From occupied Karabakh, NATO’s media message to Russia

Empowering Weak & Oppressed

Our Caucasus correspondent

Rajab 24, 1437 2016-05-01

News & Analysis

by Our Caucasus correspondent (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 45, No. 3, Rajab, 1437)

The unelected regime of Ilham Aliyev in Azerbaijan is incapable of protecting the interests of the people as evident from his lack of interest in protecting Karabakh that is illegally occupied by Armenia.

Last month (April 2016) witnessed the biggest violation of the 1994 ceasefire/surrender agreement signed by the former KGB General Geidar Aliyev and the Armenian nationalists occupying Karabakh, the territory that belongs to the Azerbaijan Republic.

Clashes between the Azeri armed forces and Armenian militias have been a regular occurrence since 1994, but the Western corporate media usually ignore them. While there is much talk about “independence” of the Western media, the reality is that the strategic narrative of the corporate Western media is always within their governments’ parameters.

As Noam Chomsky once wrote, “…the smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.” Therefore, all the attention given by the corporate media to the ceasefire violations in Karabakh has to be viewed within a political context, in this specific case, within a geopolitical framework.

In June 2014 when analyzing the Russian-NATO proxy war in Ukraine, Crescent International highlighted that the only thing that would decrease Moscow’s political stamina in Ukraine and beyond would be a crisis bordering its Muslim majority regions where for historical and socio-political reasons separatism is still on the agenda. We also stated that “any flare up of crisis in Azerbaijan would damage Western interests in the Caucasus and Central Asia, but in the long run Russia could lose more due to Azerbaijan’s proximity to its borders.”

We are not suggesting that the ceasefire violation was deliberately engineered by NATO to put pressure on Russia, but the intensity of coverage of the conflict in the corporate media was a clear sign that NATO regimes can and if necessary will use the Caucasus as a pressure point against Moscow.

The tensions in Karbakh have nothing to do with the Ilham Aliyev regime or the Armenian nationalist government in Yerevan. The occupation of Karabakh is one of Aliyev’s insurance cards to maintain his unelected regime in power, as it plays on the external enemy factor and tries in an amateur manner, to project itself as “nationalist” while his family is stashing away its wealth in Panama. The Armenian political elite is also not interested in igniting the conflict as they have achieved their illegitimate objectives: ethnically cleansed the Azeris from Karabakh and even occupied land beyond the Karabakh region. Moscow is not going to shake up the status quo as the current situation keeps it in a strong kingmaker position and retains Armenia under its complete political control. The only ones to benefit from the resumption of hostilities would be the NATO bloc, but in the Caucasus NATO is a passive player; unlike Moscow it can only react to events and not shape them.

The occupation of Karabakh is an existential issue in Azerbaijan and is part of the Armenian nationalist myth. Sooner or later the Karabkah conflict will unfreeze, especially as the Aliyev regime continues to weaken due to domestic opposition led by the Islamic movement and the severe economic crisis that resulted in the collapse of the local currency. Once the status quo is shaken up, the situation can take a very unpredictable turn if Moscow decides to impose a solution as it did in Georgia in 2008. This will give Washington an opportunity to enter the scene and through Turkey push its anti-Moscow strategy in the Caucasus. If the Kremlin takes a balanced and more neutral approach, it can prevent NATO from turning the Karabakh conflict into a pressure point against Russia.

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