Political Observation - New Motives Behind the Nagorno-Karabakh War

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Political Observation - New Motives Behind the Nagorno-Karabakh War

A military conflict has yet again erupted between Azerbaijan and Armenia. However, the motives of the conflict this time are different. Following the conflict of 12 July in Tovuz, north Azerbaijan, the aim of which was to blackmail Turkey and dissuade her from storming the Libyan cities of Sirte and al-Jufra, in addition to undermining the oil and gas supply routes stretching from Azerbaijan to Turkey, the 27 September conflict was triggered to achieve new aims designed to serve America’s interests more than Russia’s.

It seems that Armenia, whose prime minister Nikol Pashinyan tends to balance between the Russian and Western interests – since he acceded to power with Russia’s support – has taken America’s advice and ignited the Nagorno-Karabakh front to achieve a host of aims, including engrossing Turkey in a new military conflict to exhaust her militarily and economically. 

The Turkish army is engaged on several fronts susceptible to be militarily set alight, especially in Syria, Iraq and Libya, and in the Eastern Mediterranean against Greece and Cyprus which are implicitly backed by Europe and America. The aims of the new conflict also include the attempt to drive a wedge between Russia and Turkey in southern Caucasus, and consequently ruining the joint understanding they have concluded in several military, security and economic files. This was reflected in the lax American standpoint towards the conflict from the onset and expressed by Donald Trump who said “We'll see if we can stop it.”

As for Armenia’s prime minister, he stated on 30 September that “peace negotiations with Azerbaijan under Russian mediation would be inappropriate”, in reference to Russia’s slackness in helping him. Meanwhile, Azerbaijan has succeeded with Turkey’s backing in recovering some villages in Karabakh and inflicting heavy losses on the Armenian army.

Since Turkey had learned the ropes of the American stratagem and the importance of the Azerbaijani card in pressurising Russia, she has been strengthening Azerbaijan’s capabilities diplomatically and militarily since the clashes erupted last July. She organised several major military drills, trained Azerbaijani soldiers and dispatched a sizable number of officers, soldiers and weapons. Buoyed by this preparedness, Erdoğan declared as the recent battles erupted: “Azerbaijan who said it was time to settle the score should take matters into her own hands.” He added: “The region will regain peace and calm as soon as Armenia withdraws from occupied Azerbaijani lands.” He, however, did not burn all his bridges when he suggested that the battlefront could be reignited afresh in the future and that “the way for a lasting ceasefire in this region depends on Armenians’ withdrawal from every span of Azerbaijani territory.” And in line with the Turkish stance, Azerbaijani president announced his rejection of any talks with Armenia on Karabakh before total withdrawal from the occupied lands. “We have liberated some strategic points from occupation and no one can chase us away from these lands after today,” he added. On the other hand, and following the losses of the Armenian army, Armenia’s president announced his readiness to accept Russian mediation in negotiations with Azerbaijan. This U-turn came after the states sponsoring him had realised the extent of the Turkish-Azerbaijani determination to fight. 

It seems the Turkish stance is based on the understanding that Russia would not risk a direct military intervention to support Armenia lest she should end up in a direct and open confrontation with Turkey who controls the Bosporus Strait, and lest she should lose Azerbaijan and turn it into an enemy in her southern flank like Georgia and Ukraine.

As for the European stance, it has called for an immediate ceasefire and a return to the negotiating table under the auspices of the Minsk Group and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and if we excluded France, Europe seems to be oblivious to the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict on her borders and she is focusing her efforts on besieging Turkey in Eastern Mediterranean. As for France, she is likely to be the inciter of the recent conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and America is set to benefit from the Franco-Turkish tussle which has undermined some European states’ confidence in France’s ability to secure their interests. This is why France failed in securing a European consensus on imposing sanctions on Turkey, in addition to the personal reasons of French president Emmanuel Macron who is attempting to muster the support of the anti-Turkish French nationalist right-wing after he was subjected to a wave of criticism in France due to his failure in tackling the files of Turkey, Eastern Mediterranean and Mali.

Turkey’s persistence in offering Azerbaijan a strong military and diplomatic backing is in the first instance a defence of Turkey’s eastern front and her economic and military interests in Azerbaijan, now that she is facing potential conflicts in the south, namely Syria and Iraq, in the west (Greece) and Eastern Mediterranean (Cyprus and Libya).

Turkey’s backing of Azerbaijan was corroborated by Erdoğan on 1 October who said in a televised speech that “a ceasefire in this region depends on an Armenian withdrawal from Azerbaijani lands…. the statements of the sides keeping silent over the occupation and criminalising those who defend their homeland and those who support them in this endeavour is of no consequence to us; we will continue to support our Azerbaijani brethren with all our capabilities based on the principle of on one single people in two countries.”

Faced with such dangerous statements and soon after Erdoğan’s speech, America, Russia and France issued a joint communiqué in which they called for an immediate ceasefire between the Azerbaijani and Armenian forces and urged both countries to return to the negotiating table under the auspices of the Minsk Group.

The Russian foreign ministry sensed it was targeted more than other major powers in this conflict on her doorstep. Hence, she addressed Erdoğan frankly and directly by stating that “the belligerent statements of a third party concerning Karabakh are unconstructive, irresponsible and lead to destabilising the situation in the Caucasus.”

Hence, despite Armenia’s insinuations suggesting her readiness to accept a ceasefire and return to the negotiations without any preconditions, the Azerbaijani side that has achieved military superiority thanks to Turkey’s backing will continue to work towards recovering the Nagorno-Karabakh region and securing a negotiating position that will enable it to either force the Armenian forces to return to their borders or embed its right to using military force to recover its lands any time it deems fit; and consequently, Azerbaijan will have succeeded in breaking the restrictions of the Minsk Group controlling the mechanisms of tackling the issue of her usurped province.

Finally, it is imperative to realise that Turkey and other Muslim countries are capable of generating the means to rid themselves of the major powers’ dominion over their political decision-making; that they are capable of harnessing the power of the Muslims’ and the faculties of their lands to the advantage of the Ummah; that they are capable of destroying the terrifying spectre the West has concocted to subjugate the Ummah and lead her to proceed behind the beasts towards her bleak future; and that they are capable of liberating the lands of the Muslims once they have taken the necessary steps for the confrontation.

17 Safar 1442h
4 October 2020