December 5, 2020 By NEWS WIRE

Dr Can Erimtan
21st Century Wire

Now that Turkey has become a presidential one-party state ruled by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (aka the Prez), like in Ottoman times, the country’s affairs are once again being run from the palace – the Beştepe Palace in Ankara, to be precise. Living in this huge palace in conjunction with his wife Emine, the one-time humble and modest Erdoğan has now become a man whom his critics call a “billionaire several times over,” holding “at least eight Swiss bank accounts” and who has in the past “faced 13 corruption probes” which were never resolved due to his parliamentary immunity.

In spite of these allegations of sheer avarice and rank corruption, or “the misuse of public power for private benefit,” as an individual, Tayyip Erdoğan is deeply attached to his religion and he has been at pains to implement what I have termed a veritable ‘policy of Sunnification’ in the country in an effort to ‘make Turkey Muslim again.’ Over the past years, Erdoğan has skillfully used his Justice and Development Party (or AKP) to transform the Turkish nation state into an Islamic state in all but name called the New Turkey, well and truly embarked on a post-Kemalist path leading further and further away from Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881-1938)’s example and principles. Still, this seemingly novel political construct more often than not relies on policies and relationships harking back to the good old day when Turkish nationalism was all but synonymous with the Kemalism.

Recently, Turkey’s traditionally close ties to the Turkic nation state on the Caspian Sea have been revived again – “Turkey recognized Azerbaijan’s independence on 9 November 1991,” prior to the official fall of the Soviet Union (26 December 1991), and the recent revival of cordiality has also led to the outbreak of a new war in the Southern Caucasus. In this way, the Prez has suddenly become very close to Azerbaijan’s strongman, President Ilham Aliyev, whom the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (or OCCRP) awarded the epithet “Corrupt Person of the Year” in 2012. As a result, it seems obvious that Turkey’s Prez and his Azerbaijani strongman are nothing but a couple of swells, whose personal proclivities are now also matched by their public policies, bringing Ankara and Baku even closer together.

Between 27 September 2020 and 10 November 2020 (or six weeks all together), the Republic of Azerbaijan attacked Armenian positions in the disputed area of Nagorno-Karabakh (known as Artsakh, to Armenians) as well as targets in Armenia proper.

Though the Armenian side displayed a lot of bravado during the conflict, in the end Armenia’s PM Nikol Pashinyan agreed to Russian mediation in order to bring an end to further bloodshed. The resultant agreement was hailed as a victory by Azerbaijan and its brother-in-arms, Turkey. In fact, in the succeeding hours a video recording of the Azerbaijani strongman Aliyev emerged on social media, with the latter mocking Armenia’s PM, ostentatiously asking, “What happened Pashinyan?”

Six Weeks That Did Not Shake The World

As I have previously outlined, for a whole range of reasons, Tayyip Erdoğan‘s New Turkey directed and coached the recent Azerbaijani attack: “It was with Turkey’s funding, munitions and guidance that Azerbaijan attacked Artsakh on Sept. 27, 2020,“ declared the Armenian politician Raffi K. Hovannisian assuredly (on 21 October 2020). According to the Armenian authorities, a grand total of 2,425 of its soldiers have perished in the conflict, as reported by the Associated Pres (or AP). On Twitter, however, the independent journalist and analyst Neil Hauer estimates that “[l]osses in Armenia and Artsakh in the recent Karabakh war: based on the amount of soldiers still missing and presumed dead, they are starting to talk about 7-8,000 or even *10,000* dead. In 44 days.” adding in a subsequent tweet that “[n]one of this is official, obviously, just estimates I have heard from well-informed locals involved in search efforts, etc.” The AP’s Avet Demourian then adds that a “hundreds, possibly thousands [have been killed], in six weeks, but [Russia-brokered cease-fire] stipulated that Armenia turn over control of some areas it holds outside Nagorno-Karabakh’s borders to Azerbaijan.” Still, the now-beleagered Pashinyan took to Facebook to assure his people and possibly keep the door open for any future resistance:

Getting the realization of these programs on irreversible institutional tracks will take 6 months. In June 2021 I will deliver the performance report of this roadmap, and the public opinion and reaction will be taken into account for deciding future actions.

