides
03:30
uh right now the fighting is
03:32
inconclusive
03:33
uh but turkey’s all in with this there
03:36
have been
03:36
several uh videos out and you have some
03:39
of these posted
03:40
that shows soldiers in these areas where
03:43
some of the civilians have been hit
03:44
in the um in the azerbaijani zones areas
03:48
within azerbaijan
03:49
where they have patches on their
03:51
shoulder that show them coming from uh
03:53
different areas one of them showed this
03:54
the grey wolves another one is
03:55
suspiciously
03:56
like looks like kind of a black flag
04:00
combined with the uh uh
04:03
you know armenian flag suggesting
04:05
perhaps an isis element
04:07
so these syrian fighters that everyone
04:09
has been saying for a long time
04:11
have been coming up to this area to
04:13
contribute to the fighting and now
04:14
apparently gray wolves which turkey
04:16
controls
04:17
uh also in the area so i that all makes
04:20
sense to me that’s almost certainly true
04:22
that those
04:23
elements those people are starting to be
04:25
brought into the area
04:27
to toughen up the azerbaijani troops so
04:30
uh i’m not suggesting that armenia has
04:33
not had some victories they have they’ve
04:35
held up quite well so far
04:37
they are certainly beating each other up
04:38
really well a lot of casualties on
04:41
either side
04:42
i can tell you right now these guys
04:43
aren’t taking a lot of prisoners either
04:45
one of them
04:46
when they capture troops they basically
04:48
execute them so it’s kind of a
04:50
dirty little war so far turkey
04:53
and now we just posted an excellent
04:55
article
04:56
by one of the senior fellows at
04:58
americans for intelligence reform barry
04:59
webb we just it’s a
05:00
like nine or ten page article on the
05:02
website at intel reform.org
05:05
that kind of lays this all out in the
05:06
history and some of the religious
05:08
elements
05:09
and all those factors but uh one of the
05:11
things that that we describe in there in
05:13
quite some detail
05:15
is why is this so important to turkey
05:18
we know why it’s important to azerbaijan
05:20
they want that territory back
05:22
that was given to them during stalin’s
05:24
days stalin used to like to play
05:26
kind of checkers with all these
05:27
countries he would sort of cut out
05:29
pieces of a country and give it to
05:31
another uh
05:33
soviet republic to kind of divide and
05:36
conquer to keep them under control so it
05:38
was a
05:38
it was a tactic he used often this is
05:40
one of those areas where that happened
05:42
so
05:43
it’s not like azerbaijan has you know a
05:44
thousand-year history of
05:46
being in this area but whatever that’s
05:49
it still doesn’t change the things today
05:51
but in those northern regions those
05:53
other two little areas of what’s called
05:55
nagorno-karl bar in general
05:57
is where the pipeline goes through and
05:59
so who is the main benefactor of that
06:02
pipeline
06:02
it’s it’s turkey connecting all this up
06:05
turkey
06:06
is uh has no natural gas or oil of their
06:10
own
06:10
so this direct pipeline out of a puppet
06:13
state what has become a puppet state for
06:15
turkey and azerbaijan is controlled by a
06:18
strong man
06:19
they’ve been uh what three or four
06:21
presidents of azerbaijan in a row that
06:23
are that are like
06:24
father and son sort of thing it’s it’s
06:27
kind of like north korea in that sense
06:29
not as you know as radically
06:32
closed as north captioning not
06:47
get and available uh oil and gas which
06:50
they desperately need we all know that
06:52
that
06:52
what president erdogan from turkey has
06:55
in mind is a neo-ottoman empire
06:57
rising up but he has to have natural oil
07:00
and gas sources under his control
07:02
because uh you cannot re-establish an
07:05
ottoman empire
07:06
by peaceful negotiations so that means
07:08
he’s he’s counting on
07:10
fighting in the in the future and so he
07:12
has to have control over his own
07:14
resources so
07:15
it i think it’s absolutely key for his
07:17
plans
07:19
that azerbaijan take back this region
07:22
and he’s not going to give up and i’ve
07:24
been saying this for a very long time
07:26
turkey is not going to back down they’re
07:27
not going to give up they’re going to
07:28
continue
07:29
to cycle up in the level of violence and
07:32
equipment and everything needed until
07:35
azerbaijan wins this area back
07:37
and then has control of where this
