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Military Maneuvers Keep Middle East on Edge

Sept. 20, 2012 (EIRNS)—On top of the 25-nation, U.S.-led maneuvers now ongoing in the Persian Gulf, plus the deployment of British and French carrier groups in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Russians have now begun a pre-scheduled set of military maneuvers. The whole region, north and south of Iran, is now a tinderbox, in which a false move could create a superpower confrontation.

Most imposing are the Kavkaz-2012 military drills in southern Russia, which began Sept. 17, and run until Sept. 23. President Putin was present at the launching of the deployment; the supervision of these strategic command post exercises is being led by the chief of Russia's General Staff, Gen. Nikolai Makarov.

Ria Novosti reports that this will be the largest-scale event of the Armed Forces this year, and involve the live firing of Iskander ballistic missiles systems.

EIR has been tracking the Russian military preparations in this region, which it sees as directly related to the threat of hostilities against Iran, and possible nuclear confrontation with the U.S., since early 2012. To review our previous coverage:

Nezavisimaya Gazeta's well-informed military analyst reported Jan. 17 that the Russian General Staff was mapping out "large-scale staff exercises based on a possible U.S.-Israeli attack on Iran"; this would happen in September, and would involve the Strategic Missile Forces. Furthermore, it was reported then, the script for the large Caucasus-2012 maneuvers would "differ from last year's exercises in this series, by being larger-scale and more closely approximating actual current military and political conditions," including a scenario of "a possible war by the U.S.A. and several other countries against Iran, as well as other possible conflicts in the Caspian and Southern Caucasus region."

Another of the 10 exercises the Russian defense forces are involved in this month is the Collective Security Treaty Organization's war games in Armenia. Two thousand soldiers from Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan are participating in the Sept. 15-19 maneuvers which feature the rapid deployment of a force repelling enemy attacks in the mountains. Aircraft and artillery units will also participate, including jet volley fire systems. Other planned exercises include an airdrop of troops and an operation to destroy a gang of militants hiding in a mountain village.

The exercises are occurring amid tension between Yerevan and Baku (Azerbaijan) over an extradited Azerbaijani soldier who had hacked an Armenian to death, as well as Azerbaijan's rapprochement with Europe following NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen's recent praise of the country and President Ilham Aliyev's upcoming trip to France.

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