Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 29, 2020

Strategic Aims Behind The War On Armenia

On Sunday Ilham Aliyev, the longtime dictator of Azerbaijan, launched a war on the Armenian held Nagorno-Karabakh area. That he dared to do this now, 27 years after a ceasefire ended a war over the area, is a sign that the larger strategic picture has changed.

When the Soviet Union fell apart the Nagorno-Karabakh area had a mixed population of Azerbaijani (also called Azeri) Shia Muslims and Armenian Christians. As in other former Soviet republics ethnic diversity became problematic when the new states evolved. The mixed areas were fought over and Armenia won the Nagorno-Karabakh area. There have since been several border skirmishes and small wars between the two opponents but the intensity of the fighting is now much higher than before.

Source: Joshua Kushera - bigger

In 2006 Yasha Levine wrote about his visit to Nagorno-Karabakh for The Exile. He described the uneven opponents:

In 1994 the Armenians won and forced Azerbaijan to a ceasefire. In the meantime Nagorno-Karabakh organized itself into a sovereign country [called Artsakh] with its own army, elected officials and parliament. But it still hasn’t been recognized by any country other than Armenia and is still classified as one of the “frozen conflicts” in the region, along with the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia.

But this “frozen conflict” may soon heat up, if you believe what Azerbaijan’s playboy/gambling addict/president, Ilham Aliyev, says. Not that Azerbaijanis should get too excited about another war: If Armenians are still the fighters they were ten years ago, then statistically, it’s the Azeris who’ll do most of the dying. While matched evenly in soldiers, the Azeris had double the amount of heavy artillery, armored vehicles, and tanks than the Armenians; but when it was over, the Azeri body count was three times higher then that of the Armenians. Azeri casualties stood at 17,000. The Armenians only lost 6,000. And that’s not even counting the remaining Azeri civilians the Armenians ethnically cleansed.

Since the strategically-important Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline opened up, pumping Caspian Sea oil to the West via Turkey, the Azeri president has been making open threats about reclaiming Nagorno-Karabakh by force. The $10 billion in oil revenues he expects to earn per year once the pipeline is fully operational is going to his head. $10 billion might not seem that much — but for Azerbaijan it constitutes a 30% spike in GDP. In every single interview, Aliyev can’t even mention the pipeline project without veering onto the subject of “resolving” the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Aliyev started spending the oil cash even before the oil started flowing and announced an immediate doubling of military spending. A little later he announced the doubling of all military salaries. Aliyev’s generals aren’t squeamish about bragging that by next year their military budget will be $1.2 billion, or about Armenia’s entire federal budget.

Over the next 14 years the war that Yasha Levine foresaw in 2006 did not happen. That it was launched now points to an important change. In July another border skirmish broke out for still unknown reasons. Then Turkey stepped in:

Following the July conflict Turkey’s involvement became much deeper than it had previously been, with unprecedentedly bellicose rhetoric coming from Ankara and repeated high-level visits between the two sides. Ankara appeared to see the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict as yet another arena in which to exercise its growing foreign policy ambitions, while appealing to a nationalist, anti-Armenian bloc in Turkey’s domestic politics.

Turkey’s tighter embrace, in turn, gave Baku the confidence to take a tougher line against Russia, Armenia’s closest ally in the conflict but which maintains close ties with both countries. Azerbaijan heavily publicized (still unconfirmed) reports about large Russian weapons shipments to Armenia just following the fighting, and President Ilham Aliyev personally complained to his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

Turkey's President Erdogan intervened with more than rhetoric:

In August, Turkey and Azerbaijan completed two weeks of joint air and land military exercises, including in the Azerbaijani enclave of Naxcivan. Some observers have questioned whether Turkey left behind military equipment or even a contingent of troops.

The potential for robust Turkish involvement in the conflict is being watched closely by Russia, which is already on opposing sides with the NATO member in conflicts in Libya and Syria.

Russia sells weapons to both Azerbaijan and Armenia, but has a military base in Armenia and favors that strategic partnership.

Azerbaijan has bought drones from Turkey and Israel and there are rumors that they are flown by Turkish and Israeli personal. Turkey also hired 2,000 to 4,000 Sunni Jihadis from Syria to fight for the Shia Azerbaijan. A dozen of them were already killed on the first day of the war. One wonders how long they will be willing to be used as cannon fodder by the otherwise hated Shia.

There were additional rumors that there are Turkish fighter jets in Azerbaijan while Turkish spy planes look at the air-space over Armenia from its western border.

Source: IWN News - bigger

The immediate Azerbaijani war aim is to take the two districts Fizuli and Jabrayil in south-eastern corner of the Armenian held land:

While the core of the conflict between the two sides is the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, Fuzuli and Jabrayil are two of the seven districts surrounding Karabakh that Armenian forces occupy as well. Those districts, which were almost entirely populated by ethnic Azerbaijanis before the war, were home to the large majority of the more than 600,000 Azerbaijanis displaced in the conflict.

While there has been some modest settlement by Armenians into some of the occupied territories, Fuzuli and Jabrayil remain nearly entirely unpopulated.

The two districts have good farm land and Armenia, already poor, will want to keep them. It certainly is putting up a strong fight over them.

The war has not progressed well for Azerbaijan. It has already lost dozens of tanks (vid) and hundreds of soldiers. Internet access in the country has been completely blocked to hide the losses.

The losses do not hinder Erdogan's scribes to already write of victory:

Defending Azerbaijan is defending the homeland. This is our political identity and conscious. Our geopolitical mind and defense strategies are no different. Always remember, “homeland” is a very broad concept for us!

We are not making a simple exaggeration when we say “History has been reset.” We are expecting a victory from the Caucasus as well!

Well ...

An hour ago the Armenian government said that Turkey shot down one of its planes:

Armenia says one of its fighter jets was shot down by a Turkish jet, in a major escalation in the conflict over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The Armenian foreign ministry said the pilot of the Soviet-made SU-25 died after being hit by the Turkish F-16 in Armenian air space.

Turkey, which is backing Azerbaijan in the conflict, has denied the claim.
Azerbaijan has repeatedly stated that its air force does not have F-16 fighter jets. However, Turkey does.

A Turkish attack within Armenian borders would trigger the Collective Security Treaty which obligates Russia and others to defend Armenia.

A Russian entry into the war would give Erdogan a serious headache.

But that might not even be his worst problem. The Turkish economy is shrinking, the Central Bank has only little hard currency left, inflation is hight and the Turkish Lira continues to fall. Today it hit a new record low.

Source: Xe - bigger

Azerbaijan has quite a bit of oil money and may be able to help Erdogan. Money may indeed be a part of Erdogan's motivation to take part in this war.

Russia will certainly not jump head first into the conflict. It will be very careful to not over-extend itself and to thereby fall into a U.S. laid trap.

Last year the Pentagon financed RAND Corporation released a report that laid out plans against Russia:

Drawing on quantitative and qualitative data from Western and Russian sources, this report examines Russia's economic, political, and military vulnerabilities and anxieties. It then analyzes potential policy options to exploit them — ideologically, economically, geopolitically, and militarily (including air and space, maritime, land, and multidomain options).

As one option the report discussed to over-extend Russia (pdf) in the Caucasus:

The United States could extend Russia in the Caucasus in two ways. First, the United States could push for a closer NATO relation-ship with Georgia and Azerbaijan, likely leading Russia to strengthen its military presence in South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Armenia, and southern Russia.

