Azerbaijan: NATO’s outpost on the Caspian Sea
On June 17 the defense minister of Azerbaijan, Colonel General Zakir Hasanov, recently a “hero” of the Great Patriotic War against what is – or was – little more than a settlement, Nagorno-Karabakh, met with Raimonds Bergmanis, a member of the Latvian delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and his nation’s former defense minister. The topic, of course, was the further military integration of the Caspian Sea nation into the thirty-nation military alliance’s global network. Azerbaijan is NATO’s main outpost on the Caspian where the military bloc intends to confront Baku’s fellow littoral states Iran and Russia.
In the past two decades NATO has assigned member states as liaison nations (Contact Point Embassies) to partner states and aspirants. The officials of the two former Soviet republics, on Russia’s northwestern and southern borders, on the Baltic and Caspian Seas, discussed bilateral and general military cooperation to assist Azerbaijan in gaining NATO interoperability. According to Azerbaijan’s Trend News, “Azerbaijani-Latvian military cooperation has been successfully implement[ed] both within NATO’s various programs and on a bilateral basis.”
“Latvia, being a NATO member, positively assesses the relations between Azerbaijan and NATO.
“Azerbaijan and NATO are actively cooperating in the field of military education. Azerbaijan has also carried out reforms in the field of military education recommended by NATO. NATO and Azerbaijan are united by the action plan signed by the sides in the field of political cooperation.”
Trend reported that Azerbaijan has sent military aircraft – two MiG-29 fighters and two Su-25 attack aircraft – to Turkey for the Anatolian Eagle 2021 air combat exercise. The two nations’ air forces operated jointly last year in the military assault against Nagorno-Karabakh.
The Anatolian Phoenix-2021 air force exercise was just completed in Turkey as well, with the participation of forces from Azerbaijan, the U.S., Qatar, Slovakia and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. The last is particularly noteworthy, as the U.S. participating jointly with the air force of the unrecognized Turkish puppet state in military drills is a clear signal to the Republic of Cyprus. After Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s appearance in conquered Nagorno-Karabakh territory the day after he left the NATO summit in Belgium, the government in Nicosia should be on the alert for the next Turkish “war of liberation.”
On June 16 the Azerbaijani press ran a story stating, “The North Atlantic Treaty Organization collectively believes that the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict [of last year] ended as a result of the military defeat of Armenia and the return of the liberated territories to the jurisdiction of Baku,” in comments attributed to a Russian political analyst. That appears to be a fairly plausible appraisal of NATO’s position.
The article cited above also stated, “Commenting on the fact that the statement following the NATO summit in Brussels did not mention the conflict as a threat to Europe’s security, the analyst noted that not only the alliance member states, but the rest of the world recognized this fact.” That, also, seems an accurate interpretation of events. For as NATO in no manner reproached Baku for its war of aggression or NATO member Turkey’s integral role in waging it, NATO in fact has sanctioned it.
The war against the tiny nation of Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia, which is by no means over, is in fact another NATO proxy war, as are those in Syria, the Donbass and Mali.
On June 16 it was reported that James Appathurai, the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, spoke at an international conference titled Azerbaijan’s Contribution to Euro-Atlantic Peace and Security, and made this comment – as Nagorno-Karabakh territory has been seized by Azerbaijan and Turkey (which has mentioned building a military base there) and Azerbaijani troops remain on Armenian soil:
“We support the territorial integrity, political independence and sovereignty of the countries of the region. We want to see stability, peace and development in the South Caucasus, as well as good relations between the three countries of the region. The relations between Azerbaijan and Georgia are especially commendable….”
On June 17 the deputy defense minister of Azerbaijan, Air Force Commander Ramiz Tahirov, met with Pakistani Air Vice Marshal Tariq Zia to discuss strengthening cooperation between the two nations’ air forces. The Azerbaijani defense chief thanked his military counterpart for training Azerbaijani pilots at the Pakistan Air Force Academy, and was paraphrased as saying, “the development of cooperation in the military aviation sphere and ties between the Air Forces contribute to further strengthening the Azerbaijani and Pakistani armies’ combat capability.”
The two sides praised what was identified as a strategic partnership. Trend added this paragraph to its report of the meeting between the two air force commanders:
“During the 44-day war with Armenia in 2020, Pakistan was among the first countries voicing political support for Azerbaijan. Pakistan also supports Azerbaijan in the restoration of the country’s liberated territories.”
In fact there’s evidence that Pakistan provided direct support for last year’s war. Azerbaijan’s increased cooperation with Islamabad parallels that of its “one nation, two states” partner Turkey.
Closer Turkish-Pakistani political and military collaboration doesn’t bode well for Afghanistan. Or Tajikistan. Or India. Or Russia. Or China. Or Iran. It is a catastrophe for Armenia.