Russia and Iran prevent Turkey and Azerbaijan from enjoying victory in Karabakh

October 25, 2022 

Meeting of Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Ilham Aliyev in Jebrail on October 20, 2022. Illustration:

Against the backdrop of the ongoing confrontation between the West and Russia, very important processes are taking place in the Transcaucasus that have an impact on the whole world. One of such events was the visit of the President of Turkey to Azerbaijan.

Particular attention should be paid to the statement for the press of the presidents of Azerbaijan and Turkey dated October 20 in the city of Jabrayil. Ilham Aliyev immediately emphasized the construction of airports in the territories that came under the control of Azerbaijan:

“Today we celebrated the opening of Zangilan Airport together. A year ago, with the participation of my dear brother, we opened the Fizuli airport together, and today the Zangilan airport. That is, it says that we are together in all joyful days.

Further, the President of Azerbaijan made a historical digression, thereby emphasizing the importance of the meeting with Recep Tayyip Erdogan :

“Today is a very important day for Karabakh and Eastern Zangezur. Today is the second anniversary of the liberation of the city of Zangilan from occupation. Exactly two years ago, the Armenian occupation ended. The Azerbaijani army liberated the city of Zangilan, and the fact that the Turkish President is in Azerbaijan, Zangilan and Jebrail on such a day has a special meaning.”

Aliyev’s joy can be understood if we proceed from the fact that Karabakh was part of the Azerbaijan SSR. In this case, the phrase “Eastern Zangezur” is confusing, which is not related to geography, but to politics and ethnography. So, if, according to the logic of the President of Azerbaijan, there is Eastern Zangezur, then there must be Western Zangezur, which is located outside the Republic of Azerbaijan. Indeed, Western Zangezur practically coincides territorially with the Syunik region, which is part of the Republic of Armenia. In other words, there is a suspicion that Azerbaijan implicitly wants to gain control over the missing part of Zangezur.

Aliyev, in his speech, further mentioned other events of the second Karabakh war – the capture of Gubadli, the offensive towards Lachin and the capture of Shusha, after which he touched on regional cooperation between Baku and Ankara:


All this glorious history is our common history, because from the first hours of the second Karabakh war, my dear brother, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, expressed support for Azerbaijan. He stated that Azerbaijan is not alone, that Turkey is next to Azerbaijan. This political and moral support continued until the last day of the war. This gave us additional strength, prevented the intervention of certain forces in this matter. Turkish-Azerbaijani unity won another victory. Today, in the restored Karabakh and Zangezur, we again see the Turkish-Azerbaijani unity.Large-scale restoration and creative work is being carried out. Today, together with my dear brother, we got acquainted with the construction of the railway, and celebrated the opening of Dost Agropark. This is the first private investment in this region, and the name of the agropark – “Agropark Dost” – says it all. Turkish companies are working with us in construction, in laying roads. We are grateful to Turkish companies for the great work done in a short time. The construction of roads is planned – some of the roads are already ready for operation, railways, as well as 33 tunnels. Some of them are active. The total length of the tunnels exceeds 50 kilometers. 84 bridges will be built, some of them have already been built. The total length of the bridges is 12 kilometers. This is work that has been done and that remains to be done only at the first stage.

The fact that Turkey provided comprehensive support to Azerbaijan in 2020 is not news. Another thing is interesting: Aliyev pointed out that Turkey helped to prevent the intervention of some external forces in the second Karabakh war. If you look at the map, it will become clear which countries Aliyev had in mind. Only Russia, bordering Azerbaijan, and Iran, which is a neighbor for both Armenia and the state of the Transcaucasian Turks, can be considered as such. Only these two countries, and not the US and France, could intervene in the second Karabakh war and disrupt the plans of Baku and Ankara because of their geographical proximity. Why this was not done is another question that requires a separate investigation.

Developing the idea of ​​a Turkish-Azerbaijani alliance, Aliyev, who made another attack against the Armenians, stated:

“Today is another celebration of Turkish-Azerbaijani unity and brotherhood. Such a powerful state as Turkey is a brotherly country, and this is a great happiness for us. The second Karabakh war, the post-war period further strengthened this unity. Last year in Shusha we signed the Shusha Declaration, Turkey and Azerbaijan officially became allies. We have become allies in all spheres, which is a serious achievement for our peoples, but at the same time it is a serious message to the region and the world, because Turkish-Azerbaijani unity is a very important factor in the region. This is a factor of peace and stability. 

