Avoiding World War III in the Caucasus

David Boyajian sends this report on the latest instance of Azerbaijani aggression towards Armenia.

Map of the Caucasus and Central Asia (Wikimedia Commons)

Avoiding World War III in the Caucasus

by David Boyajian
August 13, 2020

“The Caucasus is Ground Zero in the New Cold War between the U.S. and Russia.”

I wrote that several years ago, and it’s still true, particularly after Christian Armenia decisively repulsed a mid-July attack by Muslim Azerbaijan.

Perhaps dozens of Azeris died in the battles, including a major-general, colonel, and two majors. Armenia reported far fewer deaths and captured a new defensive position, even though Azerbaijan possesses a bigger arsenal, quadruple the GDP, and more than triple Armenia’s population.

Azerbaijan attacked Armenia’s northeastern border and has done so before. Typically, though, Azerbaijan attacks Artsakh (Karabagh), the de facto-independent Armenian-majority region that voted some thirty years ago for freedom from Azerbaijan, which rejects that vote.

Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin deceitfully annexed Artsakh and the ancient Armenian region of Nakhichevan to Azerbaijan in the 1920s. Far from being ancient itself, Azerbaijan was invented only in 1918.

Why should any of this matter to the rest of the world?

Why It Matters

  • Major gas and oil pipelines originate in Azerbaijan. They cross Georgia and NATO member Turkey with fuel bound for Europe and elsewhere. Georgia and Azerbaijan are thereby linked to the West. These pipelines are at risk as they pass only about 12 to 30 miles from the July fighting and from Artsakh.
  • The Caucasus is the US/NATO/EU’s doorway (via Turkey) into the energy-rich Caspian Sea Basin and then into Russia’s vulnerable Turkic-Muslim underbelly in Central Asia. Russia regards this as an existential threat.
  • Armenia enjoys excellent relations with the US/NATO/EU. But for security reasons it aligns itself with the nearest major Christian power: Russia. In sympathy with its Turkic Azerbaijani ally, Turkey has closed its border with Armenia since 1994. Armenia, therefore, has become the geopolitical pivot point for whoever wishes to dominate the Caucasus.
  • Turkey has long threatened Armenia, and has placed itself squarely on Azerbaijan’s side in the recent conflict. That may produce a Turkish confrontation with Russia, in addition to those in Syria and Libya.
  • Azerbaijan is threatening to bomb Armenia’s Metsamor nuclear power plant. This would spread deadly radiation to Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Turkey, and elsewhere.

Armenian-Western relations go back thousands of years. The US/NATO/EU (we’ll term it the “Western Bloc”) has been very friendly to Armenia and Artsakh and aided them economically for decades.

Landlocked Armenia, however, depends on Russia for most of its gas and weapons. Moscow also controls much of Armenia’s energy network.

Armenia (population 3 million), nevertheless, remains under threat from Azerbaijan (population 10 million) and Turkey (population 82 million) since the USSR’s dissolution in 1991.

Armenia under Siege

Turkey committed genocide against Armenians in 1915-23. The Armenian Highlands and everything else Armenian, particularly in what are now eastern and southern Turkey, were destroyed or confiscated. Azeris joined in that genocide in the Caucasus.

The Armenian Genocide isn’t mere history. The threat of Genocide 2.0 always looms.

Turkey and Azerbaijan (motto: “two countries, one nation”) won’t come to terms with Armenia’s existence. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev says all of Armenia should be part of Azerbaijan — without Armenians, of course.

The July 19 cover of the Turkish newspaper Dirilis Postasi (“Resurrection Post”), headlined “Karabagh or Death,” portrays Azerbaijan as encompassing Artsakh and southern Armenia.

Turkey is still enamored with pan-Turkism, just as during WWI and the Armenian Genocide. Turkey envisions leading a federation that includes Azerbaijan and the Turkic-Muslim countries of Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) — all the way to China’s Xinjiang Province.

Soldiers in Turkish-Azerbaijani military drills last year wore arm patches depicting such a pan-Turkic entity.