Alternatively, the United States could try to induce Armenia to break with Russia. Although a long-standing Russian partner, Armenia has also developed ties with the West: It provides troops to NATO-led operations in Afghanistan and is a member of NATO’s Partnership for Peace, and it also recently agreed to strengthen its political ties with the EU. The United States might try to encourage Armenia to move fully into the NATO orbit. If the United States were to succeed in this policy, then Russia might be forced to withdraw from its army base at Gyumri and an army and air base near Yerevan (currently leased until 2044), and divert even more resources to its Southern Military District.

The RAND report gives those options only a poor chance to succeed. But that does not not mean that the U.S. would not try to create some additional problems in Russia's southern near abroad. It may have given its NATO ally Turkey a signal that it would not mind if Erdogan gives Aliyev a helping hand and jumps into anther war against Russia.

Unless Armenian core land is seriously attacked Russia will likely stay aside. It will help Armenia with intelligence and equipment flown in through Iran. It will continue to talk with both sides and will try to arrange a ceasefire.

Pressing Azerbaijan into one will first require some significant Armenian successes against the invading forces. Thirty years agon the Armenians proved to be far better soldiers than the Azeris. From what one can gain from social media material that seems to still be the case. It will be the decisive element for the outcome of this conflict.

Posted by b on September 29, 2020 at 18:04 UTC | Permalink


As much as I appreciate b's conflict sitreps, I sure hope this one does not become a recurring one..

Posted by: Lozion | Sep 29 2020 18:29 utc | 1

Thanks. The best explanación I have seen so far of this complicated situación

Posted by: c | Sep 29 2020 18:32 utc | 2

Love the report b.
This is how you use to have it on Syria. Keep it up.

Posted by: Sakineh Bagoom | Sep 29 2020 18:32 utc | 3

Best article in quite some time B, bravo!

Posted by: GeorgeSmiley | Sep 29 2020 18:37 utc | 4

As I reported last week, the Armenians were one of the international participants in recent military exercises held in the Caucus region, and they frequently train with Russian troops as CSTO members. Neither the Azeris or Armenians can really afford a conflict, although the former have the better economic basis and have done a better job dealing with COVID. Because of their history, Armenians are better and more tenacious in combat. Until Nagorno-Karabakh is resolved, it will be exploited by the Outlaw US Empire.

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 29 2020 18:53 utc | 5

The war will draw Azerbaijan closer to NATO/Turkey just as Trump is turning the screws on Iran via extended UN sanctions.

Much of the Russian-Iranian trade would likely be conducted via Volga River and Caspian Sea.

What are the chances that we see mysterious attacks on shipping in the Caspian Sea?

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PS Erdogan's adventurism (aka Ottoman fantasies) seem like a smokescreen for Imperial operations.


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Sep 29 2020 18:53 utc | 6

Agreed very much with @1.

The trouble with this kind of intimate geography, is that it is very tempting to operate longer-range weapons or drones from the 'uncontested' portion of each country's territory, since each home territory is theoretically out of bounds of the conflict.

The main meaningful response to a long-range or unmanned attack, targeting the source, could then be used to blame the other side for any escalation. It seems Azerbaijan is more comfortable with this at the moment. Assuming they end up occupying more of the contested territory, they will end up on the receiving end of the same pattern, but either way the result would be the same.

Besides the muddled geopolitics and heartbreaking history, it makes for a relevant study in the state of modern drone and anti-drone systems, which will only increase in significance going forward, as guidance systems, software integration, networked/relay-based-communications and hard-to-detect point-to-point radio or IR comms are all more accessible now. (for example, what would you do if you had the capacity to make ~10 million of the things a year)

Posted by: ptb | Sep 29 2020 18:57 utc | 7

Meanwhile, the radical blue ticks need some way to seem like they are superior to plebs who might be inclined to take Armenia's side. It's all very complicated, both sides are just as wrong you see!

"1 No side has a monopoly of justice. Both sides have historical claims to Karabakh. It was the site of a medieval Armenian kingdom in the 12th century and an Azerbaijani (Persian Turkic Shia) khanate in the 18th c. Both peoples have lived together here, mostly peacefully."

But the people never changed, they were Armenian before and after the very brief period of being a part of that Khanate (75 years, he left this out) against their will. It's all the more surreal since the guy making the argument that 75 years of being under somebody's rule 300 years ago makes you theirs forever.

It's all the more surreal given the writers own father is from Amsterdam given.


I don't see anyone suggesting Spain has legitimate claims on Flanders and the Netherlands.

It must be hard for bluechecks because their vaunted 'rules-based international order' such it might ever have been said to exist with constant violation without consequence by powerful countries is the source of the problem. Azerbaijan is only still after this territory based on the thin logic that despite being 85-90% Armenian at it's lowest point in the last 250 years and 100% Armenian today and being totally separated from Azerbaijan politically, the UN still considers it's de jure Azerbaijan. The map says it's Azerbaijan!

Posted by: Altai | Sep 29 2020 19:02 utc | 8

It is surprising seeing Erdogan who is a Muslim Brotherhood fanatic supporting a mostly Shia Muslim country of Azerbaijan.
May be Persia should get involved to get back the land it lost during the Persian-Russo wars !

Posted by: Yul | Sep 29 2020 19:29 utc | 9

B, it is good to see you reporting on matters that are within your area of expertise. Your reporting on conflicts of this kind is invaluable, and I always follow your reports with great interest.

I wish I could say the same for your recent post about Covid19, but there are aspects of that post that are unfortunate. It is clear, for example, that you have not been following the latest work on cross-reactive immunity--that is, the evidence that people who have not yet been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 nevertheless have some immunity to it, due to exposure to other corona-viruses. Nor is your overall analysis of the actual lethality of the disease convincing--you seem to be unaware of the vast difference between young people and children, who almost never die of Covid19, versus the elderly, who are much at risk. This has great implications for what policies are best in dealing with the disease.

I recommend the following source, which allows investigation of the lethality of Covid19 more thoroughly:

Posted by: R.A. | Sep 29 2020 19:33 utc | 10

@Altai 8

Yes NK was historically Arm going back forever. Nevertheless, the geography made defending it impossible without occupying adjacent areas which as far as I know, were Azeri in modern times. There are few happy answers to be found here.

As far as biases are concerned, deWaal is giving the interview to Al Jazeera, and the network is (not surprisingly) somewhat more sympathetic to Turkish and therefore Azeri statements on the matter, though they typically do a better job keeping a professional facade than domestic (US) media at least. But that gives a hint.

Posted by: ptb | Sep 29 2020 19:43 utc | 11

Excellent couple of articles, 'b'. You are really on form. Thanks.

Think you are spot on regarding money and deflection. What we've seen recently from Erdogan is vast expenditure in construction - unnecessary pandemic hospitals with extortionate rental agreements to be met by the local authorities - and in technology - the latest TechnoFest headed by his other 'damat' advertised significant projects to be funded by the state, and of course oil and military: In these sectors nepotism and cronyism rule. it is those companies close to Erdogan that reap very significant benefits. So, any earnings that can be gleaned from Aliyev are very welcome I am sure.

The other aspect is deflection from a series of foreign policy failures, and several serious domestic failures, one being the management of Covid currently and its obvious manipulations and the abject failure of the online education system in which it is estimated between 35 and 50 percent of pupils are NOT participating. The others being the economy as 'b' alluded to and the failed Greek, Libyan and Syrian situations. Other than that, the political ground does not favour Erdogan at all and he is terrified of losing his 2023 deadline and therefore desperate to win back more of the electorate.

Turks talks about Turkey and Azerbaijan as One People, Two states - the Azeris do not say the same. But it is a sign of just how important this is to Turks. As 'b' has mentioned, the Turkish media is already in faitytale / victory mode - the last dreamt up report I saw claimed that PKK were moving from Syria to Iraq and into Armenia to fight against Azeris - and people are buying it, as they always do. Nationalism is very big in Turkey. There's a reason why criticising a military campaign is considered a crime!

