Azerbaijan is ready to stop the war if Armenia withdraws its troops from Azerbaijani territory and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan apologizes in front of the Azerbaijani people for his ‘Karabakh is Armenia’ remark, says Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev
“We have only one condition – (Armenian troops) must leave our lands unconditionally, completely and immediately,” President Aliyev said recently.
If Armenia agrees to that, it will be the end of the conflict.
“The war will stop. We don’t need war,” Aliyev said in an interview with Al Arabiya TV channel on Oct. 4.
Prime Minister Pashinyan, according to Aliyev, has destroyed the entire peace process by saying Karabakh is Armenia last year. It marked the end of 28 years of tough negotiations between Azerbaijan and Armenia under the umbrella of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group as no Armenian president has ever claimed that Karabakh was a part of Armenia.
Many people are wondering: Why did this old conflict erupt again now?
Ever since Pashinyan came to power in 2018, Armenia’s policy toward Azerbaijan has changed dramatically. In 2019, Pashinyan made his ‘Karabakh is Armenia’ remark, provoking Azerbaijan’s ire.
Adding fuel to the fire, Pashinyan demanded that the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic be involved in peace negotiations. This was rejected by both Azerbaijan and negotiators of the OSCE Minsk Group. The United States, Russia and France are Minsk Group’s co-chairs.
Aliyev clearly stated that Nagorno-Karabakh is an issue between Azerbaijan and Armenia. There is no place for the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, which is not recognized by any country in the world, including Armenia, in the peace negotiations.
Since the 1994 cease-fire, small clashes have been occurring at the border between Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan. In April 2016, a major conflict erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan. After four days of fierce war and huge casualties on both sides, both warring parties agreed to a truce.
Armenia recently acquired weapons from Serbia and Russia, while Azerbaijan acquired its most modern weapons from Russia, Israel and Turkey.
Like the previous leaders of Armenia, Pashinyan’s administration does not want the peace process to succeed.
“Armenia doesn’t want peace. They want to keep our lands under occupation forever. They don’t want to change the status quo,” Aliyev told Al Jazeera TV channel recently.
Apparently, Pashinyan desperately wanted a war to garner the support of Armenians to cover up for his failures in domestic governance. This was clearly evident from the Armenian attack on Azerbaijan’s Tovuz district in July 2020 in which around 20 Azerbaijan people, including one army general, were killed.
Armenia also suffered casualties, but it did not announce its losses. Tovuz is not located in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. It is a strategic area full of oil-gas pipelines and installations in Azerbaijan.
However, Armenia accused Azerbaijan of attacking its troops near the border of Tovuz. Why would Azerbaijan launch an attack in its own strategic area? It does not make any sense.
In August, Armenia sent a group to conduct terror activities in Azerbaijan. The group’s leader was arrested by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces.
After the Tovuz incident, Azerbaijan sniffed out Pashinyan’s intentions for war. In an effort to boost its military preparedness, Azerbaijan conducted joint military exercises with its close friend Turkey in August.
Turkey is the only country that has expressed full moral and political support for Azerbaijan to liberate its occupied lands.
As expected, Armenia launched an attack on Azerbaijan on Sept. 27. Since then, fighting has been going on between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Armenia expected to receive wide support from major powers, but it underestimated the strength of Azerbaijan’s military and the impact of the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think the Armenian government overestimated their so-called importance on the global arena, overestimated the possible international support to them and made very serious mistakes provoking us, attacking us, and now they are suffering a very serious defeat,” Aliyev told the Al Jazeera.
In the eyes of Azerbaijanis, Armenia is an aggressor, who annexed Nagorno-Karabakh during the 1988-1994 war between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Prior to the annexation, 25 percent of the Nagorno-Karabakh population were ethnic Azerbaijanis, and the rest were Armenians. Armenian troops and militia committed genocide on Azerbaijanis. They mercilessly killed children, women and elderly people in a town called Khojaly in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Why is Armenia an aggressor? It has occupied seven districts of Azerbaijan’s territory, excluding the Nagorno-Karabakh region. It has instigated ethnic cleansing in these seven districts, where there were no Armenian residents. More than one million Azerbaijanis became refugees in their own country as they lost their houses, lands and loved ones.
