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Center for National and International Studies
“….Your biased approach also prevents peace, guys!”…
The war in Karabagh is the central topic on FB. People share the news about liberated lands, such as Jabrayil and photos of the historic Khudaferin Bridge, decry the bombing of Azerbaijani cities by the adversary and the biased coverage and attitudes of the Western media and organizations. They discuss human rights issues both in the war and unrelated to the war, mourn the death of the popular opposition leader deputy chair of PFP, the former political prisoner female activist Gozel Bayramli, criticize statements made by Emmanuel Macron and demand his exclusion from the Minsk group, praise the solidarity and support of Turkey, share statements made by Putin, follow and greet the victory of protesters in Kirgizstan.
The military developments at the front. The activists share photos and data on the situation at the front, greet news such as the liberation of Jabrayil region, Fizuli and, Khudaferin bridges, or decry and post the views of destruction by the Armenian shelling in the second largest city of the country, Ganja. Many activists are surprised at but express support for the last speech of the president. However, some caution not to praise Aliyev, as this is not his own war, but over national interests. The following terms from the president’s speech were derived by a journalist: the Armenian army should leave Karabagh; Armenia should recognize the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan; Pashinian should ask the Azerbaijani people for an apology; Armenia should introduce a timetable for the withdrawal of troops from Karabagh. Warnings are given not to react to the fake and provocative videos, which are old ones. Seymur Hezi calls the liberation of Jabrayil a big damage to separatism and serious contribution of Azerbaijan in international law. One should keep in mind the artillery attack from the territory of Armenia on the city of Ganja. He calls on the diplomatic corpus to make sincere efforts to explain the sources and consequences of this aggression and pass it on to the world. He argues that the EU delegation has a key role in this process, as it has plans related to this region. This will give strong trust to Azerbaijani people in integration, he stresses. The FB community shares the declared official intention to go to the end, and readiness to defence in case of Armenia using Iskanders, the operational tactical rocket complexes. FB users share information about a citizen of Armenia — the mayor of Megri region – who was wounded in Karabagh and brought back home.
The FB community also share official reports about the exploding of the main ammunition storage in Khojali village Ballija (the Armenians changed its original name to Aygestan). (Khojali is the town where hundreds of civilian population were killed by Armenia-Russian forces in February 1992 -L.A.) They report heroic actions taking place daily at the front, such as the death of military doctor Turgut Khalilbeyli who was taking a wounded soldier out from the zone of fighting. They further share the statement by president Aliyev, that Turkey should play an important role in mediation of the conflict, and that first of all, these should be Russia and Turkey. People share the wide national campaign of support to the army — writing letters, sending food and clothes to soldiers.
The prominent academic, historian Jamil Hasanli has placed excerpts from his article disproving the clichés in the historical background of conflict spread by Armenian propaganda. He proves that both major assertions- that it was decided to “transfer” Karabagh to Azerbaijan and that Stalin has decided it – are not true.
Quite opposite, he argues, the plenum of Caucasus bureau under pressure from Moscow and in the attendance of Stalin voted on the resolution that Mountainous Karabagh will be included in the composition of the Armenian SSR. Due to the debates the final decision by the insistence of Narimanov was passed to the CC RCP, but at the last plenum the majority voted for Karabagh” remaining” part of Azerbaijan. As we can see, concludes the author, the Armenian authors made a small operation upon this decision- they replaced the original expression “ retain”
within Azerbaijan SSR to the “transfer” to Azerbaijan SSR. He also notes that the unexpected visit of Stalin to Tbilisi, which Armenian historians connect with the cancellation of the previous decision of the Caucasus Bureau, has nothing to do with this issue, but was related to will to take power in Georgia away from Philipp Makharadze, who pursued more or less independent policy and confronted Orjonikizde and pass it to Budu Mdivani, who was more closely linked to Moscow.