In Azerbaijan, on the other hand, the Russian-brokered road map was seen as a declaration of victory. The Azerbaijani writer Cavid Aga, on Twitter, gave voice to the sentiment on the street: “Since the announcement of [a] ceasefire, [the] Azerbaijani public has gone from one mood to other. At first, naturally they celebrated, made feasts, paraded.” Next stating that “three dominant groups have [subsequently] formed in society,” with the first being “satisfied with current outcome,” a second group, on the other hand, wanting the “war to continue,” and a third, desirous of “Turkish peacekeepers beside Russians as they don’t trust the latter.”

The Russian-brokered document itself is unequivocal, starting off that a “complete ceasefire and termination of all hostilities in the area of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is declared starting 12:00 am (midnight) Moscow time on November 10.” The plan gave the Azerbaijani side considerable territorial gains: the “Agdam District shall be returned to the Republic of Azerbaijan by November 20, 2020” and the “Republic of Armenia shall return the Kalbajar District to the Republic of Azerbaijan by November 15, 2020, and the Lachin District by December 1, 2020.” Still, a “Lachin Corridor (5 km wide), which will provide a connection between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia while not passing through the territory of Shusha, shall remain under the control of the Russian Federation peacemaking forces.” This means that the Kremlin shall remain an active player in the Southern Caucasus for the foreseeable future. In other words, though not quite reviving the 11-article Treaty of Kurekchay (14 May 1805), the current peace treaty of sorts ensures that Russia will continue to be a palpable presence locally. In contrast, Turkey also wants to be part of the configuration, with the all-but-impotent Turkish Parliament (or, TBMM) approving the Beştepe Palace’s request on 17 November to deploy Turkish troops to Azerbaijan to serve at a joint monitoring mission, in conjunction with Russia that has been tasked to “watch and inspect a ceasefire between Azerbaijan and Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh.” The head of Turkey’s Parliamentiary Defense Commission, İsmet Yılmaz pointedly and arguably somewhat idealistically remarked that the “Turkish presence in Azerbaijan and Karabakh is of vital importance for the protection of the historic victory.” Previously, on Twitter, the AKP-member Yılmaz had proclaimed his wish that the “call to prayer” would never cease in the “heavens of Karabakh.” In reality though, the Russians gave the Turks quite a cold shower in this respect, in spite of having set up a joint Russian-Turkish monitoring center for control of ceasefire observance in Azerbaijan, and having deployed “some 2,000 Russian peacekeepers” to Nagorno-Karabakh, yet remaining firm that Turkish boots be firmly off the ground. Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova was quite vocal in this respect: “one needs to understand clearly that we are not talking about the peacekeeping effort described in the statement but about a different mission.” Russia clearly calls the shots and has granted Turkey a face-saving role on Azerbaijani soil but has made sure to keep Turkish troops away from the conflict zone proper, that is Nagorno-Karabakh.

An Armenian Defeat: “What happened Pashinyan?”

Now Armenians are busily vacating the grounds handed back to Azerbaijan, burning their houses before abandoning the area, as can be seen on numerous video recordings spread into the world via social media, particularly on Twitter. These scorched earth efforts appear puzzling, but seem to point towards some kind of deep-seated disdain (or even hatred) for the Azerbaijanis. Dr. Gayane Novikova points out the presence of a “singular victim complex among Armenians [as a collection of individuals] who had been struggling for survival for centuries” – victims who, rightly or wrongly, feel particularly persecuted by ‘Turks.’ And in this context, Armenians regard Turks, Azerbaijanis or Tatars as interchangeable names for people having “initiated any and all threatening actions and violence against Armenians.” Novikova maintains that “owing to historical experience and memory,” Azebaijanis “were included into the ‘enemy’ category in the perceptions of broad cross sections of Armenians.” Dr Novikova here seems to slyly refer to the Armenian Genocide as a crime against humanity perpetrated by the Ottoman government, but popularly ascribed to the “Turks,” as a general derogatory name for bloodthirsty homicidal maniacs, ethnically related to Azerbaijanis.

