President Ilham Aliyev considers external challenges to Azerbaijan in a broader context in which the frozen conflict in Karabakh is not seen as the greatest threat to Baku, Director of the Institute of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) Vladimir Lepekhin has said in an interview with EADaily. He is sure that the main danger for Armenia is not where it seems to be.
Lepekhin noted that today many politicians and experts are try to guess what caused the unexpected shifting of the date of the presidential election in Azerbaijan from October 17 to April 11, 2018. And some of them say that the main reason for postponing the election date is "the beginning of preparation" of Azerbaijan for the war for Karabakh. Moreover, in his speech at the 6th Congress of the ruling party, Aliyev called for "pressure" on Armenia and allowed the use of military force in the solving the Karabakh problem.
"The fact that the words of the president of Azerbaijan were painfully perceived in Yerevan is quite natural. The Armenian-Azerbaijani relations are still not the boat that should be rocked even in the atmosphere of the forthcoming presidential election in Azerbaijan. At the same time, some commentators of the speech, as I believe, are lack of political insight. I think that Ilham Aliyev is considering external challenges to Azerbaijan in a broader context in which the frozen conflict in Karabakh is not seen as the biggest threat for Baku," the expert said.
According to him, today, a mega threat is approaching the borders of Azerbaijan, ignoring which would be a crime. It is the beginning of the second round of war between the world's leading players for influence and power in the entire Middle East, the war, which seems to be much larger than its first phase of 2011-2017 and in the near future it will certainly affect not only Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Turkey and the Kurds, but also Iran, Israel and the countries of the South Caucasus.
"It's not a secret for anyone that the Syrian epic is coming to the second round, and the next episode of the series offered to the world is connected with the rotation of key players. In the first round, Washington spun Qatar and Turkey, through which the US supported all sorts of anti-Assad terrorist groups in Syria, including the "Islamic State" banned in Russia. Today, the US military is expanding its presence in the region. At the same time, the stake in the war for influence in the region is no longer made by Islamist radicals, who are sent to Afghanistan - closer to the borders of Central Asia, but by Kurds and Israelis. The US is coming out of the shadows, and this promises a direct and increasingly large-scale clash of the Yankees with the Russian and Iranian troops. As a result, we have two episodes of this weekend: the attack of the Israeli Air Force on the position of government troops in central Syria and the US air strike against the ground forces of Syria and the Russian military in the Euphrates valley. I believe that in this context, the key issue is the role of Turkey in the growing trans-regional war," said Lepekhin.
The director of the Institute of the EAEU does not doubt that the State Department will do it best to force the Turkish leadership to lead the second stage of the war against the Syrian leader Bashar al Assad. He does not exclude that the US is provoking Turkish-Kurdish clashes in the north of Syria precisely in order to drive Recep Tayyip Erdogan into a trap, from which there can only be one way out - the return to Washington's control.
As Lepekhin stressed, the West has its own plan for Azerbaijan, synchronized with the timing of the Azerbaijani presidential election. That's why Baku decided to hold the presidential election in April. This decision has broken the plans of Western secret services intending to use the election campaign in the republic, first, in order to destabilize the situation in the country, and secondly, to aggravate relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia, he believes.
"In this situation, the leadership of Azerbaijan simply wants to have time to prepare for those events that today and tomorrow can blow up the entire Middle East, including Turkey and Azerbaijan, and also to unite the electorate around them as much as possible, using anti-Armenian rhetoric as well," said Lepekhin.
At the same time, it is obvious to the expert that the West has a cunning plan (and not one) toward to Armenia. For example, the "A" plan is that if Turkey, and then Azerbaijan, succeeds in "bending" over the United States, Yerevan will be put in a "stretch" situation: either it refuses to ally with Russia (withdraws from the CSTO, withdraws the Russian military base from Gyumri, etc.), or the US and NATO will support the "international special forces" in their striving to start a war for the return of Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan.
"That's why the political experts of Armenia should not dwell on the statements of Ilham Aliyev and other leaders of Azerbaijan. We need to look farther and wider and thank God that Yerevan has such an ally as Russia, which today is doing its utmost - including at the cost of the lives of its soldiers and officers in Syria, so that the Great War in the Middle East does not reach the Caucasus," concluded our interlocutor.
To remind, speaking at the 6th Congress of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party, Ilham Aliyev stated that the strategic and political goal of Azerbaijanis is the return of Yerevan.