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Azerbaijan has been targeting Artsakh [(Nagorno-Karabakh)] with the direct support received from Turkey. “We support Azerbaijan until victory,” Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on October 6. “I tell my Azerbaijani brothers: May your ghazwa be blessed.” Turkish journalist Uzay Bulut noted this in her article published on Modern Diplomacy. She added as follows in particular:

“Ghazwa” in Islam means a battle or raid against non-Muslims for the expansion of Muslim territory and/or conversion of non-Muslims to Islam. Erdoğan thus openly claimed that attacks against the Armenian territory constitute jihad. Moreover, it is not only Turkey and Azerbaijan attacking Armenians. Turkey has also deployed at least 1,000 Syrian jihadists to Azerbaijan to fight against Artsakh.

Azerbaijan’s ongoing attack against Artsakh appears part of Turkey’s neo-Ottoman expansionist aspirations. In recent years, the Turkish government has escalated its rhetoric of neo-Ottomanism and conquest. In an August 26 speech, for example, Erdoğan, said: ‘In our civilization, conquest is not occupation or looting. It is establishing the dominance of the justice (…).’

Meanwhile, Armenian president Armen Sarkissian asked Russia, the US and NATO to restrain Ankara, describing Turkey as ‘the bully of the region.’ ‘If we don’t act now internationally, stopping Turkey…with the perspective of making this region a new Syria…then everyone will be hit,’ he told the Financial Times in an interview.

‘According to our preliminary estimates, some 50% of Karabakh’s population and 90% of women and children — some 70,000 to 75,000 people — have been displaced,’ the region’s rights ombudsman Artak Beglaryan told the AFP news agency.

Turkish and Azeri attacks against Armenians for the purpose of conquering the region are unjustified. Artsakh, whose population is 95 percent Armenian, is peaceful and has been an integral part of historic Armenia for millennia. It has never been part of an independent Azerbaijan. Artsakh fell under the rule of various conquerors throughout the centuries, but mostly preserved its semi-independent status as an Armenian entity.

During Soviet rule, the majority of the population of Artsakh peacefully and repeatedly requested reunification with Armenia. The Azerbaijani government, however, responded by violence not only in Artsakh, but throughout the whole Azerbaijan. It committed pogroms and mass killings against Armenians in the Azerbaijani cities of Sumgait, Baku, Kirovabad, Shamkhor, and Mingechaur, among others.”

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