Regional Re-Division: Developments in Armenia’s neighborhood herald likely transformations in Greater Middle East

Over the past week some events took place in the countries surrounding Armenia that may signify the beginning of large regional transformations. The matter first of all concerns developments in Azerbaijani-Iranian relations and Turkey’s attempts to invade Iraq.

Experts link the escalation in the relations between Turkey and Russia, which was clearly demonstrated after the Turkish Air Force shot down a Russian military aircraft at the Syrian border, with the upcoming changes in the Greater Middle East, which may occur as a result of the Syrian settlement.

Turkey, Russia and Iran are trying to become parties to the future partition of the region, and they began to sort things out in advance. Under the cover of Russian-Turkish escalation Moscow has placed in Syria a military base, and Turkey is trying to establish a base in Iraq.

Meanwhile, relations between Iran and Azerbaijan have sharply become strained. A Shia organization was neutralized in the village of Nardaran near Baku last week. Baku media reported that the organization was supported by Iran and intended to take power in Azerbaijan. Official Tehran has called this an attack on Shiites. Relations between the two countries strained to the limit.

The likely partition of Syria and Iraq will lead to a revision of the international agreements, according to which 100 years ago the Ottoman Empire was divided. The scope of the agreements includes the South Caucasus, which was divided between Turkey and Russia by bilateral agreements. And experts do not rule out that the “fire” of the new division could spread to the South Caucasus as well.

There is already a dividing line in this region, between Karabakh and Azerbaijan. It is no accidental that Baku via Turkey is trying to speed up the process of the Karabakh settlement and conclude with Armenia a binding treaty on the “greater re-division” of the region.

The recent statement by the Heads of Delegation of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chair states (the United States, Russia, France) issued on the sidelines of the OSCE Ministerial Council convinced Azerbaijan that the international community now prefers to maintain the status quo in Nagorno-Karabakh. It is with this that experts connect the change in Azerbaijan’s tactics in the Karabakh front.

In Baku they have decided no longer to hide the fact that they fire at Armenian positions in Karabakh and shoot to kill. The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry openly states that ‘as a result of shooting substantial damage has been inflicted on the enemy’s manpower.” Armenia has not changed its tactics and still speaks only about “punitive actions”. As a result the situation on the Karabakh frontlines remained tense throughout the week.

It is hard to say when the new “re-division” of the Greater Middle East will take its final shape. But the fact that Germany, the United Kingdom and several other countries last week received permission from their parliaments for military action in Syria shows that the time is not far off. U.S. President Barack Obama has also asked Congress to authorize a military operation in Syria.