I was tempted to think that this 'conflict' would go the way of every other contrived foreign policy foray this year, but Aliyev and Erdogan may be out to save each other's political lives here in which case we need to consider what they're fighting to defend - very wealthy authoritarian 'mafia states'. I do not think that Turkey would decide to push Russia too far unless it had NATO or US backing because Turkey's economy and regional influence are very dependent on Russia. So, I think this will be a limited show-piece that may score some territory. What is certain is that in both Turkey and Azerbaijan, victory is already guaranteed by the media! Does that imply a short 'conflict'?

Another aspect to remember is Iran. it has very good and important relations with both Azerbaijan and Armenia and would no doubt fully back any Russian intervention be it diplomatic or otherwise. It has also offered to mediate between the two. The Nagorno-Karabakh area is very important to Iran.

Posted by: AtaBrit | Sep 29 2020 19:45 utc | 12

So many fuses, so little time with desperate madmen on the march. As the good professor said, “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” WWIII ain't your grandfather's World War.

Posted by: gottlieb | Sep 29 2020 19:47 utc | 13

The swprs has been a constant source of Covid-19 scepticism from the outset. It is not balanced and is full of cherry picking about its sources and analysis. It is a very serious error to focus entirely on mortality in Covid 19 and its major effect on older people. It does mean premature death for many. But even more seriously Covid-19 causes serious morbidity and together with a high infectious rate leads to very sharp swamping of health systems, major loss of front line workers because of illness and serious health and economic effects independent of the mortality. Focussing on mortality of elderly only is a narrow view and ignores why Covid 19 is such a serious pandemic.

Posted by: Orage | Sep 29 2020 20:05 utc | 14

Was lacking some of the details and depth of B's report but it was clear Erdogan is running point on another Nato led shit sandwich on Russia's doorstep and a blatant 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' trap laid out for Putin.

What's the bet if Russia supports Armenia the media will paint this as 'Russian aggression' on poor Azerbaijan and an invasion of their sovereign territory? The region is technically still part of Azerbaijan. Yet when all the first videos showed Azeri drones striking Armenian tanks in defensive dugouts, while Armenian footage showed ATGM's striking Azeri armour maneuvering in open fields, it doesn't take a genius to work out who the aggressor was... but facts should never get in the way of a good narrative when it comes to Nato..

Another frozen conflict would be just the ticket to drain more resources from Russia, not to mention, the potential for instability and refugees right on Iran's doorstep would be too much for the US not to want to invest in. Combine that with Erdogan's megalomania, and he'll be happy to add 15% on all munitions charged to Azerbaijan to help plug some of his budget holes, no doubt.

Luckily I'm no military strategist, but when i hear things like this i can't help wonder if some good old 'domestic terrorism' or missiles flying into Baku, Washington or Istanbul are just what is needed for these psychopaths to be brought to the negotiating table nice and early and avoid a lot of human misery... It is just crazy to think we have leaders who actually start wars in order to poke Russia in the eye... one wonders, since they know exactly who is doing what and why, what sort of payback that may bring one day.

Posted by: Et Tu | Sep 29 2020 20:08 utc | 15

There is no doubt that Nagorno-Karabakh is traditionally part of Azerbaijan and only got claimed by Armenia after a surfeit of Armenians invaded the territory since the end of WW1. All in all a very similar situation to that which developed in Serbia vis a vis the invasion of Kosovo by Albanians.
MOA has consistently stood against the internationally illegal Kosovo enclave, so why the contradiction with Nagorno-Karabakh?

Surely it cannot be because of ideological reasons i.e. Armenia is 'good guys' & Azerbaijan are bad guys? That is precisely the type of logical inconsistency which causes wars.
Azerbaijan is in a tough enough situation with Armenia block the creation of a contiguous nation with Armenia's takeover of the south of Azerbaijan up to the Iranian border. If you look at the first map provided you will see an unlabelled black blob up against the Iranian border a part of Azerbaijan which has been deliberately isolated by Armenia from the rest of Azerbaijan.

This report sounds like something out of the NYT or Guardian next you'll be claiming with zero evidence that there are Turkey funded terrorists brought in from Idlib just as the guardian has been claiming.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Sep 29 2020 20:16 utc | 16

Another motivation for Ottoman Sultan wannabe Erdogan may be the possibility of extending Turkish influence (and by implication his and his family's) through Azerbaijan and the Caspian Sea into Central Asia all the way to and into ... Xinjiang in NW China, with the potential for Uyghur terrorists, nurtured by Turkish propaganda, money and arms, to get a free ride through Central Asia and straight into any future conflict zones Turkey might want to open up in Iranian Azerbaijan and all Iran's northern and eastern border areas with Turkmenistan and Afghanistan.

Of course this will have US, UK, EU (possibly) and Israeli blessing if it means Turkey will have to do most of the heavy lifting of money transactions.

Posted by: Jen | Sep 29 2020 20:28 utc | 17

thanks b.... seeing erdogan involved here makes sense.. at some point, someone is going to take him out to bring peace back to the area.... until then he is a useful tool..

@ debs....thanks for your comments.. perhaps b will respond to them?? i agree with et tu, the narrative the msm will spin here will tell us a lot..

Posted by: james | Sep 29 2020 20:33 utc | 18

If I remember rightly, and I'll try to find the reports, it was claimed back in July that Erdogan had offered to send Syrian militias to help defend Azerbaijan.
What makes you think the claim is unfounded?
The jihadists left in N.Syria are a serious problem for Turkey, so it would nake perfect sense to try to 'liquidate' them in contrived 'conflicts'.

Posted by: AtaBrit | Sep 29 2020 20:38 utc | 19

@ Debsisdead 16

When did that "invasion of Kosovo by Albanians" did happen? You seem so pretty sure of it that it makes me wonder if you are the creator of history itself, so you just invented it, and believe it.


Posted by: albagen | Sep 29 2020 20:38 utc | 20


The solution would be to give back the adjacent territories that border Azerbaijan to Azerbaijan and maybe pay some kind of nominal compensation to the displaced in return for normalisation. They are to my knowledge much like parts of the buffer zone in Cyprus, full of abandoned towns and villages. (Some of which you can see tanks using for cover in the videos)

But the Caucuses are the Caucuses are grudges are grudges. Can't turn back the clock so it's all or nothing, one side loses and one side wins.

Then you have all the exclaves and enclaves to deal with, which ironically, haven't become an issue yet at all, probably because it would involve attacks on Armenia proper. Though there has already been one strike in Armenia proper of a bus that was set to carry Armenian solders.

Posted by: Altai | Sep 29 2020 20:38 utc | 21

1. It is obvious that the current aggravation was not accidental, but prepared in advance.

2. Possible goals for Turkey:

> Anchoring Turkey in Azerbaijan - the creation of full-fledged turkish military bases.

> Inclusion of Azerbaijan in the Turkish orbit of influence (thesis "two countries - one nation", in which Turkey assumes supremacy) within the framework of the concept of neo-Ottomanism and (pseudo-)leadership of Turkey in the Turkic world.

> Economic goals and energy projects (Azerbaijani oil, gas) as part of the Turkish plan to turn the country into an energy supplier.

> Given the circumstances (Ukrainian black hole, Belarusian problem, coronavirus, spectacle with Navalny, threat to Nord Stream-2 etc), involve Russia in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, thereby tying Russia's hands in the Caucasus direction in order to act more freely and boldly in other theaters (the Mediterranean conflict with Greece, Syria, Libya...), given the problematic position of Turkey (simultaneous war on several fronts and the almost complete absence of assistants/allies). In this situation, the Nagorno-Karabakh leverage/'trump card' in the hands of Turkey would be useful for negotiations with Russia.

