Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 10, 2020

The Ceasefire In Nagorno-Karabakh Is Unlikely To Hold

Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed to a ceasefire in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

The war over Nagorno-Karabakh was already near a stalemate. While the attacking Azerbaijani troops were able to gain a few uninhabitated villages in the southern lowlands success elsewhere was scarce. They compensated for that by using loitering ammunition from Israel and Turkey against badly camouflaged Armenian tanks and by shelling civilians in Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Overview map

Iran and Georgia have both large Azeri and Armenian minorities within their territories.

Detail map


Russia decided that it was the right time to intervene. Yesterday the foreign ministers of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia met in Moscow. After 10 hours of talks they agreed on a ceasefire:

A ceasefire agreement in Nagorno-Karabakh starting on 12:00 on October 10 has been reached after trilateral consultations in Moscow between foreign ministers of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Saturday.

"A ceasefire is declared to begin on October 10 at 12:00 with the humanitarian aim of exchanging prisoners of war and other captured persons as well as to exchange bodies of victims with the facilitation of the International Committee of the Red Cross and in line with its regulations," Lavrov stated early on Saturday citing a joint statement, signed by the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The details of the ceasefire will still have to be worked out. Both parties agreed to further negotiations should the ceasefire hold:

"The Republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia, with the mediation of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs and based on the principles of conflict settlements, begin practical negotiations with the main task of reaching the peace settlement as soon as possible," the statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry reads.

So far the ceasefire has held. Except for some minor violations the shooting and bombing has stopped since noon local time.

There was another very important point the parties agreed to:

"All involved parties have confirmed their adherence to the invariability of the negotiating process," the statement added.

The current negotiation format for talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan involves the OSCE Minsk group which consists of Russia, the U.S. and France. Turkey, which had urged Azerbaijan into waging the current war and is heavily supporting it, had demanded a place at the negotiation table:

The main goal of Turkey’s whatever-it-takes posture is to insert itself into the power equation in the Caucasus, in addition to extracting concessions from Russia in the Syrian and Libyan conflicts. Ankara might try to fully discredit the Minsk Group and replace it with a new settlement platform led by itself and Moscow.

This has now been outright rejected even by the government of Azerbaijan which Turkey supports.

Turkey's wannabe Sultan Erdogan is miffed about this. Today he again demanded a seat at the table:

The Russian mediated ceasefire between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region cannot be considered a solution to the conflict, the Turkish Foreign Ministry has said, reaffirming its support for Baku.

The suspension of hostilities in the contested region, brokered in Moscow overnight, is “an important first step,” but it “will not replace a permanent solution,” Ankara said on Saturday.

Turkey “will continue to stand by Azerbaijan on the battlefield and at the negotiations table,” the statement from the Turkish Foreign Ministry added.

Today Russia's President Putin had a phone call with the Iranian President Rouhani about the conflict on Iran's northern border. There is no report about a call between Putin and Erdogan. He will rightly perceive that as another rebuke. In consequence he will try to urge Azerbaijan into continuing the war.

But that will not change the outcome. Neither side of the war has the power to defeat the other:

Almost all of NK is located in the mountains (hence the prefix “nagorno” which means “mountainous”) and offensive military operations in the mountains are truly a nightmare, even for very well prepared and equipped forces (especially in the winter season, which is fast approaching). There are very few countries out there who could successfully conduct offensive operations in mountains, Russia is one of them, and Azerbaijan clearly is not.

Right now both sides agree on one thing only: only total victory can stop this war. While politically that kind of language makes sense, everybody knows that this war will not end up in some kind of total victory for one side and total defeat of the other side. The simple fact is that the Azeris can’t overrun all of NK while the Armenians (in Armenia proper and in the NK) cannot counter-attack and defeat the Azeri military in the plains.

Some Russians think that Erdogan wants control over the Caucasus and will risk a war with Russia for it. I do not believe so. Should Turkey try to intervene directly in the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan it would indeed soon be at war with Russia. Wars with Russia have rarely ended well for Turkey. Erdogan knows this. He has neither the money nor the technology to win against a superpower. He may threaten war but will do his best to avoid a direct involvement.

That does not mean that the war is over. The Azerbaijani dictator Ilham Aliyev had promised his people a victory. His army has announced to have taken towns and villages which clearly are still in Armenian hands. If he now ends the war his position will be in serious danger.

I am therefore sure he will go for another round which, after a few days and several hundred more death, will end in another stalemate and with Russia again stepping in.

Posted by b on October 10, 2020 at 14:53 UTC | Permalink


Nagorno means literally "on the mountain(s)". Hence Nagorno Karabach = Karabakh on the mountain(s).
At least that's the way it reads from my understanding of Russian (which I speak as a non native).

