Monday, July 21, 2008

The next oil war

But this is fueled by oil, but will be paid for by blood. You can also file this under the "unintended consequences of Kosovo" file. One big difference here is that those who desire self-determination based on ethnicity, geography, and religion - but are being prevented it by archaic early 20th Century imperial cartography - are Christians while the retrograde, aggressive militarists are oil-fed Muslims. Therefor, those desiring international support for self-determination in line with what was given to the Kosavars should, well, keep the address of their relatives in LA.
Having spent heavily on its military, Azerbaijan has raised the possibility of recovering Nagorno-Karabakh and its other occupied territories by force. Although the forthcoming presidential election is a factor, this more aggressive stance is not mere bluster. Azerbaijan is frustrated at the failure of 14 years of negotiation and has concluded that a credible military threat might be the best way to force the Karabakh Armenians to make concessions—or, if that fails, to drive them out.
The major change in the situation in recent years has been on the Azerbaijani side: the army that lost the war is undergoing a transformation funded by the country’s oil windfall. Mr Aliyev said recently that defence spending had risen tenfold since 2003 and now stood at US$2bn annually. Already this is far in excess of Armenia’s defence budget and it is set to rise still further. The military hardware that Azerbaijan has acquired is not on its own regarded as sufficient to recover the occupied territories, but it is a statement of intent. The crucial element is understood to be the quality of Azerbaijan’s troops. Pointedly, Mr Aliyev said in early June that their professionalism is increasing daily.
It is therefore wrong to dismiss Azerbaijan’s re-armament and more aggressive stance merely as pre-election bluster. It is a response to the failure of conflict resolution, and it betrays a belief that a change the balance of power in the region is one way to force the Armenian side to be more flexible in negotiations. For Azerbaijan’s leadership, this course of action has the added attraction of creating an option to seek to recover the territories by force if its more muscular diplomacy fails.
Would the Russians let the Armenians, once again, be slaughtered by a Muslim land grab? With the position of Russia WRT South Ossetia and Abkhazia - and a poke at the West in their support of Kosovo - do you think the Russians would let the use of military force to take Nagorno-Karabakh stand? Just to add fun to the mix, you know, of course, that ~25% of Iran's population is Azeri, right? Talk about blood feuds, these guys cannot even be in the same class together to study peace.

History is fun. Big fun. Make sure you vote for the right cruise director.

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