Turkish media aligned with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan enthusiastically supported Azerbaijan in its conflict with Armenia over control of the Nagorno-Karabakh region on Thursday, using language about “purges” that would be deeply disturbing to Armenians who fear Turkey might continue the genocide waged against their people by the Ottoman Empire a century ago.
Ibrahim Karagül, editor-in-chief of Yeni Safak, argued Azerbaijan has a “fundamental right” to use any degree of force against the “occupation” of its territory by the ethnic Armenians who have lived there for centuries, passed from one kingdom and republic to another as the borders were redrawn around them.
“Now, Baku is conducting a determined operation to end this occupation,” wrote Karagül, referring to the capital of Azerbaijan. “For the first time in three decades, it is shifting from defense mode to offense. It is carrying out an extremely successful operation. It is purging its cities, villages, mountains, plateaus, waters, and lands. This is not war but a fight against terrorism; it is an internal security operation.”
In Karagül’s view, Armenia has been “attacking” Azerbaijan ever since the fall of the Soviet Union by supporting the Armenian separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh, which they believe should become an independent “Republic of Artsakh.”
Karagül railed against the international community for supporting the separatists and insisted no one could argue with Azerbaijan doing whatever it takes to cleanse the area of Armenian “terrorists,” who he compared to the Islamic State and the PKK, the Kurdish separatist party fighting against Turkey.
Although many observers of the murky Nagorno-Karabakh conflict believe Azerbaijan struck first, hoping to knock the less powerful Armenian military and separatist militias out with a surprise attack, Karagül accused Armenia of striking first, believing Azerbaijan would not fight back with all of its strength because it feared damaging oil and gas infrastructure in the area. He saluted Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev for demonstrating “incredible leadership with his brave and determined stance” and repelling the Armenian assault with help from Turkey.
According to Karagül, Azerbaijan is utterly blameless on every issue of concern to the international community. He said it was Armenia that began targeting civilian areas and committing “massacres,” Armenia that wants to expand the conflict in a “despicable military strategy,” and Armenia that wants to draw outside powers like Russia and Iran into the conflict on its side.
“Are the forces that drove Armenia to attack Azerbaijan, the process that was kick-started with the Tovuz attack, the mind behind it, aiming to start a trilateral war between Turkey, Russia, and Iran?” Karagül wondered.
Another Yeni Safak columnist, Yasin Aktay, similarly accused Armenia of launching an “out of the blue attack on Azerbaijan” with the help of Israel, who want to help Armenia occupy Nagorno-Karabakh the same way Israel “occupies” Palestinian lands.
“France, Canada, Germany, and Russia should silently and respectfully watch Azerbaijan, a country striving to end the unjust and brazen occupation by Armenia, because they could not talk any sense into it,” Aktay demanded.
“There is no need for concern. Azerbaijan will not direct massacres or injustice towards civilians,” he added, oblivious to accusations that Azerbaijan has already targeted civilians.
Aktay portrayed Turkey and Azerbaijan’s operations as a jihad and castigated the Western powers who want to give Armenia breathing room by calling for a ceasefire:
Yet, if there truly is a desire to contribute to peace and dialogue, the first step to be taken is to seriously pressure the invading side to immediately leave the lands it is occupying. The zeal displayed by those who have no intention, plan or attempt to end the occupation against those who take action to end their own occupation, only indicates that they are accomplices in this crime.
Add to this Israeli Defense Minister Benni Gantz’s accusation against Turkey that it is “disturbing peace and stability in the Middle East.” What else could one say but “All praise is to God alone?”
Raining on the parade of the earth’s trouble makers, the honor to oppose the order of occupation, annexation, robbery, coup, torture, and massacre they have been carrying out with “stability,” is more than enough in this world. Let those trouble makers continue to complain all they want.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Wednesday accused Turkey and Azerbaijan of launching a “terrorist attack” against Nagorno-Karabakh, essentially reversing the charges against Armenia leveled by Karagül and Aktay.
“To me there is no doubt that this is a policy of continuing the Armenian genocide and a policy of reinstating the Turkish empire,” Pashinyan added, referring to the Ottoman Empire’s killing of some 1.5 million Armenians from 1915 to 1923.