“USA wanted to caress Armenians, but in the end, it almost lost Azerbaijan”
    Zulfugarov and Musabayov on Caliber.Az

    INTERVIEWS  06 December 2023 - 15:08

    Vadim Mansurov

    On December 6, US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs James O’Brien will arrive in Azerbaijan. The same one who allowed himself last month to make several baseless statements against Azerbaijan. Baku reacted quite harshly to these preconceived opinions. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken undertook to smooth out the situation by calling Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on November 27 and asking for permission for O'Brien to visit Baku to normalize relations.

    So, what is O'Brien coming to us with? The editorial office of Caliber.Az asked Azerbaijani ex-foreign minister Tofig Zulfugarov and MP Rasim Musabayov to answer the question.

    In the opinion of Tofig Zulfugarov, it should be taken into account that the root of the problem in O'Brien's speech in the US Congress and his attacks on Azerbaijan lies in Armenian-Russian relations. All this, he is sure, has only an indirect relation to Azerbaijan, and is primarily aimed at effectively “caressing” the Armenians, so that America seems to them a new savior.

    “However, the United States has a problem - after all, Azerbaijan made its assessment of what is happening and voiced the opinion that American mediation is now impossible, given Washington’s unilateral position. And this is a serious obstacle that the United States faces. Fighting for the sympathy of public opinion in Armenia, they sharply lost the favor of public opinion in Azerbaijan. Moreover, the level of attitude towards Americans has dropped to critical levels; in fact, it is the same as towards France,” Zulfugarov noted.

    Therefore, in his opinion, the US mediation mission has radically stalled as a result of Baku’s reaction. And Azerbaijan will try to use this US mistake to its advantage.

    “Azerbaijan’s initiative for border negotiations seriously worries the United States, although they seem to have verbally supported this format. And the Armenians are not delighted with this seeming “support” from the United States. After all, they wanted more - for Americans to be present at the negotiations with Baku, who would replace the “Russian uncle”. But just as Azerbaijan previously rejected France as a mediator, the same fate may befall American mediation.

    No negotiations, alright then. We previously had an active negotiating initiative on a peace treaty, but the Armenians narrowed it down to framework agreements. And now we can do without a framework agreement - Azerbaijan has already achieved its strategic goals. And the United States understands well that attempts to put pressure on Azerbaijan are counterproductive. In addition, the United States has tactical and strategic objectives in its foreign policy. The tactical one is to oust Russia from Armenia and to prepare the Armenian lobby for the upcoming elections in the United States. Congress is certainly working on this.

    The strategic task is the Iranian issue, the political course towards rapprochement with Central Asia. But how can all this be implemented without dialogue with Azerbaijan? When they try to scare us from overseas, we understand that these threats are very broad. The real American interests are much deeper, and the United States understands that it is better not to spit in a well from which tomorrow you may need to drink water. How does anyone imagine US sanctions against a state that simultaneously borders both Iran and Russia - important objects of US political interests? Here Baku needs our positive attitude towards dialogue,” the diplomat believes.

    So, the situation continues to develop, and, according to T. Zulfugarov, Azerbaijan is using it to cement its position.

    “On the other hand, that’s what diplomacy is for, to negotiate. As for O’Brien’s latest far from friendly gesture, it can be noted that the United States is a great country, but not every American is a great person. We must still take into account the factor of personalities. And it is possible that O’Brien simply overdid it, deciding to wave the sanctions baton. At the same time, the US State Department employs many smart people who understand well what and how things are in reality.

    In my opinion, this is a completely normal political process, it is not even a crisis. Do you think they haven’t tried to put pressure on us on some issues before? Everyone tried, starting from Russia and Iran and ending with the USA and France,” Tofig Zulfugarov said.

    According to Rasim Musabayov, the goal of the US in the South Caucasus is to completely separate it from Russia. Taking into account the preferences of Pashinyan and his team, Armenia was chosen as a promising direction by the current administration of President Biden.

    “Although there has been a lot of talk on Capitol Hill about the Karabakh Armenians and their rights, the Senate resolution is entitled `Armenia Defense Act’.” Pashinyan, Mirzoyan, and Grigoryan are spreading lies that Moscow allegedly wants to punish Armenia through Azerbaijan and is secretly pushing us to aggressive actions. So, O’Brien’s main mission is to understand the situation on the spot, listen to the opinion of Azerbaijan, convey to it the concerns of the Americans, and receive the desired assurances,” Musabayov believes.

    Everything else, including the fuss with the voluntary exodus of Armenians from Karabakh, was started by the State Department as an instrument of pressure on Baku. In addition, the Pashinyan government still does not dare to leave the CSTO and break with Moscow.

    “I do not exclude those things that may come to the refusal of the ‘services’ of the Russian border guards and the closure of the 102nd military base. Knowing the Armenians and the fact that up to half of the personnel in these structures consists of residents, an attempt to appropriate the property of these Russian formations is very likely. After all, their withdrawal is possible only through Azerbaijan, and the Americans, under the pretext that Russia will use the weapons and equipment exported from Armenia in the war against Ukraine, would like us not to allow this cargo to pass through our territory. Let me remind you that when the Russian military bases in Georgia were closed, equipment and weapons were partially transferred to Armenia and partially exported through Azerbaijan.

    It is clear that Azerbaijan has absolutely no need for Russian military property to go to the Armenians and it is better to allow the Russians to take it out via our railway. Just a couple of years ago, the most radical Armenian analysts called for the nationalization of all Russian assets in Armenia in the event of a cessation of supplies of Russian oil products, gas, and fuel for the Metsamor nuclear power plant. In this case, the Americans would very much like to put the burden of supporting Armenia on Azerbaijan, which in this regard ensures and provides Georgia.

    The above considerations refer to hypothetical scenarios, but may suddenly become actual. The United States strives to promote the Armenian-Azerbaijani and Armenian-Turkish settlement to expand the opportunities for Armenia to free itself from total dependence on Russia and, together with Georgia, move along the path of integration into Western institutions - the European Union and NATO,” summed up R. Musabayov.


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