The Popular Front Party issued a statement about rocket shelling of the large cities and peaceful citizens of Azerbaijan by Armenia. It stressed that shelling of such cities as Ganja, Barda, Mingechavir, Absheron, Khizi and Beylagan is undoubtedly a war crime. The international community should not keep silence about the attack on the city of Ganja with its half a million population, as they did it during 27 years of occupation. The international community should know, that all sections of Azerbaijani society, including the government, opposition and civil society support justified actions of the national army and declare that they do not have claims to the territories of any country. PfPA calls the international community to support Azerbaijan in this struggle for justice. The world should recognize that the ongoing operations are the results of the 27 years of occupation. These operations became necessity for Azerbaijan, because the international community in decades did not enforce the aggressor to peace and did not express necessary reactions. The international community should undertake important steps on the basis of the mandate of the UN and the four resolutions of the UN SC on regulation of conflict and the final act of OSCE. The Minsk group which was created in 1994 should try to react to the new challenges and start investigation proceedings to attract to responsibility all the military and political persons who headed the shelling of the peaceful towns of Azerbaijan.
FB users reflect briefly on the current situation between the two states. “Armenia: we are ready for compromises, Azerbaijan: then present the schedule of withdrawal of troops.” There was a comment, that those who support the current military operations actually are supporters of the most consistent peace. There is no contradiction here, as Armenia has always been a source of tension in the Caucasus, because it had the idea of Greater Armenia. The activists share information that Armenian army has targeted the Baku-Tbilisi-Jeyhan pipeline.
The Musavat party issued a statement regarding the position of the French president Emmanuel Macron who — as it reads — instead of being non-partisan as a co-chairman of the Minsk group OSCE, is defending the Armenian position. President Macron said that Erdogan’s military rhetoric is encouraging Azerbaijan to gain control over Nagorno Karabagh by military means. The President should know that Karabagh is part of Azerbaijan and its liberation from the occupants is the dream of every Azerbaijan citizen. The way Marseille, Lyons, Bordeaux and other cities are treasured settlements for French people, the same way Karabagh is dear and sacred for Azerbaijanis. Azerbaijan will never be reconciled with the occupation of its lands. Azerbaijani people do not forgive the policies of ethnic cleansing and especially massacres in Khojali by Armenia and the rhetoric of any country is not going to affect Azerbaijan’s position. There is no need for a country of 10 mln engaged in a fight with a country four times smaller to attract foreign fighters. The Musavat party reminds people that the UN SC adopted four resolutions and that France participated in voting. The party strictly decries the pro-Armenian position of France and subsequently demands its exclusion from the institute of co-chairmanship. The Musavat party appeals again to the international community to apply serious measures to stop Armenian military crimes of targeting the civilian population.
The minorities issue. People stress the support of the minorities of Azerbaijan to the state and army, giving examples of the Lezghis, who spread information around the world and the Talysh, who donated 200, 000 Manat to the army, the Talysh minorites also going as volunteers to the front.
The human rights issues. Human rights defenders and lawyers keep human rights issues under radar. They record the violation of international law at the front and domestic violations. They stress that the violation of international law by Armenia is evident: 3 more civilians killed during the attack on the cities: an unnamed citizen of Barda, Rahimov Eyvaz in Agdam and Abbasova Raziya (f) in Goranboy. A whole family in Goranboy was wounded and hospitalized — Hasanov Mashdi, his daughter Sevinj Hasanova and grandson Hasanov Elyan, as well as another citizen Alakbarov Rasim. Human rights defenders urge SOCAR to follow the work contract obligations They urge the population and the authorities not to forget the issue of political prisoners. They also report that in the regions the administration collects donations from the population to the army, but insist on cash, when citizens suggest a bank transfer. The SOCAR administration, instead of collecting voluntary donations, sometimes themselves determine the percentage of the salaries to be given to the defence fund.
