Turkey and Armenia, and the fact of intervention in Nagorno-Karabakh!

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Afrasianet - When the war raged between Armenia and Azerbaijan around Nagorno-Karabakh, the geographical Azeri province, according to the UN-recognized borders, and the Armenian ethnically, the shells and missiles exchanged in both directions destroyed everything they found in their way from people, trees and even stones.

The number of dead victims exceeded 300, except for hundreds of others who were wounded, while about 70,000 were displaced from the region to escape the flames of war. The latest round of fighting between the two countries was considered the fiercest in decades.

The two neighboring countries had previously fought two wars over the same boycott, the first between 1988 and 1994 and the second in 2016. Despite the truce they reached each time, the roots of the dispute over the boycott remained.

The conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh dates back to 1988, when a bloody war broke out between the Azerbaijani forces and the Armenian separatists in the province that ended with leaving it in the hands of the Armenians after the signing of the armistice in 1994.

It is noteworthy that the authorities of the Nagorno-Karabakh region depend on the support of Armenia. As the fighting intensified, calls continued from a number of international capitals, inside and outside the region, for a ceasefire.

Turkey is the only regional country that has taken a clear position and sided with Azerbaijan. Its public intervention was so swift and officially stern that Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar issued a warning to Armenia that it "will pay the price for its aggressions on the territory of Azerbaijan."

For weeks, Turkey has put all means of military support at Azerbaijan's disposal, including defense industries, expertise, technologies and military capabilities, in addition to ammunition, drones, missiles and systems.

The Turkish position in support of Azerbaijan against Armenia has caused concern in some capitals in the Middle East and the Gulf, due to the absence of counter forces that stand in the way of the spread of Ankara's influence in this region, as is the case in Libya.

Russia cannot interfere because it is linked to strong interests and relations between the two warring countries, and some Arab countries that have declared their support for Armenia have no power to enter the confrontation except verbally.

In fact, the past and the present dwell in the relations between Turkey and Armenia. While the Armenians say that they were killed, at the hands of the Ottoman forces, about 100 years ago; Turkey helped Azerbaijan defeat Armenia, in a short war, which ended months ago.

For decades, the border between the two neighbors has been closed, but last December, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed hope for a "new era" in Turkish-Armenian relations. However, the military parade in Baku to celebrate the victory over Armenia did not serve this purpose.

Using Turkish weapons, Azerbaijani forces recaptured parts of Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian-controlled inhabited area, as well as neighboring regions occupied by Armenia, for three decades. Army units passed in front of Erdogan and Azerbaijani President, Ilham Aliyev, and the wreckage of Armenian tanks, as well as Turkish drones that bombed them, were displayed.

Erdogan hinted that Armenia might have learned a lesson from its defeat, and later announced that Turkey might open its border with Armenia; Nothing of the sort happened. Conversely, tension rose again, on April 24, when US President Joe Biden officially declared that the killing and deportation of more than one million Armenians by Ottoman forces in 1915-1917 amounted to genocide.

Most historians agree with Biden, but past US presidents have usually avoided saying this to avoid angering Ankara, which vehemently denies that the killings were widespread or systematic, the evidence suggests.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry described Biden's statement as a "vulgar distortion of history." Turkey's relations with America may not suffer much. With its currency at stake, Turkey cannot afford another crisis with its NATO ally.

But Turkish officials point out that their country's offer of detente with Armenia may not last. Erdogan's adviser, Ilnur Cevik, says the end of the Nagorno-Karabakh war has removed obstacles to reconciliation. (Turkey supported Azerbaijan's territorial claims, and now sees them stabilized to some extent.) However, he says, "If the Armenians continue to be hostile to Turkey, and to force the Americans to recognize the genocide, it will do nothing."

Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 in solidarity with Azerbaijan. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan told The Economist in March that reopening the border would significantly ease tensions with Armenia. He also said that Armenia would be ready to establish relations with Turkey "without preconditions." Pashinyan resigned, on April 25, and had been criticized and slandered after his defeat in the war, which led to early elections. Former Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu says that if there is a broad regional settlement, "everyone will win." Opening the border would help stabilize the entire Caucasus region, give Armenia, the poorest country in the region, access to markets in Turkey and abroad, and link Turkey with the energy-rich Caspian Sea and Central Asia. Davutoglu, who now heads a small opposition party, was foreign minister when Turkey and Armenia approached normalization of diplomatic relations, in 2009.

