YEREVAN+BAKU/Nov. 17 (The Bulletin) — Turkey will send soldiers on a year-long mission to Azerbaijan to observe a peace deal with Armenia, a deployment that officially stations the Turkish military on a semi-permanent basis inside the former Soviet Union for the first time.
In a show of hands, Turkish parliamentarians approved the request by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to send the military to Azerbaijan. The exact number of soldiers and their role has yet to be agreed but Turkish officials have said that they expect to have forces inside Azerbaijan for a year.
The Turkish military deployment is a consequence of a Kremlin organised peace deal imposed on Armenia on Nov. 9 to end fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh. For Azerbaijan, the war has been a triumph and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev called his soldiers heroes.
“The future of our country will be very bright. We have attained great successes in recent years,” he said on Twitter.
For Armenia, though, defeat is a humiliation and fractures its self-belief. For modern Armenia, control of Nagorno-Karabakh was a central pillar of its identity.
With Azerbaijani forces moving towards Stepanakert, the Armenian capital in Nagorno-Karabakh, and backed up by Turkish military hardware, advisers and mercenaries, Armenian commanders said that they had no choice but to accept the deal that hands over swathes of territory to Azerbaijan and allows the deployment of 2,500 Russian soldiers as peacekeepers.
Analysts have been surprised at just how quickly an apparently motivated and well-dug in Armenian army has been rolled back in Nagorno-Karabakh. Reporters said that Armenian civilians were burning their homes as they prepared to leave the area in a handover of control to Azerbaijan,
— This story was first published on Nov. 22 2020 in issue 464 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin