Originally appeared at A-specto, translated by Borislav exclusively for SouthFront
On the night of 1st to the 2nd of April, the entire line of contact of the Karabakho-Azerbaijani forces on the Azerbaijani side proceed toward active offensive actions. This event can not be looked at in a vacuum. It is part of a series of events in which Turkey plays a role. Parallel to the confrontation between the Azerbaijani and Karabakh armed formations, the General Staff of the Turkish army stated that it “is not planning a coup d’etat”. Alpaslan Celik was arrested, as the representative of the “Grey Wolves” who cowardly shot Oleg Peshkov, the Russian Su-24 pilot downed by a Turkish fighter aircraft. And after the jihadist gave interviews to a number of Turkish media.
Turkey suddenly decides to restore the Istanbul memorial to the fallen Russian soldiers in the numerous Russian-Turkish wars. After the total failure of Turkish policy in the Middle East and aggravating the bilateral relations between Moscow and Ankara, our southeastern neighbor is trying to create a group of allies among the enemies of Russia. On March 15, the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev visited Turkey. Ankara has always publicly declared that it supports Baku in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The President of Azerbaijan offered himself as an intermediary in the process of normalization of Russian-Turkish relations at the end of February this year. Ilham Aliyev has repeatedly stressed that he has good relations with Moscow and personally with President Vladimir Putin. Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself is constantly trying to reconcile with Russia, but, according to him this should be done after concessions from the Russian side. The path that the Turkish president follows shows that he constantly increases the stakes and continually deteriorates relations between Moscow and Ankara.
On March 18, 2016 the Personal Representative of the OSCE, Chairman Andrzej Kasprshik urged the parties in the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh to strictly observe the regime of ceasefire and avoid increasing the tensions between the two countries. Do not underestimate the analytical report by Stratfor, which suddenly predicted “significant changes in long-frozen conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh.” The US Agency most often presents US plans as “predictions”. Stratfor stated its forecast as follows : “Russia’s actions in the South Caucasus will attract the attention of Turkey and the US, as these countries are trying to create a counterweight to Russian influence. If the negotiations on Nagorno Karabakh fail, it can be expected that hostilities will intensify.”
So far nothing new. The United States and Turkey are trying to use all of the old territorial or ethnic conflicts on Russia’s borders in order to create maximum political and economic problems and complications to Moscow. We must consider that Azerbaijan is primarily in British sphere of interests. The MI6 agent James Bond in the film “The World Is Not Enough” (1999) was filmed against the real oil pipeline Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan. While Armenia is much closer to France and not just because of Charles Aznavour.
Baku does not deny that on the night of April 2 it undertook offensive military operations against the armed units of Nagorno-Karabakh. The head of the press service of the Defense Ministry of Azerbaijan Mr. Vagif Dyarhahla stated that “the advance of the armed forces of Azerbaijan was made to set coordinates of targets along the line of contact” Turkey’s influence in Azerbaijan is huge. Turkish business and political elite are able to work with the political elite and business in other countries. The political benefits, the economic benefits of the partner country does not interest Ankara. For Turkey it is important that among politicians and businessmen there are lobbyists to Turkish interests. Turks are successful in this regard. Including in Bulgaria.
There’s a strong pro-Turkish lobby in Azerbaijan and Georgia, as well as in Tatarstan and Bulgaria. At the time of Mikhail Saakashvili the Georgian political class was strongly pro Turkish. Even the mother of Mikhail Nikolaevich worked for Ankara. Around 72% of the regional economy of Adjara (district in Georgia) is Turkish. Turkey influences the region on several levels: religious (imposing the ideology of Fethullah Gülen), economic (work with commerce and industry, large construction companies, investment funds) and naturally the political level. Pro-Turkish projects are underway in the Balkans and Central Asia. It is a system of training at many levels: education in schools, development of inter-regional contacts, learning the Turkish language and literature.
Unleashing the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh serves Turkish interests at the expense of Azerbaijani ones. It becomes a tool of pressure on Moscow in the hands of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. According to some information in Nagorno-Karabakh there are Turkish mercenaries and instructors who practically command the Azerbaijani military units. Recep Tayyip Erdogan even talks on behalf of Azerbaijan: “If the Armenian state announced a ceasefire and ceased hostilities, then Azerbaijan will too” as forwarded by the Anadolu Agency. The Turkish president took on the role of press secretary of Ilham Aliyev.