The process faltered after a backlash from nationalists in both countries. Those in Turkey refused to accept any agreement unless Armenia withdraws from Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenia's nationalists demanded that Turkey recognize the events of 1915 as genocide. In a country of barely three million people still reeling from the consequences of war, the fear of Turkey is greater than it has been in recent memory. An Armenian official, who preferred not to be named, said: “

This was a war that Turkey ignited, that Turkey instigated, and that Turkey managed,” adding, “There is no trust.” During a victory parade in Baku, Erdogan praised Enver Pasha, one of the architects of the "genocide".

Aliyev recently oversaw the opening of the "Spoils of War" amusement park, which includes statues of Armenian soldiers with hooked noses and strange faces, and carefully arranged helmets of soldiers killed in the war. So how to reconcile such offers with Azerbaijani peace offers is difficult. What Erdogan and Aliyev offer to Armenia may not be an olive branch so much as a short piece of the end of the stick.

Now - Turkey is facing a new and thorny trial after the Armenian government filed a lawsuit against it with the European Court of Human Rights, which is based in the French city of Strasbourg, against the backdrop of Ankara's support for the Azerbaijani army in its recent war against the Nagorno-Karabakh region, in which Armenian fighters declared in the 1990s The last century was a de facto independent republic that they called "Artsakh", the Armenian name for the mountainous region in the South Caucasus.

The European Court officially announced that it had received a complaint from Yerevan to sue Ankara, which supported Baku in its war last year against the Armenian fighters in "Artsakh", which lasted from late September to the ninth of last November as well. The Armenian government accuses its Turkish counterpart of providing Baku with advanced weapons, in addition to bringing in Syrian mercenaries and army experts who participated in the fight alongside the Azerbaijani army against the forces of the decades-old disputed region between Baku and Yerevan.

Armenia's ambassador to Russia, Vardan Toghanyan, says that Turkey has transferred about 4,000 militants from northern Syria to Azerbaijan to participate in the current fighting between Baku and Yerevan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. Toghanyan added, in statements to Russian media, that the Syrian militants are participating in combat operations in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Asked if Yerevan plans to go to the CSTO for assistance, the ambassador of Armenia said that "there are no such plans on the agenda of our government." The CSTO includes Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights had reported the arrival of the first batch of Syrian mercenaries affiliated with Ankara to Azerbaijan, in the midst of confrontations that threaten to break out of war with neighboring Armenia. According to the observatory, the authorities of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan transferred a batch of fighters loyal to them from the Afrin region, northwest of Aleppo, to its territory, before sending them to Azerbaijan. According to sources, other batches moved to Baku, within the framework of Erdogan's policy of raising tension east and west using the mercenary card, as is the case in Libya.

Since the outbreak of fighting on September 27, Turkey has strongly supported Azerbaijan and said that Armenian forces should leave the enclave that is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but ruled and populated by Armenians.

Turkey has said it should play a role in international discussions on the conflict, something Yerevan opposes. In the interview with him at his official residence, a huge Soviet-era building in the center of the Armenian capital Yerevan, Pashinyan accused Turkey of undermining the ceasefire and seeking to extend its influence in the wider South Caucasus to reinforce what he called its expansionist ambitions. "I am convinced that Azerbaijan will not stop military operations as long as there is no change in the Turkish position," he said.

Azerbaijan says it is open to a temporary humanitarian ceasefire agreed in Moscow to exchange prisoners and the bodies of battle dead, but accuses Armenian forces of violating the truce.

Yerevan denies this. Azerbaijan said it intends to launch more military operations after the armistice to seize more territory. Pashinyan said that, before the ceasefire talks, Turkey publicly stated that it believed that Azerbaijan should continue to fight and that the Turkish foreign minister phoned the Azerbaijani foreign minister after the agreement. In turn, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said that a ceasefire would not be a permanent solution, and since then added that the Armenian forces should withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh.

"Turkey came to the South Caucasus in order to continue its policy in the Mediterranean against Greece and Cyprus, or in Libya, or in Syria, or in Iraq," Pashinyan said. It is an expansionist policy.

“The problem is that the Armenians of the South Caucasus are the last remaining obstacle to the implementation of this expansionist policy.” The military escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh is the worst since the 1991-1994 war, which broke out with the collapse of the Soviet Union, in which about 30,000 people were killed.

Abroad, the war is also closely watched not only because of its proximity to pipelines that carry oil and gas from Azerbaijan to Europe, but because of fears that Russia and Turkey will be drawn into the conflict. Pashinyan repeated the accusations, which Ankara denied, that Turkey was implementing the policies of the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of the twentieth century, which he called the continuation of the "Armenian genocide." The Armenian Genocide refers to the killing of about 1.5 million Armenians under the rule of the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1923.


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