Armenia disingenuously invited European journalists to Nagorno-Karabakh to see for themselves the results of Azerbaijan’s counter-offensive. It is a known fact that many houses were destroyed both in Nagorno-Karabakh and in neighboring towns and cities of Azerbaijan because of the present war.
For the last 28 years, more than a million Azerbaijanis have been living in hell. This author personally visited numerous refugee camps in Azerbaijan. It is this suffering and pain that makes Azerbaijanis ferociously angry at Armenia. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) passed four resolutions requesting Armenia to withdraw its troops not only from Nagorno-Karabakh, which is an internationally recognized Azerbaijan territory, but also from the seven districts of Azerbaijan near Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenia simply ignored these resolutions.
Instead, Armenia established a puppet regime in the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh and declared it as an independent country. In order to avoid international condemnation, Armenia never officially recognized this so-called republic.
Pashinyan now wants to incorporate Azerbaijan’s territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and its seven adjacent districts into Armenia. By doing so, he is putting the lives of Armenian people at risk.
Indonesia, a close friend of Azerbaijan, wants Armenia to respect the UNSC resolutions and see both conflicting parties resolve the issue through peaceful negotiations under the Minsk Process.
“Indonesia fully respects Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and recognizes Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan. The UNSC resolutions clearly identify that Nagorno-Karabakh is an occupied territory,” Indonesia’s former Ambassador to Indonesia Husnan Bey Fenanie said recently.
Likewise, Turkey, Afghanistan, Georgia, Pakistan, Israel and many more countries want the Nagorno-Karabakh issue to be resolved through peaceful negotiations but based on the UNSC resolutions.
Armenia has shown its blatant disregard for the Geneva Convention by attacking civilians in Azerbaijani towns and cities. It is using cluster bombs, missiles and heavy artillery. So far, 24 civilians in Azerbaijan have lost their lives and more than 500 were injured.
Armenia is desperately trying to drag Turkey, a close friend of Azerbaijan, into the present conflict by alleging that Ankara’s F-16 plane shot down Armenia’s SU-25 fighter plane in Nagorno-Karabakh. According to Azerbaijan’s sources, the plane hit a mountain in an accident. No official proof was provided by Armenia except for a photo of plane debris.
Armenia is also alleging that Turkey is sending hundreds of fighters from Syria to Azerbaijan to fight against Armenia.
Aliyev rejected Armenia’s allegations by saying that Azerbaijan already has more than 100,000 troops.
“It is fake news. We do not need fighters from Syria,” Aliyev said.
According to Azerbaijan, Armenia has been recruiting volunteers and mercenaries to fight against Azerbaijani troops. It has already recruited fighters from the Yezidi Kurdish community of Armenia, voluntary fighters from Sasna Tsrer and fighters from VOMA, a military patriotic organization.
Hundreds of members of PKK and its Syrian wing YPG have also been sent to Nagorno-Karabakh. There are also reports saying that the Armenian diaspora in Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, Syria, Georgia and Russia are recruiting volunteers to fight in Nagorno-Karabakh.
As the war between Muslim-majority Azerbaijan and Christian-majority Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave is approaching its third week, civilian and military casualties have increased sharply.
The international media puts military casualties from both sides in the thousands. The biggest concern is mounting civilian casualties.
Fortunately, Azerbaijani troops were successful in liberating several villages from Armenian occupation. Armenia has suffered huge losses thanks to Azerbaijan’s sophisticated weapons, including drones.
In order to stop the war, the international community and the OSCE’s Minsk Group must put pressure on Armenia to implement UNSC resolutions.