The Great Offense That Led Azerbaijan to Victory: The Anatomy of the 44-Days WarAli Asker, Zeynep Gizem Özpınar
By virtue of its close proximity, the Caucasus is extremely important to Turkey in geopolitical/geostrategic, political, historical, and sociological terms. Events in this region, both geographically and sociologically speaking, closely affect Turkey for security and other reasons. Relations between the states in the Caucasus, the policies of surrounding countries toward the region, and developments in the international arena can seriously affect the security, stability, and prosperity of the region. At the beginning of the 20th century, the collapse of imperial Russia allowed three independent republics—Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia—to emerge in this region. These states were able to survive for only 2–2.5 years before they were again occupied by Soviet Russia. Armenia, which adopted an expansionary policy by occupying the territories of neighboring countries both in this period of independence and thereafter, took land from Azerbaijan and incorporated it within its borders through various historical processes. After Soviet rule was established in Azerbaijan, Zangezur region was given to Armenia, and autonomy was granted to Armenians in the mountainous region of Karabakh. Armenia was not satisfied with this, however, and raised territorial claims against Azerbaijan at every opportunity. Armenia pursued a similar policy during the dissolution of the Soviet Union, but this time resorted to armed conflict and occupied about 20% of Azerbaijan’s territory. Armenia, having occupied Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas for more than a quarter of a century, rejected any proposal for a peaceful resolution to the problem and made new attacks on other regions of Azerbaijan. By 2020, the Armenian army’s preparations for war and the new attacks carried out in this context indicated that a second Karabakh War was inevitable. The Great Offensive organized by the Azerbaijani army against the attacks of Armenia lasted for 44 days. The Armenian army, which suffered a significant defeat, eventually withdrew from the territory of Azerbaijan, accepting the surrender in accordance with the trilateral agreement between Russia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia.
Azerbaycan’ı Zafere Götüren Büyük Taarruz: 44 Günlük Savaşın AnatomisiAli Asker, Zeynep Gizem Özpınar
Kafkasya, yakın coğrafyamızda yer alan ve jeopolitik-jeostratejik, siyasi, tarihi ve sosyolojik yönüyle son derece önemli bir bölgedir. Sadece coğrafi anlamda değil sosyolojik yönüyle de bu bölgede gelişen olaylar güvenlik ve birçok nedenden dolayı Türkiye’yi de yakından etkilemektedir. Kafkasya’da yer alan devletler arasındaki ilişkiler, çevre ülkelerinin bölgeye yönelik politikaları ve uluslararası alanda yaşanan gelişmeler; bölge güvenliğini, istikrarı ve refahı ciddi şekilde etkileyebilmektedir. 19. yüzyılda Rusya tarafından işgal edilmiş bu bölgede 20. yüzyılın başlarında üç bağımsız cumhuriyet -Gürcistan, Azerbaycan ve Ermenistan- ortaya çıkmışsa da 2-2,5 yıl varlıklarını devam ettirebilmiş bu cumhuriyetler yeniden Sovyet Rusya’sı tarafından işgal edilmişlerdir. Gerek bağımsızlık döneminde gerekse sonraki aşamalarda komşu ülkelerin topraklarını işgal ederek genişleme politikasına yönelen Ermenistan, değişik tarihi süreçlerde fırsat buldukça Azerbaycan’dan toprak kopararak kendi sınırlarına dâhil etmiştir. Azerbaycan’da Sovyet hâkimiyeti tesis edildikten sonra Zengezur bölgesi Ermenistan’a verilmiş, ayrıca Karabağ’ın dağlık bölgesinde Ermenilere özerklik tanınmıştır. Fakat Ermenistan bununla yetinmeyerek her fırsatta Azerbaycan’a karşı toprak iddialarını gündeme getirmiştir. Sovyetler Birliği’nin dağılması sürecinde yeniden harekete geçen Ermenistan bu kez silahlı yönteme başvurmuş, savaş yoluyla Azerbaycan topraklarının yaklaşık %20’sini işgal etmiştir. Çeyrek asırdan fazla süredir Dağlık Karabağ bölgesi ve çevresini işgal altında tutan Ermenistan sorunun barışçıl çözümüne ilişkin her türlü öneriyi geri çevirirken Azerbaycan’ın diğer bölgelerine yönelik yeni saldırılarda bulunmuştur. 2020’de Ermenistan ordusunun savaş hazırlıkları ve bu bağlamda gerçekleştirdiği yeni saldırlar ikinci bir Karabağ savaşının kaçınılmaz olduğunu ortaya koymuştur. Ermenistan’ın saldırılarına karşı Azerbaycan ordusunun düzenlediği büyük taarruz 44 gün boyunca sürmüştür. Bu savaşta büyük hezimete uğrayan Ermenistan ordusu, sonunda Rusya-Azerbaycan-Ermenistan tarafından yapılan üçlü mutabakat gereğince teslimiyeti kabul ederek Azerbaycan topraklarından çekilmiştir.