A recent report by the RT journalist Murad Gazdiev all but underlines this assessment. Gazdiev presents an Armenian couple called “Lilit” and “Igor,” who have lived in their own house in the Kalbajar (known to Armenians as Karvajar or Karvatchar) region for the past 17 years. They had even built the house with their own hands. As a school teacher Lilit seems to possess large swathes of empathy and is thus unwilling to burn down the house they are going to abandon. Suddenly, her husband gets upset, saying “To hell with them, I am going to burn it down, burn it right down.” This couple now has to abandon their home in accordance with the stipulations of the Russian-brokered road map, a home they have inhabited for 17 years, or since 2003. The home they built on territory in one of the “seven districts surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh” that Armenia occupied in the aftermath of the signature of the provisional ceasefire agreement known as the Bishkek Protocol on 5 May 1994. In other words, they were settlers that have now been forced to vacate the location they took over.

As explained by Eurasianet’s Caucasus editor Joshua Kucera about two years ago, the “seven surrounding territories had had a negligible Armenian population, [and were] instead inhabited mainly by Azerbaijanis and Kurds. As a result of the war [that took place between 20 February 1988 and 12 May 1994] they were emptied of their population and about 618,000 Azerbaijanis remain displaced from the conflict, according to United Nations figures, the large majority of those from the seven districts.” In the early years of the 21st century, the Armenian authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh started to establish their own government infrastructure in the “occupied” or “liberated” territories. The constitution, adopted in 2006, saw the incorporation of these seven territories into the de facto Republic of Artsakh. The Senior South Caucasus Analyst at the International Crisis Group, Olesya Vartanyan puts forward that settlement “became a clear policy of the local [Artsakh] leadership” in 2007, adding that “[r]oads were built, many problems with electricity resolved, new schools built, houses repaired, and so on. All was done to support the existing [settler] population in the [newly acquired] territories.” And these Christian settlers clearly do not feel any sympathy for the Muslim “Azerbaijanis and Kurds” whom they had in large measure replaced. But now, on 25 November 2020, Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry announced summarily that “units of the Azerbaijan Army [have] entered the Kalbajar region,” in accordance with a trilateral statement signed by the presidents of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Russian Federation and the prime minister of the Republic of Armenia – the event dreaded by “Lilit” and “Igor.”

Two days previously (23 November 2020), “President Ilham Aliyev and [his] First Lady” ostentatiously visited the Juma mosque in the ghost town of Aghdam, that had been abandoned during the 1988-94 war. On Twitter, the Turkish journalist of Armenian descent (and actually residing in Armenia) Alin Ozinian adds that Aliyev, dressed up in a military uniform, performed prayers and bequeathed a copy of the Quran that had come form the holy city of Mecca to the mosque. Ozinian cheekily remarks that Azerbaijan’s President couldn’t have picked a better costume to wear in order to perform this strange act, which she calls a “cocktail of Jihadism-militarism-pan-Turkism.” Ozinian’s analysis shows the extent to which Aliyev has now apparently become subject to Erdoğan‘s role model, as a “’Turkist-Islamist’ Soviet leftover,” in Ozinian’s words, who is now trying to realign himself on an axis congruent with the New Turkey’s policy of Sunnification, albeit that the Azerbaijani nation adheres to the Shi’a version of Islam. Still, the heady mix of Jihadi Islam, Turkish nationalism and militarism that characterizes the New Turkey’s post-Kemalist era seems to exude a heady allure, apparently easily able to trangress confessional borders and migrate from Sunni to Shi’a climes.

