Armenia and Azerbaijan clashes: Israel’s arms tipped the balance
Murad Makhmudov and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
Azerbaijan is mainly Shia Muslim. Historically, the indigenous Armenian Christians have suffered greatly at the hands of Turkey: notably in the 1915 Armenian Genocide that killed enormous numbers of adults and children. This genocide came after the horrendous pogroms of the 1890s, which witnessed Muslims killing at least 80,000 Christian Armenians. Other Christian minorities would also be butchered in this period of history by the Turks and various Muslim ethnic allies.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum says, “The Armenian genocide refers to the physical annihilation of ethnic Armenian Christian people living in the Ottoman Empire from spring 1915 through autumn 1916. There were approximately 1.5 million Armenians living in the Empire. At least 664,000 and possibly as many as 1.2 million died during the genocide. Armenians call these events Medz Yeghern (the great crime) or Aghet(catastrophe).”
Thus given the first genocide of the twentieth century happening against Armenians on such an enormous scale – you would think that Israel would be more sensitive to sending huge quantities of military arms to Azerbaijan. After all, the Armenians and Jews have a brutal shared experience of being exterminated in huge numbers.
However, elites in Israel support a more realpolitik view. Hence, Israel tipped the military balance in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region in favor of Azerbaijan – which also suits the geopolitical goals of Turkey. Israel’s primary focus is a mixture of economics, energy, and geopolitics. Azerbaijan and Iran share a border and many Azeris reside in Northern Iran. Therefore, despite Israel knowing that Turkey involves itself in the killing of Christian Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh – the flow of military arms to Azerbaijan continues.
Breaking Defense reports, “From 2016–2020, Israel accounted for 69 percent of Azerbaijan’s major arms imports — a number that represents 17 percent of Israel’s arms exports for that same period.”
The National Interest (Michael Rubin) says, “Israelis may justify their relationship with Azerbaijan in realpolitik consideration: In its crudest terms, it is a relationship based on a weapons-for-energy calculation. Jerusalem sold Baku billions of dollars’ worth of top-shelf military equipment, and Israel received almost half of its oil needs from Azerbaijan. The long-term detriment to ties may soon surpass any short-term gains, however.”
In 2020, Azerbaijan was supported directly by NATO Turkey – and its Islamist mercenaries that meddled directly on the battlefield under the direction of Turkey. However, the nation of Armenia was left to fend for itself in and around Nagorno-Karabakh. Of course, the Russian Federation would enact a line that would protect Armenia if this nation was attacked directly.
The Times of Israel reports, “Azerbaijan has bought Israeli armed drones, which were reportedly used in 2020 to attack Armenian targets in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.”
Armenia and Azerbaijan – 2022
The BBC reports, “Monday night’s fighting is believed to be the worst since the 2020 conflict, in which thousands were killed. That war ended in a deal brokered by Russia, which saw Armenia withdraw its troops from occupied areas around Nagorno-Karabakh.”
Azerbaijan understands that the Russian Federation is focused on events in Ukraine and the Donbass (Donbas) region. Hence, Azerbaijan – a close ally of NATO Turkey and backed by high technological weapons from Israel and other nations – is probing to see how far it can go in forcing more concessions from Armenia.
Associated Press reports, “The fighting erupted minutes after midnight with Azerbaijani forces unleashing an artillery barrage and drone attacks in many sections of Armenian territory, according to Armenia’s Defense Ministry. It said shelling grew less intense during the day but Azerbaijani troops were trying to advance into Armenian territory.”
Approximately 100 soldiers died on both sides in the latest military clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan of Armenia immediately contacted President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation, President Emmanuel Macron of France, President Ebrahim Raisi of Iran, and President Charles Michel of the European Council.
Drone warfare and other sophisticated weapons procured by Azerbaijan from Israel and Turkey – with Israeli arms being the decisive factor – need to be countered by Armenia. Yet, unlike Azerbaijan which can buy high-tech military arms from revenues generated from energy, Armenia faces economic restraints and can’t compete. Therefore, Armenia needs to focus on essential weaknesses within its armed forces – while reaching out to the Russian Federation, Iran, France, the European Union, and others, to strengthen its hand during negotiations with Azerbaijan.
TASS News reports, “The Armenian Defense Minister told his Russian counterpart about the situation resulting from Azerbaijan’s large-scale aggression against the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia. Suren Papikyan and Sergey Shoigu agreed to take necessary steps to stabilize the situation.”
NATO Turkey might also be encouraging events on the ground to test the resolve of the Russian Federation. One can only speculate about the role of America which is often murky. Israel will also seek to strengthen its economic, military, and geopolitical ties with Azerbaijan.
Israel is focused on the Iran angle and utilizing Azerbaijan. Similar to Iran utilizing Hezbollah in Lebanon and the conflict in Syria concerning the Israel angle. However, for the Armenian Christians of Nagorno-Karabakh, it is a life and death struggle.
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