Episode 280 | Recorded: Sep 25, 2023
Azerbaijan attacked and invaded Artsakh on September 19th, starting around 1pm. Our guests have consistently highlighted the goal of the Aliyev regime to depopulate Artsakh through soft means, such as gerrymandering and investing financial resources around Artsakh. But it seems like Aliyev was in a hurry. For weeks now most analysts and observers had warned that Azerbaijan was preparing for a military aggression, so there it was.
The narrative that Erdogan presented was that Aliyev and Pashinyan were deeply concerned with the new presidential election in Artsakh and so Azerbaijan went on the offensive.
The situation is extremely dire:
First, let’s note that Artsakh was never part of an independent Azerbaijan and so there is no RE-integration. Aliyev doesn’t consider it a positive for his image, or even a doable thing to massacre 120,000 people in Artsakh, so they’re forcing discussions on dissolving and assimilating the Armenians inside Azerbaijan.
All indications are that Artsakh Defense Forces soldiers fought valiantly to the end. Being outnumbered and out-gunned, the present outcome was an inevitability, barring outside intervention. Yet, none came, not even from Armenia. The casualty count estimate from the Artsakh ombudsman’s office, which hasn’t changed since the first days, is 200 dead, with 400 wounded. But since Azerbaijan managed to slice through Artsakh in multiple points, cutting communication between Stepanakert and the regions, that number is bound to increase once the scale of the losses from the cut off regions becomes known. Unofficial sources report close to 500 servicemen dead, with 600 missing.
There are dozens of civilian deaths, including reports of atrocities as is customary for Azerbaijani military operations. There are unconfirmed reports of grotesque atrocities against civilians, which the media can’t confirm because it’s nearly impossible to communicate with the regions of Artsakh. Azerbaijan itself is reportedly not allowing any access to areas that it has conquered and there are unconfirmed reports of a “clean-up” operation, where potential evidence of atrocities may be removed.
After days of tough deliberations, the authorities in Artsakh informed the populace of their decision to allow for evacuation of those citizens that desire to do so, with priority given to those who have lost their homes and can’t live in Artsakh. In reality, this means all 120K citizens of Artsakh will leave.
Let’s not mince words, this is Ethnic Cleansing, this is Genocide.
The most humiliating aspect of this bloodbath and ethnic cleansing was the fact that Armenia stood on the side, repeatedly announcing that it has nothing to do with the Artsakh military and it has no plans to intervene in order to save the lives of Armenians.
The international community also stood by and watched.
Some more condemnations were heard.
Pashinyan and cronies spent the whole time on the phone with European leaders updating them on the situation. The UNSC held a meeting to discuss the situation, and the Pashinyan administration was deeply embarrassed with foreign minister Mirzoyan’s address begging for UN mandated presence to secure the rights and safety of Artsakhtsis and prevent genocide, was negated by Azerbaijani foreign minister Bayramov quoting Pashinyan saying that he believes Artskhtsis will be treated well! Mirzoyan was seen on video furiously exiting the UNSC hall.
Since the authorities and the defense forces in Artsakh were forced to lay down their arms, initial concerns centered around how to defend the population. But many Artsakhtsis can’t imagine living under Turkish or Azeri rule as so-called “Azerbaijani Armenians”, given our history for the last century. After all, who today remembers the 300,000 strong community of Armenians of Baku and Sumgait?
The exodus has already begun, and perhaps now the primary concern is how to manage such a mass tragedy. And we’ve read conflicting things about how this is viewed by various actors in the conflict:
What do the main actors say, and what do they think?
On Sep 24, as the mass exodus of Artsakh Armenians picked up steam, Pashinyan felt it necessary to make a public address. The speech appeared intended to talk about Armenia’s sovereignty and independence and Pashinyan felt necessary to include a great deal about Armenia’s relations with Russia here.
Pashinyan Confirmed that Armenia decided to pass the Rome Statute when according to Pashinyan it became apparent that Armenia’s security partnership is not meeting its needs. He went further to blame the Russian peacekeepers for what is going on in Artsakh.
The Russian foreign ministry today (September 25) with a strong rebuke saying that it was only due to personal intervention of Putin that the 2020 war was stopped where it was. The Russian statement also stated that Armenian leadership is trying to sever “centuries-old” ties between Russians and Armenians, at the instigation of the West.
In the aftermath of what transpired, a new protest movement erupted, led by students form Artsakh. In 5 days, the protest has swelled to include individuals who include
The protesters announced the formation of a new National Committee, that includes Vazgen Manukyan, Hayk Mamijanyan, Avetik Chalabyan, Ishkhan Saghatelyan, etc…
In reality, this seems to be a reformulation of the Homeland Salvation Movement idea.
We hope you found our Week in Review helpful. We invite your feedback and your suggestions, you can find us on most social media and podcast platforms. Thanks to Laura Osborn for the music on our podcasts.
Hrant Mikaelian, a political scientist and multidisciplinary researcher in social sciences based in Yerevan. He is also a senior researcher at the Caucasus Institute.
Hovik Manucharyan is an information security engineer who moved from Seattle to Armenia in 2022. He co-founded the ANN/Groong podcast in 2020 and has been a contributor to Groong News since the late 1990s.
Asbed is founder of the Armenian News Network Groong and co-founder of the ANN/Groong podcast.