The Caucasus region is of particular geopolitical significance to Turkey. This area, and its Turkish and Muslim inhabitants in particular, has long had close relations with Turkey, and it has thus been included within the scope of Turkey’s geopolitical interests. In terms of the population of the region, Azerbaijani Turks constitute an important part. Although Turkey’s military activity in the region grew significantly at the beginning of the 20th century, the Turkish army was forced to leave after the Armistice of Mudros.
During the period of Soviet domination, Turkey had no political, economic, or other relations with the South Caucasus countries. For their part, these countries were completely dependent on Moscow and had no authority to conduct foreign affairs. Moreover, Turkey was a NATO member state in the Western bloc of the bipolar system. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Turkey developed political, economic, and cultural policies for the region. In this context, relations with Azerbaijan developed quickly and reached an advanced stage in a short time, leading to a high-level strategic partnership. Georgia, another important state in the region, also agreed to participate in important projects alongside Turkey and Azerbaijan. Armenia did not respond positively to Turkey’s tolerant and neighborly policy, and instead maintained a hostile attitude toward Turkey. Armenia, which had territorial claims against Azerbaijan, later pursued these claims through war and occupied Karabakh, long Azerbaijani territory, and seven surrounding regions.
After a ceasefire was signed in Bishkek in 1994, Armenia violated its terms repeatedly and rejected proposals for a peaceful resolution of the dispute. Although four resolutions (822, 853, 873, and 884) were adopted by the UN Security Council in relation to the conflict, the OSCE Minsk Group, which was formed to resolve the matter, remained completely ineffective. The ceasefire was again seriously violated in April 2016 as a result of Armenian attacks, and after four days of fighting, the Azerbaijani army was able to save some important positions from Armenian occupation. This skirmish demonstrated the strategic and tactical capabilities of the Azerbaijani army. When the Armenian army attacked Tovuz, a border area, a great reaction was provoked in Azerbaijan as this is an extremely important area through which energy infrastructure is routed. Although Armenia sought to draw the Collective Security Treaty Organization into the war by using this conflict as an excuse, it was unable to achieve this. Subsequently, certain intelligence information was obtained that Armenia was preparing for a new attack, that the ceasefire would be violated, and that a new conflict would begin. In light of this information, while the Azerbaijani army continued its preparations for war, President Ilham Aliyev declared that his country would respond harshly to any attack by Armenia.
Upon the attack of the Armenian army on September 27, 2020, the Azerbaijani army began its great offensive. Azerbaijani counterattacks surprised the Armenian army and inflicted great losses in a short time. On the first day, 12 Armenian air defense systems were destroyed, and, as a result of attacks involving helicopters and drones, Armenian forces were forced to retreat, abandoning important positions. In the following days, Armenian losses mounted, a situation that Prime Minister Pashinyan and other high-level Armenian officials attempted to hide in their statements. In addition, the Armenian government made incriminating claims against Azerbaijan and Turkey and requested international assistance, most notable from Russia. Armenia was unsuccessful in its diplomatic overtures to international organizations and major states and was gradually forced to leave important positions in the occupied territories one by one. In this 44-day war, the Armenian side suffered significant losses and was eventually obliged to sign the tripartite agreement of November 10, 2020 proposed by Russia. In line with the agreement, while Russian peacekeeping forces were established in predetermined regions, the Armenian army withdrew from the territories it formerly occupied.
Although the Turkish army did not participate in direct military intervention and armed conflict during the war, it provided great support to Azerbaijan technologically and, even more importantly, by offering diplomatic counsel. This support provided very strong assurance to Azerbaijan. Although Armenia’s incriminating claims against Turkey (e.g., the participation of Turkish soldiers in the war, the transfer of jihadist groups from the Middle East to the region, etc.) remain unconfirmed, Armenia’s targeting of civilian settlements throughout the war has had serious repercussions. Various comments have been made by researchers and regional experts about how matters will unfold. After emerging victorious from the war, Azerbaijan shows maximum determination to protect its own interests.