The latter assumption is probably the main one.

@Debsisdead, #16

There is no doubt that Nagorno-Karabakh is traditionally part of Azerbaijan

Actually, this territory - Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as Armenia and Azerbaijan - have been the territory (or "property", if you will) of Russia for the last 200-250 years.

Posted by: alaff | Sep 29 2020 20:46 utc | 22

Haven't bothered to follow this conflict at all so far. Thanks to b for providing his usual excellent context overview.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | Sep 29 2020 21:12 utc | 23

Interesting historic fact. As long as the centre (USSR) held, the facts on the ground held, much like the other areas of conflicts in Georgia, Ukraine and Transnistria. With the end of the USSR, everything changed. This is what Putin meant when he called the breakup of the USSR as disaster. And NATO will continue to poke a stick at these vulnerabilities. Are the people of Armenia really that stupid that they see anything positive from joining NATO? Like that will protect them against Turkey. They can see how Greece is treated. Hopefully this conflict will put to bed any thought of Armenia being pried away from Russia.

Stalin’s Legacy: The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict

Nagorno-Karabakh is a highly contested, landlocked region in the South Caucasus of the former Soviet Union. The present-day conflict has its roots in the decisions made by Joseph Stalin when he was the acting Commissar of Nationalities for the Soviet Union during the early 1920s. In April 1920, Azerbaijan was taken over by the Bolsheviks; Armenia and Georgia were taken over in 1921. To garner public support, the Bolsheviks promised Karabakh to Armenia. At the same time, in order to placate Turkey, the Soviet Union agreed to a division under which Karabakh would be under the control of Azerbaijan. With the Soviet Union firmly in control of the region, the conflict over the region died down for several decades.

Posted by: Tom | Sep 29 2020 21:21 utc | 24

As #12 seems to be implying as well, b is ignoring this region is the backyard of another regional powerhouse: Iran.

Any involvement from the US in Iran's backguard will be gladly countertargeted so that automatically means Turkey has very big ambitions to join this battle. This could very well end up in straight war if the diplomatic channels of mainly Russia are not effective enough..

Posted by: Vladimir | Sep 29 2020 21:27 utc | 25


Kosovo Liberation Army ethnically cleansed the Serbs and others from Kosovo (with NATO help) and took over that territory. They are Albanians, no?

I see nothing wrong with what Debisdead's statement.

Posted by: Mackie | Sep 29 2020 22:15 utc | 26

Excellent insights on what is happening. Hang up the NWO scamdemic stuff.

Posted by: Jimmy | Sep 29 2020 22:56 utc | 27

"..Actually, this territory - Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as Armenia and Azerbaijan - have been the territory (or "property", if you will) of Russia for the last 200-250 years." alaff@22

A very good point. These countries have never been independent states. In 1918, under western influence, and led by mensheviks Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan formed the Trans-Caucasian Republic. My guess is that by the end of the Soviet era secularism dominated all three societies and religious disputes were largely forgotten.
One historical grudge very much alive is that of the Armenian genocide at the hands of the Turks, a century ago.

Posted by: bevin | Sep 30 2020 0:17 utc | 28

Sorry grump one, I just got back from my wednesday morning doctor's run where I pick up some locals from around the area & run them to the Drs in town.

I hope that this conflict won't get characterised as a religious conflict, because that isn't really what it is about.
Armenians fled east during WW1 in direct response to the genocidal attacks on Armenians by Turks, so that should be easy eh? Blame the Turks, but it isn't that easy because of the French & Englanders machinations when sequestering all the assets of the Ottoman empire.

Right the way through WW1 which was at heart a war over assets for empires, even the spark that lit the fuse was caused by the Austro-Hungarian Empire's lust for grabbing Serbia & including it in their repressive empire, all the politicians & bureaucrats to empire of the 'big' nations, spent a lot more time and energy divvying up their hoped for imperial gains, than they ever spent on concern about the generation of young men being forced through the meat grinders.

There were 3 big nations on the winning side France, England & Russia, yet Sykes Picot is a secret agreement between only two of the triumvirate. Many suppose this is because Russia pulled out of WW1 after the October revolution, that is not correct as this secret agreement was signed in May 1916, 18 months before the Bolshevik soviet uprising. England & France were doing the dirty on Russia even while the Tsar was the bossfella.

Perfidious Albion seems to be the one most responsible as it has always claimed that a similarly secret deal England made with Russia, unbeknownst to France had been completed. A deal whereby England would grab the oil rich Mesopotamia & all the rest of Arabian peninsular in return for Russia getting Constantinople and most of Anatolia.

That seems unlikely since England and France had already spilt the blood of 213,980 French, English Australian, New Zealand & Canadian troops on the Dardanelles in pursuit of an invasion and eventual takeover of Constantinople which england had begun planning since back in 1905! Long before WW1. Winston Churchill in particular had been advocating this for more than a decade because he wanted to deny Russia easy access to the mediterranean.
A lie was told to the fatally foolish Tsar - it was that the anglo-french invasion of southern Turkey was to be a distraction that would require Turkey & Germany/Austria to divert troops from the eastern front thereby relieving pressure on Imperial Russia's armies.

So what? How does that effect Nagorno-Karabakh? Well it does, because after england screwed up at the Dardanelles, they then encouraged Armenians to take up arms against the Ottomans, all the while knowing that despite promises to the contrary, if the Armenians came unstuck against the 'easybeat' Turks, there would be no way of helping the Armenians out.

That is what happened of course. Kemal Attaturk the bloke who had overseen Gallipoli & england's send off was sent to oversee the fight against Armenian guerillas and the Armenians got monstered, so fled eastwards some as far as into the mountains of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The situation is even more complicated by the fact that after WW1 ended and elites all over europe were crazed with anxiety about a 'red' takeover of Europe, 'the west' kicked up even more trouble. By financing a mob oops sorry, army, of so-called white russians to resist the USSR in the South Western Caucasus, it meant that the USSR was unable to exert full control of the region for nearly 5 years. This is why as Tom says at #24 it wasn't until 1921 that the Soviet Union could credibly promise Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia, a blatant bribe to encourage the warring parties to talk not shoot, but really it was more like 1923 when the USSR got total control of the region.

I point out the mess that previous interference has caused because it is vital that history not repeat itself in that regard. If it does, then all that will result will be a conflict held in abeyance for a time until it flares up again.

There are two issues people & geography, maybe the boss of Azerbaijan is an arsehole who is trying to get back onside with Azerbaijanis by cranking up a conflict that is close to the hearts of most citizens because every time they look at a map they are confronted by the injustice of their nation cleaved in two. His alleged arseholery does not diminish the genuine injustice Azerbaijanis feel in their bones.

That is one group of people, the other group are the relatively small number of Armenians squatting illegally on Azerbaijani land.
The easiest way to fix the geography & people issue is for those Armenians to be relocated into decent accommodation within Armenia and return Nagorno-Karabakh plus a land corridor that rejoins Azerbaijan once again.
It will be complex to resolve as there will also be an issue with Armenians who have occupied the space between the two parts of Azerbaijan, but however much it costs, that is bound to be less than the cost of airplanes, rockets & artillery shells that will be expended keeping the conflict bubbling away.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Sep 30 2020 1:14 utc | 29

Repeating Orage's response to my comment:
"The swprs has been a constant source of Covid-19 scepticism from the outset. It is not balanced and is full of cherry picking about its sources and analysis. It is a very serious error to focus entirely on mortality in Covid 19 and its major effect on older people. It does mean premature death for many. But even more seriously Covid-19 causes serious morbidity and together with a high infectious rate leads to very sharp swamping of health systems, major loss of front line workers because of illness and serious health and economic effects independent of the mortality. Focussing on mortality of elderly only is a narrow view and ignores why Covid 19 is such a serious pandemic."

I am not sure that there is any such thing as a "balanced" response to the Covid19 pandemic. I have found SWPRS to have a wide range of information, and I certainly have supplemented my own reading on the subject with many other sources. I focused on the age-related mortality because many commenters (including B) do not seem to get the significance of the issue when discussing the effect of the disease. Ignoring the age stratification of Covid19 mortality exaggerates the risk that most of the population faces from the pandemic. This is probably why most mainstream media sources ignore this factor. If you want to scare people, just keep pounding on how many new cases there are and how many people have died--and don't tell them that most of those "new cases" are asymptomatic (or even false positives from the PCR tests), and that most people below the age of 50 are at very little risk from the disease.

I do not deny that Covid19 is a serious disease that kills people and seriously sickens many others. But the same is true for other diseases, such as influenza, which kills tens of thousands in the U.S. every season. We don't shut down society and confine the healthy population because of influenza, and we should not be doing that for Covid19. The normal procedure for dealing with a pandemic of a serious disease is to isolate and quarantine the sick, while the healthy population continues with life as usual.

Locking down the general population has never been done in the past because, 1) it does not stop the eventual spread of the disease, and 2) the cost of closing down society has many harms, both to the economy and to the health of the population. It has become clear that the current WORLDWIDE policy of lockdowns and restrictions of healthy populations is indeed doing great harm--increased suicides, deferred treatment for other diseases, destruction of vital parts of the economies of entire countries--while conferring no benefit in fighting Covid19. Further, these repressive policies are being continued in many countries where it is obvious that the peak of the pandemic has passed, and society should open up again. There is ample evidence supporting the hypothesis that the lockdown measures are intended for other purposes than fighting the pandemic. It is time to have an honest discussion about what is going on.

Posted by: R.A. | Sep 30 2020 4:06 utc | 30

I don't know much about it but here are my thoughts and impressions.

If Artsakh started this they wouldn't do it without being allowed by Armenia but Armenia wouldn't be keen (explained below). Artsakh would have the least to lose and the most to win (although it's very little) but it really doesn't look like they started this.

Armenia would put the CSTO umbrella in jeopardy if they started it, that would be suicidal and counterproductive. Many would blame Armenia for anything Artsakh does thus Armenia does not want Artsakh to start anything that could hurt Armenia.

Armenia and Artsakh quite literally holds nearly all of the relevant high ground and are in a "military-geographical" superior position, at worst in some places in an even position. However they have nearly nothing to gain except for some relatively small contested areas outside their current control.

So far it really looks like Azerbaijan started this or was talked into it but it seems like an extremely bad move militarily, economically, regionally, and possibly also internationally. They are both literally and figuratively fighting an uphill battle even with air support and drones no matter if some or all of it is Turkish and a little Israeli.

Azerbaijan already risks losing the connection to Georgia if the CSTO intervenes and thus their western export route, it risks relations with Iran and Russia/CSTO if it invites in NATO or Turkey or "CIA-ISIS" (or already has).

As far as Azerbaijan, Artsakh, and Armenia goes the optimum solution for all of them should be to head straight back to the negotiating table even if it's stale-mated and will last "perpetually" without any resolution.

Georgia will not be too happy about Azerbaijan rocking the boat and even less happy with the results if it escalates to CSTO intervention.

Turkey can't threaten or shout too loudly about NATO since they're "not there" and if they are then they're not at home and not defending their own country ie. NATO does not apply (and NATO already hates Turkey anyway, with a possible small exception for the worst morons in the US).

Whoever set this off was a really big fool. Too easy to suspect the US, Turkey, or Israel, but they don't really have anything to gain either and that includes the fantasies of the RAND madmen (Russia has roughly 2 million reservists at home, two existing bases in Armenia, a massive technological and political advantage, and an extremely short land, sea, and air route and logistics chain that would cut Azerbaijan off from Georgia).

It's not Russia that would be bogged down, the notion is idiocy, Russia simply doesn't want the annoyance and wants everyone to regain their senses and stop fighting.

Azerbaijan should treasure all the things they have instead of for whatever reason waste their opportunities on anything like the current madness and that goes double if they didn't start it because then there's even less reason to get dragged into someone else's trap or scheme.

Posted by: Sunny Runny Burger | Sep 30 2020 4:37 utc | 31

@conspiracy-theorist | 28
Are you referring to the TB2 drone? If so, its made by the Baykar company , whose technical CEO is Selcuk Bayraktar, shown in the picture on the sites first page - I referred to him in my post as the 'other damat' - Erdpogan's other son-in-law. Baykar is actually co-owned by Selcuk Bayraktar. It is experiencing a boom as a result of COVID - Baykar was given a contract for the mass production of ventilators and and more recently for tablet computers for online education and a whole string of other projects announced at the recent TechnoFest also funded by the state and run by Baykar.

I could be too cynical, but maybe they are just trying to get some live testing to improve the drone while getting shot of some troublesome jihadists at the same time (?)

(Your point about 'Persia' made me laugh. But it's very true - Persia = good / Iran = enemy)

Posted by: AtaBrit | Sep 30 2020 4:42 utc | 32

Looks like everyone knew that this was coming.

Did Putin wait and watch this unfolding (and making no effort to stall it) so that he could make the most of the ensuing "crisis"?

Posted by: jiri | Sep 30 2020 6:46 utc | 33

Having been subjected to years of Modifellating Bhaktoganda here in India, I recognise fictional claims when I see them and as such I discount all, that is all, claims and counter claims from both Armenia and the Azerbaijani Ottoman Headchopper Alliance. What actually does the future hold if these things happen:

1. The fighting stays confined to Nagorno Karabakh and the surrounding Armenian occupied area, which even according to Armenia is a foreign country (the "Republic of Artsakh") and is recognised as Azerbaijan territory by literally everyone else.

2. The Azerbaijani side isn't stupid enough to be drawn into attacking Armenia proper, but draws the latter into a battle of attrition where Armenian forces on the fringes of Nagorno Karabakh can be systematically stripped of air defences, then air cover, and then annihilated from the air.

3. The Greatest Geopolitical Genius The Universe Has Ever Seen continues to exercise "restraint", choosing to continue to appease his friend Erdogan as he has been doing since the coup of 2016.

This is going to happen:

1. The Armenian forces can only take so much attrition. They absolutely cannot depend on Azerbaijan and the Ottomans not attacking from the west and therefore must keep the bulk of their armed forces back to guard Armenia proper (the perennial problem of a two front war). The Ottoman Azerbaijan Headchopper Alliance has no such constraints of force commitment; nobody's trying to invade them. The more the Armenians try to defend the whole of Nagorno Karabakh, therefore, the more they will find their forces overwhelmed in attrition battles and at some point their entire front will collapse like a pricked bubble.

2. Since the Azerbaijani Ottoman Headchopper Alliance isn't interested in invading Armenia, there is legally no way Armenia can now compel Russia to intervene. In fact there is no sign that Russia wishes to intervene. Therefore the chances are that Armenia may resort to desperate measures (such as staging attacks on Azerbaijan from within its own territory) to trigger counterstrikes that could provide a pretext for demanding Russian help. That help won't be, if the experience of the Donbass people is any guide, going to be enough to decisively smash the Ottoman Azerbaijan Headchopper Alliance; perhaps the Godly Geopolitical Grandmaster in Moscow will settle for Azerbaijan keeping half of Nagorno Karabakh and then present this as a tremendous strategic victory.

