The possible war in Iran, unsettlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, ambitions of Turkey and Russia in the South Caucasus made the region highly explosive. With Georgia and Azerbaijan's continuous threats to “restore the territorial integrity”, the situation does not improve. Director of the Institute of Political and Social Studies of the Black Sea and Caspian Region, professor Vladimir Zakharov comments on the latest developments to PanARMENIAN.Net.
Threats to unleash a war against Nagorno Karabakh are heard more frequently in Baku. Do you think Ilham Aliyev can venture a new aggression?
The situation in Azerbaijan is not easy: completely neglecting the public opinion, the authorities want more and more. Return of Karabakh is the main component of mass ideological stuffing not only in Baku but also in Moscow. Russia is flooded with books and articles about Azerbaijan. President Aliyev doesn't feel ashamed to personally call the leaders of some post soviet republics to demand ban on editions which contain truthful information about Nagorno Karabakh. At the same time, Azerbaijan continues its armament race. However, it's worth mentioning that these weapons are rather meant for defense than 'for regaining Karabakh'. Azerbaijan understands that the situation around Iran is changing every hour. Today, Azerbaijani armed forces are completely dependent on the U.S. whose armament is delivered through Israel and Turkey. At that, the real amount of purchased arms is concealed.
There is an opinion that the U.S. will attack Iran soon…
The U.S. is really planning attacking Iran. However, predicting a war, experts forget one important factor: Iran is not Iraq and Americans will get stuck in it even worse than in Afghanistan. Furthermore, the U.S. will be unable to launch any operation without 'preparing the ground' in Azerbaijan and Georgia. Turkey is not considered as a possible platform for attack. Azerbaijan has 9 airdromes either built or reconstructed by the United States. Anyway, I do not think war will start this year, as the Tbilisi-Kutaisi concrete highway, which can be used as an airfield, will be put into operation in spring 2011. There are reports about resumption of talks between big six (5 UN permanent members + Germany) and Iran but these can only prove to be a propaganda move.
Iran doesn't seem inactive either…
No doubt. Iran has already warned Georgia and Azerbaijan that its first blow will be delivered on them in case they support the U.S. Baku pins hopes on Iranian Azeris but these are quite different people.
What about Turkey, which is determined to strengthen positions in the region?
The United States achieved recognition of Kosovo with the silent agreement of the UN. This was essential for a second operation, i.e formation of independent Kurdistan and, consequently, the redivision of the world. However, Turkey learned about the plans of its NATO partner and immediately initiated its Security and Stability Platform to pose as the host of Caucasus. This was a challenge for the United States, which doesn’t conceal the aspiration to dominate the region.
Reverting to conflicts... Do you think resumption of hostilities in Karabakh is possible?
Presidential and ministerial meetings will continue, without any progress in the near future, however. Some documents will be signed but they will not resolve the conflict. Azerbaijan rejects any idea about engagement of Karabakh in the negotiation process, what makes settlement impossible. I think the ceasefire will be violated from time to time but there will be no military operation. Should Azerbaijan venture a new war, it will immediately be labeled as aggressor by the international community. Meanwhile, saber-rattling will continue. In case of a war in Iran, Azerbaijan can try to attack Karabakh. Azerbaijanis proved poor warriors and Baku will hire combatants, as it did the previous time.