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Monday, 22 July 2024
Does Erdogan seek a Syria-style deal in Nagorno-Karabakh?
zara saleh

The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the dispute region of Nagorno-Karabakh was frozen for a three decades in which it remained in Armenia’s hands. The deal has been reached by the international body "the OSCE Minsk Group", that has been co-chaired by Russia, France, and the United States and was founding in 1992. Since September, when the fighting was broken out between Azerbaijan and Armenia where consequently the conflict has emerged again.

Evidently, Azerbaijan has been supported by Turkey as they both share ethnic and linguistic ties despite the Azeris are Shia whereas Turkey is Sunna, as one of the reasons for its intervention. Moreover, Turkey considers Armenia as "historical enemy" due to Armenian massacres that committed by Turkey in 1915 which Armenia had accused Turkey since that. Added to that, following its Ottoman's ambition, Erdogan is aiming to achieve new goals in the Caucasus, and planning to play vital role as a mediator when it comes to conflict resolution initiatives after it has been ignored by Minsk Group from the beginning of the conflict. Not only that, Ankara had a plan since July to broke out the fight in the disputed territories of Nagorno-Karabakh. Then, Turkey has sent Syrian mercenaries to support Azerbaijan and Turkish-made drones are now spearheading Azerbaijan's attacks against Armenia in the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, that internationally recognised as a part of Azerbaijan, despite the Armenian control. That is why the Erdogan's manoeuvres, and Turkey's military and logistic support for Azerbaijan have sent an alarm to Moscow about Ankara's explicit involvement in the conflict in favor of Azerbaijan aiming to be an important factor in South Caucasus. Simultaneously with that, Erdogan had mentioned, for several times of its occasions, about the crisis of Crimea and the Russian occupation in the Black Sea as a threat message to the Kremlin that could appear at any time.

Arguably, Erdogan's aspirations that driven by the nostalgia to pan-Turkism and seeking Caliphate project to take control under the so-called Ottoman lands. However, the Russia-Turkey's relations cannot be, today, compared with that context in 1923-1929. At that time, during the Soviet Union administrative 1923, in today's Nagorno-Karabakh region, the Red Kurdistan Republic was established by Lenin, but it was abolished later in 1929 by President Stalin's decision under the Ataturk influence. Consequently, the Kurdish population were forced and displaced to central Asian Republics and Siberia and were subject of assimilation.

At the same time, Erdogan is trying to copy the Syria-style in Nagorno-Karabakh which seems to be difficult and even unacceptable for Russia. Furthermore, when Turkey has joined Astana's talks about Syria, it was a tactical choice that allows Turkey to gain some benefits such as the occupation of the Kurdish areas in northern Syria. Whereas, in fact, Astana's negotiation was Putin's strategic plan to retake control under more than 70% of Syria's territories with Assad regime. However, in Nagorno-Karabakh, there are common Russia-West views and interests that in contrast to Turkey's ambitions. Evidently, Russia is controlling the security of the South Caucasus countries and have a balanced relationship with both Armenia and Azerbaijan. Moscow has military bases in Armenia and considers as the main ally of Armenia despite the new Armenian Prime Minister Nicol Pashinyan has some preference for the US and West. At the same time, Russia has strengthened its economic ties with Azerbaijan as well as Moscow considered as the main military supply for it.

Based on the fact that, in the Caucasus and in the Middle East, Moscow seems to be ready for any cooperation with Turkey to achieve its interests but, it is unlikely to let Turkey cross its border and fields. That makes it difficult for Turkey to reach another deal with Russia in terms of its intervention in Nagorno-Karabakh's conflict by supporting Azerbaijan. Of course, the less American presence recently due to the presidential election and last year's military withdrawal from Syria has made gaps and allow Russia and Turkey to intervene in different areas such as Libya and Syria as they want.

Zara Saleh