Posted by: Kaiama | Oct 10 2020 15:08 utc | 1

I agree with b, that the Russians were wise to let the two (who were trying to distance themselves from Mother Russia anyway) wear themselves out on each other and reach the inevitable stalemate before suggesting a cease fire--which after all is at least somewhat face-saving, or at least can be sold as such by both sides domestically if they wish. It is the Azeries who have the worst of it, not only because they began offensive operations and have little to show for it, but they are going to be getting extreme pressure from the Turks, and from the head chopping mercenaries controlled by Turkey that they allowed into their country. But as much as Aliyev dislikes this "solution," it's hard to see that he has much choice. He allowed himself to be talked into a stupid plan by Turkey, who seems to be keeping its record of failure perfect. Of course, Ergodan himself was likely pressured by the West into this adventure (not that he had to be pushed too hard), with promises of economic life-lines if he would just keep the pressure up on Russia.

Posted by: J Swift | Oct 10 2020 15:21 utc | 2

An offensive in the mountains in the Winter doesn't sound like a very good idea to me. This Aliyev fellow doesn't seem to know what he is doing.

Posted by: Bemildred | Oct 10 2020 15:22 utc | 3

“He [Erdogan] may threaten war but will do his best to avoid a direct involvement.”
And history shows nations so often get the very war they seek to avoid. Yet their leaders do not see the repetition of history: two world wars – so far.

“He [Erdogan] may threaten war but will do his best to avoid a direct involvement.”
And history shows nations so often get the very war they seek to avoid. Yet their leaders do not see the repetition of history: two world wars – so far.

Posted by: peter mcloughlin | Oct 10 2020 15:22 utc | 4

The issue with this war is that Turkey is bringing fighters to the region from Syria. This is now well documented. This in effect extends the 'front' against both Russia and Iran. My guess is, that Russia and Iran will not standstill and just let them settle in that region. It provides an existentialist risk to Iran or Russia and further destabilizes the region. I also don't think its in Azerbaijan's interests (since Azeris themselves are Shia Muslims it can create tensions inside Azerbaijan). This could backfire on Aliev and Erdogan. If Russia and Iran feel threatened, it can really spell trouble for Azerbaijan. I see Armenia as essentially buffered by these regions (so Armenia itself will be somewhat protected). This war really did not need to happen, and Azerbaijan was developing very nicely without access to these mountains who don't have really create a great deal of economic value or have much in the way of minerals or natural resources. And the merchants in Nogorno-Karabakh were coming to Baku for supplies i.e. they were economically connected to Azerbaijan anyway. Its just stupid - and embodies a lot of risk for Aliev (and Erdogan).

Posted by: Ayatoilet | Oct 10 2020 15:32 utc | 5

Could the azeris push up the Aras valley and threaten Armenia's border with Iran? That would surely bring the armenians to the negotiating table.

Posted by: robin | Oct 10 2020 15:46 utc | 6

Posted by: Ayatoilet | Oct 10 2020 15:32 utc | 5

"This is now well documented" Perhaps you could show us some of those documents. It wouldn't suprise me, but I haven't seen any clear evidence, yet

In addition, there seems to be evidence that Syrian Armenians and Kurds have been sent by Armenia into Azerbaijan.

There is a lot of propaganda being spread by the Soros bunch running Armenia these days. Be careful!

Posted by: Blue Dotterel | Oct 10 2020 15:54 utc | 7

Posted by: robin | Oct 10 2020 15:46 utc | 6

The Azeris need to keep the fight in Azerbaijan. They are fighting to liberate their territory from the illegal occupiers. Saker has a nice article today. So long as Azerbaijan keeps to the goal of liberating their country from occupiers and returning the hundreds of thousands of Azeris to hteir homes, Russia is unlikely to intervene militarily. Hopefully Russia can eventually mediate a peace.

Posted by: Blue Dotterel | Oct 10 2020 16:00 utc | 8

Interesting: An example of a case where the Shi'a Muslim power Irân is more in favour of the Christian-majority Armenia than with the Muslim majority state of Azerbaidjan (which is like Irân predominately Shi'a too). During the days of the Shah of Iran, traveling to and from Soviet Armenia was infinitely more easy than crossing the border to Soviet Azerbaidjan. The Azery in Irân are staunchly Iranian in their patriotism, to my knowledge.

Posted by: Oū Sī/區司/Osmanikoff | Oct 10 2020 16:08 utc | 9

Posted by: Oū Sī/區司/Osmanikoff | Oct 10 2020 16:08 utc | 9

People make too much of religion. Most Azeris and Armeninas are probably closer to being secular atheists or agnostics from their Soviet days than being particularly religious. Azerbaijan is also a multi-ethnic society, true the majority is Shia like the Iranians.

Religion isn't the reason Iran has sometimes been cold towards the Azeris. One is the closeness to the Turks; another is the potential relationship between the Azeris and the Azeris in Iran. Although, the Azeris in Iran are supposedly very pro-Iranian. Azerbaijan also has a close relationship with Israel, apparently, which means a potential US issue.

The Armenians do not carry such baggage, at least until the Soros color revolution in 2018. That could change, and maybe to some extent has.

Posted by: Blue Dotterel | Oct 10 2020 16:30 utc | 10

It will also be interesting to see (if we are allowed to know about it) whether the Armenian and Karabagh-Armenian forces have captured any of the foreign mercenaries imported from their war against Syria: Chechens, most probably to wit. But possibly Uighur head-off-sawers also? I wait for such revelations if this is the case.