3. At this point - once again - Russia has missed the bus. While it could have scotched the war before it began by warning Erdogan off, now it's damned either way. If Azerbaijan occupies all our part of Nagorno Karabakh, it will cause a flood of refugees into Armenia. The Ottomans will claim that to depend Azerbaijan against Armenian aggression it will have to occupy Nagorno Karabakh (like its so called observation posts in North Syria) and if that is any guide it'll lead to a de facto annexation like Afrin. Russia has already shown that under Putin it's desperate to appease Erdogan's territorial ambitions so we can expect a NATO* outpost on Russia's southern flank anyway.

* Still waiting for the Putinist worshippers' prophecy that Erdogan will quit NATO to come true. It never will.

Posted by: Biswapriya Purkayast | Sep 30 2020 7:14 utc | 34

I don't think Azerbaycan could have made a move without a tacid acceptance by Russia. Armenia was looking ways to move to NATO orbit and maybe Russians considered a bit of spanking of Armenians would not hurt. Erdogan's open entry also suggests to me that he is aware of Russian game as he is on a very precarious condition that a tiny disturbance might break the back of his rule in Turkey. And, Russsians sure can hurt him very much: a little disturbance in the flow of gas and he is out.

Posted by: kemerd | Sep 30 2020 7:29 utc | 35

Atabrit @ 19:

In what way have I said @ 17 that there was no basis to a claim that Erdogan was going to send "Syrian militias" to Azerbaijan?

I only said there was potential for Uyghur terrorists cultivated by Turkey to move through Central Asia into any conflict zone without hindrance if Turkey could extend its influence into Central Asia all the way to NW China through Azerbaijan - assuming of course that Azerbaijan is successful in its war against Armenia. There is no conflict between this possible scenario and the possibility of Erdogan transferring "Syrian militias" to Azerbaijan. After all, lots and lots of those "Syrian militias" - a few thousand apparently - and their families stuck in Idlib are Uyghurs.

Posted by: Jen | Sep 30 2020 7:31 utc | 36

By the way since people might not actually know it Turkey is making a fool out of themselves by protesting about Armenia as long as Turkey is still in northern Cyprus after invading Cyprus in 1974.

Posted by: Sunny Runny Burger | Sep 30 2020 9:42 utc | 37

alaff #22

Possible goals for Turkey?

Making the NATO push to the east and establishing a firm jihadi channel into Russia. This is no local adventure by Erdoghan. I understand that Azerbaijan is largely Shia Islam and that will complicate things but not render his adventure impossible. However it may totally destroy Aliyev IMO.

Erdoghan is the lapdog for whoever will enable him to pose as the Turkish chauvinist reviver of empire. NATO will love this game even if it isn't the orchestrator.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Sep 30 2020 10:01 utc | 38

Sorry. That's my fault. It was actually @Debisdead who made the comment about jihadists from Idlib. Apologies.

Posted by: AttaBrit | Sep 30 2020 10:20 utc | 39

Atabrit @ 39:

Ah, I see, my comment @ 17 came just after the Debsisdead comment. Thx for clearing up the confusion. No hard feelings! :-)

Posted by: Jen | Sep 30 2020 10:53 utc | 40

So we are notified that TURKEY has a broad, broaaaad notion of motherland.
erdogan dreaming to make a lot more from a simple privileged geographical position.

Posted by: augusto | Sep 30 2020 12:07 utc | 41

Thanks for the extensive report, b, this is what I have been missing on MOA!

Regardless of the entangled historical relations between the warring parties, one has to focus on the present day context of ongoing hostilities and by that I mean to have in mind existing "special military arrangements" with the actual powerhouses Team Russia and Team Amerikkka. In that sense, one must not oversee the "west's" continuous efforts to undermine Russia's and Iran's relations with its neighbors and allies.

One thing in particular strikes me in the Azeri story and that is its people's contempt for Iran, besides sharing the more or less same religious beliefs. Either Aliyev's domestic anti-Iranian support is as widespread as the morona-1984 lethality (i.e. strictly limited to lamestream media) or the Azeris are so desperate that they've literally become bedfellows with the devil. Whatever the case, it's another rerun of the old movie "cutting your nose to spite your face".

I for one hope (but ain't holding my breath) to see the conflict transferred to the negotiating table.

Posted by: LXV | Sep 30 2020 13:30 utc | 42

Duel of Military Budgets: The Economy of the New Karabakh Conflict (EurAsia Daily, September 30, 2020 — machine translation)

Posted by: S | Sep 30 2020 13:45 utc | 43

i.. wonder if some good old 'domestic terrorism' or missiles flying into Baku, Washington or Istanbul . avoid a lot of human misery... Leaders who actually start wars in order to poke Russia in the eye... one wonders, since they know exactly who is doing what and why, what sort of payback that may bring one day. by: Et Tu @ 15 <=did you read Rand corporation report Rand corporation "over extend Russia (is a goal) report" Rand lets extend Russia.

This report sounds like something out of the NYT or Guardian next you'll be claiming with zero evidence that there are Turkey funded terrorists brought in from Idlib just as the guardian has been claiming. by: Debsisdead @ 16
Why don't you have a look at this <=here.

Posted by: snake | Sep 30 2020 14:16 utc | 44

@karlof1 | 5

Just caught up with you comment. Kavkaz 2020 seems to have been a significant event indeed and one held right on Turkey’s backdoor including many countries that Turkey considers within its sphere of influence. Yet Turkey was not invited.

Very interesting and obviously politically relevant manoeuvres and I can’t help thinking that a clear message was being sent to Turkey reinforcing its utter isolation. Maybe even intentionally provocative which could imply that actually, it is Turkey reacting to this exclusion.

I have read conflicting reports about Azerbaijan’s attendance, but the fact that it was invited to the exclusion of Turkey would have grated with Erdogan and the Turkish military.

Posted by: AtaBrit | Sep 30 2020 14:19 utc | 45

Nagarno karabakh is an internationally recognized Azerbaijan territory. You support Russian intervention in Syria but you don't support Turkish intervention in Azerbaijan.

Posted by: Arafin | Sep 30 2020 14:44 utc | 46

Why does Turkey want to secure a land bridge to the Caspian Sea?

Posted by: Josh | Sep 30 2020 14:52 utc | 47

Yep. Great to see you are back in your usual great form!
As a long standing addict to your sitreps, i too hope i wont have to read more on this conflict..

Posted by: DontBelieveEitherPr | Sep 30 2020 16:21 utc | 48

Armenians have been in Artsakh (Karabkah) for 4000 years. Archelogical artificats attest to this as due DNA samples of bones found and then compared with the current population.
No state called azerbaijan existed north of the Arax river prior to 1918. The use of the term azerbaijan was in hopes of one day soon taking over northern Iranian territory of Azarbaijan. is the land originally and historically called Azerbaijan; the Azerbaijani-populated Republic of Azerbaijan appropriated the name of the neighboring Azerbaijani-populated region in Iran during the 20th century. Historic Azerbaijan was called Atropatene in antiquity and Aturpatakan in the pre-Islamic Middle Ages.

And Nakhijevan was Armenian land too, also given to the Azerbaijani SSR by Stalin. The commentator debisdead is spreading bs with his tall-tales.

Posted by: LG | Sep 30 2020 17:01 utc | 49

In 2006 Yasha Levine wrote .... a sovereign country [called Artsakh] .... still hasn’t been recognized by any country other than Armenia

So, he says, that as of 2006 Artzakh was recognized by Armenia? But today in 2020 it still is NOT recognized by Armenia.

