Author: Elmira TARIVERDIYEVA
A month and a half after the Second Karabakh War in the Armenian-occupied territories of Azerbaijan, it became quite obvious that Yerevan is losing both on the battlefield and on the political front. There are several reasons why Armenian is losing so quickly and shamefully. It is not only about the poor state of the Armenian economy, the unpreparedness of the Armenian occupation forces and the ignorance of the Armenian command. The reasons for the Armenian fiasco are much deeper and more complex.
The members of the so-called Karabakh Clan who ruled Armenia until 2018 were well aware of the terrible consequences of the new war with Azerbaijan and did everything possible to prevent a military scenario. Despite the violation of all norms of international law and the continuing occupation of Azerbaijani lands, the Clan has never brought the situation to the point to make Baku refuse the negotiations. All these years, the Armenian leadership discussed the ways to overcome the crisis through diplomatic means. The situation changed with the incumbent leader of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan.
Pashinyan came to power on the wave of Armenian discontent with the rule of his predecessor, Serzh Sargsyan, and the ever worsening economic conditions. But he turned out to be a weak and dependent politician. In a relatively short period, he made a fatal number of strategic mistakes that have brought Armenia to its current deplorable state.
Pashinyan simply could not prioritize the issues on political agenda due to his lack of political competence. He did not understand the real situation inside and outside the country, making up in his mind an image of a pro-Western Armenia with new democratic attitudes, which would be supported by Europe and the United States through the active role of the Armenian diaspora.
It is no secret that the American billionaire George Soros, famous for his political games, spent tens of millions of dollars to influence Armenian policy through Nikol Pashinyan. It was with Soros's money that public opinion was influenced in Armenia, which ultimately led to the so called revolution of Pashinyan. Moreover, as a result of public perturbations, Open Society - Armenia Foundation (a daughter of the Soros Foundation) has rapidly strengthened. And after Pashinyan came to power, he actually took control of all branches of the government. Soros' people were immediately appointed to all key posts. Pashinyan himself was not much interested in the real improvement of life in Armenia, only the reorientation of the country to the West was important. The first manifestation of this policy was the outflow of Russian business from Armenia, which had been impeded for two years. For a whole year, Yerevan also prevented the appointment of its compatriot as a CSTO Secretary General.
After spoiling relations with Armenia’s main ally, Moscow, which quickly realized that Pashinyan was an unreliable and even dangerous politician, the Armenian prime minister also made yet another irreparable mistake in relations with its main enemy, Baku. With his populist statements addressed to domestic audiences and the Armenian lobby in the West, Pashinyan has escalated the Nagorno-Karabakh issue to the red line that his predecessors had avoided for many years. His attempts to present the Armenian separatists as a party to the conflict, provocative statements about the ownership of Nagorno-Karabakh by Armenia made it impossible to continue the peace negotiations. Baku realized that the new Armenian government would not follow the agreements reached earlier and were the main deterrent for Azerbaijan. And Pashinyan himself argued that he was not going to continue negotiations from the point left by his predecessors.
All these factors made Azerbaijan's counter-offensive in response to another provocation by Armenia in late September inevitable. Even then the Armenian authorities hoped to get out of the situation with the support of Moscow. However, Yerevan's repeated attempts to involve Russia in the conflict were unsuccessful. In response to all the calls of Armenia to protect its ally from the "insidious alliance of Turkey and Azerbaijan," Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that Azerbaijan is conducting military operations on its territory, the occupation cannot last longer, Turkey is a friend of Moscow, and so on. In a word, Russia was not going to interfere. Thus, Yerevan learned a new lesson - one cannot change allies too often rushing from the West to Russia and back.
For Armenia, fighting alone with Azerbaijan was a terrible nightmare. Despite the millions spent for over almost 30 years to build fortifications along the entire line of contact, deep problems in the Armenian army caused its retreat from the very first days of Azerbaijan's counteroffensive. In addition, due to an economic blockade, Armenia did not have enough funds to train its army. Soon a depressing situation emerged in the ranks of the Armenian Armed Forces. More Armenian soldiers have died from bullying than during the skirmishes on the contact line in all 26 years of the armistice. Hundreds Armenian soldiers committed suicides or were killed. As a result, in February 2020, the government carried out a large personnel purge in the army leadership. The lack of elementary military discipline in the Armenian army also affects the situation in the conflict zone. Due to lack of real command, disruption of communication between units, lack of weapons and material supplies both conscripts and reservists simply flee refusing to obey orders of their commanders.
At the beginning of the counteroffensive, Azerbaijan destroyed relatively combat-ready units and an experienced officer core of the Armenian army. On the battlefield, there were young and inexperienced reservists who were gathered throughout Armenia, and elderly militias who cannot hold the defense without officers.
Azerbaijan, on the other hand, has achieved tangible successes in hostilities, without announcing, unlike the enemy, general mobilization. This shows not only the numerical superiority of the Azerbaijani army, but also its proper combat training and the presence of a whole generation of highly qualified officers.
It is also important that the Azerbaijani Armed Forces are ahead of the enemy by several generations in military-technical terms. Baku directed the lion's share of the proceeds from the sale of its energy resources to equip the army with modern defense equipment.
Obviously, the main factor that guaranteed the success of Azerbaijan was a great deal of motivation among the soldiers. Historically, the motivation plays no less important role in victory than technical equipment and military potential. Today, the Azerbaijani army is waging a patriotic war to liberate the native lands, while the Armenian soldiers, executing the orders of its commanders, are trying to stay on the occupied foreign territory.
After the victory of the Azerbaijani troops, it is time for Pashinyan to think about how to get out of the situation, at least to save his image. No money of the diaspora and military aid from outside did not significantly affect the situation - Armenia irrevocably lost all the territories it once occupied. It will take decades for Yerevan to recover from the blow, provided that it manages to get out of the regional isolation.