Azerbaijan’s Gambit: Money Talks

Artem Avdalyan, a Lieutenant Colonel in the Armenian army, states clearly that “[f]ollowing the Bishkek agreement, Azerbaijan focused its efforts both on the development of its energy export based economy and in the rapid increase of its military capabilities.” This heightened military fire-power not coincidentally also emerged at a time when NATO was reaching out beyond its traditional boundaries within the framework of the Partnership for Peace programme, which also encompassed Azerbaijan. Baku’s hydrocarbon wealth led to a “windfall of revenues” that in turn gave rise to increased spending on military expenditure: from a meagre $240 million in 1998 to a whopping $1.453 billion in 2007, reaching the heights of $2 billion in 2012 and dropping off to $1.6 billion in 2018. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute indicates that Armenia’s “more moderate economic growth . . . has given less leeway for increased spending on . . . the military . . . sector.” Yet, the unresolved ‘frozen conflict’ in Nagorno-Karabakh was clearly the main reason for Baku’s spending spree and this year’s six-week war was all but its logical outcome.

In addition to its own awesome military firepower, the Azerbaijani side also relied on a “fleet of Israeli and Turkish drones” that has inflicted major damage on “Armenian tanks, air defences and heavy weapons.” The Jerusalem Post‘s Seth Frantzman indicated that so-called Israeli ‘kamikaze drones’ “reportedly make up a portion of Azerbaijan’s arsenal.” Various users on social media have posted video footage of these drones destroying Armenian positions and hardware, in particular the Orbiter 1K drone. Produced by the Israeli Aeronautics Group, this unmanned aerial vehicle is a “loiter munition platform, based on the combat proven, mature Orbiter 2 MUAS with the fuselage adapted for explosive payloads.” In fact, Israel’s state-owned aerospace manufacturer, IAI (or Israel Aerospace Industries) already in 2012 signed a $1.6 billion contract with Baku, in a clear effort to take advantage of the “windfall of revenues” that were re-directed to military expenditure eyeing the eventual re-ignition of the ‘frozen conflict’ in Nagorno-Karabakh. The fact that Israel has over the years become the Middle East’s high-tech production hub, including the manufacture of sophisticated weaponry, has led to this, at first sight, somewhat odd relationship between the Caspian oil-and-gas powerhouse and the Jewish state located in Palestine. Far from being a totally one-sided affair, “Israel receives about half of its crude oil supply from Azerbaijan,” as pointed out by the Yerevan-based David Davidian. In fact, President Aliyev himself is reported to have likened this relationship to an iceberg by stating that “nine-tenths of it is below the surface.”

Closer to home, Baku has also relied on Ankara to acquire unmanned killing machines able to get the job done without any significant risk or danger. Like Israel, AKP-led New Turkey has also been trying hard to transform itself into a veritable production hub of high-tech killing gadgets – as worded by the freelance journalist Ferhat Gurini, “Turkey’s growing defense industry is a cornerstone of Erdogan’s independent and assertive foreign policy.” In this respect, the Beştepe Palace is but following good old Turkish precedent, the Presidency of Defence Industries (Savunma Sanayii Başkanlığı) having been set up as long ago as 1985. Following the example of the not-quite Islamist (he was nevertheless openly affiliated with the Naqshbandi brotherhood) but outspoken neoliberal Turgut Özal (1927-93), Tayyip Erdoğan continues encouraging public-private partnerships, with such by now prominent firms like ASELSAN, HAVELSAN and TAI. Originally, this deadly hardware was destined solely for Turkey’s Armed Forces (or TSK, in acronymized Turkish), but the demands of capitalist expansion have led to Turkey now also exporting weapons systems to other countries – such as, Kazakhstan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, the UAE, Indonesia and, significantly, Azerbaijan. Recently, Turkey’s arms industry has specialized in the production of unmanned aerial vehicles (or drones), having seemingly acquired the expertise from Israel after IAI sold drone technology to the TSK. For Turkey and Israel have enjoyed a “secret but close” defense relationship since the late fifties, as alleged by the Israeli writer and journalist Yossi Melman. He explains that “[o]ver the years, especially in the 1980s and 1990s, Israel’s defence industries sold arms to Turkey, which included intelligence equipment, missiles avionics and upgraded tanks and planes,” amounting to a $10bn turnover. This somewhat unseen commercial exchange has now resulted in the NewTurkey’s blooming arms industry. In recent years, Turkish Bayraktar TB2 and Anka-S drones have been deployed all over the place – in Syria, Iraq, and Libya, but now also in the Southern Caucasus.

