Sanction the Axis of Mercenary and Terrorist Evil

Here’s the latest from David Boyajian on the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Artsakh.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev — Credit:

Sanction the Axis of Mercenary and Terrorist Evil: Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Georgia

by David Boyajian

Azerbaijan deployed thousands of mercenaries in last year’s 44-day war that it and Turkey waged against Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabagh and Armenia.

Azerbaijan thereby flagrantly violated the UN’s International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries (UNMERC) which it signed in 1997.

Forty-six countries have signed UNMERC, including Belgium, Cyprus, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, and Poland.

These mercenaries are not clean-cut military men. They’re terrorists, thugs, jihadis, and fanatics.

The Evidence

They include former ISIS commander Sayf Balud, and members of the Hamza Division, Sultan Murad Brigade, Al-Amshat Militia, Free Syrian Army (FSA/SNA), and other factions.

Many were brought into Azerbaijan before the war began on September 27, 2020. Unknown numbers remain there despite the November 9 armistice.

Armenian forces captured two mercenaries who came from Syria’s Hama and Idlib provinces.

The independent UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has confirmed Azerbaijan’s employing mercenaries. In October, it numbered them at over 2,050 with 145 dead.

Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights has named the chief mercenary commanders, such as Fehim Isa of the Sultan Murad Brigade, and their organizations.

Video and audio recordings have identified many of the mercenaries.

Azeri soldiers have forced some of them into battle at gunpoint and lied about the combat conditions. “Haji… don’t come,” warned one mercenary. “We have been deceived… this is a meat grinder.”

Earlier Mercenaries

Azerbaijan’s importing mercenaries/jihadis is nothing new. Nor is its involvement in terrorism.

  • In the 1990s, Azerbaijan hired Afghan Mujahedin, Chechens, Pakistanis, and Turkey’s terrorist Grey Wolves to fight Armenians.
  • Al-Qaeda cells in Baku facilitated the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
  • Over 900 Azerbaijanis have joined ISIS.
  • Azerbaijan’s Silk Way Airlines has transported weapons to terrorist organizations.

Azerbaijan’s political and military cultures are clearly deranged, as are Turkey’s.

Turkey is a shameless, longtime ISIS supporter, which the U.S. Treasury Department just identified as a “logistical hub” for ISIS.

Turkey’s and Azerbaijan’s Guilt

Most of the mercenaries used by Azerbaijan were flown in by Turkey. They often came from the ranks of Turkey’s proxy jihadist organizations (named above) in Syria who had reportedly committed atrocities and war crimes there.

Turkey typically recruits jihadis/mercenaries through SADAT, a quasi-official Turkish military contracting company. Led by former Brigadier General Adnan Tanriverdi and other Turkish officers, SADAT is loyal to Turkish President Erdogan. Turkey’s use of SADAT contravenes the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Turkey has also been sending terrorists and jihadis to fight in Libya’s civil war.

Azerbaijan may also have recruited mercenaries from elsewhere, such as Pakistan, according to some reports.

Regardless of the source of the mercenaries, Azerbaijan has brazenly violated UNMERC.

Charges against Turkey and Azerbaijan

A bi-partisan letter to the State and Defense Departments by one hundred U.S. House members has criticized “Turkish backed foreign mercenaries [in Azerbaijan], many alleged to have ties to internationally recognized terrorist groups.”

A European Parliament resolution has deplored “the transfer of foreign terrorist fighters by Turkey from Syria and elsewhere to Nagorno-Karabakh, as confirmed by international actors, including the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries.”

On November 6, 2020, the UN’s Working Group on the use of mercenaries and two Special Rapporteurs sent a strongly worded, eight-page letter to Turkey and Azerbaijan that detailed the charges against them.

The way “Syrian fighters are allegedly being recruited, transported and used in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict appears consistent with the definition of a mercenary, as set out by relevant international legal instruments. Furthermore, their deployment appears to have contributed to the rapid escalation and intensification of hostilities, in turn resulting in civilian harm and suffering.”

Seventy-six days later — in a short, vacuous, and predictably arrogant reply — Turkey called the Working Group’s charges “fake news.” Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has similarly denied using mercenaries.

UNMERC signatory Georgia is also culpable. It has knowingly permitted Turkey to use Georgian airspace to transport the terrorists to Azerbaijan.

Next Moves

Armenia has just filed war crimes lawsuits against Azerbaijan in the European Court of Human Rights.

Armenia, a member of the UN Human Rights Council, should also petition that organization to promptly sanction Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Georgia.

The case against the three countries could not be clearer. A lengthy investigation would be superfluous and counterproductive.

UNMERC signatories are especially obligated to hold the guilty parties accountable.

Human rights organizations worldwide must demand action, not mere words, from their respective governments and the UN.

David Boyajian is an Armenian-American freelance journalist. Many of his articles are archived at

For his previous essays at Gates of Vienna, see the David Boyajian Archives.

2 thoughts on “Sanction the Axis of Mercenary and Terrorist Evil

  1. Do they tremble in fear of the Village People military of the USA?
    Oh…it was just belly laughter.
    Honk, honk.

  2. Strange and disappointing that the government of a very Christian country as Georgia is also complicit in killing their fellow-Christians in a neighboring country.
    Historically, Georgia has always been pro-Russian and anti-Turkish, for obvious reasons, hence in alliance with Armenia. This foreign policy was resumed after regained independence in 1991 during the presidencies of Gamzadzurdia and later Shevardnadze.
    It was the political maverick Saakashvili, the same guy who also messed up in Ukrainian politics later, who changed the historical foreign political course of Georgia by wanting to join NATO (hence provoking Russia) and by extending his direct power by removing the autonomy of the regions Abkhasia and Ossetia and culturally suppressing these nations, who are also both majority Christian, by forcing them to assimilate. In fact, they enjoyed more cultural autonomy during (post-Stalin) Soviet times. The dire situation that Saakashvili brought them in, forced many of them to apply for Russian passports, so that the Russian government would have a legal incentive to protect them.
    This led to a short war in 2008, after which Georgia turned against Russia, and even against Armenia, which is totally dependent on protection from Russia.
    The big oil companies are behind it, in cooperation with the corrupt Turkish regime. Together they plan a pipe line from the oil-rich Caspian sea basin and Central Asia to harbour cities at the Turkish Meditterreanean coast (Nabucco). Part of this pipe line will run through Georgia, so a potentially pro-Russian Georgia was not of their liking.
    So one may start to wonder who paid (or pays) Saakashvili.
    The evil plan succeeded.
    The direct victims are the helpless devout Christian Armenian people.

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