Stop NATO News Digest
NATO in the Caucasus: Alliance advances Armenia’s integration
The defense and foreign ministers of the Republic of Armenia, respectively Seyran Ohanyan and Edward Nalbandian, visited North Atlantic Treaty Organization headquarters in Brussels, Belgium on May 20 where they met with the military bloc’s Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
The latter and the two Armenian ministers discussed the ongoing participation of the South Caucasus nation’s troops in the Atlantic bloc’s Kosovo Force (KFOR) mission in Kosovo and in the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. Armenia had earlier assigned troops to the NATO-assisted Multi-National Force – Iraq as well.
The defense and foreign policy chiefs also met with the North Atlantic Council, NATO’s top governing body, consisting of the permanent representatives (ambassadors) of its 28 member states.
Rasmussen commended Armenia for the latest version of its Individual Partnership Action Plan, a bilateral agreement between the U.S.-dominated military alliance and assorted partners within the broader Partnership for Peace arrangement, which currently includes, in addition to Armenia, fellow South Caucasus nations Azerbaijan and Georgia and every other European nation not already a full member of NATO except for Russia: Austria, Belarus, Bosnia, Finland, Ireland, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland and Ukraine, with Cyprus in the process of joining, and Central Asia’s Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are also members of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization, and as such nations the West is striving to lure away from that bloc in favor of NATO integration.
Armenia regularly hosts NATO and Partnership for Peace military exercises as well as supplying troops and equipment for such exercises in other nations.
U.S. Preparing New Military Intervention in Libya
With the increasingly deadly internecine fighting in Libya’s two largest cities, Tripoli and Bengazhi, spinning out of control, the U.S. has deployed military personnel and hardware to the U.S. Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily for intervention on the ground in the North African nation still devastated by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s six-month air war and naval blockade of three years ago.
American armed forces online news media report that the U.S. Air Force has transferred seven vertical takeoff Osprey aircraft, three KC-130s transport aircraft (capable of aerial refueling) and 180 Marines and sailors from the Morón Air Base in Spain to the Italian facility mentioned above, where there are already an estimated 250 U.S. Marines.
Although the official explanation for these deployments is that they may be used in the event that American and other foreign nationals require evacuation as the situation in Libya further devolves into sanguinary chaos, the lessons of 2011 should remain fresh in the minds of the international community.
In March of that year, under the first military operation ever conducted by the Pentagon’s latest, indeed first post-Cold War regional unified combatant command, Africa Command (AFRICOM), the U.S. and Britain launched well in excess of 100 Tomahawk cruise missiles from ships and submarines in the Mediterranean Sea in only the opening hours of Operation Odyssey Dawn on the 19th. On the 31st the one-sided war was passed on from AFRICOM to NATO, which flew over 26,000 air missions over the nation of barely over six million inhabitants, almost 10,000 of those flights described by the military bloc as strike sorties.
Given the propensity of Washington and its NATO allies to launch disproportionate military attacks against defenseless countries under the pretext of mock-humanitarian concerns, and given that just this scenario occurred in Libya three years ago, the U.S. military build-up in Sicily is cause for serious concern.
U.S. Rapid Reaction Combat Troops Dropping From the Baltic Sky
The website of U.S. Air Forces in Europe/Air Forces Africa reported on May 21 that 350 members of the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team parachuted into the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania over a five-day period between May 17-21. Another 150 or so troops from the airborne force have been deployed to nearby Poland.
The 173rd team is based in Vicenza, Italy, but like many U.S. and NATO units and commands may be also heading east on a permanent basis. NATO’s Allied Land Command was moved to Izmir, Turkey in 2012 and the U.S. has begun rotating F-16 fighter jets assigned to the 31st Fighter Wing in Aviano, Italy to the Polish air base at Powidz, where there currently are a dozen of the Fighting Falcons.
The American airborne combat troops are exercising with their Baltic counterparts in the unprecedented deployment as part of what the U.S. Air Force describes as a “demonstration of America’s partnership to NATO.” That is, it exhibits the readiness of Washington to invoke Article 5 of the NATO charter – “The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence” – in view of the largely U.S.-crafted armed conflict between the regime in Kiev and its eastern provinces.
The U.S. and its Western allies are turning the propaganda mills overtime to evoke hysteria over alleged Russia attempts to apply a putative Crimean model to the Baltic states; a contention as patently fantastical as it is unnerving to those not in the know and hence susceptible to that variety of panic-mongering, and eminently self-serving from the vantage point of Washington, manipulation,
Surely there are more pacific, certainly more aesthetically gratifying, ways of adorning the skies of the Baltic than with armed-to-kill American expeditionary combat troops itching for a fight.