Category Archives: South Caucasus Region

Turkey’s rise and Iran’s decline in the South Caucasus

Azeri Artillery shelling Armenian positions (Photo: BBC)

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

Turkey is the new major power in the South Caucasus

Turkish soldier greets an Azerbaijani colleague during recent military exercises between the two countries (photo TRT Istanbul)

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

RFE/Liberty: Technology, Tactics, And Turkish Advice Lead Azerbaijan To Victory In Nagorno-Karabakh

A policeman walks past blood-stained stretchers at a morgue in Stepanakert, the main city in Nagorno-Karabakh, on November 6.

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

RFE/Liberty: Azerbaijan Celebrates ‘Victory,’ Armenia In Crisis After Nagorno-Karabakh Deal

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.

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

Fuad Shahbazov: Russia will not resist if Azerbaijan keeps territorial gains

– A real war between Armenians and Azerbaijanis has been going on in Nagorno-Karabakh in the last 3 weeks. Russia doesn’t yet express clear support for its ally Armenia? What caused this? May we expect Russia to be an impartial mediator between the two warring parties?

The fact that Russian has not interfered in the conflict yet indicates that the current situation suits Moscow fine. Russia has always been a key actor in the conflict but largely failed to offer a real solution plan for nearly 30 years. Though, Russia sees Armenia as an important ally while dubs Azerbaijan as a strategic partner. Moscow will not resist if Azerbaijan keeps territorial gains, but it is utterly dissatisfied with Turkey’s growing role in the region. Reportedly, Azerbaijani Armed Forces had managed to liberate several substantial settlements, which cause an outcry in Yerevan itself. Therefore, the separatist forces in the Nagorno-Karabakh region and official Yerevan deliberately seek for more significant Russian mediation than ever. However, the Kremlin apprehends that Azerbaijan will not be satisfied with peace within the aforementioned conditions. So, it is expected that Russia’s pressure will likely grow on both sides to halt the escalation to strengthen its ”peacemaker image.”

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Tactical Reasons Behind Military Breakthrough in Karabakh Conflict

A photo from the live-fire drills of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces' artillery units, July 2, 2020 / Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan

A photo from the live-fire drills of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces’ artillery units, July 2, 2020 / Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan

Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 17 Issue: 155

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

L’Azerbaïdjan bouscule les défenses arméniennes

A serviceman of the Azerbaijani army holds the national Azerbaijani flag during its reconstruction at the dominant height near the village of Talysh, Azerbaijan.

La situation se dégrade pour les troupes arméniennes, qui ont été contraintes de céder du terrain dans le Haut-Karabakh après avoir subi d’importantes pertes. Après deux premières semaines de conflit sans gains territoriaux notables, les forces azerbaïdjanaises ont réalisé depuis la mi-octobre des avancées nettes sur le front sud de cette région séparatiste de l’Azerbaïdjan peuplée en majorité d’Arméniens.

Bakou a repris le contrôle d’une zone frontière de l’Iran, tenue jusqu’alors par l’Arménie. L’armée azerbaïdjanaise est également parvenue à progresser en direction du corridor de Latchin, voie d’accès principale entre le Haut-Karabakh et son allié arménien dans cette région montagneuse. « L’une des priorités de l’armée azerbaïdjanaise est de prendre le contrôle de cette route afin d’interrompre l’arrivée de soutien militaire arménien », explique Fuad Shahbazov, un analyste azerbaïdjanais, qui n’hésite pas à prédire une « défaite inévitable » des troupes du Haut-Karabakh si cette route devait tomber. Continue reading

“Zapad nas razočarao”: Analitičar iz Bakua za Nova.rs

Foto: Filip Krainčanić/Nova.rs, Privatna arhiva

Foto: Filip Krainčanić/Nova.rs, Privatna arhiva

“Teritorija Nagorno-Karabah po međunarodnom pravu pripada Azerbejdžanu. Razočaran sam što međunarodna zajednica, na čelu sa EU, nije uradila mnogo da zaustavi sukobe na Kavkazu. Srbija je zemlja koja poštuje teritorijalni intergritet Azerbejdžana, ali mora da pazi da ne naljuti Rusiju, svog najvažnijeg partnera” u razgovoru za Nova.rs priča Fuad Šahbaz, politički analitičar iz Bakua.

Sukob u Nagorno-Karabahu koji traje već nekoliko nedelja, i u kome i Azerbejdžan i Jermenija trpe gubitke, nije ništa novo. “To je zaleđen sukob koji traje već 30 godina, jer ne postoji održiv dogovor, niti inicijativa OEBS-a, Minsk grupe, EU i Rusije, da se to reši”, kaže Šahbaz. Continue reading

Azerbaijan continues advance deeper into Armenian-held territory

Screenshot of an official Azerbaijani video showing the capture of Zengilan.

Screenshot of an official Azerbaijani video showing the capture of Zengilan.

Azerbaijan’s armed forces are continuing to advance deeper into previously Armenian-held territory, raising the prospects of an offensive into the heavily populated core of Nagorno-Karabakh itself.

Azerbaijan has recently pushed into several additional regions to the south of Nagorno-Karabakh, an area wedged between Armenia and Iran. On October 20, authorities announced that they had captured Zengilan, the former capital of the district of the same name, far in the southwest of the Armenian-occupied territories. They also claimed to have captured additional settlements in the provinces of Fuzuli, Jabrayil, Khojavand, and Zengilan. Continue reading

Les drones, étendard de la puissance azerbaïdjanaise au Haut-Karabakh

This image is taken from a video released by the Armenian Defense Ministry on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020, allegedly shows the shooting down of an Azerbaijani unmanned aerial vehicle

Depuis bientôt trois semaines, le vrombissement menaçant des drones militaires accompagne le quotidien des habitants du Haut-Karabakh. « On a appris à les reconnaître à l’oreille », confie par téléphone Anush Ghavalyan, une analyste politique résidant à Stepanakert, la capitale de ce territoire peuplé d’Arménien, que revendique l’Azerbaïdjan. « Les Azerbaïdjanais s’en étaient déjà servi en 2016, mais là c’est du jamais vu. »

L’Azerbaïdjan fait un emploi immodéré des drones dans le conflit qui l’oppose depuis le 27 septembre aux forces séparatistes du Haut-Karabakh soutenues par l’Arménie. Servant à espionner les positions ennemies, guider les frappes d’artillerie, ou détruire des cibles au sol, ces aéronefs sans pilote ont permis à une armée azerbaïdjanaise mieux équipée de conforter sa supériorité. Le président du Haut-Karabakh, Araïk Haroutiounian a reconnu mercredi 14 octobre que les troupes séparatistes avaient été contraintes à reculer en plusieurs endroits de la ligne de front. Continue reading