The activists, journalists and all the FB community mourn the death of the deputy chair of the PFP, opposition female activist Gozel Bayramli, who was a prominent figure in opposition politics. They comment that her murderer is the regime, because in spite of her illness (cancer) she spent 2 years in prison effectively interrupting her treatment, and the regime even deprived her of essential drugs in prison. Ali Karimli reports that the burial ceremony of Bayramli was interrupted by police and a few people were detained, including the other deputy chair of the PFP Seymur Hezi. Rasul Jafarov decried the one-sided position of Amnesty International, who stressed violation of the humanitarian laws only by Azerbaijan. He supported the statement by the General Prosecutor of Azerbaijan in response to the biased report by AI and suggested to invite respected INGOs as a fact-finding mission to investigate cases of targeting civilians.
Biased coverage of the conflict. Khadija Ismayil, an investigative journalist and former political prisoner, appeals to her colleagues abroad: “I cannot describe what I feel when I read reports in the international media openly sympathising with Armenian aggression. If this vandalism (referring to the videos of mutilated bodies of soldiers) happened somewhere else — it would be all over. Why does nobody care about it now? Why does nobody care about Russia’s weapons supply to Armenia (for free)? Why does nobody investigate whether the Syrians re-settled by Armenia in the occupied territories are mercenaries? Why are mercenaries fighting on the side of Armenia perceived as normal? Or the bombarded citizens of Azerbaijan as second class human beings?… Your biased approach also prevents peace, guys!” “Why do foreign journalists continue to stress religion, while this is not a religious conflict? Is this because when people die on the other side, no worries — they are not good/white enough to care?” She urges the Azerbaijani government to invite international human rights organizations to document the violations of Armenia of civilian rights. She also calls the government to let the NGOs prepare reports on the destroyed properties and wounded and killed civilians, the needs of people whose homes were destroyed by shelling, the state of women and children. She comments on BBC report which has unchecked data and is not objective can be a case for the court. “To show the explosion in Ganja and relate about Azerbaijani attacks, describing the conflict as act of aggression of only one side (which is incorrect) — this is not journalism for sure. Do you see, Tom de Waal, how your quotation is being misused?” She also considers that Azerbaijan should apply to the international court on the matter of financing of foreign occupants, and enquire where is the guarantees that donations for “Support for Armenia” will not be used for the sustained occupation of the lands.
People discuss the role of various external actors in the conflict. Assessing the statement calling for peace of the Minsk group of OSCE, they question the sincerity of France, Russia’s avoidance of specific steps, the US not paying attention to the actions of NATO’s partner, and surmise whether Ankara may replace Moscow in the region, but in a positive role.
Relations with Iran: The FB community share news about the reaction of Iran to the war and wonder whether Iran is turning away from Armenia, sharing the statement by the advisor to the Ayatollah and former foreign minister Ali Akber Vilayati. The latter said in his interview to YJC that Iran as a UN member respects the territorial integrity of its neighbours and the four adopted UNSC resolutions demanding Armenia’s complete withdrawal from the occupied territories. Gubad Ibadoglu does not find it accidental that this statement took place 8 days after the start of the war and was made the same day as the discussion of the resolution in the US Congress. It is reported that Iranian authorities did not allow the passage of bodies of the killed from Nahkichevan through its territory. FB users share the photos of the traces of torture given to the Iranian Azerbaijani citizen Parviz Siaybi who protested at the transit via Iran of Russia’s weapon supply to Armenia. TASS reports that by the information of MDA spokesperson Artsurun Ovanissian Azerbaijan — according to a new tactics — is moving towards the border with Iran. The academic Jamil Hasanli attracts attention to Ovanissian’s usage of the expression Artsakh-Iranian border, although Karabagh does not have a border with Iran. (He concludes that while previously Armenian officials called the occupied areas “the buffer zone”, they now speak about greater Artsakh).