Participants in recent worldwide anti-Armenian demonstrations flashed the Grey Wolves (Bozkurtlar) hand signal. The Grey Wolves are a neo-fascist, pan-Turkist organization responsible for hundreds of assassinations and murders.

While the European Allies (and, implicitly, America) militarily opposed Ottoman Turkey’s pan-Turkism in WWI, the Western Bloc implicitly supports pan-Turkism today.

Armenia is a geopolitical impediment to pan-Turkism. That’s a key reason Russia needs Armenia. Russians are too proud to admit it though.

However, Russia has increasingly been cozying up to Azerbaijan and Turkey. Therefore, despite the Armenian-Russian mutual defense treaty and a Russian base in Armenia near the Turkish border, Armenia isn’t always certain of Russian support, particularly against Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijani Threats

Azerbaijan has violated the ceasefire agreement between it and Armenia/Artsakh thousands of times since 1994. Armenian forces are in defensive mode. They have little reason to violate the ceasefire. Azerbaijan rejects proposals for installing autonomous gunfire-detection equipment on the line of contact.

President Aliyev refuses even to negotiate with Artsakh, a stable democracy. That’s hardly a recipe for peace.

Armenia is democratic and reformist. Azerbaijan is autocratic. It imprisons journalists and human rights activists at an astonishing rate. Europe’s Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) named Aliyev its 2012 “Organized Crime and Corruption Person of the Year.” U.S. diplomatic cables described him as a mafia-like figure.

Aliyev’s “Azerbaijani Laundromat” bribed European officials and laundered billions.

In 2004, Azeri serviceman Ramil Safarov axed to death an Armenian lieutenant in his sleep at a NATO exercise in Hungary. He was sentenced to life and imprisoned. Hungary eventually released him to Azerbaijan which welcomed him as a national hero. Armenian civilians have been tortured and beheaded by invading Azeri soldiers.

To ‘prove’ Armenians never lived in Nakhichevan, in 2005 the Azerbaijani military used pickaxes and dump trucks to destroy thousands of iconic headstones in a ninth-century Armenian cemetery. It was caught on video.

During the twentieth century, Azerbaijan emptied Nakhichevan of its Armenians and was doing similarly in Artsakh before Armenians put a stop to it.

No wonder Artsakh says it will never again submit to Azeri rule.

Turkish threats

Turkey was set to invade Armenia in 1993 during a coup against Russian President Boris Yeltsin led by Ruslan Khasbulatov, the pro-Turkish Chechen and Supreme Soviet speaker. Fortunately, the coup failed.

In 1993, Turkish President Turgut Ozal threatened Armenia “in case they had not learned their lesson in 1915.”

Turkish President Erdogan recently menaced Armenia using a backhanded reference to the 1915 Genocide: “We will continue to fulfill this mission, which our grandfathers have carried out for centuries, in the Caucasus again.”

Turkey is supplying Azerbaijan with Bayraktar drones (based on Israeli designs), T-129 ATAK helicopters, and TRG-300 Tiger rocket systems. Turkey has sent F-16 jets to Azerbaijan for joint military exercises.

Yet the Western Bloc has said and done nothing to restrain Turkey.

Turkey denies reports it will send jihadists to fight for Azerbaijan. In the past, however, Turkey has sent its Grey Wolves, and Azerbaijan has recruited Afghan/Pakistani/Chechen mujahideen, to battle Armenians.

The Azerbaijani-Israeli-Jewish Axis

President Aliyev once compared Azerbaijan-Israeli relations to an iceberg: “Nine-tenths of it is below the surface.”

Israel sells Azerbaijan billions in advanced weapons (many used against Armenia and Artsakh) while Israel gets 40% of its oil from Azerbaijan and facilities to spy on and counter Iran.

Azerbaijan’s “lobby in the U.S.,” revealed Aliyev, “is the Jewish community.”

The American Jewish Committee’s Executive Director David Harris (a.k.a. Jews’ “foreign minister”), for instance, received Aliyev’s “Order of Friendship” award.