At the same time, if someone again tries to take unfair actions against us, then, of course, this factor must be seriously taken into account .

Nobody argues that Turkey is a serious player on the world stage. Nevertheless, in this case, Aliyev seems to be using his ally as a scarecrow, thereby trying to psychologically break all countries and peoples who do not agree with the policies of Ankara and Baku. Meanwhile, as life shows, the power of Turkey has its limits. For example, for some reason, under US pressure, Turkish private and state-owned banks refused to work with the Russian Mir payment card. So much for the “power” of the proud Turks! As for Aliyev’s warning to some external forces, in this case, again, we are not talking about the United States and France, but about Russia and Iran.

It is impossible to lose sight of the frank participation of the President of Azerbaijan in the election race in Turkey:

“Thanks to the leadership of my dear brother, Turkey has come a long way in recent years and has become a power center on a global scale. There is stability and development in Turkey. Today, many countries of the world are experiencing a crisis, states are in an uncontrollable state, economic difficulties, problems cause justified discontent of people. Turkey, on the other hand, is confidently moving forward, implementing gigantic projects, enjoying prestige in the region, and is an important center of power in the world. Everyone should reckon with this, and everyone should know that these successes have been achieved thanks to my brother Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In Azerbaijan, Tayyip Bey is treated with great respect and love, and every person who comes to Azerbaijan sees this.”

Apparently, Aliyev does not even hide the fact that he wants Erdogan to win the presidential elections in Turkey in June 2023 again. At the same time, Erdogan’s main opponent in the presidential elections will be someone from the Republican People’s Party – the head of the party, Kemal Kılıçdaroglu , the mayor of Istanbul, Ekrem Imamoglu, or the mayor of Ankara, Mansur Yavas. These three politicians, like the vast majority of Turkish residents, supported Azerbaijan during the second Karabakh war. However, Aliyev and Erdogan have been accustomed to dealing with each other for many years, especially since they have been in power since about the same time – since 2003. Azerbaijan’s participation in the election race in Turkey is especially important for another reason. European analysts and the Turkish opposition, dissatisfied with the development of Russian-Turkish cooperation in recent years, argue that it is allegedly Russia and President Vladimir Putin who are doing everything to ensure that Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party win in 2023. However, we see that it is Azerbaijan and Ilham Aliyev who are doing everything for Erdogan’s victory in the 2023 elections.

By the way, at the end of his speech, the President of Azerbaijan emphasized the rapprochement and cooperation between Baku and Ankara:

“After the second Karabakh war, the Turkish-Azerbaijani brotherhood and unity rose to an even higher level. You probably also see that the flags of Azerbaijan and Turkey are fluttering everywhere side by side. 

These are feelings coming from the heart, this is the legacy that we inherited from our ancestors, their covenant, and this is the imperative of the times. Today, my dear brother is here with a representative delegation, members of the government, this once again shows that we, as always, are together and will be together. From now on, the work carried out in the region, of course, will be carried out with the active participation and with the permission of Turkey and Azerbaijan. Political initiatives, the economy, energy, transport – our cooperation in all these areas has already gone beyond the regional framework and reached the international level.”

Here, of particular interest are the “inheritance” and “ancestral testament”, which will immediately explain the reason why three such different peoples as Russians, Persians and Armenians are afraid of the Turkish-Azerbaijani union. The fact is that the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, which appeared in 1918 thanks to the Musavatists, was recognized as the Ottoman Empire, which became an ally of Azerbaijan. And in the Ottoman Empire at that time, the Young Turks were in power, who entered the First World War on the side of Germany and Austria-Hungary in order to conquer the lands of Russia and Iran, inhabited by the Turkic peoples. It was for the convenient connection of the Anatolian Turks with the Turkic peoples of Russia and Iran that the Young Turks organized the genocide of Armenians, Assyrians and Pontic Greeks. Therefore, the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic in every possible way welcomed the Turkish intervention in the Transcaucasus in 1918. Let’s not forget that in the Constitutional Act of 1991 on the restoration of the state independence of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan was named the legal successor of the ADR. ADR, in fact, initially became an outpost of the Ottoman Empire, directed against Russia and Iran. And since the ideology and practice of the ADR has been cultivated and encouraged in every possible way since 1991, the inhabitants of Azerbaijan should not be offended by the fact that many Russians and Persians are in no hurry to congratulate the Transcaucasian republic on the victory in Karabakh. ADR, in fact, initially became an outpost of the Ottoman Empire, directed against Russia and Iran. And since the ideology and practice of the ADR has been cultivated and encouraged in every possible way since 1991, the inhabitants of Azerbaijan should not be offended by the fact that many Russians and Persians are in no hurry to congratulate the Transcaucasian republic on the victory in Karabakh. ADR, in fact, initially became an outpost of the Ottoman Empire, directed against Russia and Iran. And since the ideology and practice of the ADR has been cultivated and encouraged in every possible way since 1991, the inhabitants of Azerbaijan should not be offended by the fact that many Russians and Persians are in no hurry to congratulate the Transcaucasian republic on the victory in Karabakh.