Last June, the “Azeri parliament approved a bill to receive financial assistance from Turkey to be used for the purchase of weapons systems.” And Baku then went ahead and used these funds to buy Ankara’s Bayraktar TB2 drones – “developed by Kale-Baykar, a joint venture of Baykar Makina and the Kale Group.” The Washington Post‘s foreigncorrespondent Robyn Dixon explains that Azerbaijan used these Turkish drones to good effect to kill “Armenian and Nagorno-Karabakh soldiers and destroy tanks, artillery and air defense systems.” Last October then, Azerbaijan’s strongman Ilham Aliyev appeared on the Turkish state broadcaster TRT to tell the brotherly nation that “[t]hanks to advanced Turkish drones owned by the Azerbaijan military, our casualties on the front shrunk . . . These drones show Turkey’s strength. It also empowers us.” While on social media, video footage of the Azerbaijani use of these Turkish weapons was distributed as well: “Azerbaijan Armed Forces is continuing to destroy enemy positions and vehicles with the aerial assaults conducted by Bayraktar TB2 Armed UAVs.” During his TRT appearance, Azerbaijan’s strongman did not seem to hide his admiration for the Prez: “Turkey has the second strongest army among NATO countries, and we are building a small model of this Army.”

Operation Peace Spring Redux:

Ethnic Cleansing and Memories of the Armenian Genocide

Aside from the fact that Turkey and Azerbaijan have populations that are ethnically Turkic and that both people adhere to the religion of Islam, albeit one being Sunni and the other Shi’a, did Ankara have any ulterior motives in providing Baku with support and leadership?!?

In this context, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI)’s resident scholar Dr Michael Rubin has recently put forward an interesting suggestion. Rubin namely argues that the Turkish and Azerbaijani strongmen want to “replicate” Operation Peace Spring‘s goals in Nagorno-Karabakh. In 2019, Tayyip Erdoğan pursued his plan of having Sunni Syrian refugees replace Kurdish civilians in northern Syria, at the time he had actually been thinking about re-settling “2 million Syrians.” In fact, the outspoken Erdoğan critic contends that AKP-led Ankara has been employing Sunni Syrians inside Turkey in a similar fashion, in attempts to neutralize “predominantly Alevi areas in Hatay” and “Kurdish towns and villages in southeastern Turkey.” Regarding Nagorno-Karabakh, Rubin reasons that “ridding the region of Christians” is the ultimate goal, as he states that “few Azeris want to live there,” given its landlocked status and the opportunities and job prospects contained in Azerbaijan proper. Dr Rubin spells out his suggestion as follows:

Documents captured during the recent Armenia-Azerbaijan War as well as prisoner interrogations reveal that Turkey facilitated the transport of more than 7,700 Syrian Islamists to Azerbaijan in the months before the September 27 outbreak of fighting . . . [and now that the war over, these] Syrian mercenaries are both sending for their family members to come to Azerbaijan and seeking to then settle in southern areas of Karabakh that have now reverted to Azerbaijan.