Posted by: Oō Sī/區司/Osmanikoff | Oct 10 2020 16:33 utc | 11

Posted by: Oō Sī/區司/Osmanikoff | Oct 10 2020 16:33 utc | 11

Of course, if they are there and are not terrorists (those that you refered to are) but the Syrian National Army that even Russia accepts as a legal opposition, then they are in Azerbaijan legally, and this is much ado about nothing. So, it may very well be interesting to see who they are.

Just as it might be interesting to see if the terrorist group NBO (considered so by Syria) formed by the US is also fighting against the Azeris for the Armenians in Azerbaijan.

Posted by: Blue Dotterel | Oct 10 2020 16:41 utc | 12

Sorry, NBO means "Nubar Ozanyan Brigade". They are a branch of the SDF, and it has been reported that they may be being funneled into Azerbaijan by Armenia. They are regarded more as traitors than terrorists by Syria.

Posted by: Blue Dotterel | Oct 10 2020 16:57 utc | 13

thanks b... i have a hard time not seeing erdogan with ongoing illusions of grandeur.... his role in syria has compounded over into libya and now this... at what point does he get his sultan throne, or get forcefully removed from entertaining these thoughts?? the guy has real ambitions for his turkish empire...

Posted by: james | Oct 10 2020 17:26 utc | 14

Putin and Iran have not been very happy with Armenia's president flirting with the USA: Russia has a military base in Armenia to control the Caucasus. Iran does not want any stir up of antagonism between Azeris and Armenian as the whole North of Iran (Azerbajian) is populated with ethnic turks. The difference between the Turks and the Azeris is that the Azeris are Shias, thus suspicious of Sunni Turkey even though they share the language and some ottoman culture. That is an important disavantage for Erdogan that he did not have neither in Syria nor in Libya.
In Islam religious differences in ideologies are strong barriers, especially that the Shias continue to perceive the Sunnis as potential oppressors.
Therefore Russia and Iran are pressuring Azerbadjian to exclude Turkey from the negotiations, while Erdogan wants to throw oil on fire to make himself indispensable to Azerbajian and its oil. He wants to appears as the defender of the 'oppressed' ethnic Turks worldwide.
France is siding clearly toward Armenia while the USA is not clear about its side.
While the USA would be more than happy to create a quagmire for France and Russia, I doubt it will want to support Erdogan unless he renounces to the S-400 implementation. Erdogan is in a bind as he is not favored by the USA and may lose both Russia and Iran if he continues to stir the ethnic diversity of the region . Unless a u-turn from the USA I doubt that Turkey will succeed in disrupting the negotiations and restart a war. At least in the short turn.

Posted by: Virgile | Oct 10 2020 17:30 utc | 15

Posted by: james | Oct 10 2020 17:26 utc | 14

The Turkish people generally oppose Erdoğan's policy in Syria, as does the opposition, but on supporting the Un recognized government in Libya, the Just cause of assisting Azerbaijan, and equally just cause concrening the East Med. offshore oil issue with Greece, the Turkish people and the opposition generally side with Erdoğan.

Of course, he and the AKP are still making a bit of a mess of the economy. This is one rason that Erdoğan is working overtime on distracting the people, but at the same time many of those foreign policies are seen as just, and can be argued as such. They are not simply "illusions".

Posted by: Blue Dotterel | Oct 10 2020 17:34 utc | 16

Posted by: Virgile | Oct 10 2020 17:30 utc | 15

"The difference between the Turks and the Azeris is that the Azeris are Shias, thus suspicious of Sunni Turkey even though they share the language and some ottoman culture. That is an important disavantage for Erdogan that he did not have neither in Syria nor in Libya."

Sorry, but the difference in religious sects has never been an issue between Azerbaijan and Turkey. Turkish ethnicity trumps that. That isn't even a significant issue between Iran and Turkey. Westerners make too much of it because their governments try so hard to use it to divide peopleand constantly use it as a basis for their propaganda.

Posted by: Blue Dotterel | Oct 10 2020 17:43 utc | 17

@ Blue Dotterel | Oct 10 2020 17:34 utc | 16... well i chose the word illusion as that's how i see erdogan! the idealism of the past is what appears to drive him.. and he uses it like a sledgehammer on his opponents probably too, claiming they just aren't as devoted to the greater turkish community and etc. etc... history moved on and he was born in the wrong era.... he is an ideologue that fantasizes about the ottomon empire 24-7.... i can't erase this impression i have of him... you can chalk it up to me if you want...

Posted by: james | Oct 10 2020 17:43 utc | 18


Saying that Iran has a large Azeri minority within its territory is not doing service to the truth. Armenians are a minority yes and as a such are recognized and represented in the parliament. But Azeris cannot be said to be a minority. They are quiet the opposite: the constitutional part of the fabric woven since the 15th/16th century in and for the modern Iranian state. The Shia Safavid Nation-State being built around that time was the work of a Turkic speaking Azeri "clan" headed by Sheikh Safi that emerged in Ardebil, the heartland of Azerbaijan. From there, they opposed the Ottomans Sunni Califate to their West by adopting the twelve-imam Shia branch as the official religion of Iran; they enforced the Shisme on the whole Iranian plateau and founded the Safavid dynasty in Iran, the embryo of the modern nation_state. Therefore, Azeris are in a sense, and most likely consider it themselves, the heart and the brain of the modern Iranian Nation_state and not a minority there.