However, unlike Aliyev, Erdogan in his speech threatened not Russia and Iran, but the West:

“I asked my brother: don’t the OSCE, the European Union come here to see all this? No, they don’t come. Why don’t they come? Because they will understand their guilt, they will see what the West has done. They will see the state of Jabrayil and other regions of Karabakh during the period of occupation they supported. Naturally, they don’t want to see it. In fact, they know what they’ve done here. But after we saw this – we talked about it – we must definitely sue and demand compensation. We must demand compensation, thus driving them into a corner. The world needs to get to know the West better, we all need to know.”

Under the West, the Turkish president means, first of all, the United States and France, which are forced to reckon with the opinion of their citizens of Armenian nationality. However, a logical contradiction arises here: despite all the multi-vector nature, Armenia is not an ally of the United States and France, nor is it a member of the European Union and NATO. But Russia is considered an ally of Armenia. It turns out a paradox, since it would be more logical for the Turkish president to threaten the West while on the island of Chios (the United States and France have been pumping weapons to Greece in recent years) or, at worst, on the territory of Cyprus occupied by Turkish troops. However, this does not happen. Why? Because for the hostilities against Greece, the United States and the European Union can impose sanctions against Turkey and thereby peacefully remove Erdogan from the presidency in June 2023. In addition, the United States is already dissatisfied with the fact that that to date, Turkey remains the only NATO country that has refused to impose sanctions against Russia. And since the United States and the European Union are holding back Turkish expansion in the western direction, preventing it from unleashing a war with Greece, Ankara decided to go northeast and east towards Russia and Iran, hostile to NATO. This also explains the sympathy of the Turkish opposition for the Iranian protesters (see below).The West and Turkey are taking revenge on Iran for rapprochement with Russia ). As for compensation, Turkey and Azerbaijan will demand it not from the United States and France, which, if they wish, can tear the economy of the two Turkic states to shreds, but from Armenia. In the event that Armenia has nothing to pay, Turkey will demand that Syunik be returned to Azerbaijan.

Nevertheless, to lull vigilance, Erdogan touched on the “Zangezur corridor”:

“Dear media representatives, I believe that the fear and anxiety existing in some circles related to the Zangezur corridor, which will connect Nakhchivan with the western regions of Azerbaijan, are far from reality. That is, after all these steps related to Karabakh, such fear is inappropriate. Azerbaijan continues its way with confident steps. Contributing to the cause of peace, tranquility and stability, this road will open trade and investment opportunities for all countries located along the East-West routes and the “Middle Corridor” that run through the Caspian.”

The devil is in the details. The East-West routes and the “Middle Corridor” mentioned by Erdogan are very successful for Turkey bypassing Russia. That is, Moscow has every reason to oppose the Zangezur Corridor project proposed by Ankara and Baku.

Erdogan did not ignore the cultural component either, saying:

“Dear media representatives, we are pleased that 2023, when we celebrate the 100th anniversary of our republic, has been declared the Year of 

Heydar Aliyev in Azerbaijan . Together we will continue to keep in our hearts the bright memory of our national leader Heydar Aliyev.”

Aliyev Sr. is important because, being the flesh of the flesh of the communist system and a native of Nakhichevan, he was the author of the slogan ” One nation – two states .” That is, it is not the rabid ex-dissident Abulfaz Elchibey , but it was Aliyev Sr. who finally let Turkey into the Transcaucasus. Accordingly, the reason for Turkey’s penetration into the Transcaucasus is the collapse of the Soviet Union, as a result of which Azerbaijan and other newly formed Turkic states have taken a course towards rapprochement with Ankara and distancing from Russia.

However, even now, some countries may interfere with the maps of Ankara and Baku. Recently, Iran, which is considered a key partner of Armenia, has faced strong protests, which are at least informationally supported by the United States and the European Union. The Azerbaijani media openly support the protests in Iran. Both the West and Turkey and Azerbaijan want Iran to fall apart into different states. Baku and Ankara make no secret of the fact that the branch of the so-called South Azerbaijan is the most desirable for them.

