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South Caucasus: The Arms Basket of Europe

Amanda Paul has a wake-up call in Today’s Zaman on the escalating arms race among the four countries of the South Caucasus.

The West seems to have become very complacent that this “no war, no peace” situation is sustainable and gives the impression of being unconcerned by the sky rocketing defense spending and amassing of arms. This is a risky policy as it is only a matter of time before one of these violations spirals out of control and full-scale war breaks out. And it won’t be like the last time, because with the Azerbaijani-Armenian arms race, both sides have acquired weapons capable of delivering devastating results spilling far beyond their borders.

The US gives the impression that the situation in the South Caucasus is not presently a threat to its national security and, therefore, prefers to keep its focus elsewhere. The EU also seems to have little regard to this ticking time bomb maintaining an equally shortsighted approach. While the international community continues (and quite rightly so) to be consumed with the security threat of Iran, they should not be blind to what is going on just over the Iranian border and stop underestimating the security threat there. Far more checks, controls and balances need to be carried out while at the same time pushing for greater progress in the various peace talks. Otherwise, as with the Georgian-Russia war, they will find themselves roused from their slumber by mortars hitting the ground, and by then it will be too late.