Armenian paper says USA not to help Azerbaijan resolve Karabakh conflict

Ayots Ashkar, Yerevan
29 Sep 04

Text of Sarkis Gevorkyan's report by Armenian newspaper Ayots Ashkar
on 29 September headlined "'The logic' of a gambler"

Against the background of reports about the deployment of US
mobile forces in Azerbaijan, [Azerbaijani] President Ilham Aliyev's
"antiterrorist" speech at the 59th session of the UN General Assembly
points to a drastic change in his country's foreign policy.

Talks on the deployment of US mobile forces in Azerbaijan were
conducted long ago and were met by serious objections on the part of
Russia and openly hostile attitude of Iran. Let us try to understand
what calculations the Azerbaijani leader was guided by when taking
this step.

Meanwhile, we have to make clear at least two realities:

a) It will be naive to think that if they come to Azerbaijan, the
Americans will become a toy in Ilham Aliyev's hands: their today's
target is neither Russia nor Armenia nor Karabakh but only Iran.

b) If in exchange for Ilham's "friendly attitude" the Americans have
promised to settle the Karabakh issue as soon as possible or at least
to ensure the return of liberated territories, a question arises:
how will this happen given that Armenia is also a partner of the USA
in the antiterror coalition and Russia's partner with strict security
guarantees under the CIS Collective Security Treaty.

We think that Ilham Aliyev has only one expectation: the Americans
after coming to Azerbaijan will put serious pressure both on Armenia
and Moscow so that the latter forces Armenia to make compromises in the
Karabakh issue. In fact, they have a task not to persuade Russia (as it
was the case earlier), but to make it adopt pro-Azerbaijani decisions
with the help of Washington. Following the logic of the Azerbaijani
party, let us make everything clear: how much will Washington's
"political payment" be for the deployment of its mobile forces in
Azerbaijan? And second, why should Moscow yield to Washington's
pressure and insist that Armenia withdraw from liberated territories
opening the way not only for the USA but also for Turkey via Naxcivan?

The Azerbaijani president's calculations may be regarded as logical
only if there is Russian-US agreement on dividing the region into
spheres of influence. But if there is such agreement, which undoubtedly
outlines the parties' positions towards the Karabakh issue as well,
then why is Azerbaijan in a hurry to gain a new enemy in the person
of Iran?

Today's attempt by Ilham Aliyev to invite Americans to Azerbaijan
and at the same time to accuse Armenia of terrorism from the UN's
high rostrum is threatening to pose a serious danger in future not
to Armenia but Azerbaijan. The latter will be involved in a big game
whose participants, including the USA, in fact, are not interested in
the Karabakh issue. The superpowers, on the basis of actual borders
controlled by the countries in a certain part of the region, will
turn the Karabakh issue from the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict into a
problem of protecting their own spheres of influence and, as a result,
create a status quo. It seems that even in this case the Karabakh issue
can be settled in Azerbaijan's favour if the USA "settles problems"
with Iran, ousts Russia from the Caspian and the South Caucasus, that
is, becomes the only dictating force. But even in this unlikely case,
iron logic about the necessity of strengthening the "weakest link"
of the region will tip the scales of US policy in Armenia's favour.

Thus, in fact, the only "logic" of Aliyev's previous and today's
actions is an unrestrained desire of a losing gambler to stake his
all. We think it is not difficult to understand what it means to put
everything at stake for a small country which once suffered defeat. So,
we have to wait for that decisive moment when the gambler Aliyev
makes his next and probably the gravest mistake.