Relations with Turkey: Coverage of the interview of President Aliyev with the Turkish media, where he expresses his gratitude to Turkey and Erdogan for the support, the visit of Foreign Minister of Turkey Chavushoglu to Baku, sharing quotes from his speech, that the aim of his visit is to express support and solidarity with brothers in Azerbaijan. He said that the conflict, whose resolution was frozen, can be quickly resolved, but for that Armenia should take specific steps for liberating the occupied territories. He stressed that the law is on the side of Azerbaijan, and Russia has to make the biggest contribution to the resolution of this conflict. The world should stand for international law. He criticised the fact that all appeals for a ceasefire had so far led nowhere. “Can you also say that Armenia should immediately withdraw its troops?” He promised his strong support for Azerbaijan and stressed that until now there was no direct message to Armenia from the international community to withdraw from Azerbaijan. He concluded by stating that Azerbaijan and Turkey are one nation. The FB community also share reports about Erdogan’s conversation with Angela Merkel and how he stressed the importance of implementation by Armenia of the four UN SC resolutions. They also post images of the big pro-Karabagh rally in Istanbuls’s historic Bayazid square.
Relations with Russia: FB users discuss Pashinian’s 4th call to Putin (joking the latter did not pick up the receiver) to convince him that of a ceasefire being crucial, Russia’s Wagner group’s “RSOTM” branch arriving at Khankendi in Karabagh. Sevinj Osmangizi TV discussed with the military experts whether the Iskanders used by Armenia in this war had been received from Russia. They share the photos of various types of weapons, abandoned by the adversary, that Russia had given to Armenia. Seninj Osmangizi TV further discussed how Putin upset Pashinian by stating that Russia’s defence obligations to Armenia were not related to Karabagh. Meydan TV also reported Putin’s statement that military operations are not being waged on the territory of Armenia.
Relations with France: Quoting from President Aliyev’s speech “If France wants self-determination for Karabagh Armenians, let it first be done in Marcelle, half of the population being Armenian” Some quote Mathew Bryza: “France has seriously damaged the Minsk group. Either Macron will take back his words, or leave the Minsk group, or the Minsk group will be finished”.
Relations with the USA: FB users discuss the resolution submitted for voting in the Congress by the group of senators. The draft resolution 1165 “Condemnation of the military operation of Azerbaijan in Nagorno Karabagh and involvement of Turkey into the conflict”, initiated by the author of the Armenian genocide bill Jackie Speier denounces 1) Azerbaijan’s aggressive actions in NK and violation of the ceasefire agreement 2) Turkey’s involvement under Erdogan in the conflict and its escalation 3) establishment of ceasefire and peaceful way of resolution of conflict 4) USA support of the OSCE Minsk group’s recommendations to set a monitoring mission of third parties on the line of ceasefire. The activists comment that this is an initiative of Democratic representatives before the 3rd November elections. Khadija Ismayil writes that WarGonzo is a herald of Russian mercenaries while Wagner states that he is on the side of Armenia because Armenia constitutes Russia’s front. She asks: “Is it Russia’s support for Armenia which motivates some US Congress and Senate deputies to side with Armenia?” Joan Lysoski, a prominent US journalist said: Today I woke up and found out, that the historical city Ganja was shelled and peaceful citizens killed. Stop Armenia!
Relations with Germany: the newspaper Aftenposten is criticised on FB, as it tries to present the conflict as a religious one. It says that NK is recognized as part of Muslim Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is not Muslim, comments Gunel Movlud, writer in exile: it is a secular country, where there are many other confessional groups living. This is not a country of Sharia law — do not use fake information, she insists.
Relations with the UK: The pro-Armenian post by Elton John was deleted by the author. FB users note importance of the timely reaction and protest. Meydan TV reported that BP-Azerbaijan is concerned about the military operations.
Events in Kirgizstan. FB users share the development in Kirgizstan where the protestors took control over the parliament and White House, where the Presidential Administration is located, and when entered the State Committee of National Security released the former president Almazbek Atambayev. The Azerbaijan activists greet the events in Kirgizstan, mentioning that the latter is pro-Turkish and the Kyrgiz people do not tolerate injustice.