Posted by: ATH | Oct 10 2020 17:50 utc | 19

Once again I'll point out that the only real effect of this 'war' is to draw the Azeris closer to NATO/Turkey orbit just before the UN ban on arms sales to Iran will expire.

Azerbaijan is strategically placed for "terrorists" to interdict trade between Iran and Russia and/or "mysterious attacks" on shipping.


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Oct 10 2020 17:52 utc | 20

Posted by: james | Oct 10 2020 17:43 utc | 18

Ok,concerning Erdoğan that may be true, but he also has a nationalist partner in Bahçeli's MHP, and also needs to be aware of what people will accept. Erdoğan may be a dreamer, but you don't survive 20 years in power without some sense of reality.

Posted by: Blue Dotterel | Oct 10 2020 17:58 utc | 21

@21 blue dotterel... true! he's a survivor who has lasted a lot longer then i thought he would... he has played his hand well..

Posted by: james | Oct 10 2020 18:01 utc | 22

Posted by: ATH | Oct 10 2020 17:50 utc | 19

In fact the Safavid court language was Turkish in the 16th century. The Turks have apparently been in Azerbaijan since the 7th century, and adopted Islam during the Arab invasions around that time(to avoid taxes on non-Muslims, of course) The Seljuk Turks arrived later in the 11th century consolidating the Turks in the Eastern part of the Caucasus, including N.W. Iran.

Posted by: Blue Dotterel | Oct 10 2020 18:09 utc | 23

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Oct 10 2020 17:52 utc | 20

"Mysterious attacks on shipping"? You mean in the Caspian Sea? It is possible that terrorists could be run into Russia through Azerbaijan, I suppose. That is why it is important to know if Takfiris are being shipped there or not.

Posted by: Blue Dotterel | Oct 10 2020 18:15 utc | 24

The OSCE Minsk Group includes some random European countries who wouldn’t seem to have either much connection to the NK issue, or the kind of clout that earns a place generally. So I get the U.S. and Germany being in it, but Portugal and the Netherlands? I guess they’re there to beef up the U.S. “side”.

Erdogan is a very bad actor, and I understand resisting giving him what he wants, but from a realism perspective (which is where useful diplomacy works from) Turkey is a lot more relevant than the various U.S. imperial puppies now occupying chairs there. Since Turkey will (as we see) make its presence felt anyway, it could make sense to include it at the table.

But if Turkey is allowed in, Russia must insist Iran is as well. Iran is probably the likeliest of any single country to make a positive difference in the dispute, and was only excluded from Minsk because of the usual U.S. vindictiveness.

Posted by: David G | Oct 10 2020 18:17 utc | 25

Posted by: David G | Oct 10 2020 18:17 utc | 25

Erdoğan wants in, but I would prefer Russia mediate alone. I believe, he has a good relationship with Aliyev, and, well, Pashinian, maybe not so much, but they do have a Russian base in Armenia. Erdoğan would probably try to connect everything to Syria and Libya, and make a mess out of it. Frankly, I think that is his idea - to get trade offs.

Posted by: Blue Dotterel | Oct 10 2020 18:23 utc | 26

Blue Dotterel | Oct 10 2020 18:23 utc | 26:

I certainly have no objection to Russia taking the reins (I’m sure everyone is waiting for my imprimatur), as long as the warring parties are willing.

But I think both Russia and Iran could be credible “honest brokers”, and if things started gravitating toward them that would yield as good a chance for something like peace as we’re going to get. The Minsk Group could be thanked for its time and sent home.

Posted by: David G | Oct 10 2020 18:35 utc | 27

Posted by: David G | Oct 10 2020 18:35 utc | 27

The Minsk group as set up has been pretty useless. If Iran were in, Turkey would have to be in as well, since all three countries have and interest in the Caucasus. One thing for sure neither the US nor any EU state should be allwed anywhere near the negotiations. The problem is that the Soros leadership in Armenia will probably stonewall. I gather they already are insisting that NK be recognized as a state.

Interestingly, NK has long had a mixed Christian Muslim (Shia and Sunni) population. Even in Safavid times. Of course then Ganje was the center of Karabagh. Now it is outside NK. So even the border and consequent population makeup has varied in the Karabagh region over the centuries. I can't see how Armenians can claim that they must have the sole claim to the region.

Posted by: Blue Dotterel | Oct 10 2020 18:46 utc | 28

It should also be noted that "Karabağ" was originally included with three other regions in an administrative district called Azerbaijan by the Safavids. Some have claimed Karabağ was included in "Azerbaijan" for the first time only during Soviet times. This is incorrect.

