15 February 2008

Battle in the Tuzkhur Valley (the background)

Andreivia, on the shores of the Black Sea, was, in the early 1990s, a nation emerging from years of communist domination. With the collapse of central control came ethnic tension and eventually all-out civil war. Orthodox Andreivians, Moslem Kurds, Armenians and Turks seemed to have a shared desire to soak Andreivian soil in the blood of their enemies.

Two factors gave these events a wider significance. Andreivia bordered Turkey (and hence NATO) and she hosted vital pipelines connecting the Caspian oilfields to the Black Sea. In the circumstances an American-led intervention was inevitable.

The Tuzkhur valley runs from US-occupied southern Andreivia to the town of Tuzkhur on the shores of Lake Kikhide. Although the Americans have no immediate plans to control the valley, news has come that foreign civilians (including some Americans) are trapped in the town.

Already overstretched pacifying his base area, the NATO commander has tasked a small US-led force with heading down the valley, rescuing the expatriates and returning them to safety.

Unfortunately for the US force, the Tuzkhur valley is already a battleground. Andreivian Turk forces hold the upper reaches but firefights with their Armenian enemies are frequent. The town itself is largely under Armenian control but a few beleaguered elements remain loyal to the central government. Speaking to the Central Committee in the capital Tcherbevan, President Memev has unconditionally opposed the NATO “invasion”.

It seems the rescue force will be venturing into the midst of an unpredictable, three-sided battle.

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