Numerous principled Jewish/Israeli writers are friendly to Armenians. Still, the Israeli- Azerbaijani alliance has induced many Jewish/Israeli writers to gleefully malign Armenia. Examples include Brenda Shaffer and Nurit Greenger.

It’s reminiscent of the way Jewish American organizations — ADL, AIPAC, AJC, and others — have colluded with Turkey and Israel (in friendlier days) to hypocritically deny/diminish the Armenian Genocide and defeat Armenian Genocide resolutions in Congress.

Thus, the Azerbaijani-Israeli-Jewish axis is a clone of the disreputable Turkish-Israeli-Jewish one.

What’s Needed

Under relentless pressure and against all odds, Armenia and Artsakh continue to hold out against foreign actors who wish to deny them their very existence.

Regardless, from a practical, if not moral, standpoint, the Western Bloc and Russia should rein in Azeri and Turkish aggression unless they wish to see the region explode.

David Boyajian is an Armenian-American freelance journalist. Many of his articles are archived at www.armeniapedia.org/wiki/David_Boyajian.

Previous posts:

2015   Apr   1   The Allies At Gallipoli: Defeat In 1915, Disgrace In 2015
2016   May   21   The ADL and the Armenian Genocide: It’s Not Over Until It’s Over
    Jun   26   An Armenian-American Group Caves in to the Anti-Defamation League
2018   May   6   Armenia’s People-Power Revolution, Russia, and the Western Bloc
    Sep   10   No to the Anti-Defamation League in Glendale and Elsewhere
    Nov   28   Blundering American Ambassadors Unmask the War on Terror
2019   Jul   8   Hypocritical Jewish Organizations and the Armenian Genocide
    Nov   10   The Phony Anti-Defamation League’s Genocide Legislation
    Dec   29   What the U.S. House Impeachment Inquiry Wouldn’t Ask Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch
2020   Jun   24   The ADL’s “Task Force on Middle East Minorities”: A Con Job?

14 thoughts on “Avoiding World War III in the Caucasus

    • That is an untruth. That is the conspiracy theory that Jew haters have been making since 911. Jew haters blame the jews for everything but the reason is that the Jew haters really come out in favor of the muslims terrorists. Even Jimmy Carter lies about them.

  1. Do you want an honest opinion?
    Despite the fact that we Russians are told all the time that the Armenians are our Christian brothers, in reality the situation is difficult. The problem with the Armenian mafia, crime, tribalism. Not less than with the Muslim, in particular the Azerbaijani. Even in my northern Russian city there was a resonant case involving the son of an influential Armenian.

    Both those and others (Armenians and Azerbaijanis) are incredibly tired of ordinary people.
    Of course, the Kremlin will be forced to take one side or the other.
    And we, the inhabitants, do not want, we are tired. We say: solve your problems yourself, under the shadow of Mount Ararat. And we do not want our sons to die for Armenia and Armenians. And the last … Eat each other.
    Trade war: Armenians and Azerbaijanis divide Moscow
    Trade wars broke out in Moscow against the background of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict
    One of the resonant cases. A crowd of Armenians beat a man, a former special forces soldier stood up for him. He was stabbed to death. The offender took refuge in Armenia, but was not extradited to Russia.

    And there are a lot of such cases throughout the country – violence, robberies, murders… Or here’s another:


    • Sadly Elena, I read some good history of a British Contingent during the Armenian genocide & diaspora, that occurred during WW1.
      The diary shows some juxtapositions of those events.

      “A British general gave his name to a band of commandos tasked with seizing strategic areas in north-west Iran and the southern Caucasus.
      The Dunsterforce, comprised of New Zealand, Australian, Canadian, and ‘Imperial’ troops, failed miserably in their mission”.

      Anzac and the Armenian Genocide
      Sunday, 24 April 2016 http://m.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11627896

      A tragedy for the ones who suffered such cruelty.

      Here is the diary of one, and reflects things of how he saw things of those times.
      Although an intriguing read all the way through, the Armenian refugees starts at Chapt 34 when first meeting the Armenian refugees.
      The politics, tribalism, showed that there were very few saints, and life was to be used where you could take ruthlessly advantage, even if it was just for a short time.