Posted by: Blue Dotterel | Oct 10 2020 18:52 utc | 29

Democracy faces bigger threats than Vladimir Putin or Xi Jinping

Western governments must counter autocrat aggression, but saving democracy starts at home

Posted by: Mao | Oct 10 2020 19:18 utc | 30

@1 the prefix Kara means black in all Turkic variants and is associated with place names: Karakoram, Karakul, etc. Nagorno Karabagh, the black meadow on the mountain..

Posted by: Lozion | Oct 10 2020 19:18 utc | 31

Ceasefires are meaningless. It's just a delay tactic for both sides to replenish their supplies and reposition themselves. I doubt the ceasefire will hold for long.

Posted by: Ian2 | Oct 10 2020 20:00 utc | 32

The Azeri army violated the ceasefire 10 minutes after it was called.

Azerbaijan Violates Ceasefire at Hadrut and Karakhambeyli

Nevertheless, mainstream media salivate to assert that BOTH sides accuse the other of ceasefire violations.

Don't take it from me. Reliable source Col. Alexander Zhilin of Russia recently said that this is indeed Turkey's war against Russia for the Caucasus.

This is Erdogan's War Against Russia for the Caucasus

“We don’t understand what the Armenians want,” is the noxious refrain from exploitative world powers for centuries on end. Armenians want the superpowers to remove their hairy hands from their ancestral lands, they want their homeland back, they want to live peacefully and independently on these lands, and they want their executioners punished.

As the world appeases Turkey, attacks on Armenians continue

Posted by: Pat | Oct 10 2020 20:11 utc | 33

Was somewhere on twitter and watched some drone videos of Azerbaijan missiles murdering Armenian regulars with impunity and demonstrating that in modern warfare, air superiority is essential. Something the Armenians seem to have overlooked. So I was wondering where this small country of Azerbaidjan might acquire such deadly technology. It looked like the sort of asymmetric warfare that Iran was getting a name for. But no. Later on I read somewhere that the Azers were doing arms deals with the Israeli. So I wonder is this some new copycat tech that the Israelis are planning to unleash on their many enemies and that the Azerbaidjan/Armenia theatre is a handy testing ground for them. If so look out Iran. For some reason I thought you would have the lowdown on this B.

Posted by: corkie | Oct 10 2020 20:12 utc | 34

AAAAnd he was. I've just found your report of 03 Oct which explains all. Thanks B.

Posted by: corkie | Oct 10 2020 20:22 utc | 35

Armenia and Armenian Artsakh [Nagorno-Karanagh] are about 2.5 million Christians against Turkey and Azerbaijan's 90 million, plus ISIS and the jihadists that are fighting on Azerebaijan's side!

Where is the help by the "Christian West"?

Israel is Azerbaijan's biggest arms supplier and many American Jews and international Jewry hate Christian Armenia.

Please be aware of that.

Look: ISIS is in Azerbaijan fighting against Christian Armenia.

Posted by: Michael | Oct 10 2020 20:36 utc | 36

1. The U.S. encouraged Erdogan to push Aliev into war. Aliev was of two minds about going to war. For years he has promised Azeris that he would conquer Artsakh (Nagorno-Karapagh). Since his people were growing impatient, he had to do something. At the same time, he was scared that if he lost, he would lose his head, not to mention the heads of his high-living corrupt family. The U.S. encouraged Erdogan because Washington wants to push Russia our from the Caucasus. If Armenia was destroyed by the war, the Turks, etc. would push for the Muslims of central and northern Caucasus (Chechens, Circassian, etc.) to rise against Moscow.
2. Ayatoilet said Artsakh Armenians were buying supplies, etc. in Baku. This is news to me. I wish he provided evidence of Artsakh/Azeri trade.
3. Please do not refer to the war parties as Christian Armenians and Muslim Azeris. I realize that some on the Azeri side, plus for Turks and the terrorist mercenaries this is a fight about religion. For Armenians this is a fight for a historic part of Armenia where over the centuries the majority has been Armenian. For Iran as well, this war has nothing to do with religion. I suspect that some people/countries hostile to Armenians portray the fight as one of religion to draw Muslim fighters from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other Muslim "stans". If the wars (WWI and WWII) between Germany and Britian were about religion than this is a religion war for Armenians.

Posted by: Mark | Oct 10 2020 22:03 utc | 37

Long time lurker here. I am concerned of an evolution of the Yugoslavian Balkanisation of the Caucasia region, and the interests served of various parties in doing so.

There's a narrative in play which says that Erdogan has become an asset of the Central Intelligence Agency as a result of the US indictment of Turkish Halkbank Bank for laundering $20Billion of Iranian funds in breach of US sanctions. The narrative suggests that Erdogan is in fear of sanction actions against Turkey or trial/extradition claims against him personally as a main shareholder of Halkbank, and to avoid this he is complying with covert US wishes to act as a proxy force in US's longer term strategic interests - though by doing so now and being the initiator of these actions he is behaving as a "Bad Cop" in the classical "Good Cop/Bad Cop" routine - and thereby taking the negative blame in initiating actions in territories that the US and her allies may later take a more public interest in as "Good Cop" problem solvers.

