Azerbaijani President's triumph, troubled Georgia, and a duel in the Middle East
    Caliber.Az weekly review

    ANALYTICS  21 April 2024 - 11:22

    Murad Abiyev
    Caliber.Az

    Caliber.Az demonstrates another episode of the “Events” show with Azerbaijani political analyst Murad Abiyev about the main news of the week related to Azerbaijan and other countries.

    AZERBAIJAN – ARMENIA

    The week was full of significant events. The main news was the beginning of the early withdrawal of the Russian peacekeeping contingent from the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan.

    The Russian peacekeeping contingent entered the Azerbaijani territory in accordance with the tripartite statement dated November 10, 2020. Since then, a lot has changed and now there is no need for peacekeepers to remain on the Azerbaijani territory.

    From a symbolic point of view, the withdrawal of the Russian peacekeeping contingent from Karabakh certainly shows the triumph of Azerbaijan’s sovereignty.  

    However, there is one more positive point. The withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers from Azerbaijan will further improve the allied interaction between Azerbaijan and Russia.

    Moreover, Armenia returned four non-enclave villages of the Gazakh district to Azerbaijan without a single shot, namely, Baganis Ayrim, Ashagi Askipara, Kheyrimli and Gizilhajili.

    This was the result of the eighth meeting of the State Commission on the Delimitation of the State Border between Azerbaijan and Armenia, chaired by Azerbaijani Deputy Prime Minister Shahin Mustafayev and Armenian Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigoryan on April 19.

    In fact, the sides announced the beginning of the delimitation process from this section of the border, which Baku insisted on.

    Thus, the deputy prime ministers agreed that the sides would appeal to their governments to take measures for the simultaneous and parallel deployment of their border services on the agreed sections of the border line.

    They also agreed that until the delimitation process is fully completed, the sections of the border line specified in the Description Protocol will be considered delimited.

    This event is valuable and has an additional significance. Despite the obstacles caused by third countries and all the provocations that were aimed at involving Azerbaijan in an armed conflict, Baku and Yerevan were able to achieve that level of interaction, in which they can themselves, without the mediation of third parties, or, more precisely, in spite of it, achieve significant progress in the peace process.

    These two events once again reflect the high level of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s political skill.

    As if foreseeing Azerbaijan’s triumph, France decided to recall its ambassador from Azerbaijan a few days before these events.

    As a pretext, Paris accuses Azerbaijan of allegedly unfriendly actions towards France, completely forgetting its own indecent actions and demonstrative disrespect for Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity.

    The French can be angry with Azerbaijan as much as they want, while Azerbaijan continues strengthening international resistance to neo-colonialism.

    The recent conference entitled “History, modern challenges and expected future” held in Baku, in which representatives of the national liberation movement of New Caledonia took part, can be cited as an example.

    Baku also continues strengthening ties with those countries that are open to dialogue. Thus,  President Aliyev will visit Moscow on April 22, where he will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    Amid the recent events in the region, the leaders of the two countries really have a lot of issues to discuss. President Aliyev will arrive in Berlin on April 26, where he will meet with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

    GEORGIA

    Meanwhile, interesting events are observed in neighbouring Georgia. Protests are underway in Tbilisi due to the adoption of the bill “On Transparency of Foreign Influence” by the Georgian parliament in the first reading, which is an analogue of the Russian Foreign Agent law.

    It seems that the analogy with Russian law, rather than the essence of the project, forced people to take to the streets.

    According to the bill, non-profit organisations and media outlets that receive more than 20 per cent of their annual income from foreign funding are declared “organisations promoting the interests of foreign power”.

    These organisations will be required to register as the above-mentioned ones and file a financial return annually.

    Protesters see this bill as a threat to freedom of speech and, in general, the country’s integration with Europe. By the way, officials from Brussels and Washington have already expressed their dissatisfaction with the bill.

    President of Georgia and ardent supporter of European integration Salome Zourabichvili also opposed this initiative. Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze called Zourabichvili an agent of foreign influence, adding that she represents “a foreign force, a party of global war, which we have talked about more than once before”.

    Kobakhidze said that most grants coming to Georgia are not transparent and that the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) made two attempts to start a revolution in Georgia in 2020 and 2022. Kobakhidze added that by using foreign grants, the NGOs are conducting an open campaign against the church and propaganda of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community in Georgia.

    The ruling party knows how to choose the right rhetoric in defending its interests. Despite 80 per cent of the Georgian population stands for European integration, religious feelings and traditional family values are still strong among Georgians.

    Thus, the Georgian Dream explains to people that Europe they want to join does not want to see them as they are.

