Azerbaijan: A “New Republic”

On Sept. 13, Azerbaijan launched a full-scale attack on Armenia’s southern and border regions. These attacks come just near the second anniversary of the 2020 Nagorno Karabakh war and violate yet another ceasefire. 

After the 2020 war, tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia escalated immensely, and further Azerbaijani aggression against an independent Nagorno Karabakh, known by its indigenous Armenian name “Artsakh,” continued. 

Azerbaijan’s message has always been clear, whether through constant media threats, initiations of violence within scattered territory, or the destruction of indigenous Armenian sacred sites. However, the attacks against Armenia proper signaled Azerbaijan’s intention more than ever before. Artsakh is a de-facto-independent region that is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan. However, the Republic of Artsakh declared its independence in 1991 during the collapse of the Soviet Union through a referendum, and its people consider themselves independent. The Republic of Artsakh is 99.7% ethnic Armenian, and its primary language is Armenian. With the continued aggression by Azerbaijan, their instigation of violence against Armenia proper signifies that Azerbaijan does not want “peace” as they claim they do; instead, they wish to live in a Caucasus region that is absent of Armenian borders and Armenian people. 

As a result of Azerbaijan’s September attack, some 200 Armenian servicemen and women are deceased, thousands are displaced and lands within Armenia are at stake. There were also additional prisoners of war (POWs) captured by Azerbaijan, while POWs from the 2020 Artsakh war remain in captivity in Azerbaijan. 

The terrors incited by Azerbaijan are not merely physical but psychological as well. This terror has taken the form of Azerbaijani chat channels created on popular international messaging apps, such as WhatsApp, Viber and Telegram. One Azerbaijani Telegram channel harbored over 3000 videos and photos of the dead, mutilated or decapitated Armenian soldiers. A popular Azerbaijani Telegram channel also garnered international attention after a video of the post-mortem torture of an Armenian woman soldier circulated. She was brutally raped and killed, her corpse vandalized, her fingers mutilated and stuck inside her mouth, and her eye-gouged and replaced with a stone. This video was shared and celebrated by Azeris all over the world. Azerbaijani soldiers also shared a horrific video of mass murder, as they surrounded seven Armenian soldiers whom they made kneel and executed mercilessly.  

Some analysts say the reason behind Azerbaijan’s invasion of Armenia in September is   Azerbaijan’s demand for building a road with corridor status (meaning under Azerbaijani control) connecting mainland Azerbaijan to its exclave of Nakhijevan. 

Others hypothesize the long-lived intentions of Pan-Turkism extend beyond Turkey’s borders. Both are driving factors behind the Azerbaijani agenda, for their support from Turkey is evident, and their intentions are clear. 

Recently, Azerbaijani media reported a rather bizarre new story. A representative office of a fabricated “Turkish Republic of Goyce-Zengezur” had opened up in Ankara. There was also a Wikipedia page published on the so-called Republic of Zangezur. 

Zangezur is a region in Eastern Armenia that corresponds with the Syunik province, which has been a target of Azerbaijan in its recent aggression. The flag of this so-called republic, fabricated entirely from Azerbaijani nationalistic extremism and not corresponding to reality, also includes an emblem from other countries, like Turkey, Pakistan and Uzbekistan

This is an effort to realize Pan-Turkism, Turkey and Azerbaijan’s ultimate aspirations. As Azerbaijan publicizes its occupation in real time, its continuous efforts at conquest in the 21st century are masked by its lucrative oil and gas industry. Due to their global production market, it seems that for most of the international community, access to petroleum resources trumps Azerbaijan’s human rights abuses and attempts to ethnically cleanse Armenians. 

The failure of the global human rights framework, which grossly neglected Armenians and the sanctity of life, sovereignty and dignity, is bewildering and dangerous. 

As the aggression by Azerbaijan continues, it becomes more and more challenging to be an Armenian in the region every day.

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