Does anyone here have any knowledge or input on this theory?
The Documentary "The Weight of Chains" - can be found on YT & Vimeo has been referenced as an example of how this type of 'diplomacy' by other means works.

Posted by: Mercury | Oct 10 2020 22:09 utc | 38

Corkie @ 34:

New copycat tech? If we were able to peer more closely at the weapons and other military equipment the Israelis are selling to Azerbaijan, we might be able to see "Made in the United States" or similar imprinted on some if not most of them.

Posted by: Jen | Oct 10 2020 23:21 utc | 39

Posted by: Blue Dotterel | Oct 10 2020 17:43 utc | 17

Don't underestimate the precedence of the Shia religion over ethnicity. We can see the same issue in Iraq.
In my view ideologically the Azeris are closer to Iran than to Turkey,despite all the efforts and seduction that Erdogan is employing. Iran will discreetly deploy all its efforts in concert with Russia to discard Turkey from the region. Turkey is probably trying to get the CIA on his side, pretending to lure Azerbajian into joining NATO thus harming both Iran and Russia. These two countries have much to lose if Turkey gets into the Caucase. They wont let this to happen and the Shia solidarity will play a role to oppose a Sunni power tainted with Moslem Brotherhood.

Posted by: Virgile | Oct 10 2020 23:43 utc | 40

 Iran has a large Azeri minority within its territory


As ATH@19 has explained Armani is  a minority in Iran and they have a MP in parliament, but there is no such Azeri minority in Iran, it does not make any sense, it is better stop careless jurnalism.

Azer is an ancient persian ( Avestan) name, azer = fire, it was sacred fire. Azerbaijan means the land of sacred fire.

Then azeri was a pure persian dialect, nothing with to do with TurKic language. During inception of Ottoman empire, constructed based on fundamentalist Sunni sects, many Shia tribes evicted to Iran.  Then azeri ( persian  dialect) gradually subdued in the region ( there was no Azeri ethnic group in history). There are may regions Iran where Turkic dialect are popular, for example Ghasghais are  groups sof tribes,  located in  Fars province ( Shiraz), most of them speak Turkic language.  Iran's Supreme leader Ali Khamenanei family used to speak Turkic at home ( he was from Mashad), himself is fluent in Turkic langauage. I think more than a quarter of population in Iran speak or understand Turkic language.

Azeri and Azerbaijan names are stolen names in Soviet time.

Actuall Azerbaijan region is within in current borders of Iran. Four provinces of Iran are located in Azerbaijan region: Ardabil, Eastern Azerbaijan( Tabriz), Western Azerbaijan ( Urumia) and Zanjan.  Azerbaijan  was part of Iran  from time immemorial. In early 19 century Iran lost  large territories to Tsarists Russia in two wave of wars ( Armenia, Georgia, Abkhazia, Dagestan, Oustia, Chechnia all waer lost in those wars). England Imperialism  with clandestine politics helped the concession territories of Iran, her aim was to cut trade routs connecting Iran to Europe via Black sea, to consolidate and nforce  her maritime routs , to import raw material from colonies and and fabricate local products, and monopolize European market for her fabrics.

Tsarists Russian,  never used Azerbaijan name for that territories. The name was stolen in Soviet era, there was a long term plan behind the name fabrication. The main strategist for the plan was Mir Jafar Baghirov, the second man in Beria organization. Soviet army invaded and occupied North part  of Iran in WWII,  then Baghirov  set a puppet government in Azerbaijan ( Iran's occupied part).

By conception of UN SC, first seccion was held 17 Jan 1946, Iran filed a cmplaint against Soviets 2 days later in 19 Jan 1946.  Then in 18 Mar 1946, 14 April 1946, there was discussion and resolution in UNSC for Iran complaint. In a series of very complicated diplomacy,  Soveit army withdrawn from Azerbaijan in late 1946,  and Baghirov puppet government collapsed less than a week.  Baghirov being a creul man in Beria KGB,  was accused for many crimes ( 70, 000 death) in Khrushchev time, he was excuted in 1956. Baghirov's apprentice Heydar Aliyev ( the current president Ilham Aliyev father) succeeded the throne. 


Posted by: arata | Oct 11 2020 0:14 utc | 41

We'll soon see how much pull the Turkish advisers have, or if they'll leave.
Good article B. Thanks.

