Western media: Azerbaijan and Turkey jointly prepared Karabakh war for weeks
Reports by the BBC, The Times, Reuters and the Guardian, to name a few, deliver credible evidence that Azerbaijan and Turkey have been jointly preparing for a war in Nagorno-Karabakh long before starting the hostilities in the early hours of Sunday 27th September. The two countries quickly accused Armenia of having initiated the attack and claimed that they are simply engaged in a massive “counter-attack”.
On Thursday, 24 September, three days before the attack, the BBC’s Russian service (https://www.bbc.com/russian/news-54282373) reports:
“In Azerbaijan, a sudden call for reservists began: those who had long been discharged into the reserve are called to the military registration and enlistment offices and immediately sent to exercises, and on the streets the police take personal body cars for the needs of the army. At the same time, neither martial law nor general mobilization was declared.”
The confiscated pick-ups apparently were in part designated for paid mercenaries arriving through Turkey from Syrian rebel groups supported by Ankara. Turkish President Erdogan announced on Twitter that when “The Turkish people stand with their Azeri brothers with all our means, as always.” On 28 September, The Guardian reported in detail about the recruiting process, which began one month ago (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/sep/28/syrian-rebel-fighters-prepare-to-deploy-to-azerbaijan-in-sign-of-turkeys-ambition).
On 28 September, Reuters provided further details from interviews with two of the mercenaries (https://www.reuters.com/article/armenia-azerbaijan-turkey-syria-int/turkey-deploying-syrian-fighters-to-help-ally-azerbaijan-two-fighters-say-idUSKBN26J258):
“I didn’t want to go, but I don’t have any money. Life is very hard and poor,” said a fighter who had fought in Syria for Ahrar al-Sham, a group that Turkey has supported. Both men said they had been told by their Syrian brigade commanders they would earn around $1,500 a month – a large wage for Syria, where the economy and currency have collapsed. The fighter said he had arranged his assignment with an official from the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) in Afrin, a region of northwest Syria seized by Turkey and its Syrian rebel allies two years ago. […] The two men, who spoke to Reuters last week, said they expected to be despatched on Sept. 25, to guard facilities but not to fight. Reuters was not able to contact them on Monday to confirm their location.”
The same report later compares the practice to Libya, where “guards” similarly recruited by Turkey found themselves fighting at the very front line. Turkey’s own Defence Minister alluded to such comparisons earlier this August when during an interview he stated that “the Turkish armed forces have demonstrated their power to the world in Syria, Iraq, and Libya. With the support of the Turkish military Azerbaijan will fulfil its sacred duty.”
The Times also wrote about this (https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/nagorno-karabakh-clashes-turkey-sends-syrian-mercenaries-into-combat-against-armenians-wz6cqjc57):
“Turkey is sending mercenaries to Azerbaijan after two days of clashes with Armenian forces, raising fears that outside powers such as Russia could be drawn into the conflict.”
These reports of recruitment have now reached their conclusion with the publication by BBC Arabic of an interview with one of “hundreds” of Syrian fighters on the ground in Azerbaijan (https://www.bbc.com/arabic/middleeast-54346711)
“Last week, the commander of the Hamza Division of the opposition Syrian National Army, suggested that we go to Azerbaijan to guard military points on the border for a monthly fee of up to $ 2,000. We were transferred from Northern Syria to the village of Hor Kilis, and there we have stripped us from the opposition Syrian National Army of all our money, phones and clothes, so that our identity is not recognized. Then we were transferred to the airport in Antep in southern Turkey, where we took a flight of one hour and forty minutes to Istanbul airport, and then we were transferred via Azeri Airlines to Azerbaijan, and we found ourselves in a military post on the border, and there was no war at the time, and we did not receive training on Fighting up”
Such credible media reports about Azerbaijan’s and Turkey’s early preparations for the war support the assessments of international academic experts, like Thomas de Wal, Senior Fellow at Carnegie Europe and formerly rather critical of Armenian view-points, who concluded on twitter (https://twitter.com/Tom_deWaal/status/1310559225928613888):
“Az., the losing side in the conflict of the 1990s, is the side with an incentive to use military aggression to reshape the facts on the ground. This is almost certainly what they did on Sunday. And yes, they probably picked a moment when they thought the world was distracted.”
In this light, EuFoA calls upon journalists and decision makers to stop the past artificial equivalence between the war parties. It does not help peace to “call upon both sides” when one side has been preparing for the attack for several weeks. Readers and viewers are strongly misled by formulations like “hostilities broke out”, when it is clear that only one side bears responsibility.
Subscribe to our news roundup to get news on your email.