The current problems of the South Caucasus is largely derived from its extremely important strategic value. This juncture of continents, civilizations, geopolitical systems, an important crossroads and communications corridor. In addition, the region immediately adjacent to the richest deposits of hydrocarbons in the Middle East, Caspian Sea, Iranian plateau.
That is why the South Caucasus could become an arena of violent confrontation between states and individuals, and coalitions of states against the use of all available forces and means, not excluding the military. In this case one of the most explosive issues in the region is undoubtedly the Karabakh conflict.
MOSCOW – FOR PEACEFUL SETTLEMENT
In the spring of 1994, with the mediation of Russia fighting on the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, in the border areas of Armenia and Azerbaijan have been stopped. And the fact that there still prevails a lull, however, from time to time broken by skirmishes and clashes, also a direct service of the Russian Federation. It is for all the past 16 years has been the guarantor of peace and stability in this part of the region.
It is in Karabakh Russia has to defend its interests in the South Caucasus and the Caspian Sea. Moscow is well aware that the more passive she behaves, the more will be intensified its competitors. Not surprisingly, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev sought to maintain close contacts with the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan, trying to achieve early resolution of the Karabakh problem. He made Yerevan and Baku to follow exclusively peaceful means to resolve the conflict by signing with the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan, an agreement in the capital of Russia in 2008.
It should be noted that Moscow generally tries to keep a very balanced policy in relations with Yerevan and Baku, because it has vital interests in Armenia, and Azerbaijan. Friendly relations with the two republics is very significant for Russia. For Armenia – the location of military bases of the Armed Forces of Russia, while Azerbaijan is one of the leading suppliers of energy in Eurasia. It should also take into account the presence of Azerbaijani and Armenian diaspora in the Russian Federation.
Meanwhile, the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Serzh Sargsyan and Ilham Aliyev continues to strongly defend their views on the Karabakh issue. Armenia advocates for the recognition of independence of Nagorno-Karabakh in return for the cession of territory, not part of the NKR. Aliyev also wanted to return and Azeri areas lost during the war in the early 90’s, and Karabakh as a whole. To achieve its goals, both the president “flirt” with all leading geopolitical players in the “South Caucasus field”: the U.S., EU, Turkey, Russia, etc.
If the “flirt” turn into a serious relationship with a competitor of Russia, and Yerevan, and Baku, may be able to change the vectors of its foreign policy. But in this case, Moscow has more powerful means of pressure on them. It just will not interfere with the national liberation movements Karabakh, Lezgins, Avars, Talysh and raise the level of relations with Iran. And this once and for all close all gas and oil Caspian projects of the West. The geopolitical axis of Russia – Lezgistan – Karabakh – Talysh – Iran – India will be a cold shower for the Euro-Atlantic community, and for Turkey.
NKR – De facto Sovereign States
Presidents Aliyev and Sargsyan not take into account one important point – namely, the interests of the people of Karabakh and the changes in this country. What specifically do you mean?
There was a generational change in Nagorno-Karabakh: there have grown and matured, many thousands of people who do not represent their own republic within another state, including Armenia.
Psychological factor. The war touched almost every family of Karabakh and caused serious psychological harm to its people. Now the fear of being evicted, as Nakhichevan Armenians, or cut forces them to protect and cherish their independence.
The military factor. NKR Army – one of the most capable in the South Caucasus. Youth-Karabakh considers that the independence of their country she needs to make its own contribution. And if it committed aggression against the republic, they will have the opportunity to do so.
Ethnocultural factors. Do Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh, developed a spiritual “filter” that separates the Caucasian-Albanian and Azeri-Turkish culture. The atmosphere of chronic mistrust of Karabakh Armenians to a second type of ethno-cultural growing belligerent statements of Azerbaijan.
Autonomy of Stepanakert. It is still dimly seen today, because the second and third presidents of Armenia – Karabakh representatives. However, this does not mean that the NCI intends to unquestioningly obey the sister republic. Armenia and Azerbaijan are stubbornly unwilling to recognize that Nagorno Karabakh is really an independent state. Therefore, all negotiations which take place without the consent of Yerevan and Stepanakert’s participation would have no real results.
Self-proclaimed Nagorno Karabakh Republic – the de facto sovereign state – the freedom of action of Armenia and Azerbaijan. For Yerevan Karabakh issue key. The sensitivity of the Armenian political elite and the Armenian society in general to this problem is too high. For Azerbaijan, it is also very important. And Baku, and Yerevan want by any means possible to solve it, and preferably in their favor, and this rush forced the authorities of Azerbaijan and Armenia to make a series of strategic mistakes.
ERRORS OF AZERBAIJAN
First – Baku widely advertised Azerbaijani oil and gas resources and has turned this issue into a tool to solve foreign policy problems. However, drawing attention to its hydrocarbon riches, Azerbaijan – a country with weak infrastructure, and ethnic and confessional problems – automatically becomes a prey to the great powers.