Posted by: Josh | Oct 11 2020 0:38 utc | 42

When considering 'what Turkish people think' we need to be very clear on a few points:
The media in Turkey is almost completely controlled and populated with sycophantic journalists whose credibility is zero. Even Fox news which until recently was considered the only remaining mainstream 'objective' voice is now fully toeing the state line on foreign policy and especially military campaigns. Given that the vast majority of Turks still get their news from the TV they are fed prepared narratives which bare little relationship to reality and certainly have no independent investigative aspect whatsoever. Pure propaganda.
In addition to this any dissent, again especially regarding military campaigns, is met with immediate lynching and silencing if not arrest and removal. This is on a private individual level; Civilians arrested for questioning or criticising military campaigns!! The level of oppression is staggering and people are genuinely scared when using social media and when speaking in public. A very common tool used by the state and its media to silence public figures is to label them as terrorists or traitors and publicly destroy them. The pernicious aggression employed to protect the state narratives is a blatant attack on people's rights.
Given these two points, to then say that Turkish people support the 'just' causes of every military campaign except Syria is to reiterate without question the propaganda of the Turkish media. It is an unintelligent and illegitimate claim which is the result of extreme authoritarian oppression of the Turkish people's freedom of speech and information. And NOT challenging those that make such claims is in itself a form of complicity. (Note, that for the first and mid periods of the Syria conflict, there was a valid opposition media, albeit declining and which in no small part led to a better informed public and resulting opposition to the war. It has now been silenced completely!)
That is not to say there are not those, and many of them, who will always support nationalist expansionist campaigns and are happy to reiterate whatever lies suit in order to justify those campaigns. They are a significant number. And this is part of the problem in Turkey. The extreme level of nationalism allows them to willingly blind themselves or be blinded to the truth in order to pursue nationalist goals and the media's role here is simply to provide the 'lies' with which nationalism is 'justified'.

Posted by: AtaBrit | Oct 11 2020 3:39 utc | 43

@ATH 19+23

Historically accurate and well put!

Posted by: HD | Oct 11 2020 3:44 utc | 44

@Virgile | 40
That is absolutely the case.

Posted by: AtaBrit | Oct 11 2020 3:52 utc | 45

Posted by: arata | Oct 11 2020 0:14 utc | 41

Some linguistic points I'd like to clarify:

Azerbaijani is NOT a Persian dialect. It's not even Indo-European.

Turkic is not a language or dialect, but rather a language family that includes modern Turkish, Crimean Tartar, Uzbek, and yes, Azerbaijani. Many Turkic languages share a high degree of mutual intelligibility; Azerbaijani is actually referred to as "Azeri Turkish". In fact, English has more in common with Farsi ("Persian") than it does with Azerbaijani, although the latter does have many Indo-Aryan loanwords.

Also, the etymological history you present of the word "Azerbaijan" itself is speculative. It might be the Hellenized name of an ancient Persian satrap who ruled the area during the time of that Great Macedonian. The fire origin is plausible, however, as Zoroastrian influence in the region during late antiquity was quite prevalent; "holy fire" was a central tenet in Zoroastrianism. However, the Avestan (an Indo-European language) word for fire is ātar. It's possible azer was a local term for fire in a dialect or language now lost to us, but we can't be sure.

Posted by: Stygian Council | Oct 11 2020 5:43 utc | 46

Flawed thinking.

I agree with Turkey,
Problem should be solved by THE REGION.

What do US and France want?

Stick noses where nobody really needs them.

Russia and Turkey can support parties to
reach settlement — permanent one.

You have not been paying attention.

Russia, Iran and Turkey. ARE GUARANTORS
Should I repeat that?

Same goes for Libya.

Turkey, Egypt supporting opposite sides.

Russia supports both — peace talks under way.

France and West, Co. Livid.
Not in the center bloviating — looking at
eager children’s eyes ,
waiting for adults to help them,
protect from their neighbors,

Sorting out the mess left behind,

By empires past.

Creating new messes for future generatikns,

To fight about.

Posted by: Bianca | Oct 11 2020 6:00 utc | 47

Here’s an interesting article by the Russian military scientist Konstantin Sikov, “No one needs this conflict but Turkey ”. (Only have the Russian here, I’m afraid), The article echoes some of ‘b’s own excellent analysis. Sikov is also the guy that wrote the other week about this conflict possibly becoming Erdogan’s ‘political suicide’.
Well worth keeping an eye on what Sikov writes.

Posted by: AtaBrit | Oct 11 2020 6:52 utc | 48

Signing an armistace after less then two weeks of fighting without having achieved any of ones own goals and with Turkey being excluded from the negotiations is quiet a diplomatic defeat. The war must have went much worse for Azerbaijan than publicly known.

I agree with the assessment of Ayatoilet (though not with his nick name). Russia and Iran will support Armenia irrespectiv of what else might be because the prospective of Jihadis establishing themselves in the Caucasus is just to threatening.

The next round will end even worse for Azerbaijan.

Posted by: m | Oct 11 2020 7:01 utc | 49

@arata | 41 / Stygian Council | 46
Both very informative comments, thanks.

@Mark | 37
Any conflict that involves Turkey is reduced, by Turkey, to being 'sectarian' as it can then be perceived as a direct threat to Erdogan's Muslim Brotherhood. It is then also presented as an existential threat to Turkish national security, in this case employing ridiculous propaganda of PKK and YPG (The evil ones funded by US already threatening Turkey's southern border) defending Armenia!
It is very effective propaganda.

@David G | 27
I have a feeling that is exactly what is going to happen because Erdogan simply can not afford to go against Russia, let alone Russia and Iran. Must add that not just Russia, Iran has also played this very patiently and intelligently. While taking defensive measures, it has not responded to open provocation of missiles 'falling' on it territory, nor has it, beyond the obligatory 'official' statements, openly taken sides in a conflict which is understandably seen by some as a direct assault on Iranian influence regionally.

