President Erdogan’s initiative for a 3 + 3 regional co-operation format in the South Caucasus offers the possibility of opening up the region through an extensive network of land corridors. Not everyone has welcomed the initiative, but the prospect of turning a fragile region into a beacon of stability after a long period of instability and violence is a worthy aspiration, argues Fuad Shahbazov in this op-ed for KarabakhSpace.eu.
The second Karabakh war has shifted the geopolitical and geo-economic realities in the South Caucasus region, particularly heightening the possibility of competition over the region’s transport corridors. The Moscow-brokered ceasefire agreement signed on 10 November brings with it the possibility of opening a number of transit routes, which have been closed for almost 30 years. In the aftermath of the Armenian forces’ devastating defeat in the 44-day war, the idea of regional co-operation becomes increasingly important. Continue reading
International Counter-Terrorism Review (ICTR)
Considerable scholarly work on the post-Soviet region has focused on the various regional conflicts and security challenges, but rarely on the roots of the growing Islamism factor as a new source of threat. Following the demise of the Soviet Union, with its forcibly imposed atheist agenda, the majority of Muslim countries in Central Asia and the North Caucasus witnessed growing Islamic sentiments that led to a long-term, violent Islamic insurgency in the North Caucasus and, to some extent, in Central Asia. However, unlike other Muslim countries in the post-Soviet space, Islam plays a minimal role in Azerbaijan.
The country has maintained its unique secular model mainly due to the firm “secular nationalism” ideas put forward by local intellectuals since the 19th century. Nevertheless, it is necessary to understand the historical evolution process of Islamic thought in Azerbaijan, underline the role of certain external actors in promoting radical Islamic ideology, and understand how they pose an existential threat to national security and identity. Continue reading
Azeri Artillery shelling Armenian positions (Photo: BBC)
Following the deadliest large-scale violence between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabakh region for nearly three decades, the active phase of the conflict ended in November with a signed ceasefire agreement. But while the conflict asserted Turkey’s influence in the South Caucasus region, it also contributed to increased tensions between Ankara, Moscow, and Tehran.
The Turkish-Russian confrontation in the South Caucasus can be seen as a logical continuation of the rivalry in Syria and Libya, which resulted in shifting the regional balance of power along the southern borders of Russia. The active political involvement of Ankara in the conflict caused deep outrage not only in Moscow but also in Tehran, another important regional actor.
When fighting began, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that Turkey would continue to support Azerbaijan “with all its resources and heart.” During the war, Ankara provided Baku with active political and military support by exporting at least six armed Bayraktar TB2 type attack drones and supplying smart munitions (MAM-L), including precision-guided missiles. Continue reading
Turkish soldier greets an Azerbaijani colleague during recent military exercises between the two countries (photo TRT Istanbul)
The bloody six-week conflict erupted between Azerbaijan and Armenia on September 27 in the Nagorno-Karabakh region resulted in significant territorial gains for Azerbaijani forces. It was no secret that since the early 2000s Azerbaijan had been steadily building up its armed forces. The defeat of the self-proclaimed republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, an unrecognized Armenian populated territory within Azerbaijan’s borders, revealed serious military-technical problems on the Armenian side, which triggered mass anti-government riots in Armenia itself. The recent Russia-brokered ceasefire agreement between Baku and Yerevan halted the ongoing bloodshed and enabled the deployment of Russian peacekeepers in the conflict zone. It also marked a significant shift in regional geopolitics. Continue reading
A policeman walks past blood-stained stretchers at a morgue in Stepanakert, the main city in Nagorno-Karabakh, on November 6.
It took Azerbaijan just 43 days to win back its territory around the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh — seven districts of mountains and foothills that had been occupied by Armenian separatists since Baku’s humiliating battlefield failures of the early 1990s. Analysts say three factors explain why Azerbaijan was so successful in the battlefield this time: technology, tactics, and Turkey.
Alex Melikishvili, a research analyst at IHS Markit Country Risk, says it was Turkish support for Azerbaijan that made the war “qualitatively different from all previous conflagrations.” Melikishvili says the presence of Turkish F-16 fighter jets at a military airfield in Ganca, Azerbaijan’s second-largest city, was “tangible confirmation” that the geopolitical balance in the South Caucasus had shifted in Azerbaijan’s favor. Continue reading
People wave the national flag and hold portraits of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his father and predecessor Heydar as they celebrate in the streets of Baku on November 10.
Still euphoric over the capture of a vital city from Armenian forces, Azerbaijanis celebrated on the streets of Baku after a Russian-brokered deal was signed late on November 9 aimed at ending the war over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Meanwhile, Yerevan, the Armenian capital, was plunged into a political crisis over the truce. Angry crowds stormed the Armenian parliament and ransacked government buildings after Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian announced the deal on his Facebook page. As demonstrators also broke into Pashinian’s official residence, there was speculation the Armenian leader would be toppled and that the truce, along with the huge battlefield losses in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, could bring pro-Moscow Armenian nationalists back into power. Continue reading
A photo from the live-fire drills of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces’ artillery units, July 2, 2020 / Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan and Armenia have been locked in fierce fighting in Karabakh since September 27. Unlike in most previous clashes over this Armenian-occupied Azerbaijani territory, the present conflict has involved heavy and sophisticated weaponry wielded by both sides, but especially Azerbaijan’s Armed Forces. And while the ongoing violence is essentially a conventional war fought by two professional armies, the presence of new generation, hi-tech weaponry has sharply increased its destructive potential.
Videos released by the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan since the conflict began suggest that the Azerbaijani military has all along had the upper hand on the battlefield thanks to the employment of Israeli- and Turkish-produced unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), long-range missiles, and air-defense systems. Continue reading
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of Kazakhstan in Astana during an official state visit in July 2018 /AFP
With vast energy sources and favorable geography, Central Asia has been subject to intense rivalries between Russia, China, Iran, Turkey, and the Gulf monarchies, among others, for influence.
The energy sector has become the key prize, with natural gas being of greatest importance. Increasingly, gas is a major source of exports for the region. Central Asia accounts for about 4 percent of global energy deposits. The oil reserves in Central Asia and along the Caspian Sea coast amount to 17 to 33 bbl/d, which are comparable to that of Qatar The Gulf monarchies have been particularly active in this area in recent years, signing several memoranda and partnerships in the region. The energy giant UAE heavily invests in energy sector of the Central Asian countries to increase its own footprint in the region, bring additional investments to fragile economies, and help them to move away from the energy-based economy. Also, the UAE’s growing investments in the region give additional leverage to Dubai-based private companies operating in these countries. Continue reading