Rubin’s interpretation is all but congruent with accusations of ethnic cleansing and human rights’ abuses, uttered by many Armenians and documented on social media. For example, on 29 October 2020, a Twitter user calling themselves Anna posted an AP video showing the shelling of a hospital in the Artsakh capital of Stepanakert, adding the following words: “#Azerbaijan wants Artsakh without Armenians, and their aim is the ethnic cleansing of Armenians in Artsakh.“ A German internet user called Dennis is particularly active in this respect, making ‘objective’ videos on the war in Nagorno-Karabakh using the name Vagabondings for his YouTube channel. And he really does a good job, documenting ‘war crimes’ and ‘crimes against humanity.’ His internet-based activism has even led to a certain degree of mainstream media recognition, as illustrated by an interview conducted by Los Angeles-based KTTV FOX11’s Good Day L.A‘s anchor Araksya Karapetyan. This plethora of social media activity has now even led the “Azerbaijani authorities [to tell BBC Azeri that] they are looking into the beheading video circulating on social media as well as other gruesome images that appear to show war crimes being committed by their servicemen in Karabakh,” as related by the BBC News journalist Grigor Atanesian on Twitter (23 November 2020).

In parallel to Armenians’ apparent outspoken hatred and disgust for Azerbaijanis, it seems that Baku’s propaganda efforts have been equally effective in turning the population against their Christian neighbours, as illustrated by the case of Nurlan Ibrahimov, an official at the Azerbaijani football club Qarabag. On social media, Ibrahimov published the following message:

We must kill all Armenians – women, children, the elderly. We need to kill them without distinction. No regrets. No compassion.

The UEFA investigated the official for potentially “violating basic rules of decent conduct” and banned him subsequently (26 November 2020). The next day, the Investigative Committee of the Republic of Armenia even issued a search warrant for the Azerbaijani football official, charging him with ‘inciting national, racial or religious hatred (Article 226 of RA Criminal Code), inciting direct and public genocide (Point 1 of the Part 2 of the Article 393.1 of RA Criminal Code), justifying and endorsing genocide and other crimes against peace and security of humanity (Article 373.1 of RA Criminal Code).’

Ibrahimov’s words are troubling, as they display unthinkable levels of hatred and disgust, and are nothing but a public call for the implementation of a genocidal policy beyond mere ethnic cleansing. There are those who would say that the Azerbaijani football official’s social media statement responds to a statement made by Tayyip Erdoğan in the summer preceding the outbreak of the war: “[t]his mission, whatever it might entail, which our ancestors [meaning, the Ottomans] have carried out for centuries in the Caucasus, we will continue to fulfill again” (14 July 2020). The above-quoted Davidian, for instance, interprets “Erdogan’s outburst [as] a reference to the Turkish genocide of the Armenians.” After having spoken the words, the Prez continued by stressing the “age-old” ties with the “brother” and “friend” Azerbaijan and Turkey’s moral duty to help and assist against unwarranted Armenian aggression. At first sight, it would seem reasonable to assume that the Turkish President was effectively hinting at the events of the early 20th century, when the Ottomans were fighting alongside the Germans in the Great War (1914-18) and the promulgation of the ‘Deportation Act’ (Tehcir Kanunu) on 24 April 1915 led to the massacre of untold Armenians in what has been erroneously named the ‘First Genocide of 20th Century.’

