Armenian News Network / Groong

Review & Outlook - 05/09/2016

Failed Azerbaijani Blitzkrieg: Causes, Consequences & Implications 

Armenian News Network / Groong
May 9, 2016

By Grigor Hakobyan

Part 1


This article analyzes the role of regional and global players in the
conflict as we try to identify who stood to benefit from the
resumption of the war in the Caucasus, what caused the resumption of
the war in the first place, what were the immediate consequences of
this war for the parties involved and what are the most immediate
military and political implications for the region in the coming


In the aftermath of the four day war caused by the unprecedented
Azerbaijani military aggression against Armenians of Artsakh since the
signing of the 1994 ceasefire agreement, many opinions and theories
have been expressed and discussed in public as the civil society in
Armenia and the diaspora at large tried to make sense of the events
and tried to understand who stood to benefit from yet another war in
the Caucasus. Since then, both Armenian and non-Armenian local and
international media outlets have actively discussed the brief
resumption of the war in the region in an attempt to identify the
culprits behind the resumption of the war.

A shadow of suspicion has shrouded prior and current actions of
Russian, Turkish and western governments (U.S.A. and E.U.) in the
Caucasus as people in the region wait in suspense for yet another
round of war to breakout in the most immediate future. Lack of direct
criticism of Azerbaijani aggression against people of Artsakh and the
Republic of Armenia for the past twenty two years by the international
community in the face of O.S.C.E. and U.N. has only added fuel to the
fire and raised further questions about their role in the region and
their willingness to help resolve this conflict through diplomatic

Part 2


The oil boom of the 1990s and 2000s allowed the Azerbaijani government
to engage in large militarization efforts for the past twenty two
years which lead to accumulation of large quantities of offensive
weapons and creating a false sense of overpowering strength and
military capabilities which they didn't possess previously.


For the past twenty two years Azerbaijan has been shelling Armenian
towns and villages along the contact line with the republics of
Armenia and Artsakh. Yet, despite Armenian membership in Russian led
military alliance of post-Soviet states known as the CSTO (Collective
Security Treaty Organization), none of its members, including Russia,
ever subjected Azerbaijan to serious criticism. None of them took the
Azerbaijani attacks against Armenian military border positions, as
well as civilian towns and villages of the Republic of Armenia as an
attack against the alliance that required collective defensive actions
in support of Armenia. Moreover, for the past twenty two years Russia
continued supplying Azerbaijan with large caliber offensive weapons
such as howitzers, long range cannons, rocket-propelled artillery
systems, aircrafts and helicopters which were readily unleashed
against Armenians in Artsakh resulting in nearly one hundred military
and civilian fatalities and dozens of wounded.

The inaction by Russia and the CSTO towards Azerbaijani attacks
against Armenians and continued supply of heavy weaponry by Russia and
other non-CSTO countries has played a role in encouraging the
Azerbaijani government to engage in a large scale military aggression
against Armenians in Artsakh.

THE WEST (U.S.A., E.U. and O.S.C.E.):

Similarly, the western governments and international institutions have
failed to directly criticize the Azerbaijani aggression against
Armenians for the past twenty two years. Spurious diplomatic actions
and falsely equalizing statements by the representatives of the OSCE's
Minsk Group and foreign governments have further contributed to an
Azerbaijani sense of invincibility and self-righteousness which
further encouraged the Azerbaijani leadership to embark on a new
military aggression against the Armenians of Artsakh, thus unleashing
the four day war with all its devastating consequences to its own

Regional Actors (Turkey and Israel): Unlike the path chosen by the
western governments and similar to Russian position, for a very long
time Turkey and Israel provided Azerbaijan with large quantities of
offensive weapons (e.g. attack drones, artillery, etc.) and
ammunitions. Furthermore, Turkish government took an extra step of
providing Azerbaijan with military advisors, special forces, and
jihadi mercenaries from the Middle East who actively took part in the
failed Azerbaijani blitzkrieg against the Armenians of Artsakh.
Moreover, continued political backing of Azerbaijan by the Turkish
government, perceived mutual interest in undermining the security of
Armenian people in the region and shared xenophobic beliefs in
Pan-Turkic ideology gave an additional impetus to the Azerbaijani
decision to resume the war in Artsakh.


Decades of corruption in the Azerbaijani government highlighted by the
release of the Panama Papers and the recent collapse of oil prices in
the world markets have created a wave of social discontent in
Azerbaijan. As people in the country began challenging the legitimacy
of the Aliyev regime and express their discontent with social and
economic policies of the ruling government, the Azerbaijani leadership
seemed to have decided that it was the most opportune moment for them
to launch a war of conquest against the Armenians of Artsakh as a way
to distract their own people from real problems plaguing the
Azerbaijani economy and undermining the political process and civil
discourse in the country.

