Tags: Emerging Threats | Iran | Middle East | Russia | Azerbaijan | armenians | caspian

US Must Put Iran's Power in Check — Now

US Must Put Iran's Power in Check — Now

(Valeriy Kaplun/Dreamstime)

By Monday, 22 June 2020 04:15 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Iran is involved in conflicts globally. In some conflicts they are major players, up front and center; pulling all the strings. In others, their role is not as prominent. And in still others, they operate behind smokescreens, behind diplomatic walls and mirrors.

When we think of Iran and conflict, Syria, Yemen, and Iraq come readily to mind. But they are merely the most prominent locales. If we, as Americans and as Westerners, care about freedom and safety we need to look farther afield. 

The United States must pay attention to what is happening right now in a tiny region called Nagorno-Karabakh. It is situated in the Caucasus. Armenia captured the region from Azerbaijan in 1993. The area, a place most of us have never heard of and can barely pronounce, remains in international dispute.

Under normal circumstances, that would not even be an issue, just an interesting digression. The issue, the central and compelling one, is that satellite images have detected numerous Iranian trucks and supplies delivering material to the region.

The significance of this is not that Iran is playing a role and taking a side.

The significance is that, actually, Iran is switching sides.

For years the Iranians were extremely friendly with Azerbaijan — which means that they supported them diplomatically, advised them militarily, and aided them.

Now Iran is siding with Armenia.

What's happening?

Iran shares the Caspian Sea with Azerbaijan as well as with Russia and several "stans" like Uzbek and Kazakh and Turkmen. The Caspian Sea, a misnomer, it is the largest lake in the world. It runs 700 feet deep, 640 miles long and 270 mile wide.

It's also filled with natural resources — especially natural gas and oil.

The United States does not, and should not, want a change in the status quo around the Caspian.

Iran offered to mediate the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

They want to play a central role and they want to be the leader in the Muslim world in general and this area is part of that world. It should also be clear that a conflict over there could easily erupt, drawing both Russia and Turkey into the maelstrom.

Iran calls the coverage of their presence in the area, of their trucks and supplies, "fake news." But too many sources are showing images of and discussing Iran's presence for it to be pure rumor or mere hearsay. What we are not seeing, but it''s probably happening very covertly, are the weapons that Iran is shipping the Armenians.

Iran is on the move, extending their reach and advancing their relations with Armenia.

If they allow this to go on, Armenia will be breaking United Nations and United States sanctions against Iran. Up until now Armenia has had exceptional relations with the United States. Once the U.S. wakes up and sees what is happening and for all our sakes I hope that happens soon — that relationship with be finished.

The United States does not take kindly to friendly relations with Iran.

Washington must respond.

Iran is patiently acting and watching, quietly acting and watching.

If they detect no response from the United States, Iran will continue to push the envelope.

They will become more and more bold, their action will become more audacious.

Inaction by the United States is, de facto, a relinquishing of control in the area of Nagorno-Karabakh to Iran.

It might be small and far away, but the area is far too strategic to be relinquished to Iran.

Russia realizes how central this issue is.

They were livid when Armenia took the land and called it a land grab intended to alter the status quo on the ground. As a diplomatic rule of thumb, when Russia and Iran are involved in something the United States must also get involved.

If the satellite images of weapons being trucked into Nagorno-Karabakh by Iran are being sent to help in a conflict, then Russia and Iran will be on opposite sides of that conflict.

That means serious conflict. And that means that the United States must get involved.

Both Russia and Iran have perfected the art of destabilizing areas.

Both Russia and Iran are always sending in advisers.

Iran is not siding with the Armenians over Azerbaijan out of ideological support for the ancestry of the Caucasus. Iran is there to expand Iranian reach, power and influence and, diplomatically speaking, to stick it to the United States.

The White House has other concerns right now, I realize that.

A lot is happening around the world and at home.

COVID-19, economic crises, presidential election are just a few of the concerns.

But this is important.

If the United States permits Iran to have their way in the Caucasus, it will lead to an Iranian foothold in Europe. Shouldn't Europe get involved — certainly.

But the United States is bolder and stronger and has more of a global conscience.

Russia, meanwhile, has no conscience. Russia is involved because of oil and power. But they are especially involved because this area is in their backyard, because Russia also abuts the Caspian Sea.

It's not too late for the United States to step in. Soon it will be.

Micah Halpern is a political and foreign affairs commentator. He founded "The Micah Report" and hosts "Thinking Out Loud with Micah Halpern" a weekly TV program and "My Chopp" a daily radio spot. A dynamic speaker, he specializes in analyzing world events and evaluating their relevance and impact. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern. Read Micah Halpern's Reports — More Here.

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The United States does not take kindly to friendly relations with Iran. Washington must respond. Iran is patiently acting and watching, quietly acting and watching. If they detect no response from the United States, Iran will continue to push the envelope.
Azerbaijan, armenians, caspian
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2020-15-22
Monday, 22 June 2020 04:15 PM
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