Western journos, they're always doign their job with accuracy and without haste

Posted by: Arioch | Sep 30 2020 17:39 utc | 50

Armenia says it might recognise Artsakh but so far has not done so.

Posted by: Waldorf | Sep 30 2020 18:34 utc | 51

Yet ... “ German Chancellor Angela Merkel praised Turkey for doing “remarkable work in hosting refugees” and criticized Greece for its treatment of refugees. In her speech in Germany ahead of the EU Summit, Merkel also hinted that Greece and Turkey came close to war two months ago, implying that the tension was defused due to Berlin’s mediation..”

“ Turkish forces mainly used German rifles and other weapons to carry out the 1915-16 genocide of the Armenian people, a new report has found.
Mauser, Germany's main manufacturer of small arms in both world wars, supplied the Ottoman Empire with millions of rifles and handguns, which were used in the genocide with the active support of German officers. Historians have estimated that between 1 million and 1.5 million Armenians were killed in the two-year genocide.
"German officers who served in Turkish-Ottoman military staff actively helped carry out individual murders," according to the report by Global Net — Stop the Arms Trade (GN-STAT). "The majority of the aggressors were armed with Mauser rifles or carbines, the officers with Mauser pistols." Many German officers witnessed and wrote about the massacres in letters to their families.”

Some things never change ...

Posted by: DG | Sep 30 2020 19:58 utc | 52

@DG, wow!

Posted by: Думбо Трамп | Sep 30 2020 20:04 utc | 53

Interesting that Macron has now entered the Armenia-Azerbaijan fray and he is standing firmly against Turkey .

Isn’t there a pattern here? Macron’s stance in Libya, East Med, Greece/ Cyprus and now Armenia. Is it just Macron playing up? If I were Erdogan I would be wary of the fact that wherever Macron has taken a vocal stance against Turkey recently, others have joined in more calmly but nonetheless as decisively and Turkey has become stuck in the proverbial or retreated.

Desperately maybe, Erdogan rang Johnson as soon as the conflict started. Johnson, the Ottoman Grandson, wants nothing to do with anything, of course.

Posted by: AtaBrit | Sep 30 2020 20:08 utc | 54

Right on #49 LG.
<> Renewed Azerbaijani attacks seek to destabilize Caucasus region

Posted by: Pat | Sep 30 2020 20:35 utc | 55

There was a time that Turkey claimed to have zero problems with neighbors. Stephen Kinzer wrote glowingly and a book later too. Now, Turkey has problems with all the neighbors, with the exclusion Iran, where it has cordial understanding.
The geography of all this is very confusing. The opposing sides don’t have any direct land borders with their ally. In order to support Azerbaijan, Turkey has to go through air or land space of Armenia, Georgia, or Iran. In order to support Armenia, Russia has to go through Georgia, Azerbaijan, or Iran.
Only Iran has land borders with the two warring parties, and yes, they both used to be part of Iran.

Posted by: Sakineh Bagoom | Sep 30 2020 20:48 utc | 56

At the same time there are huge propaganda efforts in Iran for Azeri separationism as Iran sides with Armenia in the conflict, and 20+ million Iranian Azeris side with Azerbaijan.

Posted by: A | Oct 1 2020 0:32 utc | 57

Unless Armenian core land is seriously attacked Russia will likely stay aside. It will help Armenia with intelligence and equipment flown in through Iran.

I don’t think Russia will help Armenia with any intelligence on Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenia is a member of CSTO, Nagorno-Karabakh is not. As to equipment, Russia sells it to both Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Posted by: S | Oct 1 2020 2:10 utc | 58

exposed: UK foreign, commonwealth, and Development of office anti Assad propaganda campaign papers hacked wonder if that release, prompted Trump to apply new sanctions to Syria or if it was the Armenia situation? WSJ Trump C. bank governor sanction and NYT Trump ASSAD Sanctions

Posted by: snake | Oct 1 2020 2:27 utc | 59

Anyone else think the regional coalitions are uniquely interesting?

Supporters/suppliers of Armenia: Russia, India, Iran, Greece

Supporters/suppliers of Azerbaijan: Turkey, Syria, Pakistan, Georgia, Israel (!)

This could cool relations between Turkey and Iran. Israel's presence is just weird.

And apparently the US has been providing the Azeris with military aid:

Perhaps of note, if not now then in the future: both Armenia and Azerbaijan are beneficiaries of the Belt and Road initiative, but only Azerbaijan is critical to the The Trans-Caspian International Transport Route.

Posted by: mr bungle | Oct 1 2020 2:51 utc | 60

@49 Correct. Debs is wrong on this one..

Posted by: Lozion | Oct 1 2020 3:28 utc | 61

IMO these two posts yesterday are crazy to wit:

Posted by: alaff | Sep 29 2020 20:46 utc | 22

"Actually, this territory - Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as Armenia and Azerbaijan - have been the territory (or "property", if you will) of Russia for the last 200-250 years."

: bevin | Sep 30 2020 0:17 utc | 28

"A very good point. These countries have never been independent states"

"independent states" FMD, they were seized and occupied by the Tsars before there were any independent states. That means nothing.

Lets apply that logic to the time when the amerikan empire crumbles, that means Bevin & Alaff would be insisting that Guam, The Marshall Islands & Puerto Rico have to remain part of a dying empire no matter what the population of those regions may want.
They will have to continue to be ruled by some absurd english speaking administration thousands of miles distant from them & the issues they confront. Not only insane but cruel.
The Russian Empire was created under the Tsars who treated the inhabitants even worse than they treated Rus serfs and things only got marginally better in the time of the USSR, maybe if the USSR had lasted longer these caucasus states would eventually been regarded as true citizens not just a necessary criminal evil who lived on resources that the USSR required, we cannot know that but regarding all these people as disposable humans who must be infinitely ruled from Moscow is nasty & stupid. Stupid because Armenians & Azerbaijanis would quit hassling each other for as long as it took to drive out the Rus while england, france, turkey plus amerika would get back to their old tricks of pouring armaments into the region; then watching & laughing while they munched their popcorn.

It looks awfully like the tired pseudo leftie claim of "everything the amerikan, french & englander empires get up to is awful" (that's true but not the next bit) "whatever the russian empire gets up to is AOK" Why? because thirty years ago they practised state capitalism & called it socialism?

All imperialism is beyond the pale because it is theft, a brazen theft of another's resources with as little as possible provided in return.
People want and need governance by them & for them, once a large national entity is governed by a centralised system, injustice & corruption become inevitable. That is true enough within a relatively homogenous community, once a population is governed by people alien to a population's language & culture oppression becomes commonplace.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Oct 1 2020 3:56 utc | 62

For the money shot:

USAF-affiliated think tank calls for DC to exploit tensions in the caucasus

Posted by: Tsak | Oct 1 2020 4:06 utc | 63

The old black snake rears its head again:-

Saakashvili has more criminal indictments against his name than Al Capone and Pol Pot put together. Yet his US protectors (for now) present him as a politician and buy him column space in newspapers that otherwise don’t care about him, or are sick of seeing his name.

A good read at New Eastern Outlook

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Oct 1 2020 5:09 utc | 64

Looks like Iranian air defence systems have shot down something in Iranian Azarbaijan and there is dispute as to whether it was fired by Azeris (in Azerbaijan), Armenians or Turks.

Armenia and Azerbaijan would have plenty to lose if either deliberately fired into Iranian airspace or sovereign territory.

Seems more likely to me that Turkey wants to harass Iran and push that country into a war that would take its attention away from Syria and Lebanon.

Posted by: Jen | Oct 1 2020 7:20 utc | 65

Jen #65

I noticed there are some worthy gas fields in the Azerbaijan territory of the Caspian sea. and here.

