Center for National and International Studies
The FB community shared most the news about violation of ceasefire in Tovuz region, and social aspects of the war, the statement by Turkish government on the violation of ceasefire on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border the situation with pandemic in the country, corruption of the officials, ingroup fighting in opposition camp, persecution of activists and state of human rights.
The resumption of fighting on the state borders ( not in Karabagh) in the region of Tovuz is widely shared and commented by the FB community. People worryingly. share and comment on the information by the Ministry of Defence that the military actions were started by Armenian army in the direction of Tovuz and that there are losses on both sides. ( initially 2 killed and 5 wounded on Azerbaijani side only). The updated list of the killed mantioned Javush Sadigov, Elshad Mammadov, Asgar Dashdamirov, Rashad Mahmudov. By the afternoon on the 13th the reports were that Garagaya height of the Agdam village of the Tovuz region was returned in the battles by Azerbaijan. Armenia blamed Azerbaijan for the violation of the ceasefire and that it does not have any losses. Armenia defence ministry spread the statement that it shot the modern military drone of Azerbaijan, which the latter refuted. The activists also remind that the day before the ceasefire was violated in the direction of Gazagh region and one Azerbaijani military was wounded. The borders in Gazagh are protected by the State Border Service troops, in Tovuz – the army. The feminist Rabiyya Mammadova comments, that “ the politics at the expanse of the blood of innocent people started”. Women politician (Rabiyya Mammadova, Gultakin Hajibeyli) attract attention to the young age of one of the killed – 2002 year of birth and ask what does the 18 year old drafted in April 2020 was doing on the front line. Again the authorities send the sons of the poor to the front, while keep theirs in safety abroad. People try to guess what are the real numbers behind the contradictory information of both states agencies. Many view it as the way to distract public attention from the problems caused by the pandemic governance failure in both countries. Hikmet Hajizade of Musavat comments, that after the “ patriotism” topic is exhausted in a few days, people will be left again vis-a-vis the corrupt economy, declined quality of education, failed health system and other problems of the society. He also stresses that the number of the war victims from the poor families has been increasing because of the irresponsibility of the so called “ generals”. “ If something sacred is left in this country- these are the war victims,” he concludes. Natig Jafarli considers that this attack was undertaken by Armenia to test the reaction by Russia, as she is the member of ODKB. He points to the fact that Russia siding with one or another party can punish the “ rebel” leader. However, he suggests to liberate the territories under the excuse of “ anti-terrorist-operation”, rather than action in the interstate war, so this might prevent the intervention of the other parties like Russia in the conflict. In the other comment he however warns against the military actions, due to the corrupt state institutions. He illustrates his statement by the comment that the state whose ministry of foreign affairs registers 5 manat worth activity as 15 manats worth and puts 10 manat in the pocket, cannot win the war, but in the future the people’s army will liberate the lands. Many political leaders, including Ali Karimli, praise Turkey for the statement condemning Armenia’s attack, although comments betray scepticism based on the previous inaction of Turkey in Karabagh war. Seymur Hezi mentions that if the Collective Security Treaty Organization calls for an urgent meeting, Azerbaijan should have an urgent consultations with Turkey. He also suspects that this violation of the ceasefire might be a political adventure labyrinth .Some argue that many understand that this dynastic regime will never restore the integrity of the country. Bakhtiyar Hajiyev mentions that the government who sincerely would like the liberation of the lands would not keep the heroic war veterans like Tofig Yagublu, Babak Hasanli in prison. He argues that this military actions is again the way to distract people’s attention from the dire problems, as those who suffer and die are not the owners of the 2mln dollars worth watches, the sons of the owners of the 5-6 bln wise holdings , but the sons from the poor families. He also reports the rally demanding the war from Lokbatan consisting of refugees and moving to the city center. He posts the official statement by president Aliyev, who explained the reasons of the Armenia’s attack – the dire current domestic situation in Armenia and its jealousy of successful foreign policies of Azerbaijan such as among others conduct of special session of the UN General Assembly, which