"Armenia will sooner or later provoke a major war in Caucasus"
    Expert opinion on Caliber.Az

    INTERVIEWS  22 March 2023 - 12:30

    Huseyn Safarov
    Caliber.Az

    Caliber.Az presents an interview with Azerbaijani political analyst Isa Javadov.

    - Don't you think that negotiations on an Armenian-Azerbaijani settlement are getting more and more deadlocked?

    - Yes, such a picture is indeed emerging in the minds of many politicians and international analysts today. If the autumn meetings in Prague, Brussels and Washington gave hope for a speedy and productive settlement, now there is no doubt that Armenia is purposefully delaying the achievement of peace for the sake of its unrealistic irredentist ambitions. Previously, this stalling could be put down to the Armenian leadership's fear of facing a serious political crisis, but today we see that Pashinyan's cabinet is no different in its rhetoric and behaviour from the gathering of radical nationalists who, until recently, rioted in the streets of Irevan.

    - Armenia believes that Azerbaijan is preparing for a "large-scale use of force". What do you think about this?

    - Armenia's fears are not unfounded due to the political infantilism of official Yerevan itself, which instead of promoting peace and prosperity in the South Caucasus, continues to fuel the atmosphere of violence in the region. But to put it correctly, Azerbaijan is not preparing for a new large-scale war, but continues to be in a state of combat readiness since 2020. After all, Baku has no illusions about the equilibrium of the Armenian establishment. Since the signing of the trilateral statement (between leaders of Azerbaijan, Russian and Armenia) on November 10, 2020, armed provocations have occurred more than once and one must be fully prepared for them. Especially since a couple of weeks ago, alternative routes for the supply of weapons to the terrorists in Khankendi were revealed, and with the support of the Russian peacekeeping contingent. So, the report from the International Crisis Group, which indicated the risk of a new large-scale but short-term war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, appears to be quite credible. Personally, I have no doubt that sooner or later Armenia will again provoke a major war in the Caucasus.

    - In view of the current tense relations between Baku and Tehran, is it possible for Iran to intervene in the event of large-scale military action in the South Caucasus?

    - Until 2020, Tehran tried to balance Azerbaijan and Armenia to some extent, which was in its interest to increase its influence in the South Caucasus as a whole. But since Azerbaijan's victory has left Iran somewhat on the sidelines of Caucasian politics, Tehran will probably try to bet solely on Armenia as its only guide in the region. At the same time, I do not think that Iran will openly interfere in a military confrontation with Azerbaijan, since Baku is still important to it in terms of economic cooperation, especially in view of international sanctions.

    Similarly, Azerbaijan remains a crucial transport hub linking Iran and Russia. Tehran's support for Yerevan could include the following strategies: the demonstrable accumulation of large numbers of troops on the border, the supply of arms and ammunition to Armenia, including light strike UAVs, increased terrorist activity by Iranian proxies in Azerbaijan, and the possible covert use of its proxies and trainers on the Armenian side.

    - Was Armenia able to at least partially recover its losses after the war?

    - Armenia's armed forces are unlikely to regain their offensive capabilities after their defeat in 2020. Therefore, their task now is to develop some kind of defensive strategy in the run-up to war, so the focus is on strengthening artillery, anti-tank and anti-aircraft arsenals, especially their ammunition, for which they are actually turning to Iran, India and other countries. That is, Armenia still has something to fight with, but its combat potential is significantly lower than what it had in 2020. One way or another, we need to be prepared for fierce resistance attempts and aggressive shelling of Azerbaijani settlements by them.

    - As you know, official Baku has proposed setting up checkpoints on the border with Armenia. What do you think about it? What issues it will resolve?

    - The issue of border checkpoints does affect the Lachin road in the first place, as there is still illegal trafficking of weapons and manpower to Khankendi. As there is currently no real need for civilians of either Azerbaijan or Armenia to visit both countries, these checkpoints are primarily needed to ensure the security of the region and to curb terrorist and smuggling activities.

    - Armenia sees rapprochement with Türkiye and the signing of a peace agreement with Azerbaijan as two different cases. Türkiye, on the other hand, presents the two processes as one. Will Ankara be able to change Yerevan's mind?

    - Armenia's reluctance to consider rapprochement with Türkiye and Azerbaijan as one case is a clear indication of its inadequate assessment of political reality. In any case, the very process of normalisation of relations between Türkiye and Armenia is possible only after full peace has been achieved with Azerbaijan. Therefore, either Azerbaijani diplomacy or the Azerbaijani army will be able to convince Armenia that relations with Türkiye and Azerbaijan are one case in the first place.

    Caliber.Az

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