Posted by: AtaBrit | Oct 11 2020 7:06 utc | 50

The warring parties have agreed to negotiate on the basis of the Minsk OSCE agreement.Looks like this was the format set up at the beginning of the first war between the two sides.

What is the significance of this? why go back to this format if it hasn't resolved much in all these years? Why involve US and France?

Posted by: jiri | Oct 11 2020 11:12 utc | 51

Maybe the non-inclusion of Turkey to negotiations indicates that their involvement in the conflict is strictly a foil for other Western/NATO powers? The suggested Good cop/Bad cop routine, if that is the explanation for Turkey's "rogue" status, makes talking to the Bad cop a superfluous activity. Better then to talk directly with the Good cop, while the concessions are moderate and while his friends may likewise be taken in by the Bad cop act and eager for a quick settlement.

Posted by: Skiffer | Oct 11 2020 11:59 utc | 52

@David G
Turkey is a member, portugal and the netherlands not:

The Co-Chairs of the Minsk Group are Ambassadors Igor Popov of the Russian Federation; Stéphane Visconti of France; and Mr. Andrew Schofer of the United States of America.

The Group’s permanent members are Belarus, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Finland, and Turkey, as well as Armenia and Azerbaijan. On a rotating basis, also the OSCE Troika is a permanent member.

Posted by: Gary | Oct 11 2020 12:13 utc | 53

there is one option on the table, beheading of Azerb. regime... in a explosive way.

soon after there will be another colorful revolution, even iran has motivs to do so.

but, the turks are engaging in A. since few years and that one big military exercise few months ago, imho, it dont went unnoticed by russia and iran, and the two are talking with each other - so do they have a second agenda, let the turks've got a bloody nose or speed up the downfall of erdogan.

Posted by: prneost | Oct 11 2020 12:59 utc | 54

43 - Yes, Turkish TV channels, even of an opposition kind, routinely say Armenia started it. If they say differently they will be closed down, and their personnel attacked by fascists if not arrested by police. Turkey's democratic disguise is very thin, especially in the last few years.

Posted by: Waldorf | Oct 11 2020 13:44 utc | 55

Hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh – Statement by Vice President Joe Biden

I am deeply concerned by the outbreak of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh and call for urgent de-escalation, restoring the ceasefire, and a resumption of negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The United States should be pushing for more observers along the ceasefire line and calling for Russia to stop cynically providing arms to both sides, while reviewing our own security assistance programs to ensure no military capabilities are being repurposed for offensive means.

The Trump administration also needs to step up its diplomatic efforts, together with fellow OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs France and Russia, to seek a peaceful resolution and to support confidence-building measures. The eruption of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh runs the risk of escalating into a larger regional conflict, which is why third parties in the region must stay out of this conflict and the Minsk Group mediators must immediately seek de-escalation and a return to negotiations.

Posted by: Mao | Oct 11 2020 16:09 utc | 56

What we have here is Azerbaijan territory occupied by Armenia claiming some foggy historical right. Which could be basis for hundreds wars now and is unacceptable - Mark and other propagandists trying to present simple occupation as some holy war.
There are also UN resolutions, unfortunately missing from this Real Politik article, with no effect in decades.
It makes sense that Azerbaijan tries to get its territory back. But I don't see it succeeding. Seems more like instant media victory than real progress.

Posted by: Saraj | Oct 11 2020 16:44 utc | 57

Looking at that map. I'm actually surprised Turkey is not attacking Armenia from the West. Maybe that's Putin's red line laid out to Turkey.

Posted by: Ron | Oct 12 2020 20:03 utc | 58

@58 Or Az attacking from Nakchivan..

Posted by: Lozion | Oct 13 2020 1:05 utc | 59

@ Blue Dotterel: "Interestingly, NK has long had a mixed Christian Muslim (Shia and Sunni) population. Even in Safavid times. Of course then Ganje was the center of Karabagh. Now it is outside NK. So even the border and consequent population makeup has varied in the Karabagh region over the centuries. I can't see how Armenians can claim that they must have the sole claim to the region.

Posted by: Blue Dotterel | Oct 10 2020 18:46 utc | 28"

That is untrue, but the hallmark of typical revisionist history by Azeri court historians. Turks, Azeri or otherwise, are not native to the region. Armenians have lived in those highlights for centuries, and have every right to the land and seemingly will fight to their deaths. Azeri revionist historians even go so far as to create mythical connections to the now gone Albanians. Whatever it takes to keep the myth alive.

Posted by: Light Worker | Oct 15 2020 7:29 utc | 60

Posted by: Ron | Oct 12 2020 20:03 utc | 58

Russia has treaty obligations to defend Armenia proper, Erdogan won't invade from the west however attractive it looks. Underneath all the bluster the dispute is over areas surrounding and between Armenia proper and N-G proper. Aliyev is demanding those back the last I heard.

Posted by: Bemildred | Oct 15 2020 10:07 utc | 61

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