Too many players threaten the South Caucasus

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Over time, another decade unfolds that prevent a final solution to the round of fighting raging in the South Caucasus between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Too many players spoil a cause; On the one hand, Ankara and Paris are seeking to settle their scores on the land of Karabakh, while Erdogan believes that he faces a double blockade, which Tehran is participating in implementing. At this time, Washington enters the crisis to withdraw the cards of power from Moscow’s hand, sometimes by notifying Yerevan that it has not abandoned them, and at other times by placing its weight in support of Baku, while the field shows that the latter has still the upper hand, which places the restoration of its occupied lands a first condition for stopping the war.
At a time when the Nagorno Karabakh crisis attracted the world’s attention, French President Emmanuel Macron was presenting a great gift to the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “Charlie Hebdo” magazine made a mistake by depicting the Prophet Muhammad. The offense not related to freedom of expression was extraordinary, in a disgusting caricature that can be framed as a lack of the lowest moral values. Worse than the drawings themselves, someone cuts off the head of the teacher who raised the issue of these drawings with his students. Worse than this and that, the French state prints the cartoons in booklets for distribution to schools, in order to emphasize “freedom of expression”, and to allow some institutions and municipalities to upload huge pictures of some of these caricatures on public buildings and facades.
The French president continued his criticism of Islam with an intensified campaign against some Islamic groups in France. This allowed the Turkish president to grasp the moment of incomprehensible and unjustified French behavior by inviting Macron to conduct a “mental health check”, armed with reactions in most Muslim countries, to launch a campaign against his opponent and his rival in more than one arena.
While Turkey was retreating in Libya and was virtually out of this equation, in parallel with the increased pace of the campaign against Ankara and the call for a boycott of its goods by some Arab countries, such as Saudi Arabia, the hasty French position came to turn the wind, by calling for a boycott of French products. A call that forgot the campaign to boycott Turkish products, what was considered a miscoordination and perhaps blatant appreciation between the forces opposing Erdogan’s plans in the region, from Libya and the eastern Mediterranean to the Caucasus.
The pro-AKP newspaper, Yeni Safak, affirms that Macron’s battle with Erdogan is lost and will not benefit him in the upcoming presidential elections. The newspaper says that Macron is trying to compensate after his loss in Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean, but with this attack on Islam, he is digging the grave of his political life with his hand.
From France to the Caucasus, Erdogan believes that he is facing a double blockade, which his media call “an attempt to stop the Turkish rise.” While it was believed that a new Astana-style path would form, including Russia, Turkey and Iran, the Turkish media was surprisingly correct in the direction of Iran. The latter, as well as Russia, from day one, has been anxious about Turkey’s attempt to create a focal point of tension on its borders with Azerbaijan, and from talking about Ankara and Baku’s efforts to advance southward along the Iranian borders to Nakhjuan, which has a common border with Turkey. Based on these concerns, an Iranian military official declared that his country rejects any change in the nature of the geographical reality between Armenia and Azerbaijan. By this he meant any Turkish-Azerbaijani attempt to connect the two countries by land. The Iranian armed forces also conducted military maneuvers on the borders with Azerbaijan and Armenia in a message stating that they will not stand idly by in the face of any geopolitical changes.
From here, the statement of the Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, gained importance when he said: “Europe must know very well that Armenia is the only remaining obstacle between the northeast and the southeast to stop Turkey.” Yeni Safak believes that this statement is the key to what Turkey’s enemies are planning. Just as the West tried to cut the southern gate of Turkey with the Arab world through northern Syria, and as it tries to cut the western gate through the eastern Mediterranean, it wants to continue cutting the eastern gate through Armenia. But it is noteworthy that the newspaper considers Tehran a major part of this plan, and that the problem between Armenia and Azerbaijan is made by Russia and Iran, which want to divide the Turkish world into two parts: Turkey on the one hand and what remains of the Turkish world on the other hand. If the instructions to Pashinyan came from the West, then the Iranian reaction, according to the newspaper, complemented this scheme.
In returning to the conflict in Karabakh, the United States tried to be a direct party in the crisis, as it tried to pull the rug of exclusivity from Moscow’s hand. After the first two truces were Russian efforts, the third armistice came under American auspices. This is because Yerevan and its prime minister, a fancied American, did not notice that Washington had abandoned them, while the United States placed its actual weight on the side of Azerbaijan, which represents an American-Israeli base that could, at a certain moment, constitute a threat to Iran. Nevertheless, the fate of the third truce was not better than the two previous ones, in the absence of any new initiative to lay down a roadmap to solve the crisis, so that the word remains so far for the field.
The Azerbaijani forces supported by Turkey are considered profitable so far through their control of many cities and villages that were in the custody of the Armenian forces, while Baku is still raising the slogan: There is no cessation of war without the withdrawal of Armenian forces from the lands that they controlled in the 1990s.
The fact that the field situation is not easy was expressed by the President of the “Artsakh Republic”, Aryk Harutyunyan, who, last Friday, sent a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin, reminding him that Artsakh was – throughout history – belonging to Russia, while ninety thousand people participated. Bagh and Armenia in defense of the Soviet Union during World War II, and Armenians from the region assumed high responsibilities in the Soviet state. Harutyunyan said in his message that Azerbaijan continues the policy of exterminating the Armenians, he asked Putin to make all possible efforts to stop the war and resume political processes.
In this context, Turkish researcher Bahloul Ozkan believes that Armenia is ready to give up part of the occupied Azerbaijani lands in exchange for giving it the Lachin and Kalbgar passes that reach Yerevan with its Bagh. Ozkan admits that Baku took advantage of the US administration’s preoccupation with the presidential elections, to attack Karabakh, while Yerevan was surprised by this, which was not ready for war due to its economic weakness. But Russia, despite Pashinyan’s Western inclinations, will not allow the fall of the entire Karabakh region, because this will mean the collapse of its role and influence in the region. Ozkan believes that the Nationalist Movement Party and the hard-line nationalist wing of the Justice and Development Party want to connect Azerbaijan with Turkey and occupy the Armenian lands separating them. But in this case, the risk of that region turning into a new Syria exists. As for the solution, the researcher says, perhaps the region will gain wide autonomy under Azerbaijani sovereignty and with international guarantees, especially from Turkey and Russia, otherwise, a single Armenian will not remain in Karabakh.

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