It should be emphasized that the large-scale operation of the Azerbaijani military forces occured in the absence of President Ilham Aliyev in Baku. The Azerbaijani leader was in the US at the summit on issues of nuclear security, at the beginning of the armed confrontation. The Armenian President was also of that event in the US. As Recep Erdogan. Ilham Aliyev also met with Vice President Joe Biden, who assured his Azerbaijani interlocutor that the US will maintain the state sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.
Baku has put itself at the service of the geopolitical ambitions of Ankara in the region. The clash of April 2 this year, can be assessed as Erdogan’s attempt to check how much “hooliganism” he can cause in the South Caucasus. The Azerbaijani army is ironically valued by military experts as “a lot of people with a lot of weapons.” The official Armenian armed forces are not involved in the combat conflict on April 2 this year, the army of Karabakh has about 30,000 soldiers in a population of 120,000 people. It has excellent combat capability and has taken all the positive qualities of the former Soviet army. Karabakhans themselves do not have an Armenian mentality. It is incorrect to mix them. Karabakhans are reckless daredevils and are not afraid to die. In the first war in Karabakh the battalions were formed in the following way: behind a Karabakh soldier there were nine Yerevans. Something like the difference between Serbs in Republika Srpska in Bosnia, and the Belgrade Serbs. Karabakh is the birthplace of several Soviet Marshals. Best known is Ivan Bagramyan. Thanks to him to a certain extent, Turkey stayed out of World War II. After Moscow’s quick intervention in the Karabakh conflict, the Armed clashes died away. Baku regards Russia as an ally and Yerevan regards Moscow as an instrument. This is a substantial difference. Although its not visible at first glance.
A number of signs suggest that the US has “written off” Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In recent years, in Turkey’s political landscape there are two interesting people: the preacher Fethullah Gulen, who lives in the United States (Pennsylvania) and Abdullah Gul. Fethullah Gülen preaches what according to Americans is the “correct Islam.” Behind him stands a vast empire. More than 1,200 schools in 140 countries worldwide, he has eight million followers, of whom 6 million in Turkey. Not negligible are the 30,000 enterprises in Europe and the US.
Even ten years ago, many experts thought that with the construction of Pax Americana in our Balkan region and the Middle East, Turkey is seen as a future “frontier empire”. A nation with a national sovereignty, which will build around itself a belt of countries deprived of national sovereignty and who will absolutely dependent on Turkey. That structure is intended to be something of a sub-project of the Pax Americana. Turkey is constructed like an analog to Poland in the region of the Baltic. Fethullah Gülen provides the ideology of the future of Turkey.
From 1983 to 1991 Abdullah Gul worked in the banking sector in Saudi Arabia. That same year, he returned to Turkey and instantly became a politician and MP. A classic case of a foreign grown leader. In 2002, Abdullah Gul is a Prime Minister of Turkey. He clears the political terrain for Recep Erdogan, who later becomes prime minister. After his presidency, Abdullah Gul goes into the “shadow”. He leaves Recep Tayyip Erdogan to enter multiple conflicts and distances himself from him. Today, the figures of Fethullah Gülen and Abdullah Gulagain emerge once again. One provides the ideology and the other provides the structure of state institutions, again from the “shadow”. Fethullah Gülen’s network is banned in Russia. That did not stop him from criticizing Erdogan in an interview with “Moskovsky Komsomolets” and calling the Russian Federation a “great country”.
In recent months, it is noteworthy that in the global media, Recep Erdogan is presented as a “rabid” politician. Even his bodyguards are embarrassing him during visits abroad. Most likely, after the removal of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Fethullah Gülen and Abdullah Gul will return to the Turkish political life in full force.
The second Karabakh war began on April 1, 2016. It trailed off, but it is unclear when it will explode again, as a consequence of the dynamics of the Russian-American and Russian-Turkish relations.
To know more about the Turkish strategy in the Greater Middle East, SouthFront recommends the video, “Turkey Takes Steps to Destabilize Caucasus and Crimea“: