Top U.S Security Advisor Heading To South Caucasus To Gauge Moods Towards Declining Role Of Superpower

Fuad Muxtarlı Analysis 9 October 2018
Top U.S Security Advisor Heading To South Caucasus To Gauge Moods Towards Declining Role Of Superpower

U.S. President Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton is slated to soon visit the South Caucasus nations of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. The top U.S. official is highly likely to gauge moods of the regional leaders towards the administration’s policies and find out their expectations of the White House vis-à-vis the Russian, Iranian, Turkish influence on the region.

Since Trump has taken office, the administration is lacking clear-cut and perspicacious policies vis-à-vis the South Caucasus except for Georgia, and this follows hard on heels of the policies of the Obama administration. On the other hand, this plays into hands of Russia and Iran and push them to pursue independent policies, cornering the regional states to make concessions to them.

Proceeding from national interests, some Azerbaijani experts blame the U.S. policies for the loss of influence in the region as the superpower does not pursue fair and just policies with regard to Azerbaijan - the region’s territorially and economically leading nation.

The U.S. is not also coping with its mission of dealing with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as one of the co-chair countries of the OSCE Minsk Group. The country has not also named an ambassador to Azerbaijan for a long time and this is viewed as another sign of the White House’s indifference to the region.

However, Bolton’s scheduled visit to the South Caucasus indicates that the U.S. preserves interests in the region and is set to fill the gap. The U.S. policy towards the South Caucasus states of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia has gone through several stages over the past quarter century. At each stage, the U.S. policy set ambitious goals, but each time, its results did not meet initial expectations. The region is becoming more complex as a result of the interweaving of recent events.

These include the destruction of the world security order in the post-Cold War period, changes in energy markets, growing instability in the Middle East, as well as internal problems of the European Union. All this requires a reassessment of the U.S. policy towards the South Caucasus.

The United States has always tried to encourage European states and the European Union to enter into binding political relations with the states of the South Caucasus and, to a certain extent, to assume a considerable part of responsibility for the political processes in the South Caucasus.

Baku still has high hopes for the U.S. efforts as a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group. But it is obvious that the situation that has developed due to the non-implementation of UN resolutions regarding Azerbaijani territories does not bother the United States. The U.S administrations are more engaged in the Armenian-Turkish relations rather than making the occupying Armenia to pull troops out of Azerbaijani territories.

On the other hand, the allocation of financial assistance by the US Congress to the separatist regime in Nagorno-Karabakh annually, the implementation of various projects by USAID in Nagorno-Karabakh contribute not so much to the realization of humanitarian goals, as to the economic strengthening of the separatist regime. In order to collect funds, the leaders of the separatist regime freely make visits to the United States, organizing various telethons. Against the background of what was said with regard to Azerbaijan, the 907th amendment to the Freedom Support Act has not yet been repealed.

In the near future, John Bolton, national security adviser to Donald Trump, will fly to the South Caucasus region, where he will visit all three countries. "One of the most influential people of Washington will visit Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia in two weeks. For Armenia, this is an exceptional opportunity to rethink the bilateral agenda," expert Suren Sargsyan believes. He is convinced that Armenia can solve "the most serious issues" through Bolton. He considers this to be a rare chance.

Who is Bolton?

The head of Washington-based Center for Global Interests, Nikolay Zlobin, believes Bolton is engaged and tasked with Europe as Pompeo is currently dealing with North Korea.

“Both politicians belong to the inner circle of the U.S. president, who has few of his own people. At the same time, Bolton is “the president’s ear,” Zlobin says. Bolton is well aware of the post-Soviet space, has repeatedly been there as deputy secretary of state in the administration of George W. Bush.

To form an opinion about John Bolton, who is to arrive in Baku, a few strokes to his portrait. Bolton actively supported Trump during the 2016 election campaign and actively interacted with Brexit’s British ideologists.

True, not everyone in the Big Donald’s program suited him. As an independent expert, Bolton spoke in favor of a military solution to the “Iranian problem,” repeatedly stated that “he could not even imagine such a nightmare” as the meeting of the American president with the Korean leader, and called for “punishing” Russia for attacking American democracy", and for supporting the "criminal regime of Assad". The appointment of John Bolton to one of the key foreign policy positions in the Trump administration was perceived by many experts almost as another step towards the Third World War.

So, Russian senator Aleksey Pushkov called Bolton a “neocon”, “an ideologist of the cold war” and “a staunch opponent of Russia”. In his speeches, he has repeatedly pointed out that he does not like Barack Obama, so he gave advice to the future president - that is, Donald Trump. According to him, the president should not deviate from the restoration of America’s position in the Middle East and around the world, both for geostrategic considerations and in view of the ongoing pressing economic problems, and strengthen Russia's deterrence, and support military capabilities and the political will of Ukraine.

The confrontation of Russia in Europe will bring significant benefits to the United States in the Middle East. “We must return to the proper level of international stability to ensure sustainable economic growth, and we need economic growth in order to maintain a strong international presence, especially in the Middle East. However, one should not worry too much.”

In one of his interviews, John Bolton said that he could change his views if they did not coincide with the views of the US president, since he is a member of a single team that obeyed orders. Bolton has always been skeptical of international structures and multilateral agreements. The EU is a useless structure for him, and NATO is useful only to the extent that it can serve American interests.

The only thing that unites Bolton with the neocons is the unconditional support of Israel and the desire by any means if not to destroy Iran, then at least to minimize its regional influence. The national security advisor, I think, was very pleased with the actual destruction of the G-7 at the Canadian summit. On the famous photo of Trump's opposition to European leaders on the G7 forum, scattered around the world thanks to Angela Merkel's official Instagram channel, Bolton literally looks with hatred at all of his boss's counterparts.