The new outbreak of armed conflict in Nagorny Karabakh this weekend was waiting to happen. Azerbaijan has used some of the boomtime oil money to rearm, and Armenia has tried to keep up although it cannot afford to match the Azeri additions plane by plane, tank by tank.
Azerbaijan’s ambassador to Moscow, Polad Bülbüloğlu, put it simply: “We are ready for a peaceful resolution of this issue. But if is not getting solved by peaceful means, we will be solving it by military means.”
The Karabakh conflict and Moscow’s inability to resolve it and prevent interethnic violence in Azerbaijan were major contributors to the fall of the Soviet Union. Ambassador Bülbüloğlu, known in Russia as Polad Byul-Byul ogly, owes (if not entirely) his special status in Azeri politics to his all-Soviet fame as a composer and performer of pop songs. He was a household name in the USSR of the 1970s.