Second – demonstrative rejection of NKR as an independent factor in the negotiation process, as well as the reluctance of Baku to establish bilateral relations with Stepanakert. That is alarming, many representatives of national minorities living in Azerbaijan, and strengthens their separatist sentiments.
Third – the militant rhetoric of officials of Azerbaijan, threatening to withdraw from the negotiating process and settle the Karabakh problem by military means. This position strikes the image of Baku, describes him as an unreliable partner who is not responsible for the signed agreements.
Fourth – Azerbaijani authorities introduced himself and his people astray, believing that they can regain Karabakh by force. Any attempts of military action by the Baku jeopardize the integrity and stability not only in Azerbaijan but also the entire South Caucasus. And this is against the interests of Russia, Iran and China.
ERRORS OF ARMENIA
In turn, Armenia, seeking to preserve the status quo-Karabakh, also made a number of strategic mistakes.
The first – by selling their businesses, factories, gas, railway companies, etc. Russia, including private capital, Yerevan, believing that all foreign and domestic issues will be resolved automatically. This did not happen.
The second – the Armenian authorities consider that the return of the territory around Karabakh to Azerbaijan and the transfer of the status of Nagorno Karabakh indefinitely solve three problems: a) give legitimacy to its power, which is fighting against the opposition, and b) open border with Turkey, c) will relieve from responsibility for Karabakh. It is annoying not only the Armenian Diaspora, but also the Armenians of Karabakh.
Fearing such action in Yerevan, has intensified its mediation mission to Tehran. He does not want to see on the territory of Azerbaijan, near the Iranian border, international armed forces and most importantly – the creation of yet another military beachhead against the Islamic Republic.
Third – in Yerevan, demanding that the Armenian foreign financial and political support, while ignoring their opinion, thought it would last forever. However, this position has refocused the attention of foreign Armenians to other places of historic Armenia.
These errors are the two states have prepared fertile ground for activism U.S., EU, Turkey, Israel and Iran.
TRUMPS U.S. and the European demarche
The main geopolitical rival of Moscow – Washington is very active, but covert operation in the South Caucasus.
Memorandum by the Deputy Minister of Defense William Lynn on July 9, 2009 amends section 302 (a) of the Trade Agreements Act of 1979, ordering the Pentagon to buy only American goods and services. In accordance with this amendment is now an exception is made for nine countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Under this clause the company named above from each state, won the tender held by the U.S. Ministry of Defense, and entered into a contract with him, is obliged to notify about their government. At the same time to warn him that was unlikely to get a new American jobs, if the firms from the United States will not be given greater access to the economy.
U.S. and British intelligence agencies, with the Turkish and European allies are actively working with Armenian and Azeri youth, using all the “humanitarian” representation of Western countries, international organizations and dozens of NGOs in Armenia and Azerbaijan. To carry out this “education and upbringing” process designed to FULBRIGHT Program and FLEX (USA), Caucasus School of Journalists (Tbilisi), the European Students Forum (AEGEE, Ankara), USAID – Agency of the U.S. federal government, the Eurasia Foundation, Southern Resource Center, and t . e. Purpose – reorientation of Yerevan and Baku exclusively on Washington, the withdrawal of Russian military bases in Armenia, squeezing Russia out of the Transcaucasus.
But the Americans have a couple of weighty political trump cards for the Karabakh game. This possibility of recognizing the fact of genocide of Armenians in 1915-1923, respectively (a kind of stick over the head of Turkey) and the independence of Nagorno Karabakh (blackmail and Yerevan, and Baku).
The fact that Washington is preparing for major changes in the South Caucasus, prove two purposes. New deputy head of the Baku office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe was Melissa Stone, a State Department employee who worked previously in the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, and the post of U.S. co-chair the OSCE by former U.S. Ambassador to Croatia Robert Bradtke. This alerted many Azerbaijani analysts, because it was possible that the United States intend to include the South Caucasus in the framework of the global project “Balkanization-800.
With Americans in solidarity, the EU, which irritates the threat of Baku redirect gas supplies if Brussels will pull to the definition of tariffs within the gas pipeline Nabucco, which must provide the “blue fuel” from Central Asia to Europe, bypassing Russia. The consequences are not forced myself to wait long.
February 3, 2010 The Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) has prepared a special report titled “Black Island Azerbaijan: violations of human rights in Nakhichevan (the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic). The document was circulated in Strasbourg at the PACE winter session of the special delegation, organized by the Norwegian Fund RAFTO.
Difficult to “Big Brother”
Turkey – a key player in the Caucasus as a whole. But she had serious internal problems (polity, ethnic minorities, Turks and self-identity, etc.). And at the same time, the international situation allows Ankara attempt to become the leader of the Islamic community. The rift in the Arab world, the identification of his sometimes with international terrorism do not allow any of the Arab countries, professing mainly Sunni, to apply for this role. Like Iran, professing Shiism. The Turkish leaders have advocated for secular Islam and are ready to stand solidly for the rights of Muslims throughout the world. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has clearly demonstrated it in Davos, when defending the Palestinians, had quarreled with the President of Israel, and cut short his visit, left Switzerland.