Armenia was resisting, and that they received an adequate response. Nurlan Libre reports about dispersal and detentions by the police among protesters demanding the Karabagh and occupied lands near Bina market .Habib Muntazir reports the dispersal of the rally and detentions of the participants by the police. He reports that the issue was resolved by the telephone- first Elmar Mammadyarov called Lavrov, and then Lavrov called the Armenian Foreign Ministry. Yadigar Sadyghli argues that “the war is not our choice. Azerbaijan did not claim anybody’s territory and even to those who used be ours. There was no other choice but to defend ourselves. The problem is that we do not trust the government and are not sure that it uses our national interests are used for its own benefit.” He reminds that during the 2016 April resumption of hostilities when the victim was the young student who entered the University with score 700, the son of the rector of the State University was appointed the ambassador in Spain. Fuad Gaharmanli of the PFP analyses the resumption of hostilities on his timeline. He stresses that the attack of Armenians in the area of Tovuz changed the agenda in the country. In spite of the problems related to pandemic and social situation, people’s attention focused on the events on the state borders. However, he considers that the information about the event causes a lot of questions, requiring clarification. 1) Who started? 2) the information about clashes in the direction of Tovuz and Geranboy has been coming for 10-15 days already, which assumes that it was expected. Why the fighting was on the Armenia– Azerbaijan state borders? 3) Azerbaijan as a victim of aggression has a right to conduct the antit-terror operation on its own territory. Why it has not done it yet? 4) The information war is lost in this case by Azerbaijan, as the victims only on its side is reported, but not on Armenia’s side. 5) why are these clashes taking place during the pandemic and dire situation in both countries? Ramis Yunus suggests that because of the manipulation by war as a method of distraction of public attention from the problems caused by the pandemic and the fall of oil price, democratic forces should shape the social political agenda independently which would correspond to the real social demand.
The spread of coronavirus continues to be a highly actual topic. The death of 6 patients few days ago in the Research of Pulmonary Diseases Clinic was reported to take place due to the technical malfunctioning of the oxygen devices. The intense therapy departments also lack the medial personnel and doctors trained in this field. Gunel Safarova raises her voice of a mother, who asserts that while Karabagh should be returned by any means, but she warns against the officials using the war in the interests of narrow group, and that the bureaucrats’ children should also share the burden for the military action- not only of poor families. Khadija Ismayil suspect both governments in being interested in military actions, as they both failed with COVID policies, economic decline, failure of the heath system and dissatisfied populations. So blaming each other in military actions they distract public opinion from the ongoing problems. She states, that this violation of ceasefire does not promise neither solution of the conflict nor return of the lands- it simply delays social protests. Habib Muntazir reports that the doctors do not get oxygen supply devices, as it is given only based on nepotism principle. The doctors collect money between themselves and buy pills to each other. The medical doctor Teymur Jafarov who saved so many lives during the April 2016 battles could not find the oxygen apparatus for himself in the military hospital- he urgently needs assistance!, writes Muntazir. Fuad Gahramanli of the Popular Front considers that COVID pandemic multiplied amount of dissatisfied people , creating conditions for a “new political party”, which unites millions. This dissatisfaction is caused by the fact of any concessions on the communal bills of people, who lost their jobs and were locked at homes for 5 months, millions of people who could not even get the miserable aid of 190 manats, who could not get their bank credit interests decreased or cancelled, or those 70 thousands who were fined, people who got infected and were not accepted to the hospital, or could not get the medication, people who were charged high prices for COVID tests. The name of this party is “ COVID-19 Party”. Gubad Ibadoglu presents the draft law on increase of the state aid and improvement of the social protection of the doctors fighting the COVID-19” and suggests that it may need no more than 30 mln manat. This draft law suggests 6 times increase of a monthly salaries for the medical personnel working on prevention of a disease, for those dealing with the ambulance and biological labs- 8 times, personnel in the hospitals treating COVID patients- 10 times, etc.
