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Heavy fighting erupts over separatist Nagorno-Karabakh (Armenia Vs Azerbaijan)

#27
I don't consider myself to be a Google Fu hero about this subject, as until recently I have been working for an Azeri owned company, with Azeri colleagues, and one and half a year ago I spent a while working in Baku.
In fact, I liked the place and would go back there again, it was a nice mix of Europe, Russia and the Middle East, with a Mediterranean flair. People there were generally super friendly, albeit a bit chaotic and with a certain In'sh Allah mentality.
Nominally 80% of the population are Muslims (mainly of the Shi'ite variety), others are Russian Orthodox Christians and there exists a big Jewish community as well, though 70 years of Soviet Union left most people very secular (a British colleague, who is married to a local woman, called them "Vodka Muslims"), though socially quite conservative (e.g. it is still considered bad manners for a woman to be out after 10 pm, though very few wear a headscarf and most are dressed extremely elegant and stylish, in a jaw dropping way).
The people are dealt badly by their government. The current (authoritarian) president is the son of the last president, who used to be Azerbaijan's KGB commander during Soviet times. In fact the country is being run by a gang of oligarchs, who, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, managed to get control of the country's oil and gas fields. Outside oil and gas there is very little other industry and a bit of agriculture in a river valley, though most of the country is very arid and mountainous.
Everything depends on the oil price. The government tries to emulate the Arabic Gulf states in bribing the population with subsidies (very necessary, as life is very expensive, comparable to Germany, though salaries are a lot lower). They also build a lot of showing off buildings and projects. In turn the government doesn't tolerate dissent and whoever dares to critizise it publically will go to jail.
The recent low oil price has hit the government hard and caused some public protest as subsidies were reduced. The company I used to work for, was bought by one of the oligarch families to spread their portfolio.

As for Armenia and Azerbaijan, the quarrel goes back centuries:


"Caption: "There was no one except Allah. And then a stupid Azeri, an idiotic Armenian, and except for them, there was one devil. And one day, the devil”¦" Armenian-Azeri relations have been dismal for centuries, as is visible today in the frozen conflict of Nagorno-Karabakh, a region in the Southern Caucasus officially recognized as belonging to Azerbaijan, but under de-facto independence following the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the late 1980s. The man with hair (R) is Armenian and the bald man (L) is Azeri."

From the early 20th century Azeri satirical magazine Molla Nasreddin, a paper, which then was read through out the Muslim world, from Morrocco to Indonesia, and which was very pro (Western) education, liberation of women, anti colonial, anti traditional elites like Mullahs and tribal chiefs and secular.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union some religious fanatics tried to make Azerbaijan an Islamic Republic after Teheran's style, but this got beaten down fast. At the same time the enclave Nagorno-Karabakh, which is inhabited mainly by Christian Armenians, tried to break off Azerbaijan. The problem is that there existed several mainly Muslim inhabited provinces between the Armenian border and Nagorno-Karabahk, which were occupied by the Armenians, followed by an ethnic cleansing, to create a land corridor between Armenia proper and Nagorno-Karabakh. On the other hand Azerbaijan is on good terms with mainly Christian Georgia.
Russia is selling arms to both parties, though Azerbaijan uses a mix of Russian and Western hardware, and has good connections with Israel (The Azeri troops I have seen have either carried AK-74s or Uzis).
Russia still considers the Caspian oil and gas fields as theirs, though the Azeris see Russia mainly as a former colonial power . Up to recently pipelines for export of oil and gas went through Russia, though now there exists a pipeline leading to a Black Sea port in Georgia. Last year's extension of the breakaway povince of South Ossetia by Russian troops was apparently carried out to get control of a section of this pipeline, which was running close to the old (now shifted) border.
 
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#30
What is it with all these pent-up macho paternalistic frustrations that certain ethnic groups seem to have? If the UN put together a good TV package, BBC, HBO, Movie channels, Mr Bean (Apparently) and broadcast it free of charge in these backwaters, they might stay in at night and stop killing each other over some perceived slight to their goat 450 years ago.

Let's ignore Bob Gandalf and get them all decent broadband and tellies. The savings to the western taxpayers would be enormous.
 