Particularly shocked Washington and Tel Aviv, close relations between Turkey and Iran. Ankara has promised to Tehran to provide military assistance in case of aggression by Israel.
But such a policy Erdogan confronts Turkey’s General Staff. The antagonism between supporters of secular and Islamic political system is growing. Yield to no one wants.
Against this backdrop, Ankara has serious political, economic and religious issues with Baku. They are, however, crowding a long time but clearly manifested after the signing of a treaty between Armenia and Turkey on establishing diplomatic relations without preconditions. Republic of Turkey, on the basis of their national interests, really wants to establish mutually beneficial contacts with neighbors. And with Armenia – in the first place in the light of pressure from the U.S. and the EU. This is vital for the integrity of the country. However, Baku has accused Ankara of separatist agreements with Yerevan, and made a series of diplomatic demarches. Turkey, in order not to offend their “younger brothers”, began to bind the Karabakh problem with the Armenian-Turkish protocol. And he prepared himself to a standstill.
Do not fold, and gas relations between Ankara and Baku, they still can not agree on the price of gas supplies from Shah Deniz field in the Caspian region to Europe. The unresolved issue of transit of Azerbaijani “blue fuel” through Turkey pushes Azerbaijan to seek alternative routes.
Shares of Baku and Ankara is one more problem – different trends of Islam. The official religion in Turkey – Sunni, as in Azerbaijan – Shiism. So it turns out that the Azerbaijanis profess Shi’ism, and lezginoyazychnye peoples, Avars and half Talyshs Azerbaijan – Sunni. And in recent years of mounting tensions between them. Azerbaijan Sunnis even enlisted the help of the chief mufti of Russia. The essence of the treatment that the Baku authorities do not allow Lesghians have their mosque with Lezgin title. And what to do in this situation, Ankara?
One thing is clear: Afghanistan can no longer count on the unconditional support from Turkey.
TEL AVIV ON THE SIDE OF BAKU
Tel Aviv, losing to Turkey as an ally, switched to Azerbaijan. Here he has a vital interest: in addition to gas and oil, this is a common border with Iran.
Israel, along with the United States has long called attention to the Talysh, especially at their place of residence, adjacent to the Azerbaijani-Iranian border. In Lick (Lerik) region, for example, built an underground military facility. On the third floor of the Post Office city Ostoro (Astara) was installed special equipment, where day and night observations were made outside the territory of Iran.
For the Israeli Air Force Talysh – an excellent springboard for attacks on Iranian nuclear facilities and missile bases. Not surprisingly, the Tel Aviv actively supports Azerbaijan in its confrontation with Yerevan and Stepanakert.
PURPOSE OF CHINA
Do not stay aloof from the settlement of the Karabakh conflict, and China. In fact he has a good reason – the problem with millions of Turks, Uighurs, who live compactly in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China. The suppression of riots in the capital of Xinjiang – Urumqi provoked a strong reaction in Turkey, the Prime Minister condemning Beijing, saying the Chinese authorities as genocide the Uighur people.
After that, the involvement of China in the Karabakh problem has increased dramatically. The purpose of the Middle Kingdom – do not permit the Turkish positions in the South Caucasus, as well as the establishment of Ankara with full control over the region, the U.S. and UK. Beijing understands that the organizers of the riots in Xinjiang are Americans, British and Turks. He knows also that Ankara wants to make southern Mongolia into a springboard for subversive activities against China.
POSITION OF TEHRAN
Throughout the Karabakh conflict Iran has sought to maintain strict neutrality. Moreover, he even tried to mediate between the warring parties, but it’s not like Washington, and Iran’s peacemaking initiative to any outcome failed.
Tehran has warned Azerbaijan against hostile steps against him, but to no avail. Senior and junior Aliyevs conducted pro-Turkish, pro-Western policies and this annoyed the southern neighbor of Azerbaijan. Now Iran is especially concerned about intensive relations with Baku Tel Aviv. The leaders of the Islamic Republic fear that the territory of Azerbaijan will be used against the country’s ruling regime. They know how the Americans and Israelis are trying to configure Talyshs (and they live in Iran) to fight with the Iranian authorities. In this regard, Iran has sharply increased interest in the Karabakh conflict.
In this matter, Tehran two allies – Russia and China. But whether Russia, Iran and China oppose scalps US-British-Israeli bloc? Only time will tell.
Thus, the Karabakh conflict today – a problem the entire South Caucasus. Those countries that do not have historical and cultural attachment to the region, trying to “tear” in it for the full program. They do not care about cares, the troubles of the Armenian or Azerbaijani people. They are important their interests, their own welfare and profit. These challenges are and will be addressed.
Vitally interested in the speedy settlement of the conflict countries – Armenia and Azerbaijan – have to forget all grievances and ambitions, to recognize the NKR-party talks and negotiate until it is too late. Otherwise, it will come when foreign armies, has developed a completely different geopolitical configuration and the view of Baku and Yerevan have one worry will not.
Member of the Presidium of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems, PhD