Azerbaijan will ultimately achieve what it wants

Reuters

Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev (L) speaks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during a sightseeing walk in Baku August 13, 2013.

Article Highlights

  • Karabakh may be an issue of justice to Azerbaijan, but for the United States, it reportedly enables transit for Iranian and Russian weaponry and drugs.

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  • Any attention to the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh is a good thing but I do not believe there will be any breakthrough.

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  • Armenia will always be closer culturally to Russia, both because of the Armenian Orthodox church and because of history.

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Editor's Note: The following interview was first published in Today.AZ.

Today.AZ: What are the interests of the United States in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement?

Rubin: The American interests are greater than many in Washington realize: Karabakh may be an issue of justice to Azerbaijan, but for the United States, it reportedly enables transit for Iranian and Russian weaponry and drugs.

Today.AZ: What are you expectations from the upcoming activity of James Warlick as a new US Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group?

Rubin: Any attention to the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh is a good thing but I do not believe there will be any breakthrough. Secretary of State John Kerry likes to travel, but there is no indication that he will make Nagorno-Karabakh a priority; rather, U.S. attention will be on Iran, Syria, Russia, China, and the Israel-Palestine conflict. There is a limit to what Warlick can accomplish in the Minsk Group under such circumstances. The good news, however, is that time is on Azerbaijan’s side. Armenia has lost one-third of its population to emigration since its independence and is on a negative demographic trend. Azerbaijan deserves justice sooner rather than later, but will ultimately achieve what it wants.

Today.AZ: How would you estimate prospects of the US-Azerbaijan bilateral relations in the military and security field?

Rubin: The prospects are good, but the problem remains the same: Armenian activists who seek to subordinate contemporary American defense interests to a polemical hatred of Azerbaijan. Take, for example, some Armenian activists who have lobbied successfully against the provision of modern patrol boats for Azerbaijan. Certainly, Azerbaijani boats are not going to impact the military situation in Nagorno-Karabakh. But as Iran has militarized the Caspian Sea and has begun operating offshore in waters rightly belong to Azerbaijan, it is essential that Azerbaijan not only be able to provide security to its Caspian coast, but also to the American contractors working on offshore rigs. Let us hope that common sense will prevail in Washington.

Today.AZ: Some experts argue that more intensive relations between Armenia and the West (the EU, in particular) made Russia angry and may cause some changes in its policy?

Rubin: I don’t believe that argument: Armenia will always be closer culturally to Russia, both because of the Armenian Orthodox church and because of history. Armenia is one of the few countries that would, in democratic elections, vote to be as close to Russia as possible.

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About the Author

 

Michael
Rubin


  • Michael Rubin is a former Pentagon official whose major research areas are the Middle East, Turkey, Iran and diplomacy. Rubin instructs senior military officers deploying to the Middle East and Afghanistan on regional politics, and teaches classes regarding Iran, terrorism, and Arab politics on board deploying U.S. aircraft carriers. Rubin has lived in post-revolution Iran, Yemen, both pre- and post-war Iraq, and spent time with the Taliban before 9/11. His newest book, Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engagement examines a half century of U.S. diplomacy with rogue regimes and terrorist groups.


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