Vaggelis Sarakinos: Operation Target Armenia – How Erdogan is blocking Macron’s initiative

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A new escalation took place today in the military conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan with operations now going beyond the borders of the Armenian enclave in Nagorno Karabakh. Ankara and Baku accuse Armenia of attacks inside Azeri territory, something Yerevan denies. At the same time, Erdogan is blocking the Macron peace initiative in every possible way, while in France the demand for more active support of the Armenians is growing.

On Sunday morning, a week after the start of the Azeri offensive against Nagorno-Karabakh, the Azeris announced that Ganja, Azerbaijan’s second largest city, had come under fire from Armenian forces. The announcement was made by the Azeri Foreign Ministry, which said one civilian was killed and four others were injured in the attack.

Armenia has denied that it attacked positions in Azerbaijan. Instead, the leader of Nagarno Karabakh indirectly claimed responsibility for the attack, saying Ganja was targeted. He added, however, that the attacks against the city were halted in order to avoid civilian casualties. Baku, under Ankara’s leadership, is trying to push Armenia into a direct military engagement with Azerbaijan. This was the purpose of the drone attack, most likely of Turkish origin, against Yerevan and the downing of an Armenian aircraft by a Turkish F-16. An action denounced by Armenia, but denied by the Turks and Azeris.

Jihadists against Armenia

However, Ankara and Baku also deny the involvement of Syrian mercenaries, former jihadists, who were sent from Turkey to Azerbaijan to fight on the side of the Azeris, initially in Nagorno-Karabakh. However, they are refuted by the facts themselves, as there are already at least 64 dead fighters from Syria.

According to the usually credible Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 1,200 Syrian “opposition guerrillas” were sent from Turkey to Azerbaijan, and at least 36 of them were killed in the past 48 hours, bringing the total number of casualties to 64. It is noted that the NGO had previously talked about 850 fighters who were sent, a week ago, from Syria to Nagorno-Karabakh.

Ankara has not made any official comment on these allegations, as it has in the recent past for similar missions to Libya. The issue, however, has taken on an international dimension and is strongly criticized, as is the overall Turkish involvement in the conflict, mainly by Putin and Macron. The French president had spoken last Friday about 300 “jihadists” who went from Syria to Azerbaijan. He had even commented that with this action a “red line” was crossed.

The French are dissatisfied with “neutrality”

At the same time, Macron had announced that he would take the initiative, as co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, along with Putin and Trump, for an approach between Yerevan and Baku. The French president has emerged as the bearer of a “new method” for resuming talks, but today more than 170 public figures in France are urging him, in an article in the Journal du Dimanche, to abandon the “intolerable position of neutrality”. At the same time, Erdogan, who is claiming a role within the group, while at the same time refusing to support the truce, reiterates his support by all means for the Turkish-speaking Azeris.

Turkey was the only country to condemn the attacks on the city of Ganja. It even attributed them to Yerevan and spoke about the illegal attitude of Armenia. For his part, an adviser to the Azeri president threatened to destroy the military points, from which, according to him, Yerevan launched the controversial attack.

Meanwhile, the pounding of Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh, has been going on since Monday morning, where clashes between Armenian separatists and Azeris are raging. According to the foreign ministry of the self-proclaimed republic, the new attacks were carried out with rockets. It was also reported that the Azeri bombings targeted the power grid and that the city has been without electricity since Saturday night. For its part, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said that the Armenians fired rockets at Azeri targets from Hankendi, as Stepanakert is called in Azerbaijan.

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