Karabakh victory may signal ‘end to true Azeri independence’ – analyst

The cost of Azerbaijan’s victory in the latest flare up of the decades-long Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Armenia may be the loss of true independence for the country as Russian and Turkish elements settle in, Michael Rubin wrote for the National Interest on Monday.

Azeri President Ilham Aliyev has transformed himself “into an indispensable ally for Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian president Vladimir Putin,” and “has sold out Azerbaijani sovereignty,” in a bid to ensure that his family will remain in power after him, Rubin said.

Fighting broke out between Azerbaijan and Armenia on Sept. 27 over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave that is officially Azeri territory but has an ethnic Armenian population.

A Russia-brokered ceasefire was reached on Nov. 10, with Turkey and Russia working out last week final details of how a joint monitoring mission is to be implemented.

Putin has long wanted to insert Russian forces back into the region following the fall of the Soviet Union, and “to return all former Soviet states to his fold,” Rubin said, criticising the Azeri leader for forgetting that, “while Russian troops are quick to enter, they seldom exit.”

Turkish forces are also unlikely to leave Azerbaijan, he continued, as the recently established corridor through Armenian territory gives Turkey a chance to realise one of “Erdoğan’s grand ambitions” – to link Turkey culturally, economically, and politically with Azerbaijan and the Turkic states of Central Asia.

This ideology is called Turanism, in reference to the union of Turks and all Ural-Altaic peoples that has dominated some factions of Turkey’s nationalist right-wing. Two obstacles on the path to Turan would be Armenia and Georgia, as they lay between Turkey and the rest of the countries to be united under the pan-Turkic banner.

Turkish F-16 fighter jets remain in Baku, as well as Turkish Special Forces and armed drones.

Turkey will also send troops to carry out joint monitoring duties together with Russia, and the Syrian mercenaries Ankara has brought to Azeri territory will be able to fight against “any Azeris who oppose Turkey’s aims,” Rubin said.

This will take place as easily as they were able to fight against the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh, he added.

Azerbaijan’s period of independence may have begun to end with “foreign troops on Azeri territory answering not to Baku but rather to the Kremlin and the Ak Saray,” Rubin said, referring to Erdoğan’s presidential palace in Ankara, as the country becomes subordinated to “Russian and Turkish suzerainty.”