Political Observation - Armenia-Azerbaijan Rift & Its Exploitation to Pressurise Turkey

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Political Observation - Armenia-Azerbaijan Rift & Its Exploitation to Pressurise Turkey 

Armenia and Azerbaijan have traded accusations about who had initiated the attack against the other. However, according to the statement of the Turkish government, it is Armenia who started the attack; and this is corroborated by a host of indications such as Armenia’s aspirations to occupy certain areas close to Tovuz that overlook Azerbaijan’s oil and gas pipelines which are of strategic importance to Turkey, Europe and "Israel", and the timing and circumstances of the event which are somehow connected to the Russo-Turkish rift over the Libyan file. 

Armenia concocted the crisis spurred by the sympathetic stance of the US Congress towards the Armenians in their dispute with the Turks and Washington’s endeavour to lure Armenia and sever her links to Russia in order to complete her siege on the Russians. Armenia also took advantage of the strained relations between France, its sympathiser, and Turkey due to the Libyan issue, as well as Turkey’s differences with Russia in Libya and Idlib. This indicates that it was Russia who incited Armenia to attack Azerbaijan, who has close ties and significant interest with Turkey, in order to attract French and European pressure on Turkey and incite the pro-Armenian lobby in the US Congress, thus surrounding Turkey with some kind of isolation amid the West’s exasperation and Greece’s calls for imposing sanctions on Turkey over the Hagia Sophia issue; and all this with the aim of weakening her position in the Libyan file. 

On the other hand, the tension between Armenia and Azerbaijan has undoubtedly consequences on Turkey who responded to the crisis in order to preserve her interests with Azerbaijan, a significant source of much needed energy, whereas Russia is attempting to distract Turkey’s efforts and engross her on new fronts which would force her to make concessions. It is Russia who has most probably provoked the recent crisis between Armenia and Azerbaijan and regardless of her specific reasons, its timing was designed to send a message to Turkey and exert pressure on her. Moreover, Armenia’s prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan, came to power following a wave of protests linked to the Colour Revolutions which compelled president Serzh Sargsyan to step down, but he (Pashinyan) is nevertheless, most probably loyal to Russia because he only succeeded in acceding to power with the help of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia whose membership includes war veterans and is known to have links to Russia.

This denotes that Russia had concluded an understanding with Pashinyan in order to preserve her interests in exchange for helping him accede to power. She backed him by supplying Armenia with Russian gas at preferential prices, as per the announcement made personally by president Putin and the Armenian president. Russia attempted to sidestep the dynamism of the Armenian masses and the NGOs that instigated the protests backed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Armenia is a vital and strategic Russian lebensraum hosting several Russian military bases. Russia dreads Western attempts to lure Armenia through partnership deals and turn her into a NATO pocket; this prompted president Putin to strive for concluding an agreement with Armenia stipulating the prohibition of deploying foreign forces, especially amid America’s persistent offers to arm Armenia. 

Russia’s attempts to prevent American influence from getting close to Armenia went as far as liquidating then Armenian prime minister, Vazgen Sargsyan, in October 1999 when armed gangs stormed the parliament building in the capital Yerevan; his assassination came a day after he had met US Deputy Secretary of State, Strobe Talbott. And this was not the first incident in which Russia resorted to assassinating America’s agents; she attempted to assassinate Armenian presidential candidate, Paruyr Hayrikyan, a celebrated opposition activist since the days of the Soviet Union, and Georgia’s president Eduard Shevardnadze, who was the engineer of Georgia’s relationship with NATO and had strong ties with the US; the group assigned the task of assassinating him was armed by a Russian military base in Georgia. 

As for the recent events between Armenia and Azerbaijan and their links to the pressure exerted on Turkey, this is expounded by the timing of the crisis that erupted suddenly and with not justifications save for the historical legacy of the struggle. The timing came in the midst of the Russo-Turkish rift over the Libyan file, which America hopes it would lead to a head-on collision between Moscow and Ankara thus thwarting their rapprochement and straining their relationship. This is corroborated by the persistence of the US-affiliated Government of National Accord (GNA) on entering Sirte and al-Jufra amid Russian and Egyptian mobilisation to confront the GNA’s raid on the two cities. This why Turkey is attempting to convince Russia to allow the GNA forces to enter Sirte without any fighting, but opportunist Russia wants al-Jufra in return, especially as America is attempting for her part to tempt Putin to cling on to Sirte and al-Jufra by shoring up the forces of Khalifah Haftar with an Egyptian intervention. The Egyptian intervention is intended to encourage Russia to hang on to Sirte and al-Jufra to keep the military confrontation possible. Russia is aware of this potential scenario and is therefore attempting to bulwark herself behind Cairo’s initiative launched by al-Sisi, exploit his intervention to avert direct confrontation with Turkey and place her in tight corner but without seeming belligerent towards her. Meanwhile, the crisis between Armenia and Azerbaijan erupted to open a new issue that would compel Turkey to require Russia’s assistance, thus burdening Erdoğan further with the aim of dissuading him from backing the GNA’s forces in their bid to force their entry into Sirte, and compelling him to trade al-Jufra with Sirte. 

Since all the stakeholders are aware of the rules of the game, the worst case scenario, if Russia and Turkey failed to reach an agreement on handing over Sirte to the GNA in exchange for al-Jufra, is a renewed war by proxy as an alternative to averting direct confrontation, especially now that paving the way for reshaping the political scene in a manner in which the backing of the forces of the collaborator Haftar would not seem a violation of international law has been engineered via al-Sisi’s request for a delegation from Tobruk’s parliament and the mercenary sheiks of western Libya’s tribes, and the approval of the Egyptian parliament to intervene in Libya. 

27 Thil Qi’dah 1441h
19 July 2020