What prevented Azerbaijan from attacking Khankendi?

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Baku, 10 November 2020 –

One of the most glorious, but also bloody wars in modern history has come to an end. Although the complete surrender of Armenia caused the expected riots in Yerevan. Parliament is in the hands of the ochlocracy that revolutionised love. Everything goes to the situation that a revolution of hatred can take place in Armenia. The victorious and liberating 40-day war dispelled the sentimental illusions of two years ago. The country not only did not find prosperity, but also lost the last conquest, for the sake of which it sacrificed the welfare of the state and the welfare of the nation - Armenia lost Karabakh.

According to the agreement concluded between Aliyev and Pashinyan with the mediation and guarantees of the leader of the world power Vladimir Putin, Azerbaijan and Armenia have actually restored the 1991 status quo. The unthinkable happened, in a matter of days Azerbaijan secured its presence in its original spiritual capital and the historical centre of Karabakh - Shusha, returned Lachin and Kelbajar, and the entire lowland Karabakh... In addition, it ensured control in two strategic districts of Nagorno Karabakh - Hadrut and Khojavend (Martuni). By and large, since 1988, Baku has de facto lost control over these two districts of the mountainous part of Karabakh. Moreover, Azerbaijan acquired a corridor connecting it with another enclave, again, through the Armenian territory - Nakhchivan. Under the control of the Armenian troops, or rather the Armenian contingent captured by Russian peacekeepers, remains a small piece of the former NKAO, which is undoubtedly considered an integral part of sovereign Azerbaijan. Five years later, after the five-year stay of the Russian peacekeepers, the sides will return to discussing the further reintegration of the rest of Nagorno-Karabakh into Azerbaijan. Or maybe even earlier - it all depends on the intensity of the peace process.

We are on the eve of a global tectonic shift - Azerbaijan and Armenia are restoring all communications and borders, opening a new page in relations between the two countries.

The discontent in Yerevan, caused by the crushing defeat of the country in the second Karabakh war, turned into an uncontrollable and unpredictable process. The fate of Pashinyan's power hung in the balance. And in the Azerbaijani society they are worried: will the next government abandon its obligations after the inevitable displacement or overthrow of the Pashinyan government? The crowd did not spare the speaker of the parliament Ararat Mirzoyan, who miraculously survived under the feet of the Yerevan mob.

But the trigger was released - having burst into the walls of parliament, the crowd staged a rout in the legislative offices, not hiding its main goal - to disrupt the agreement of the three heads of state. Will the Armenian opposition succeed in getting Armenia to withdraw from the agreement? It will try, but it cannot. After all, the guarantor of the execution of the agreement is the leader of one of the world's largest powers.

Armenia has no chances to withdraw from the agreement and disavow its obligations. The alternative to denunciation of the agreement is to continue the bloody war, unbearable for Armenia. And Azerbaijani troops are stationed two kilometres from Khankendi. Yerevan miraculously escaped the complete destruction of two groups of troops. Although the military-technological excellence of the Azerbaijani Army, which during the battles was compared to the armed forces of superpowers, turned most of the army, the entire military infrastructure and arsenal of military equipment of the entire state into sand dust. The next time, despite the inevitable new pleas of politicians left without a regular army to Russia, Putin will not intervene. And then Azerbaijan can think about creating its own security corridor on the territory of Armenia. Why not, if Armenia itself in the early 1990s, with the help of Yeltsin's Russia, resorted to the annexation of Azerbaijani territories in spite of the protests, resolutions and opposition of the world community and the UN.

The act of surrender, wrapped in a declarative agreement between two presidents and one prime minister, is the best of all worst-case scenarios for Armenian politicians in Karabakh. The prophetic prediction of the Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrosyan, who 20 years ago tirelessly warned his people about the doomsday of retribution, when the Armenian people will not be offered anything better than a phased settlement, has come true before our very eyes.

From the first day of the war, Ilham Aliyev defined and expressed a maximum program for Azerbaijan: the liberation of 7 districts and Shusha. Azerbaijan has fulfilled its super task, liberating 7 districts, Shusha and two districts of Nagorno-Karabakh. But out of 7 districts, 4 districts were liberated by war. From the first day of the war, all the leading world powers, including the co-chairs, exerted all kinds of pressure on I. Aliyev, demanding to stop the army's offensive. I. Aliyev managed to overcome international pressure. But the president put forward a counter demand - Armenia must liberate all districts recognised as occupied by the UN Security Council. The president repeated every day: let Pashinyan undertake the obligation to liberate Lachin, Kelbajar and Aghdam, and Azerbaijan will stop. Pashinyan fought to the last. Until he witnessed the devastating defeat of his army in Shusha. The Armenian prime minister realised the terrible reality - in a matter of hours, Azerbaijani troops will snatch the central city of the former NKAO from the hands of the defeated army.