#31
#34
What is it with all these pent-up macho paternalistic frustrations that certain ethnic groups seem to have? If the UN put together a good TV package, BBC, HBO, Movie channels, Mr Bean (Apparently) and broadcast it free of charge in these backwaters, they might stay in at night and stop killing each other over some perceived slight to their goat 450 years ago.

Let's ignore Bob Gandalf and get them all decent broadband and tellies. The savings to the western taxpayers would be enormous.
Not a bad idea, really.

I never had a telly, so bit tricky for me to follow at first. (still haven't murdered anyone YET though) :)
 
#36
Don't tempt fate. Merkel's madness knows no bounds...
Angie can promise what she wants, but given Erdogans stance on freedom of the press, womens rights and racial prejudice, there would be considerable opposition from the rest of Europe. As for Merkel's madness, I prefer the term that somebody else used "Realitätsverweigerer". It is nearer to the mark.
 
#37
Angie can promise what she wants, but given Erdogans stance on freedom of the press, womens rights and racial prejudice, there would be considerable opposition from the rest of Europe. As for Merkel's madness, I prefer the term that somebody else used "Realitätsverweigerer". It is nearer to the mark.
Yes, yes, yes, but I guess Erdogan's views (/practice) on press freedom and official corruption reverberate fantastically with the EU commission! They couldn't find a better chum if they tried.
 
#38
Armenia to pick new PM next week, Moscow keeps wary eye
Rather than start a new thread. Ongoing tensions in Armenia. Russian 'ally' and the PM has had to stand down after protests including unarmed soldiers from earlier accounts. The govt are going to pick a new PM now:
Armenia will get a new prime minister next week after nearly two weeks of street protests, with opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan, who has led the demonstrations, emerging as the protesters’ unequivocal favourite.

Although the demonstrations have been peaceful, the upheaval has threatened to destabilise Armenia, an ally of Russia, in a volatile region riven by its decades-long, low-level conflict with neighbouring Azerbaijan.
Russia has two bases there and wanted somebody from the ruling party. Moscow is 'watching':
Moscow has two military bases in the ex-Soviet republic, and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke to Karen Karapetyan, the acting prime minister, on Thursday and made it clear Moscow was watching and did not want mob rule.

“It was emphasised that resolving the political crisis in Armenia must take place exclusively through legal means in the framework of the current constitution,” the Kremlin said.

Its statement also appeared to suggest that Putin wanted the next prime minister to come from the ruling party, which has been the focus of popular anger, saying he thought the crisis needed to be addressed on the basis of what he said were legitimate parliamentary elections in 2017.
Protesters want opposition leader in and new elections calle. the 'concessions are unlikely to be welcomed:
That appeared to conflict with the demands of protesters who have said they want Pashinyan to be the new interim prime minister and for him to organise fresh parliamentary elections.

The situation in Armenia is awkward for the Russian leadership. It has kept a tight lid on protests in its own country, but is now watching as demonstrations in a close ally are forcing the ruling Armenian elite to make concessions, setting a regional precedent it is unlikely to welcome.
Protest leader Pashinyan wants to reform the electoral system to ensure its fair before holding new elections:
Protest leader Pashinyan, a former journalist turned lawmaker who has been instrumental in organising the protests, has said he wants the job.

Pashinyan, if elected, wants to reform the electoral system to ensure it is fair before holding new parliamentary elections, the result of which would in turn help determine who becomes permanent prime minister.

“We will have a people’s prime minister and after the election a people’s government and parliament,” said Anna Agababyan, a 38-year-old teacher who was protesting in Yerevan, the capital, on Thursday, holding a small national flag.
 
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#39
I rather suspect Mr. Pashinyan will be experiencing a fatal fall from the balcony of a high-rise building imminently. Obviously it will be suicide.
 
#40
Putin to acting Armenian PM - Solve your political crisis via legal...
Looks like Putin has given the acting PM 'advice' to solve it legally. So is that dissolve Government and re-elect on current voting system? Or pass legislation to change voting system, dissolve Governemnt and have elections? :
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday told Karen Karapetyan, Armenia’s acting prime minister, that a political crisis in his country should be solved only via legal means, Russian news agencies cited the Kremlin as saying.

Putin gave him the advice in a phone call.

Armenia, a close Russian ally, is in the middle of a political crisis after two weeks of anti-government protests and the resignation of Serzh Sarksyan as prime minister on Monday.
 

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