Azerbaijan’s Anti-Terror Op In Karabakh Changing Regional Geopolitical Alignment

Fuad Muxtarlı Analysis 4 November 2020
Azerbaijan’s Anti-Terror Op In Karabakh Changing Regional Geopolitical Alignment

With hundreds of villages already recaptured from Armenia’s 30-year-long control in over a month-long anti-terror operation across the entire Karabakh, the Azerbaijani army has proved its military superiority on the battlefield and is reshaping the regional geopolitical alignment.

The favorable outcome of military operations are altering the geopolitical situation, enabling official Baku with the upper hand in deciding the fate of the war and the final status of the separatist region in months to come.

“We believe that the military solution to the conflict should shift to the political plane, and we are ready for this. I hope that Armenia’s bitter defeat will force it to think seriously and come to this decision. But we see the opposite," Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev tweeted on November 3.

“We are not only freeing our lands from the enemy, but also suppressing Armenian fascism, which is a source of great threat to the region,” the president added.

Amid the generally accepted ongoing successful military operations, Iran, after over month-long military operations at its northern borders, came up with a clear-cut position on Azerbaijan’s patriotic war. Prior to the November 3 remarks by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, Tehran, as it emerges now, made futile attempts by sending own roving ambassador to Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia to test the water vis-a-vis its mediation mission on the Karabakh conflict.

Judging by reactions from the countries toured by the Iranian roving ambassador, the initiative, of which content was not made public, received cold treatment by the parties to the conflict and pushed Iran to choose between Azerbaijan and Armenia. It is likelihood that the factor of Iran’s ethnic Azerbaijanis among others played a crucial role that made the Supreme Leader to openly and unequivocally demand Armenia to free the lands it had occupied at the end of XX century.

“Of course, all Azerbaijani territories occupied by Armenia should be freed. All these lands should be given back to Azerbaijan. One of the main conditions is that these lands should be returned to Azerbaijan. The Republic of Azerbaijan is entitled to be in control of these lands, and therefore, all of them should be freed,” Supreme Leader Seyyed Ali Khamenei said on November 3.

He further added that “of course, the safety of all Armenians living in those lands should be ensured. International borders should be respected and the two sides should not transgress against the borders of other countries. The integrity of international borders should be protected and terrorists should not be allowed to deploy their forces near the borders. According to the reports that we have received, although some people deny them while there are reliable reports confirming this, a number of terrorists from here and there have become involved in this war,” the Supreme Leader opined.

This is a crystal clear and long-awaited position, given all-out and productive relations between Yerevan and Tehran that have been viewed by Baku as Iran’s support to Armenia’s survival amid harsh restrictions. Sandwiched between Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Georgia’s tough relations with Russia, the only access for Armenia still remains the Iranian territory widely used for the delivery of all types of goods plus military. Reports are also rife around that Russia has been sending military cargoes to Armenia via Iran and a great number of video clips on social media platforms show vehicles carrying Russian military equipment to Armenia via the only land gate between the two countries.

The reiteration by President Ilham Aliyev of his consent to the resolution of the conflict at the negotiations table came after the November 2 telephone conversation with Russia’s Putin. The fact that the line between Baku and Moscow remains open and contacts continue indicate that despite Yerevan’s much-anticipated expectation, that is, to have Russian pressurize Azerbaijan to compel it to call off the war will not be realized. However, we can conclude that the Russian president as Armenia’s strategic ally again raised the topic of a political settlement.

In addition, Ilham Aliyev's statement that the military defeats did not bring Armenia to senses suggest that Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan did not retreat from his positions during the conversation with Vladimir Putin and still insists on the independence of Karabakh and this signals that the war will continue.

After Iran’s support to Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry thanked Iran’s Supreme Leader for the support on the Karabakh issue.

Azerbaijan highly appreciates the statement made by Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei in connection with the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict and in support of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, the Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan said.

We should remind that Khamenei’s statement noted that all Azerbaijani territories occupied by Armenia should be liberated and returned to Azerbaijan. The Supreme Leader once again declared Iran's firm support for Azerbaijan's position based on international law.

"We highly appreciate the efforts of the friendly Iranian state to resolve the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, including the visit to the region of the Special envoy of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Aragchi and his initiative in connection with the early settlement of the conflict. We believe that the ties built on the historical roots between our countries, will continue to develop successfully and will serve to ensure peace, stability and prosperity in the region," the statement read.