Center for National and International Studies
“It is necessary to create the Caucasian Anti-War Block. Otherwise, we will soon become the epicenter of imperial conflict.”
Tensions rise on the Armenia- Azerbaijan border
On September 12, the ceasefire was again violated on the Azerbaijan-Armenia border. On Tuesday, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that 49 Armenian soldiers were killed during clashes on the border with Azerbaijan. At least 71 Azerbaijani soldiers were killed, according to the official statement released on Thursday. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan accused each other of starting military operations. According to the information released by the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense, sabotage groups of the armed forces of Armenia used the mountainous relief of the area and existing valley gaps at night to mine the areas between the positions of the units of the Azerbaijani Army and the supply roads in different directions. Armenian official sources have released information about the Azerbaijani Army firing on the deployment point of the Russian Federal Security Service in Armenia. The Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan denied the allegation. The Ministry of Defense said in a statement that on the night of September 12 and the morning of September 13, a large-scale provocation was committed by Armenian armed forces in Dashkasan, Kalbajar, Lachin, and Zangilan directions of the Azerbaijan-Armenia state border. A total of 71 military personnel of the Armed Forces, including 42 military personnel from the Azerbaijan Army and eight military personnel from the State Border Service, were killed while preventing large-scale provocation.
Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, in his speech at the parliament on September 13, spoke about the reasons for the recent tension on the border with Azerbaijan. According to Pashinyan, another reason for tension on the border is Azerbaijan’s demand for a corridor through the territory of Armenia. “We are not giving a corridor to anyone from the territory of Armenia. However, we accept the opening of roads through the territory of the Republic of Armenia, and we are interested in it,” he stressed. Pashinyan argued that the purpose of the provocation was to disrupt the reform process in the Armenian army and to stop the “obvious economic successes” in Armenia. While Azerbaijani president Aliyev has not commented yet, the opposition demanded the government announce nationwide mourning to honor the martyrs.
Chairperson of APFP Ali Karimli criticized the president for the loss of soldiers and said that Aliyev is “personally responsible” for the current situation. Karimli wrote: “It is terrible to sacrifice so many lives in just a few hours without achieving anything. Did Ilham Aliyev say that the enemy’s army was destroyed and the enemy accepted capitulation? But did he say that the Karabakh conflict is over and has become part of history? The fact is that it was a lie, and our people were unfairly deceived. Ilham Aliyev is personally responsible for all these mistakes and must explain them to the people.” Karimli also said that the war would not be over as long as Russia’s military was present in the region.
Member of APFP Fuad Gahramanli argued that the recent tensions would not escalate into a war. Gahramanli wrote: “I believe that the prospect of the military clashes that started last night turning into a war between Azerbaijan and Armenia is unrealistic. Because neither Armenia has the ability and power to wage war, nor does Azerbaijan have any intention or plan to enter the territory of Armenia. If there were such an intention, then the target would not be the territory of Armenia, but Khankendi, our territory. On the other hand, even if the leaders of both countries agreed to a one- or two-day military conflict to please Putin, they cannot risk starting a long-term war against the West.”
Exiled journalist Afgan Mukhtarli argued that the reason for the rising tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia is Putin’s attempts to divert attention from his failure in Ukraine. Mukhtarli wrote: “Putin needed to distract the attention of the domestic audience and at the same time engage the West in another issue. Putin wants to take some time to breathe. Ilham helps his older brother. We (soldiers) die for Russia again. The clashes started less than seven days after Aliyev and Pashinyan met in Europe and agreed on a number of issues. We will lose young lives until Russia is rejected from the Caucasus because the leadership of both countries is a slave of Russia. More than 50 people were martyred. What has changed? Is Zangezur corridor open? As Ilham (Aliyev) said, there will be no corridor. He gave Karabakh and Lachin to the Russians. Now he wants to let the Armenians leave Zangezur on the same condition. They will not give up. They will not give up their sovereign rights in Zangezur territory. Doesn’t Ilham know that? He knows. But as soon as the instruction comes from Moscow, he sends the young people to death.”