Perhaps Turkey is offering Azerbaijan to return Nagorno Karabakh in exchange for a good gas price through the gas pipeline through Turkey.

I assume Erdogan believes he will have an easy win. Methinks he will be disappointed.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Oct 1 2020 9:04 utc | 66


Turkey is NOT suffering under inflation but it is suffering under DEFLATION. The turkish lira is falling agaisnt e.g. the USD as a result of money fleeing (from) Turkey.
DEFLATION is defined as an Decrease of money & credit. And precisely is happening in Turkey right now. The falling currency is actually INCREASING the DEFLATION. Because the falling currency make imports (much) more expensive while at the same time wages don't go up at the same pace.

Posted by: Willy2 | Oct 1 2020 10:58 utc | 67

- It seems that in Azerbaijan the corruption is also wide spread in the military. Why would they lose som many tanks ?

Posted by: Willy2 | Oct 1 2020 11:00 utc | 68

An excellent analysis by Bhadrakumar that illuminates the Israeli factor in Transcaucasia. This, together with b’s analysis, provides a good understanding of the multidimensionality of the conflict.

This is the first part - more to come.

Posted by: Nathan Mulcahy | Oct 1 2020 14:21 utc | 69

Feels to me it's a kind of backdoor israeli masterstroke to put literally all nations and countries involved in dire straits and having a way to destabilize Iran from the northwest because of the Azeri's on both side of the Northwestern border.
Interesting is the fact that Iran would be on the side of the Christian Armenians,while Turkey who has a sunni Muslim Brotherhood head of state supports the Shi'a Muslims Azerbaijani.Invalids a bit the sunna-Shi'a narrative that our media never forget to rekindle when talking Yemen,Lebanon,Iraq.

Posted by: willie | Oct 1 2020 20:35 utc | 70

Reports of S300 AA system activated above Yerevan.. See thread from a goos source here:

Posted by: Lozion | Oct 1 2020 21:59 utc | 71

Russia’s Ambassador to the UN Vasiliy Nebenzya:

Turkey unequivocally supports Azerbaijan. We know this. But this does not mean that we are on the other side and support Armenia against Azerbaijan. This is not true. We support a just settlement, we support a ceasefire, we support a cessation of hostilities. We want both states to end this escalation.


Posted by: S | Oct 2 2020 1:10 utc | 72

“The Azerbaijani lobby has more money, but the Armenian one is more active” (EurAsia Daily, October 1, 2020 — machine translation)

Posted by: S | Oct 2 2020 1:14 utc | 73

In the case of Turkey the Sunni-Shia divide is probably outgunned by pan-Turkism, from the 20th century on a potent motivation for Turkish nationalism, especially on the far right. So the Azeris being ethnic Turks is far more important than the branch of Islam they belong to.

Posted by: Waldorf | Oct 2 2020 7:39 utc | 74

Yes Waldorf,I think you are right.For the same reason the indo german Aryans that are the people of Iran and Armenia are more ethnically related and above that have a much longer presence and history in that particular region.This shows ethnicity can be more important than religious beliefs.The Tukish try to confederate all turkish peoples from Turkey to Xin Yiang,and it may be that those jihadistes allegedly transferred from Syria to Karabagh are Uyghur and Turkmen terrorists speaking turkish dialects.

Posted by: willie | Oct 2 2020 10:51 utc | 75

Pepe Escobar has weighed in on the Armenian-Azerbaijani War:

What’s at Stake in the Armenia-Azerbaijan Chessboard

Pepe appears to think this is a clever, sneaky move by Erdogan, I think it's more desperate, and Erdogan is going to get slapped down, we will soon see.

Posted by: Bemildred | Oct 2 2020 14:31 utc | 76

Txs to @76 Bemildred for the great analysis by Pepe and his sources..

Posted by: Lozion | Oct 3 2020 4:54 utc | 77

Deeply disappointed in Pepe and his so-called independent source. Turkey and the Soviets have been chipping away at Armenia/Artsakh for a long time....this is not Armenian irredentism but an existential struggle for survival and freedom. And Israei hatred for Armenians is finally on the surface for the world to see.
Normalizing Militant Jihadism in Azerbaijan

Posted by: pat | Oct 3 2020 10:34 utc | 78

At first moments of this conflict, I pointed at the danger of having being orchestrated to pose a security risk to Iran, by ongoing skirmishes at Karabakh souther localities bordering Iran...
Well, here they are the destabilizing efforts...Of course, that in this conflict Israel is implied providing military help, on the same side as Turkey, debunks completely Erdogan´s alleged stance against Israel on the Palestinian issue ( or any other implying Israel for that matter ) ..This conflict provides a way for Israel, and through it for the US, to infiltrate destabilizing operatives into Iran for preparing a future invasion/color revolution after November 3...

Demonstrations are taking place in the Azeri regions of northern Iran. The protesters call for the closure of the border crossing with Armenia and sing proclamations such as "Karabakh is ours" or "Kurds, Persians and Armenians, enemies of Azerbaijan"

Clashes between Azeri protesters and Iranian security forces in Tabriz.

Why these azeris in Tabriz do not enlist themselves to fight in the Azerbaijani front instead of fighting Iranian security forces into Iran?

Posted by: H.Schmatz | Oct 3 2020 12:43 utc | 79

It is not just Israeli drones. Azerbaijan has bought close to a billion $ worth of Israeli weapons. In addition to drones this includes anti-tank missiles, a surface-to-air missile system, loitering munitions, quasi-ballistic missiles, and multiple rocket launchers. It also includes Anti-personnel/Anti-material cluster submunitions, which the Azeris have used against civilian targets in Stepanakert City.

Biswapriya Purkayast's point at comment #34 that Armenian forces can only take so much attrition has already proven true. They have started using graybeards from the reserves. Many of them are probably veterans that fought 30 years ago in the first conflict in the late 1980s - early 1990s:

One thing the Armenians have going for them is the mountainous terrain. It is difficult for the attacking Azeris as their armor and other vehicles are channelized and have to stay on the roads. The defending Armenians have good observation. There are lots of good ATGM ammbush sites. And I expect that they have registered the mountain passes and gorges for mortar and artillery fire.

Posted by: mike a | Oct 5 2020 5:20 utc | 80

Well, give me a break,
Give me a break!

Do ask why.

Israel and Turkey working on

The article could be shortened to the root cause.

Election of Nikol Pashinyan in 2018.

And all that happened since.
Like Armenia making trouble for Russia.
Getting close to US.
Baku getting nervous — taking countermeasures
Staying close to Russia, but buying insurance.
Buying some weapons from US and ...

.. to get neighborhood riled up — from Israel.
Message from Baku to Russia, Turkey and Iran,

You may be comfy about Yerevan getting US support,

But we are not. So, here are some Israeli drones,

Up to you! If nothing is done —
We are moving in to get what we can now,
Before the region becomes Russia-US political
Do here we are.
Turkey m, Russia frenemy is actually helping out.
Yerevan has THINKING TO DO. So do Yerevan’s
Washington advisers.
Baku wants to recover at least 4 of 7 regions
Nagorno-Karabakh took with Azeri population.

Then — if Yerevan opts for Russian settlement,
Baku will want to trade territory — Nagorno-Karabakh
for Armenian territory along Iran’s birders.

If not — Azerbaijan moves on with offensive.
Turkey gets in.

Israel gets out.
Yerevan — it is up to you.

Posted by: Bianca | Oct 5 2020 15:06 utc | 81

It is fascinating to see the Israeli lobby in force in the comments section, fomenting discord and trying to justify the aggressor position.

Posted by: Yuri N. | Oct 19 2020 6:51 utc | 82

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