Armenia detains anti-Russia protesters
At least 65 protesters were arrested in Armenia's second city of Gyumri on Jan. 8 as authorities dispersed a rally outside a Russian military base. Activists were demanding that Yerevan cut ties with Moscow amid a deepening stand-off with Azerbaijan over the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. A livestream of the rally showed demonstrators struggling with police officers, including troops from the notorious Red Berets anti-riot squad, while crowds chanted slogans calling for Armenia's withdrawal from the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Armenia, unlike rival Azerbaijan, is a CSTO member. But the military alliance has drawn popular ire as Russian "peacekeepers" have failed to re-open the Lachin Corridor, the only access in or out of Nagorno-Karabakh, which has been closed by Azerbaijan for almost a month—leaving 100,000 ethnic Armenians trapped, with supplies of food and medicine running low. (Eurasianet)
The Yezidis, 'esotericism' and the global struggle
In Episode 156 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses Peter Lamborn Wilson's last book, Peacock Angel: The Esoteric Tradition of the Yezidis. One of the persecuted minorities of Iraq, the Yezidis are related to the indigenous Gnostics of the Middle East such as the Mandeans. But Wilson interprets the "esoteric" tradition of the Yezidis as an antinomian form of Adawiyya sufism with roots in pre-Islamic "paganism." Melek Taus, the Peacock Angel, the divine being revered by the Yezidis as Lord of This World, is foremost among a pantheon that ultimately traces back to the Indo-European gods. Wilson conceives this as a conscious resistance to authoritarianism, orthodoxy and monotheism—which has won the Yezidis harsh persecution over the centuries. They were targeted for genocide along with the Armenians by Ottoman authorities in World War I—and more recently at the hands of ISIS. They are still fighting for cultural survival and facing the threat of extinction today. Weinberg elaborates on the paradox of militant mysticism and what it means for the contemporary world, with examples of "heretical" Gnostic sects from the Balkan labyrinth. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
Massive military drills from North Sea to Caucasus
NATO on Oct. 17 opened an annual exercise to test nuclear deterrence capabilities in Europe, with the participation of 14 of the 30 member countries. The drill, this year dubbed "Steadfast Noon," will run two weeks and involve 60 aircraft. "As in previous years, US B-52 long-range bombers will take part; this year, they will fly from Minot Air Base in North Dakota," NATO said in a statement. "Training flights will take place over Belgium, which is hosting the exercise, as well as over the North Sea and the United Kingdom."
Erdogan invokes burning of Smyrna
Amid rising tensions between NATO allies Turkey and Greece, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan explicitly invoked the burning of Smyrna at the end of the Greco-Turkish War. "We have only one word to tell Greece: Do not forget Izmir," Erdogan said in a speech early last month, using the Turkish name for the coastal city that was the scene of atrocities targeting the substantial Greek populace after it was taken by Turkish forces in September 1922. "We may come suddenly one night," Erdogan added, using his oft-repeated phrase when he warned of launching an operation into neighboring Syria.
'Cleansing' of Armenian culture in Azerbaijan exclave
New clashes broke out on the border of Armenia and Azerbaijan Sept. 13, with each side accusing the other of violating the ceasefire. Fighting was first reported near the Lachin Corrdior, which connects Armenia to the autonomous ethnic Armenian enclave within Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh. But attacks on the Armenian border have also been launched from the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan (also rendered Nakhichevan or Naxçıvan), which is cut off from the rest of Azerbaijan by Armenian territory. A land corridor through Armenia to Nakhchivan is one of Azerbaijan's key outstanding demands in the conflict. (See map)
Transnistria blasts signal spread of Ukraine war
A series of blasts tore through the building of the de facto "Ministry of State Security" in Tiraspol, capital of Moldova's separatist-controlled enclave of Transnistria, on April 25. Officials said the building was fired on by unknown assailants with grenade launchers. Video footage showed windows and doors blown out, although there were no reports of casualties. (Reuters) Ominously, the attack comes one day after a Russian military commander openly broached extending Moscow's war in Ukraine to neighboring Moldova.
Armenia brings World Court case against Azerbaijan
The Republic of Armenia on Sept. 16 instituted proceedings against the Republic of Azerbaijan at the International Court of Justice, the United Nations' top judicial organ, over alleged violations of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) by Azerbaijani authorities. In its application, Armenia contended that "for decades, Azerbaijan has subjected Armenians to racial discrimination," including mass killings, torture and other abuses. Armenia also contended that these violations were directed at individuals of Armenian ethnicity regardless of their actual nationality.
Turkish drones decisive in regional wars
The Turkish military is unveiling a new upgraded "unmanned combat aerial vehicle," the Bayraktar Akıncı, developed by private drone manufacturer Baykar Defense, which is owned by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's son-in-law Selçuk Bayraktar. The Akıncı, which is Turkish for "raider," is a more advanced version of Turkey's iconic Bayraktar TB2, able to fly higher and stay in the air longer as well as carry more missiles. The TB2, developed in collaboration with another Turkish defense contractor, Roketsan, has been used by Ankara against Kurdish PKK guerillas in northern Iraq, and against Syrian regime forces in Idlib provice. Turkey is said to have 75 of the TB2 drones in its own fleet.
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