Part 3


The unexpected Azerbaijani aggression against Armenians of Artsakh
galvanized all Armenians from around the world. As the news of the
Azerbaijani military offensive spread, diaspora based organized
immediately launched multi-prong political campaigns and charity
fundraisers to aid the Armenian military and put to bear tremendous
political pressure upon the Azerbaijani government to stop its
hostilities against the Republic of Artsakh. More than twenty thousand
volunteers, both male and female have self-mobilized themselves from
every corner of Armenia and diaspora, and rushed to the war
zone. Short range ballistic missiles in the possession of the Republic
of Armenia were transported to Artsakh while warning of planned
missiles strikes against Azerbaijani oil refineries, oil and gas
pipelines, and other strategic infrastructure were issued by Artsakh's
Ministry of Defense.

In less than forty-eight hours Azerbaijan's offensive bogged down in
all battlefields across the line of contact due to significant losses
of military personnel and military hardware. The Azerbaijani
government was forced to declare a unilateral ceasefire and beg
international powers such as Russia and the U.S. to intervene and stop
the Armenian counteroffensive that was rapidly degrading Azerbaijani
military capabilities. The false sense of confidence, significant
miscalculation of geopolitical factors and underestimating the
strength of the Armenian military to retaliate in case of war became
the Achilles Heel of the entire military operation that brought down
the Azerbaijani aggression against the Armenian people to a screeching

Nearly one hundred fatalities among soldiers and civilians on Armenian
side and more than five hundred fatalities on Azerbaijani side were
the end result of the brief war between the warring
countries. Combined, the war resulted in hundreds of wounded soldiers
and civilians from both sides of the conflict and economic losses
estimated to be in tens of millions of dollars.  Implications

There were also a number of implications for both countries as
well. Azerbaijan once again proved to be an unreliable partner to
negotiate with, leading the international community to rule out any
possibility of Azerbaijan exercising any political control over
Artsakh in a future negotiated settlement. Furthermore, the conflict
revealed the extent of the panic in the Azerbaijani leadership due the
plunge of oil prices and emergence of social unrest and political
instability within the country, that it was willing to resume a deadly
war to distract its own people from rising to address the multifold
domestic problems that are plaguing the country as a result of the
systemic corruption of the Aliyevs and their regime.

Subsequent reconsiderations of the status quo in the region has
prompted some European parliamentarians to speak publically about the
need to recognize the independence of Artsakh and invite the
leadership of the unrecognized republic to become an active party in
international negotiations over its status.

In case of Armenia, the war revealed multiple gaps within the Armenian
military establishment which failed to adequately equip its forces for
the resumption of war in Artsakh. Specifically, there were instances
of front line units quickly running out of ammunition and anti-tank
projectiles needed to halt enemy advances. A shortage of portable air
defense systems (MANPADS) to engage Azerbaijani helicopters sweeping
over their positions was another challenge for the infantrymen to
overcome. Subsequently, some of the frontline units were forced to
resort to using RPGs to down enemy helicopters at dangerously close
distances from their positions.

The high ranking authorities in charge of equipping the Armenian
military were soon removed from their positions by presidential
decrees. Additionally, failure of Armenian military intelligence to
obtain advance knowledge of the coming attack raised questions about
the competence of its leadership and led to additional presidential
decrees removing leadership in charge of this fiasco from the
positions that they have occupied.


The results of the four day war are forcing the Armenian political
establishment to reevaluate established military alliances and
interstate treaties of mutual support and collaboration which have
partially failed to serve their purpose at the time that they were
most needed. Static Armenian foreign policy formulated for the past
decade has failed to deter Azerbaijan from engaging in continuous
military aggression against the Armenian people and to prevent the
resumption of war in the region.

Changes in the foreign policy of Armenia leading to the recognition of
Artsakh's independence, and changes in the military doctrine leading
to the development and acquisition of precision weaponry and
autonomous weapon systems will be the necessary steps for Armenia to
undertake as a way to deter further military adventures against it.

Self-reliance and diplomatic pragmatism, introduction of greater
transparency and government accountability, elimination of corruption
and nepotism, greater civic engagement and economic plurality seem to
be the missing ingredients for Armenia's success. Perhaps it is time
for Armenia to look in the mirror for answers.

Grigor Hakobyan is an independent political analyst in Los Angeles,
and the founder of Ararat Institute for Near Eastern Studies. He was a
freelance writer for the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute of John
Hopkins University and has also interned at the US House of
Representatives where he was engaged in research of ethnic conflicts
and terrorism in Russia, Caucasus and Central Asia; and at the
International Center for Terrorism Studies at the Potomac Institute
for Policy Studies where he researched international terrorist
networks operating in the Caucasus and Central Asia regions. Grigor
has prepared congressional briefings for the Director of ICTS on WMDs.
He holds a B.A. degree in Political Science from Arizona State
University and a Master's degree in Special Education from California
State University Dominguez Hills.

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