The topic of infighting within opposition has become actual again. Ali Karimli writes about renewed attack on the Popular Front Party both from authorities and the “pocket “opposition. Rauf Arifloglu for instance threatened to fight with arms against the PFP if there is a perspective of its coming to power. Natig Jafarli of REAL discredits the “classical opposition’s tactics and argues that in the 2000s they totally lost their support, as their competition which started as early as 90s, turned into the animosity in the 2000s, and they even would get fom time totime into a closed agreements with the authorities. He considers, that their inactivity after 2005 was caused by the social contract between the government and the public due to the big inflow of petrodollars. The latter while used for the meaningless mega -projects were partly distributed at the lower levels through real work, subcontractors, services labour etc.- on the one hand, and at the higher level – to corruption to feed the patronage. He supported his idea by the example of the bridge construction, when of 100 manat 30-40 manat is “consumed” by officials-oligarchs, of them 20-30 is taken abroad but 10-20 is spent in the country ( restaurants, expensive cars, gardeners etc.) 40-50 manats were going to the real work ( workers salaries, materials), the rest 10-20- for the subcontracting work. So both the government and the society had their share of the petrodollars but the economy did not change in quality, only in quantity. He explains the renewed activities of the classical opposition in the 2010s because of the “ Arab revolutions”, which caused some fears of the authorities, but then with the rise of the oil price, the things went back to normal. But in 2015-2016 this social contract between the government and the society was broken for the first time – the devaluation took place 3 times( the 3d one from 1,55 to 1,70 was a gradual one) He considers that traditional opposition failed to take an advantage of this moment and due to populism boycotted the elections of 2015. REAL called for participation in elections but boycott won. The story repeated in 2018, when the opposition again boycotted elections. He criticises them, that their decisions are not based on the thorough thinking and research and considers that the country is living another violation of social contract, but this time its requires a new basis- intellectual, sociological, economic one. And this requires a new Constitution, so REAL is ready to contribute to its preparation. In turn, Fuad Gahramanli of PFP posts a comment called the “Karabagh nightingales”. He argues that the reason why Adalat Veliyev, representative of the presidential apparatus called unknown and small parties for the dialogue, has clarified now- they wanted them to discredit the true opposition, namely PFP and Ali Karimli. He also states that this does not have any effect on public opinion anyway. Ganimad Zahid comments with bitterness and irony on the official “reform course” sharing the rating of the world report of Freedom in the World by the Freedom House, where Azerbaijan is on the 168 place, even behind Tajikistan. Alakbar Raufoglu the journalist in Wash. DC urges FB community not to get in the trap of the “pocket opposition parties”, like REAL, whose leader Ilgar Mammadov denigrated the OSCE representative on media freedom Harlem Desir by calling his work “issuing 1-2 unapproved statements about Azerbaijan” and arguing that Desire was targeted by the authorities exactly because of effectiveness of his activities in the area of freedom of media in Azerbaijan.
The political persecution of activists and situation with political prisoners is another highly discussed topic. They report an increased pressure on lawyer Nemet Karimli, the legal defender of Tofig Yagublu. On the 13th the complaint by the Bar Association against Karimli will be regarded in court, which was caused the lawyer’s disclosure of fact of tortures against the Yagublu. They also discuss the death of the young soldier, who was “ officially” declared drowned in the river, while parents proved he had a shot in his head. This brought again the topic of non-combatant deaths in the army.
The corruption and illegal property of officials is continuously in the center of attention of the FB community. Habib Muntazir presents a long list of the property of the former head of executive power of the Siyazan region, and then Nizami district of Baku ( appointed by Ilham Aliyev) Arif Gasimov, who was hired from his position last week. He owned 33 flats, houses, business enterprises, expensive cars. Gubad Ibadoglu of ADR and economic expert posts a comment under the title: “ If everyone in this country from the clarinet player to the consulate employee is taking a bribe…” And then continues: “Many people ask me, for how long can the economy can withstand this pressure? I answer every time- which economy do you mean? If the free business – then last days, the living standards- last months, the monopolized business of oligarchs- last years, their families properties – last centuries.” He argues that the state and national economy was captured by the group of bandits. The country has received 159, 5 bln dollars from the sale of oil in 2001-2019 and instead of turning it into the paradise, they turned the country in the corrupt hell… Just look how many corruption scandals took place during the Aliyev’s rule: the cases of International Bank, Ministry of National Security, Ministry of Communication, of subsidies, of heads of executive power, of social cards, of pensions and many other. ADR will publish its package of proposals “ Step by Step” on fight with corruption and if there is a political will this programme might help to finish this problem. He warns that continuation of the status quo will lead to greater catastrophes.
July 14, 2020