07:38
pipeline runs
07:40
on the other hand armenia being a much
07:42
smaller poorer country fewer resources
07:44
in every way
07:46
they don’t have the wherewithal they
07:48
would be conquered by azerbaijan by now
07:50
if it weren’t for russia
07:52
russia has a military base outside of
07:54
yerevan the capital of armenia
07:56
and this all hinges on
07:59
how much does russia want to put into
08:02
this conflict
08:03
it’s all going to boil down to that and
08:06
uh that remains to be seen russia has
08:08
been a good ally to armenia until now
08:10
armenia is not particularly friendly
08:12
towards the united states for
08:14
a couple of reasons like i mentioned the
08:17
the relationship they have with iran and
08:19
the relationship they have with russia
08:21
because that’s their only backer in the
08:22
region
08:23
uh this deal with iran is now turning up
08:25
as i said to be kind of a wild card
08:27
there are a lot of photographs and
08:29
videos and information out there that
08:32
iran
08:32
is moving up a large number of tanks to
08:35
the border with armenia
08:37
now that’s armenia cannot defend against
08:39
iran if iran rolls and
08:41
rolls in tanks so it’s and and armenia
08:43
is not reacting that way they’re not
08:44
moving troops to the front
08:46
to face it i make that point to make it
08:48
clear to everyone
08:49
if this is being done which there’s
08:52
ample evidence that it’s being done
08:55
iran is positioning these things to
08:57
support armenia
08:58
so if they bring up you know say 200
09:00
tanks which is not that big a deal for
09:02
iran
09:03
uh they could that would be a lot in
09:06
this conflict
09:07
and if they roll in and support armenia
09:10
uh that would be really a
09:14
big deal a big shift in balance of
09:17
overall capability of military
09:18
capability in this so
09:20
it’s a very interesting thing iran has
09:22
been trying to kind of uh
09:23
walk on the razor edge of the blade here
09:25
the razor blade if you will
09:27
and they’re sort of playing off to both
09:29
sides they’re a muslim country
09:30
azerbaijan’s a muslim country
09:32
so they’ve been kind of speaking in
09:34
support of that but on the other hand
09:36
they have this relationship with armenia
09:38
that’s been there for a very very long
09:39
time
09:40
and you know they make money off of that
09:41
so uh it’s an it’s an interesting
09:44
case the way it’s turning out but as i
09:46
said i think it’s all going to
09:48
hinge on what russia decides to do
09:51
how much backing are they willing to
09:54
give
09:55
their surrogate state in armenia
09:58
and that remains to be seen they do
10:00
they’re both christian countries
10:02
although different one is uh is the uh
10:05
russian orthodox and the armenian church
10:07
they call themselves orthodox but
10:08
they’ve actually
10:09
separated from the eastern orthodox
10:10
church many many many years ago
10:12
centuries ago
10:13
and so but nevertheless they’re they’re
10:15
related so
10:16
uh we’ll see how all this pans out i
10:18
would say
10:20
i find it hard to believe that russia is
10:22
going to fight tooth and nail
10:25
does that mean that azerbaijan will
10:26
break through into nagorno-karabaw
10:29
it looks that way that appears to be how
10:32
this is headed because they eventually
10:34
will overwhelm
10:35
a little armenia and russia is not
10:37
giving enough support
10:38
they have up till now but i don’t think
10:40
they will continue as this escalates
10:42
to provide the additional support that
10:44
armenia would need
10:46
since they lack manpower by comparison
10:49
uh what is russia going to be willing to
10:51
do put in troops and
10:52
and upgraded equipment i i think at some
10:55
point
10:56
that will run out if it runs out the
10:58
azerbaijanis with
11:00
supported by mercenary troops
11:01
essentially are going to come rushing in
11:03
do they stop at the border of
11:05
nagorno-karabakh
11:06
and i think that’s where we’d see those
11:08
iranian tanks come in if armenia
11:10
proper is attacked then i think you
11:13
would see
11:14
there’s a good chance the iranian tanks
11:16
would roll in and put an end to it would
11:18
they roll
11:19
back into nagorno-karabakh i don’t know
11:22
it depends on turkey and azerbaijan i
11:24
suppose
11:25
it would be interesting to see but the
11:27
point out of all of this
11:28
is go rope that’s not going to end
11:31
there is no peaceful solution in sight
11:33