    UKRAINE - RUSSIA

    The Russian army continues making tactical breakthroughs on the Ukrainian front. Fierce fighting is observed around the settlements of Ocheretyne and Chasiv Yar in the Donetsk region.

    The Armed Forces of Ukraine amid a shortage of shells continue shelling Russian refineries and conducting operations against the Black Sea Fleet. Thus, the airfield in Dzhankoy was fired upon by the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gave an interview to the US Public Broadcasting Service, in which he again tried to urge Western partners to render military assistance to Ukraine.

    He said that the Russian military managed to destroy the Trypillia Thermal Power Plant near Kyiv because the Ukrainian Armed Forces ran out of air defence missiles.

    He also said that Ukraine is ready for dialogue on ending the conflict with those who “sincerely strive for peace”.

    Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that Ukraine is ready to stop attacks on Russian refineries if the allies send a new batch of Patriot anti-aircraft missile systems to Kyiv.

    The US urges the Ukrainian leadership to stop attacks on refineries, fearing a sharp rise in gasoline prices and, as a result, a fall in the rating of the current administration.

    Kuleba said that the allies are demanding that attacks on refineries must be stopped, but they are not offering anything in return.

    “If there are no weapons or aid packages, but only requests are made, then there is no basis for discussion, all must take care of themselves,” the minister said.

    The US House of Representatives will consider the draft assistance to Ukraine on April 20. This is a new project initiated by the Republicans rather than the project that was already approved by the Senate in February.

    Democrats envisioned a single project for several purposes, which also included $65 billion in aid to Ukraine while Republicans are proposing separate votes on four separate projects, including the Ukrainian case worth about $61 billion, of which $13 billion is earmarked for the direct purchase of weapons for Ukraine.

    According to the media reports, this assistance includes such formidable weapons as ATACMS missiles.

    US Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Policy Celeste Wallander said that if the US Congress approves a new aid package to Ukraine, the US will be able to begin sending ammunition within one or two weeks.

    The Republicans seized the initiative in assisting Ukraine. Moreover, some assistance to Ukraine is rendered as a loan, which gives the Republicans additional bonuses in the election race - we are assisting the Ukrainians and not burdening the Americans. President Biden said that he will sign the bill as soon as it is passed.

    Meanwhile, more experts are coming to the conclusion that the West seems to make a decision to persuade Moscow and Kyiv to negotiate. The expected adoption of the aid package in the US will not lead Ukraine to victory, but will only stall the Russian army. As a result, both sides will become exhausted and will more easily reach a peace agreement.

    Politico published an article describing the prospects for Ukrainian resistance.

    French President Emmanuel Macron, who was supposedly ready to protect Ukrainians with his soldiers, declared it impossible to build for Ukraine the same air defence system as in Israel because Israel had been developing and financing it for decades.

    President Macron added that this is also impossible because Europe's resources are limited. This is hypocrisy because Kyiv is not asking for the same air defence system as in Israel, but only the minimum.

    President Macron also told reporters that he was working toward a ceasefire in Ukraine and Gaza for the duration of the Summer Olympics in Paris. He thinks that nothing is as permanent as something temporary.

    MIDDLE EAST

    The main event of the week in the Middle East was Iran's air attack on Israel. Over a hundred kamikaze drones and the same number of ballistic and cruise missiles were launched towards Israel on April 13 night.

    Israel managed to shoot down most of the missiles, while others did not cause any harm to either Israeli military facilities or its residents.

    Besides Israel, the air defence forces of the US, the UK, France and even Jordan, neighbouring Israel, also repelled the attack, which used its fighter jets to shoot down Iranian drones and missiles.

    Moreover, Saudi Arabia said it had also shot down Iranian missiles and accused Iran of obstructing relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel.

    The air defence forces of Israel and its allies are, of course, powerful. However, Tehran’s awareness and Iran’s delayed response to the attack on the consulate in Damascus, shows a possible agreement between Iran and the coalition - we will scare, but we will not hit the target.

    However, the situation is not simple. Israel, by hitting the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) generals, actually launched a circular reaction.

    Iran wanted to respond, so it launched missiles and drones against Israel. Now Israel cannot leave this unanswered.

    If at one moment one of them will attack a military facility or a residential area, there will be a big war.

    While allies are trying to persuade Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to refrain from a powerful strike on Iran, Tel Aviv nevertheless launched an attack on a military air base near the city of Isfahan. Iranian news agencies reported that explosions were heard near Isfahan and Tabriz, adding that no nuclear facilities were damaged.

    If Tel Aviv does not attack anymore, it could be perceived as an attempt to end the escalation. However, let’s wait and see.

     

    Caliber.Az

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