Member of NCDF Tofig Yagublu shared a similar opinion saying that the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia would only serve Putin’s interests. Yagublu wrote: “At the moment, Putin needs the rekindling of the war. It is not difficult for Putin, who has a strong influence on both sides, to organize this. We should approach the issue from the perspective of the progressive West, which cornered Putin due to Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine, and whose victory over him seems inevitable. Recently, the West has been working hard to sign a peace agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and this worries Moscow a lot.”
Lawyer and activist Rufat Safarov said that the government should announce a mourning day in respect to those who were killed during the recent clashes with Armenia. “If their (ruling family) loved ones had died, there would have been 40 days of nationwide mourning, but as a result of their disgusting games, many of our soldiers martyred in one day, and mourning is not announced”, said Safarov.
Political commentator Arastun Orujlu called the recent tensions on the border the extension of the geopolitical processes. “All these are neither for homeland nor for land, but pure geopolitics. Countries like Azerbaijan and Armenia cannot be players in geopolitics. The role assigned to such countries is to be a tool. Whether one accepts it or not, it is the truth.”
Activist and former political prisoner Giyas Ibrahimov said that the government’s military propaganda is to blame for the warmongering among the people. Ibrahimov wrote: “The increase in the number of dead does not actually pose much of a problem to the authorities; on the contrary, it seems to create immunity among the people. On the one hand, they observe that there is no critical reaction; on the other hand, as the number of deaths increases, many people submit to the idiocy by saying that “there are so many more losses, let’s continue and achieve some result(?)”. Moreover, considering how many individuals and groups of scoundrels are doing this “propaganda” day and night, the scale is enormous. In short, these undermine the possibility of a counter-reaction to the system in the present case.” Ibrahimov also argues that to avoid the next war and military propaganda, there should be an anti-war movement in the Caucasus region. Ibrahimov wrote: “It is necessary to create the Caucasian Anti-War Block. Otherwise, we will soon become the epicenter of imperial conflict. But first, we must unite against the scoundrels with blood and nonsense coming out of their mouths. All kinds of agents, trolls, and quasi-trolls have been released into circulation, but not like two years ago. The number of people who understand the horror of war – even those who are not politically and socially active – has increased, no matter how small. The reason for this was also the government itself because two years ago, it was announced to the society that “we have won, you are a victorious people! Good days await you.” Therefore, if we exclude the systemic opposition that always butters the regime’s bread, the people did not question Nagorno-Karabakh or Russia’s presence there, even if it was for themselves. In short, the authorities convinced people that “everything is over.” Therefore, two years later, today, when there is a massacre of this magnitude, many people (in a naive way, unlike the ironic rhetorical question of the opposition) ask the question: “so what happened, wasn’t everything over?”. Because the Aliyev regime did indeed make the masses believe that “everything is over.”
Director of Baku Research Institute Altay Goyushov said that the Azerbaijani government’s irredentist rhetoric and uncompromising maximalist demands destroyed the chances of solving the issue with Armenia peacefully. Goyushov wrote: “A phase started after November 2020 has ended. At this stage, the Azerbaijani government had a historic opportunity to end the issue peacefully, and the initiative was entirely in its hands. However, the use of constant military pressure, irredentist rhetoric, and uncompromising maximalist demands as tools in this process resulted not in peace but in heavy losses, and the stage ended. It ended with a large number of casualties. The saying “I know what to do and when to do it” has also proved to be a lie. In the next stage, either there will be a bigger, bloodier, major war. It is possible that this time with the direct participation of the great powers and, without a doubt, with a greater loss of life. The Azerbaijani side will negotiate peace with minimal conditions and compromises compared to the last battles. And finally, the role of the parties and activists who are supposed to be opponents of Aliyev is no less important in the fact that things have reached this point. Because during this period, their remarks to Aliyev were more maximalist, irridentist, and provocative.”
Another veteran committed suicide by setting himself on fire. Elnur Rustamov set himself on fire in protest against the arbitrariness of Buzovna village municipality of Khazar region. Rustamov died in the hospital where he was being treated. Since the Second Karabakh War, the number of veterans who committed suicide has reached 42.
September 16, 2022