New Age Islam Edit Bureau
4 October 2020
Azerbaijan Defence Ministry
Turkey's President Erdogan has been trying to project himself as the next leader of the Muslim world after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. He has been adopting aggressive postures since the last few years vis a vis international issues. The latest among his steps was his converting two churches into mosques. He has been hostile to the Kurds of Turkey denying them their cultural and political rights.
Now he has jumped into the Armenia-Azerbaijan military conflict that started on 28th September over the control of Nagorno-Karabakh which is a Christian majority autonomous region and is a de jure part of Azerbaijan but the Christian ethnic Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh want to unite with Armenia. The United Nations has recognised Nagorno Karabakh as a part of Azerbaijan.
Armenia's defence ministry has published photos of an SU-25 jet it claims was shot down by a Turkish warplane
There have been tensions between the two countries over the ownership of Nagorno-Karabakh region since the dissolution of USSR in 1989 as both Azerbaijan and Armenia were a part of the USSR. After Azerbaijan and Armenia became independent following their secession from the USSR, both laid claim over the ownership of Nagorno-Karabakh. There have been clashes between the two countries in the late eighties and early nineties. In 1994, there was a peace agreement between the two mediated by Russia. Since then there had been stability in the region.
But since last July there have been tensions between the two countries. In clashes in July 17 people from both the sides were killed. Russia then sent military shipment to Armenia which Azerbaijan saw as a matter of concern. Russia has been an ally of Armenia but has also maintained good relations with Azerbaijan. Russia also has its military base in Armenia.
In a speech to the Turkish parliament just before the three countries’ statement, President Tayyip Erdogan said he opposed their involvement. (Reuters/File)
By far the conflict was confined to the warring countries but the growing involvement of Turkey in the conflict is likely to turn the regional flare up into an international military crisis. There are unconfirmed reports of ISIS jihadists from Syria and Libya being transited to Azerbaijan through Turkey. Earlier on 29th September, Erdogan had promised military support to Azerbaijan.
The reports of the entry of the ISIS fighters in the conflict zone of Azerbaijan and Armenia have alerted world powers like Russia and France. President Macron and Russian President Putin have expressed concern over the issue and discussed it. Putin also discussed the involvement of the ISIS in the regional conflict with the President of Armenia. This also gives a hint of the conflict taking an uglier turn.
So far The US, France and Russia have appealed to the warring countries to stop the hostilities and start talks for a peaceful resolution of the crisis without preconditions. But the involvement of the ISIS in the regional conflict and Erdogan's war like rhetoric will aggravate the situation for Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is a Muslim majority country while Armenia is a Christian dominated country. By making an ethnic conflict a religious issue, the ISIS and Erdogan have given the decades long issue a communal turn. When the ISIS enters the conflict, the US will not remain silent and will become active there in the name of war on terror as it did last year in Philippines where it entered into an agreement with the Christian majority Philippines government to help it fight ISIS fighters who wanted to establish Khilafat in the northern region of Muslim majority Bangsamoro.
The US forces together with the Philippines military destroyed the prosperous Muslim majority region during the fight to evacuate ISIS mercenaries. The same will happen with Azerbaijan when the US together with the NATO will enter the conflict in order to evacuate the ISIS fighters from Azerbaijan and in this process Azerbaijan will be badly destroyed by the allied forces. Erdogan in his uncontrolled zeal to support Muslim country Azerbaijan is in fact going to cause it more harm than good. It would be better on part of Erdogan to leave both the countries alone and help them in the peaceful resolution of the crisis. Dependence of Muslim countries like Turkey and Pakistan on militant outfits like the ISIS and Taliban have only aggravated the problems of Muslim countries. Turkey would do well to join the peace initiatives endeavoured by the US, France and Russia instead of indulging in suicidal warlike rhetoric.
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