After 100 Years, With Karabakh Under Armenian Occupation, Baku, Ankara Hail Time Tested Ties

Fuad Muxtarlı Analysis 17 September 2018
After 100 Years, With Karabakh Under Armenian Occupation, Baku, Ankara Hail Time Tested Ties

Azerbaijan’s landmark central Azadliq square played host to a spectacular military parade on September 15 held to mark the 100th anniversary of Baku’s liberation from Bolshevik and Dashnak armed formations by the Caucasus Islamic Army and the newly-created units of the Azerbaijani Democratic Republic (ADR) in 1918.

The parade, observed by Presidents of Azerbaijan and Turkey - Ilham Aliyev and Recep Tayyip Erdogan and top officials, saw performance of the military of both countries. In remarks about the significance of the mission in early XX century. President Ilham Aliyev highly praised the role of the Caucasus army, which 100 years ago liberated Baku from occupation. Drawing parallels between the past and present political situation in the Caucasus and the ongoing occupation of Azerbaijan’s Karabakh region, the president underscored the role of modern and strong national army, ranked among the powerful armies in the world, for the upcoming liberation of the occupied lands in Karabakh.

Today Azerbaijan has a strong and modern army capable of liberating the occupied territories, Aliyev stressed and added that Nagorno Karabakh is a historical Azerbaijani territory and Baku will restore the territorial integrity of the country. "The main condition necessary to restore the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan is the presence of a strong army, and today the strength of the Azerbaijani army is increasing," the president stressed.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey also credited the Caucasus Islamic Army and the role of Nuru Pasha in freeing Baku from occupation, noting that Turkey could not be indifferent to the sufferings of Azerbaijani brothers. In a sign of solidarity and contribution to Azerbaijani poet Baxtiyar Bahabzada’s creativity, he recited a poem that describes Azerbaijan and Turkey as the two sons of one mother.

Erdogan also stressed that it was not by chance that Turkey was the first country to recognize the independence of Azerbaijan. The Turkish leader reiterated that the Armenian-Turkish border will remain closed until the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

"Expectations of those, who are guilty of occupying 20% of the territory of our brothers, preventing the return of over 1m of our brothers to their homes, are a waste of time," Erdogan said.

At the end of the military parade, Azerbaijani Air Force helicopter gunships and warplanes - Mi-17 helicopters and Su-25 and MiQ-29 planes - flew over Liberty square and the Turkish army's Turkish Stars performed acrobatic flights. Also specially-trained soldiers of the Azerbaijani and Turkish armies marched the Liberty square, many of them wearing uniforms worn by soldiers of the historical Caucasus Islamic Army, manned by Ottoman Turkish and Azerbaijani national military forces. The Turkish band Mehteran performed the Azerbaijani song Military March.

Towards the end of the WWI, in August and September of 1918, Baku saw a bloody war between the Ottoman–Azerbaijani coalition forces, led by Nuri Pasha, and the Bolshevik and Dashnak soldiers, dispatched by Baku’s Soviet rulers. The battle for Baku ultimately decided the fate of an ancient Azerbaijani city and the existence of the newly-created Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR).

Enver Pasha, the Ottoman Empire’s war minister, had ordered the Caucasus Islamic Army, commanded by his brother Nuru Pasha, to hurry to the rescue of the ADR government. By July 1918, Ottoman soldiers had defeated Red Army forces near Goycay in between Baku and Ganca. From Goycay, Nuru Pasha led his forces to Baku and crowned it with a bright victory over British, Armenian and Bolshevik forces led by British Maj-Gen Lionel Dunsterville.

The Caucasus Islamic Army, made up of around 6,000-8,000 volunteers joined the ranks prior to the final battle for Baku from two gates to the heart of the city under control of the enemy forces on September 14. Being targeted and hit by precision strikes of the Caucasus army, the crack in the enemy defense widened and Dunsterville had made up his mind to retreat by abandoning the city towards Iran by sea.

Nuru Pasha liberated Baku completely by the next day, September 15, and sent a telegraph to Enver Pasha announcing the liberation of Baku. Over 1,000 Ottoman soldiers are estimated to have died as a result of them defending their Azeri brothers.

“The operations carried out by the Caucasus Islamic Army and the Azerbaijani army in 1918 set ground for today's independence, ensuring the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan,” Erdogan said in his remarks in Baku on September 15.

On September 17, 1918, the ADR government moved the capital from Ganca to Baku, which played and contributed immensely to the restoration of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and helped provide sustainable security for the population living in and around Baku.

In the meantime, on September 17, 2018, the Azerbaijani army kicked off large-scale operational and tactical exercises involving various types and branches of the armed forces, as well as units and formations of the Azerbaijani army to work out ways of liberating Karabakh and surrounded lands, the situation that existed 100 years ago and was repeated by treacherous Armenians in late XX century.

Over 20,000 servicemen, 200 tanks and other armored vehicles, more than 120 rocket and artillery units of various caliber, multiple rocket launcher systems and mortars, up to 10 fighter and bomber aircraft, and up to 20 military aviation units for various purposes are involved in the exercises.