Turkey’s support for Azerbaijan limits Moscow’s readiness to respond to the Azerbaijani advance - Paul Goble | Eurasia Diary - ednews.net

28 November, Saturday

Turkey’s support for Azerbaijan limits Moscow’s readiness to respond to the Azerbaijani advance - Paul Goble

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Eurasia Diary conducted an interview with Paul Goble, American analyst with expertise on the Soviet Union and Russia regarding the current Karabakh war between Armenian and Azerbaijani Armed Forces. 

Goble served as special adviser on Soviet nationality issues and Baltic affairs to Secretary of State of the United States.

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- Since September 27, the military clashes have been intensified between Armenian and Azerbaijan Armed Forces along the entire line of front around Karabakh. As a result of serious battles and strong mutual attacks, the military personnel and civilians at both sides have suffered huge losses and damages. Please tell us, what are the main reasons led up to the flare-up of military clashes in Nagorno-Karabakh?

- Both Baku and Yerevan have been living on borrowed time with each side testing the other on a regular basis. It was inevitable that at some point one side or the other would do something to prompt the other to respond. My sense is that neither can be held uniquely responsible but rather this latest upsurge grew out of that pattern. 

- Do you think that Russia has left Armenia alone in war with Armenia? 

- Russia doesn’t want either side to win. I am sure that it has provided the weaker party, Armenia, with some assistance, but far less than Yerevan counted on. Moscow would have to send far more weapons or intervene directly to make a difference, and with each passing day, that becomes more difficult.

- In August, Azerbaijan and Turkish military units, including air and ground forces, conducted the joint largest-scale drills in Azerbaijan. Do you think that Turkish military strategy Azerbaijan has mastered plays a significant role in its counter-offensive operations in Nagorno-Karabakh? 

- Turkey’s support for Azerbaijan both encourages Baku and limits Moscow’s readiness to respond to check the Azerbaijani advance. At the same time, for historical reasons, Turkey’s role exacerbates Armenian worries and ensures that many in the West will back Yerevan because of the events of a century ago.
- How do you think that the end of Karabakh war with the victory of Azerbaijan Armed Forces could reverse the current developments in the South Caucasus? Do you think that Russia and Turkey could become powerful actors in determining the future of that region, as like Syria and Libya?
- Even if Azerbaijani forces advance all the way to the 1991 Armenian border with Armenian forces retreating, I do not think that by itself will lead to peace. Neither Yerevan nor Moscow want that, and so what will happen will be yet another conflict suspended by an armistice that will be revisited at some point in the future. More will have to be done to prevent another war from occurring in the next few years.

- What is Iran’s position on the Karabakh war, especially the liberation of the territories of Azerbaijan from Armenian occupation? 

- Iran doesn’t want to see either side win either, but it is especially concerned about an  Azerbaijani triumph. In that event, many Azeris in Southern Azerbaijan would be encouraged to press for a new relationship with Tehran and with Baku, something Tehran doesn’t want.
-  Do you think that the disengagement of the United States in Karabakh conflict would increase the risks in the South Caucasus?
- Unfortunately, the US has pulled back and thus opened the way for the immediate participants and regional powers like Russia and Turkey to act. That makes the entire region more explosive. I very much regret the US has assumed such a low profile.
- Finally, please tell us, how should the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict be solved in order to end the hostility between Armenian and Azerbaijani people?
- I have always believed that what is necessary for a peace is that each side feels it has walked away with something it wanted. Thirty-years ago, I proposed a territorial swap. But that was in a more fluid time. Now I think Baku and Yerevan will have to inch their way toward expanded trade and transportation connections. That will take time, but if they don’t invest that, outside powers will play up this conflict again all too soon.
Interviewed by Yunis Abdullayev


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