Thus, the Russian peacekeepers occupied a security cordon between the Azerbaijani and Armenian troops. As such, the line of contact of troops no longer exists. In addition, according to the fifth point of the agreement, a special corps will be created for monitoring the ceasefire. In addition to the Russian military, Turkish servicemen will also enter the corps that will implement the armistice mechanism. The presence and active participation of Turkey in the new system of delimiting the warring parties was the requirement and one of the main conditions of the Azerbaijani government. The presence of the Turkish military is a guarantee of the inviolability of Azerbaijani interests. In the next few hours, Shoigu and Akar will sign a corresponding agreement.

Immediately after the agreement was made public in Baku, part of the expert community asked a natural question - what stopped Azerbaijan from conducting a final offensive on Khankendi and de-occupying the last districts of the mountainous part of Karabakh? Ilham Aliyev and Azerbaijan are opposed not only by a weak and broken Armenia, but by the largest Armenian diaspora with unlimited leverage over the world political elites.

Ilham Aliyev is fighting the powerful world Armenianship! Remember the tone of statements by world leaders - the newly minted American President Joe Biden, French President Macron and the leaders of the European Union, who openly declared the danger of 'ethnocide' and deportation of civilians. Of course, Azerbaijan has not fought and is not at war with the civilian population. But go and prove your truth in world capitals? Western capitals increasingly began to hint to I. Aliyev about the inevitable outcome of the confrontation - the 'Kosovo scenario.' Needless to say, if already former President Trump has shamelessly and openly voiced this parallel. And Biden and the Democrat Party traditionally openly express their pro-Armenian sympathies. The Azerbaijani Army stopped exactly at the gates of cities and districts where the Armenian population compactly lives.

The civilian population began to hastily leave these areas. And the danger of threats to become accused of carrying out ethnic cleansing looms over Azerbaijan. It is not so difficult to predict what these political accusations would turn out to be for Azerbaijan in legal terms. By and large, official Baku has never met with understanding and sympathy anywhere, except for the sincere and all-round support of the two states - Turkey and Pakistan.

From the very beginning of the conflict, the government of Azerbaijan has been a sincere supporter of the coexistence of the two communities in Nagorno-Karabakh. Not Azerbaijanis tried to expel the Armenians. Yerevan and the Karabakh separatists did not recognise the right of Azerbaijanis to live in places of their original historical residence. Kocharyan, then Sargsyan, and finally Pashinyan himself, in one form or another, instilled a Nazi idea about the ethnic incompatibility of the two peoples into the public consciousness. On the contrary, Ilham Aliyev is the inspirer and architect of the idea of peaceful coexistence of the two peoples, subject to de-occupation and detente. Although this is a question for the foreseeable future, the two peoples need to overcome great moral and psychological obstacles to restore human ties, which Vladimir Putin spoke about the day before.

The Azerbaijani society, like the Armenian one, needs to rethink the results of the second war. Ilham Aliyev has built a qualitatively new geopolitical alignment of forces, laying the foundation for the formation of a new regional security system. I. Aliyev predetermined and in a sense outstripped the course of historical development, having embodied the idea of a condominium of large regional forces. This is an application for the formation of one of the emerging new regional worlds. Pay attention to how I. Aliyev, in the days of the fateful war, managed to ensure consonance of the interests of the three largest world players - Russia, Turkey and Iran in the formation of a regional order. The foundation has been laid for strengthening the geopolitical axis Moscow-Ankara-Tehran-Baku. Since 2015, I. Aliyev has become the inspirer of the geopolitical triangles - Mokva-Ankara-Baku and Moscow-Tehran Baku, turning Azerbaijan into a fulcrum and a kind of connecting geo-economic node of the new regional system. In many ways, this epoch-making strategy of the president predetermined the consolidated position of the main regional players, who realised all the harmfulness of the Karabakh disease for the further development of the region.

Eynulla Fatullayev

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