Karabakh in the news again


April 3, 2016 by AK

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 to 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.


  1. Tim Newman says:

    “We are ready to a peaceful resolution of this issue. But if is not getting solved by peaceful means, we will be solving it by military means.”

    Sounds as though somebody has taken a leaf out of the Russians’ playbook. Doesn’t Russia traditionally back the Armenians in their conflict with the Azeris?

    • AK says:

      Russia tends to favor Armenia but never to the point of completely alienating Baku and losing its influence over Azerbaijan. Rather, Moscow is supporting the weaker side to keep the balance in the frozen conflict. (Weaker as in poorer and smaller: the Armenians are good soldiers.) The difference with Crimea is that Karabakh is almost 100% Armenian-populated right now. It was mixed before the late 1980s but almost all the Azeris have left.

  2. […] Bülbüloğlu‘s self-chosen surname literally means “son of the nightingale”: his father, an accomplished and officially extolled Soviet Azeri singer, was nicknamed Bülbül, “nightingale”. Murtuza Mamedov-Bülbül, the son of an Azeri father and a Kurdish mother, started out as a folk singer (“khananda”) in the Azeri mugham tradition. Under Soviet rule, he graduated from the conservatory in Baku and studied classical singing in Italy. […]

  3. Jan says:

    I see that Karabakh is “landlocked” within Azerbaijan. Do the Armenians also control the Azeri areas outside of Karabakh between that enclave and Armenia proper – i.e. do they have a “land bridge” into Karabakh?

    • AK says:

      Karabakh was encircled by Azeri forces for about three years, 1989-92. In 1992, the Armenians broke through and established a land bridge known as the Lachin corridor. Later, the Armenians expanded Karabakh beyond its Soviet borders to the southwest so that the NKR has a relatively long border with Armenia now.

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