These protests coincided with accusations against Iran that it supplies Russia with weapons, in particular drones, which are effectively used in Ukraine. Iranian officials deny the shipments, although there are indirect indications that Tehran has decided behind the scenes to help Russia deal with Ukraine, which is armed and supported by the entire West. At the same time, the US and the European Union, with the help of the anti-Iranian information campaign, achieved the opposite effect. So, on October 18, the Iranian agency Tasnim reported remarkable news. On this day, speaking at the military academy in Tehran, Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi , chief military adviser to the leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei , stated :

“Today we have reached the point where 22 countries around the world are demanding the purchase of unmanned aerial vehicles from Iran.”

At the same time, unreliable information began to circulate in the media and social networks that allegedly Armenia, Tajikistan, Serbia, Algeria and Venezuela were among these 22 countries. However, the successful use of Iranian drones by Russia in Ukraine and the exercises of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on the border with the state of the Transcaucasian Turks caused a negative reaction in Azerbaijan, in which a large part of the population supports Ukraine and wishes Russia’s defeat.

Azerbaijan’s fears in this case are understandable, since, according to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Russia’s victory in Ukraine will mean the defeat of NATO. And NATO is the main ally of Azerbaijan – Turkey, which, although not so much, still supplies Bayraktars and armored vehicles of the Kirpi Navy to Ukraine. In addition, the traditional ally of Turkey and Azerbaijan, Great Britain, is not only one of the leading NATO countries, but also one of the main sponsors of Ukraine along with the United States. Thus, by helping Russia in the military confrontation in Ukraine, Iran can actively operate in the Transcaucasus, since Russia draws on itself a significant part of the forces of the West. In turn, for Baku and Ankara, the success of Iranian drones is unpleasant because Iran, which has been under the most severe Western sanctions since the Islamic Revolution of 1978-1979, managed to create a military-industrial complex and refute the claims of Azerbaijani propaganda thatKhomeini are stupid and backward obscurantists who are unable to live and develop in the technological realities of the 21st century. Well, the possibility of Turkey and Azerbaijan to live under Western sanctions, as Iran has been doing since 1979 or Russia since February 24, 2022, is not worth discussing at all.

So the Iranian factor is beginning to manifest itself with might and main in the Transcaucasus. On October 21, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian and Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat MirzoyanIranian Consulate General was opened in Kapan on the territory of Syunik. By this action, Iran made it clear that it is not only opposed to the “Zangezur corridor” in the Turkish-Azerbaijani version (the North-South corridor is more profitable for Tehran), but is also ready to defend Syunik from Azerbaijan, which is invading the territory of Armenia. Thus, in fact, it is clear that Russia and Iran, who have become closer, are actually acting in parallel to each other. While Russia in Ukraine fetters significant forces of NATO and Great Britain, Iran actually becomes the defender of Armenia. In this situation, a certain rivalry between Moscow and Tehran is not so important, since preventing the strengthening of Turkey and the preservation of Armenia is in the interests of both Russia and Iran. If the Armenian authorities are consistent in their foreign policy and, without being afraid of the United States, buy Iranian drones,

Moreover, in addition to Iran, India is on the side of Armenia, which, to put it mildly, does not need a strengthening of the Turkey-Azerbaijan-Pakistan coalition. If the visit of Armenian Defense Minister Suren Papikyan to India was successful and if the reports about the supply of Indian weapons to Armenia are true, then theoretically a Russia-Armenia-Iran-India coalition may appear in Transcaucasia. There are certain prerequisites for this, since India has established relations with both Iran and Russia. That is, everything depends on the priorities and will of the above-mentioned countries.

Separately, there is a question about the future fate of that part of Karabakh, which is not yet controlled by Azerbaijan. On the one hand, even Armenia in its best years did not recognize the independence of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. Moreover, Russia will not take this step in the near future, as this will mean a direct confrontation with Azerbaijan and Turkey. On the other hand, judging by the statements and actions of the leadership of the unrecognized republic (for example, President Arayik Harutyunyan and Foreign Minister David Babayan), the Armenians are not going to voluntarily leave Karabakh, as they dream of in Azerbaijan. That is, they will try to survive until 2025, when the period of stay of Russian peacekeepers in Karabakh expires. However, if by that time Russia has stood its ground in confrontation with the West, then Moscow will talk to Baku and Ankara in a completely different way.

Peter Makedontsev 
All publications of the author

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