Turkey’s Mission in the Southern Caucaus

But when looking at the exact words used by Erdoğan, one could arguably derive a somewhat different interpretation. The Turkish President used the term ‘ecdadimiz’ to refer to the Ottomans, a term that corresponds to ancestors, a term that has become quite popular in Turkey these days (corresponding to the Arabic term ‘ajdad). He did not talk about our ‘forefathers’ or ‘grandfathers,’ in which case he could have used the term ‘dedelerimiz,’ as would seem logical when referring to people active in the early years of the previous century. Moreover, Tayyip Erdoğan specifically spoke about a ‘mission’ that had been ‘carried out for centuries.‘ Looking back at the historical circumstances in the past centuries, it seems hard to understand which “mission” Erdoğan had in mind while talking about the Caucasus. In Ottoman times, the Caucasus region primarily functioned as a buffer zone with the Safavids, ruling over the Iranian lands to the south. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, it became primarily an area of confrontation with the Russian Empire. For the Ottomans, centred in İstanbul, the Caucasus region was situated at the periphery of their world, beyond the Ottoman centre of gravity and the area that is now Azerbaijan really constituted the Ottoman Empire’s ‘near abroad,’ to borrow a phrase more commonly used in connection with Russia. The Ottoman mission the Prez was talking about seems to have had more to do with ensuring peace and non-hostile activity (such as trade and commerce) in the Southern Caucasus than with eradicating Christians or Armenians. The Prez did talk about ‘centuries’ rather than ‘last century,’ which would have been a time frame in line with the Armenian Genocide. For, even though Ottomans and Safavids clashed regularly in the Southern Caucasus, trade and commercial exchanges were nevertheless very important and at times very vibrant between the Sunni and Shi’a power blocs of the Islamic world in the early modern period and beyond.

Though he is a pious Muslim and an outspoken Islamist, above all else, in strategic terms, Tayyip Erdoğan is primarily a practical and pragmatic politician who wants to further his own or rather Turkey’s agenda. A news item carried by the Azebaijani private media outlet Trend News Agency on 30 November 2020 all but spells out one of the Prez’s ulterior motives for supporting the “brotherly” nation: “Azerbaijan, Turkey plan MoU on natural gas transportation to Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic”. Recently, Azerbaijan’s Minister of Energy Parviz Shahbazov told the press that “it is planned to transport some volumes of natural gas supplied from Azerbaijan to Turkey to Nakhchivan via the Igdir-Nakhchivan gas pipeline.” In other words, the recent ‘liberation’ of Nagorno-Karabakh will also turn out to be instrumental for Turkey as it pursues its longtime ambition of becoming an energy hub. Turkey’s active pipeline politics have already secured important links between both Turkic nations, with the recently completed Trans Adriatic Pipeline (or TAP) but the cherry on top of Tayyip Erdoğan‘s forays into Pipelineistan and the 2005-completed Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan pipeline but the beginning of the friendship between Ankara and Baku. Now that Azerbaijan has completed its takeover of land that was given up by Armenia as part of a Moscow-brokered peace deal at the beginning of this month, Azerbaijan’s strongman has told the world that this military and political “victory opens a new era for our country. It will be an era of development, security and progress.”

These three words – “development, security and progress” – are but music to Erdoğan‘s ears as he seemingly prepares to take up the mantle once carried by his Ottoman ancestors and sets out to secure the New Turkey’s near abroad in the Southern Caucasus and proceeds to mark the region with his very own pseudo-Ottoman stamp, as an equal partner of Russia’s Putin not quite knowing yet what to expect from the incoming “Harris administration with Joe Biden as president” of the United States.

21WIRE special contributor Dr. Can Erimtan is an independent historian and geo-political analyst who used to live in Istanbul. At present, he is in self-imposed exile from Turkey. He has a wide interest in the politics, history and culture of the Balkans, the greater Middle East, and the world beyond. He attended the VUB in Brussels and did his graduate work at the universities of Essex and Oxford. In Oxford, Erimtan was a member of Lady Margaret Hall and he obtained his doctorate in Modern History in 2002. His publications include the revisionist monograph “Ottomans Looking West?” as well as numerous scholarly articles. In Istanbul, Erimtan started publishing in Today’s Zaman and in Hürriyet Daily News. In the next instance, he became the Turkey Editor of the İstanbul Gazette. Subsequently, he commenced writing for RT Op-Edge, NEO, and finally, the 21st Century Wire. You can find him on Twitter at @theerimtanangle. Read Can’s archive here.

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