      Worth reading the whole lot, take in the flavour and thinkings of those times.
      It is a hard, tragic read, but not so graphic, and study of those times and events.

      • Everything is really very sad.
        My comment says only one thing – ordinary Russian people will not want to stand up for the Armenians. The count is too long to them. Why? Let the Armenians ask themselves this question.
        Oddly enough, for some reason we like Serbs more, although, unlike Armenians, they have never lived with us in the same country.

        As for the Kremlin, it is a very corrupt structure. I think everything here will depend on bribes. And the Turkic world at the moment can give more money. Unless the Kremlin itself decides to end this problem. Because this is a problem. Or the next president will perform namaz in the Kremlin. I dont know. Nothing is clear.

        • “Why?
          Let the Armenians ask themselves this question”.

          That is what comes out in the diary, “Stalky’s forlorn hope” how the Armenians, were not as principled as we are giving the impression of.
          That is no easy thing, to do.
          Would it be familiarity breeds contempt?
          One knows where all the faults are of the Armenians?

          People looking on, and even understandably the Russians today, want to be on the side that looks like a winner, then for the least cost.
          The least cost in Russian blood, and money.

          Whether Turkey seems to deliver, it has the preening image, marketed to be delivered, but can it be delivered.

          NATO and EU, are so unprincipled, not even daring to really give a message to Turkey, to give a pull on the reins.
          Nor will they do anything except deliver “wet bus ticket slaps on the wrist”.
          So naturally Erdogan can afford to be more of a braggart and become more reckless.

          At the end of the day, Russia has decide what is best for itself, what is workable, and what price it is prepared to pay &/or concede.

          • Just got it “namaz” islamic prayer. 🙁

            Another win for islam? 🙁 as Chechnya had a Russian sponsored mosque built and more being built in Moscow.

            Putin seems to believe he can ride the tiger, but islam is biding its time & will see him out.

  2. Waiting for the snap back. In the meantime it’s on with the advertising and blazing saddles. Shor-ins and newly independent types grappling with the levers and steering wheel. So familiar to the streetwise. Hairy Boris and Obnoxious Patel. What’s the navy for? The army? Border police? Air Force? Passports? Health-care? Women? Men? What is being ravaged mean? Well it looks like Winston was way ahead again. “We will fight them in the street……” etc.

  3. Genetically, Jews and Turks are very closely related – much more so than Jews and Arabs, according to those who have explored the genomes of both populations.

    With the recent agreement Israel has signed, it may be time for them to pull away from their close relationship with Turkey. The pro-Muslim Turks, along with Islamic believers, will not provide a stable long term relationship with Israel.

  4. As we give more and more power away to all comers from the outer spaces we also become overcome with their tribal raves. Is all ammo kept in one place off shore? Contingency plans? Real leaders chosen? Just in case.

  5. I am only waiting for Turkey to get kicked out of NATO. Its behaviour makes this ever more likely, i.e. if NATO as a military organization has retained some more self-respect than the actual governments comprising its members. And then, Israel in instead… This will clear up the frontlines. After the smoke settles, we will live in a much simpler world.

    • I completely agree Turkey should be booted from NATO. But bring Israel in? That means, an even more intimate involvement with the battles, politics and religious rivalries of the Middle East. Let Israel handle its own affairs. If Israel is a member of NATO, the US is obligated to enter any conflict on Israel’s side. So, Israel’s focus on any conflict will be, not how to resolve it with the minimum cost, but how to maneuver the US into the conflict. It’s not good for the US and definitely not good for Israel. With US support, Israel will be tempted to go out on a limb, where any change in US policy will cut the limb off. Israel needs to stay on a solid footing.

  6. Haven’t you heard? Erdogan and his little lady are taking everyone on a caliphate. Europe and all the Russias look out! Here we come!

    • It’s right. Pan-Turkic sentiments are very strong in Russia. Erdogan is their hero. Once upon a time, the authorities themselves gave the green light to this Turkic factor in an attempt to limit the “terrible Russian nationalism”. Now let them eat Pan-Turkism with a full spoon.

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