OCA #21  SPRING 2015  WWW.OCAMAGAZINE.COM Text: by Dr Shahid Qureshi

For Azerbaijan, after the occupation of its sovereign areas, Armenia has proven to be something of a neighbour from hell, causing harm to the millions of people in the occupied territories and those who are displaced as a result. Armenians are backed by their former Soviet big brother, who seems to be joining in and supporting this illegal occupation. This issue has obviously invited international players into the region. If Russia was a ‘wise elder brother’ it would have helped resolved this issue long time ago. This issue has been going on for over 20 years and had the Russians resolved this issue, there might not be Ukraine on its doorstep. Whilst it is, of course, not as simple as that but it is also not that complicated in that one has to do things the hard way, like it or not.

The UN has, regrettably, become a useless tool for the majority of countries and the UN’s Veto allocated to some members must be rationalised in 21st century. This lollypop of non-permanent attendance of the security council for a limited period is nothing more than a scam. This whole thing is non-democratic and irrational. The UN is good at putting such issues into the deep freeze. Maybe it should be moved to somewhere in Europe or Asia where more people live. So far, it has kicked the issue of Nagorno Karabakh onto the sidelines, which suits both Armenia and its backer, Russia.

Now, one has to find a realistic solution to this injustice and stop the sufferings of the refugees and internally displaced people in the region. These are hotspots that must be handled carefully and wisely. There is no way in which all parties will be happy, so we need to identify the ‘victims and perpetrators’ of this issue. On this the UN has done some work and passed four resolutions. In April and November 1993 the UN Security Council passed four resolutions: numbers 822, 853, 874 and 884 demanding the immediate withdrawal of all occupying Armenian forces from Azerbaijan. Due to the full support of the Russian Federation all UNSC resolutions have been ignored by Armenia.

In a conversation with Mr Hikmat Hajiyev, the spokesman of the Government of Azerbaijan at the foreign ministry in Baku, during press briefing this author gave him an example that: “If you don’t put sugar in your tea, no matter how many times you stir or shake it, it will never be sweet and that is your position with the issue of Nagorno Karabakh which is occupied by the Armenians. You need to do something different and more solution focused with all options open.
Furthermore he was told that: “The UN has become a useless body for Muslim countries especially and it has completely failed to protect the member states and the rights of the people. Having said that: The UN is too quick to resolve East Timor and South Sudan just because they are Christian dominated areas and it suits the security council where not a single Muslim country permanent member with veto powers. 1.5 billion Muslims from over 55 countries are therefore not represented. The issues of Kashmir and Palestine are long standing with UN resolutions since 1948”.

Speaking to people from the occupied territories they are frustrated and angry, saying: “they can take their areas back swiftly from Armenia”. They were forcibly displaced by the Armenians and have become refugees within Azerbaijan. If this issue is not addressed, there might be a movement for the liberation of Nagorno Karabakh. According to the UN charter “people occupied by foreign forces have the right to ‘resist and start armed liberation’ until the occupying forces leave their area”. That is true for Kashmir, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. Imagine if international players jumped to support the liberation rights of the occupied people? With the ‘Berezniki Doctrine’ in place it would become impossible for big brother Russia to contain and its influence in the region will shrink.

As per the ‘Brzezinski Doctrine’, Turkey is the new Pakistan in the region. As is the US habit, they will put too much pressure on their friend until they collapse, are damaged and destroyed. We have no reason not to believe US President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, who reportedly said that the US lured the Soviets into the Afghanistan trap that gave the USSR its Vietnam.

At the same time Zbigniew Brzezinski’s Interview with Le Nouvel Observateur, published in January 1998 makes clear: “The Muslim terrorist apparatus was created by US Intelligence as a geopolitical weapon”.
The collapse of the USSR in 1991 and political instability in Azerbaijan and in Armenia encouraged the Armenians to attack Azerbaijanis in Nagorno-Karabakh, in the city of Khojaly in 1992. Known as the Khojaly genocide, thousands of Azerbaijani residents were killed or captured and Khojaly City itself was destroyed. In his book Black Garden, (2003) British journalist Thomas de Waal published an interview with the President of Armenia and an Armenian field commander commenting on the destruction of Kholjaly. The former field commander said: “Before Khojaly, Azerbaijanis thought they could play tricks with us. They thought Armenians would never touch civilians. We were able to break that myth. In 1993, the Armenian armed forces occupied six districts surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh, resulting in the occupation of almost one-fifth of Azerbaijan’s territory.”

Can we resolve the conflict? If nothing is working for now Azerbaijan can take this matter to the International Criminal Court (ICC), International Court of Justice, and the European Court, and if rules need changing with regards to jurisdiction of the ICC they must. We cannot obviously expect the perpetrators of crimes, in this case Armenia, to accept the responsibility of their actions. Hence rule must be changed to make the ICC a viable and effective body.

The Prime Minister and military and civil officials of Armenia must be put on trial for war crimes and atrocities committed in International court of Justice. If that is not possible then:

(a) Azerbaijan’s Supreme Court must take “Suo motto” and order anopen trial of those responsible for genocide in Nakgorno Karabakh.
(b) The Supreme Court has jurisdiction as crimes have been commented on Azerbaijan’s soil.
(C) The Supreme Court Order Government of Azerbaijan to issue Red Warrants to the Interpol for the arrests of the Armenian leaders involved in the war crimes and genocide of the people of Azerbaijan.

This issue has become a ‘ping pong’ game and talk shop for the international players who could yet resolve it in one day. Arms dealers from various countries have been able to sell arms and equipment to Azerbaijan. On the other hand, officials say that Russian forces are supporting the Armenian army and there are daily exchange of fire causing injuries and deaths. The conflict if very much alive.

According to the latest reports from the region ‘tensions are on the rise’ and the patience of Azerbaijan is likely running out.

Armenia says a ceasefire with neighbouring Azerbaijan over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh no longer exists, describing frequent skirmishes at the front line as “war”. Artsrun Hovhannisyan, a spokesman of Armenia’s defence ministry, said that Azerbaijan was using “all existing armaments: tanks, howitzers, and anti-aircraft artillery” against Armenian soldiers in the disputed region. “What we have today is a war,” said Hovhannisyan. “We must use the word ‘war’ as there is no ceasefire anymore.”

Azerbaijan responded with counter-accusations, blaming Armenia for the recent escalation. “Ceasefire violations are taking place because of the illegal presence of Armenian forces in the occupied lands of Azerbaijan,” Hikmat Hajiyevm, Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry spokesman, told the AFP news agency.

“Armenia has to withdraw from the seized lands … only afterwards can sustainable peace be guaranteed in the region.” Energy-rich Azerbaijan, whose military spending exceeds Armenia’s entire state budget, has repeatedly threatened to take back the breakaway region by force if negotiations fail to yield results. Moscow-backed Armenia says it could crush any offensive.

Earlier in December 2015, Azerbaijani tanks shelled positions in the Nagorno-Karabakh region for the first time in more than 20 years, the rebel defence ministry said. The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) mediators recently warned “the status quo has become unsustainable”.

Speaking to a few defence analysts of the region, they were very positive about improving relations with Armenia if it let go its ‘nostalgic claims’ that they call the ‘Armenian illness’. One of them was of the view that in case peace prevailed, the Armenian economy would go sky high by just tourism activity alone. He said: ‘if tourists from Azerbaijan and region buy just one bottle of water on their way it will make enormous difference to the economy. Armenians will be able to access the local sea and land routes of neighbouring countries including Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia and of course Russia.