here turkey has to have that area
11:36
they’re not going to negotiate they’ve
11:38
said they’re not going to negotiate
11:40
and azerbaijan as a precondition says
11:43
you know we’re not going to negotiate
11:45
unless you agree to to go out of that
11:47
area
11:47
and you can you can set the schedule for
11:50
it we’ll allow that to like take place
11:52
but
11:52
until you agree to give up we’re not
11:54
negotiating so i mean
11:56
that that’s the same thing as saying
11:58
we’re not negotiating we’re taking this
11:59
land back
12:00
so that’s where it stands right now
12:02
those are sort of the main elements
12:03
that’s
12:04
forcing this this way so russia the
12:07
united states
12:08
germany france all these countries have
12:10
i’ve tried to go into turkey and
12:12
azerbaijan
12:13
and negotiate some sort of ceasefire
12:17
peace settlement and as azerbaijan and
12:20
turkey have pointed out they’ve had a
12:21
ceasefire for what 25 years
12:23
and it’s done nothing nobody’s
12:24
negotiated anything on that region
12:26
so they’re not going to do it so forget
12:28
peace treaty forget ceasefire
12:31
ain’t going to happen uh this is a war
12:33
how far does it expand does iran come in
12:36
uh when will the azeri’s break through
12:38
and reconquer nagorno-karabakh
12:40
will the russians allow that to take
12:42
place or not i mean those are the
12:43
elements of it as i’ve said it looks
12:46
i would say it looks fairly certain or i
12:49
should say
12:49
probable that uh eventually these areas
12:53
are going to break through and take back
12:54
nagorno-karabakh where do they stop
12:56
then we’ll see that’s when that’s when
12:58
this the
12:59
real danger of this expanding outward
13:02
and really
13:03
starting to become a much larger
13:04
regional conflict is at that point
13:06
because does iran come in with tanks
13:08
does anybody else then come in in
13:10
support of one side or the other
13:11
are russian iran going to take on turkey
13:14
and azerbaijan
13:15
with armenia there in the middle i you
13:17
know i don’t know but it would be a very
13:19
interesting conflict at that point
13:20
and uh and very dangerous and this has
13:23
not
13:24
gotten the attention it deserved out of
13:25
the press since the beginning of it
13:28
now you’re starting to see little bits
13:30
and pieces of it but like i said it was
13:32
straight up analysis a long time ago it
13:34
didn’t take
13:34
geez to see where this was headed and
13:36
it’s going to be trouble
13:38
and now we’re there a lot of people
13:39
getting killed a lot of equipment coming
13:41
in mercenaries coming in
13:42
i wouldn’t be surprised to see wagner
13:45
washington
13:46
on
13:54
i wonder um i wonder if we can see a
13:57
clue
13:58
with uh iran’s supporting armenia
14:02
why israel may have sold some advanced
14:05
military hardware to azerbaijan
14:08
well israel’s had a long relationship
14:10
there and sold a lot of things
14:13
to and drones in particular they used to
14:15
sell drones to turkey
14:17
which they’ve said publicly they cut
14:19
that off but
14:20
i don’t know that you can actually make
14:21
a distinction between selling drones to
14:23
turkey and selling drones to azerbaijan
14:25
i mean that’s
14:26
kind of the same thing in my book so i
14:29
don’t know if that’s
14:30
if that’s accurate or kind of a
14:31
misleading thing to kind of
14:33
keep israel out of the fray directly but
14:35
still
14:36
earning money by by selling these and
14:38
that’s uh weapons export
14:40
is a is a a an important industry in
14:44
israel and a source of a lot of the
14:47
country’s hard currency
14:49
so uh they they do need that business
14:52
so i i think that’s what they’ve done
14:54
they’ve sidestepped turkey and are
14:56
selling directly to azerbaijan
14:58
i would view that as uh i i wouldn’t
15:01
view that as 100 confirmed information
15:03
but that’s what’s out there is that
15:05
they’re receiving updated there were a
15:07
lot of
15:07
older older meaning you know three four
15:10
five six years ago
15:12
drones that had been sold to turkey so
15:14
are those drones still being used
15:16
and supplied to azerbaijan they have
15:18
been so does it continue to be that or
15:20
is it new ones being delivered by israel
15:22
so
15:23
there is a question on that score but
15:25
the information is all out there that
15:26
israel is selling to
15:38
azerbaijan
16:12
[Music]
16:28
you
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