BAKU: Daily warns of attempts to incite ethnic discord in Azerbaijan

Daily warns of attempts to incite ethnic discord in Azerbaijan

Zerkalo, Baku
20 Apr 04

Azerbaijani newspaper Zerkalo has reported that some forces might
attempt to incite ethnic discord in the country. The Russian special
services are planning to use the ethnic minorities in the north of
Azerbaijan as a destabilizing factor, the newspaper
reported. Conflicts on religious grounds cannot be ruled out either,
Zerkalo said. It warned of a possible attack by Wahabbi militants from
Dagestan and said that Iran’s policy was to blame for the upsurge in
Islamic organizations in Azerbaijan. The following is an excerpt from
A. Rasidoglu report by Azerbaijani newspaper Zerkalo on 20 April
headlined “Are Iran and Russia sowing ethnic discord in Azerbaijan?”
and subheaded “Certain forces benefit from drawing parallels between
‘Armenian separatism’ and ‘ethnic minorities'”; subheadings inserted

The movement For Azerbaijan (it’s noteworthy that two groups claim to
have this name) has held a round table attended by the so-called
representatives of ethnic minorities in Azerbaijan. An obscure
criterion was used, for instance, to define that the editor of Axsam
newspaper, Valid Qardasli, was a “representative of the Talis people”,
this was how he was introduced at the round table. As is known,
neither he nor other “representatives” of ethnic minorities were
entitled to speak on behalf of these people. Well, there are other
more interesting issues.

Russian intelligence to inflame ethnic discord in Azerbaijan

For instance, what prompted Russia’s justice Gen Ilqar Qasimov to
(suddenly) hold a round table on the subject “Ethnic minorities in
Azerbaijan and the Nagornyy Karabakh problem”? Is someone, as
previously, “cannot afford to relax” or is trying to play the ethnic
card purposefully drawing parallels between “Armenian separatism” and
the so-called “problem” of ethnic minorities in Azerbaijan? We know
how easy it is to incite an ethnic conflict.

There is another interesting coincidence. Round tables of this kind
coincided with information circulated in a few mass media that the
Russian special services have started to actively operate to fan the
flames of ethnic discord in our country. Are these coincidences
incidental or planned? Are there not too many of them?

According to sources, the Russian special services are currently
looking into the implementation of “work” among Kurds, Talises,
Lezgins and Avars.

[Passage omitted: more details of Russian plans]

As we have learnt, new cultural centres of ethnic minorities will be
set up and these bodies will publish their own newspapers in the near
future. As a result of these centres’ “activities”, problems might
gradually arise among the ethnic minorities living in Azerbaijan,
which will give them a cue that they have a common enemy – an
Azerbaijani Turk.

According to the sources, at the first stage they will count on a
social basis of Russian ideologists in Quba-Qusar Districts [northern
Azerbaijan] with a mainly Lezgin population, as the Russian special
services report. Moreover, there are reports that the Kurdish Workers’
Party, which also seems to have major claims to the Azerbaijani state,
has intensified its work in a northern [Azerbaijani] district.

It goes without saying that what is going on is far from being
children’s war games.

Conflicts on religious grounds not ruled out

There is another aspect of the issue. Conflicts on religious grounds
are not ruled out either. According to some reports, a militant
Wahhabi group is currently in Dagestan, in a district bordering on
Azerbaijan, and is waiting for the right time.

The Azerbaijani coast of the Caspian Sea is rather a large area
populated also by non-Turks. It is early to make conclusions about the
role of Islam in the movement of these ethnic groups. However, one
should not disregard this, especially as the Russian special services
have long been viewing them as the “fifth column”, or to put it
simply, a destabilizing factor.

Iran’s policy to blame

Finally, here is the last remark. The main factor responsible for the
development of the leading Islamic organizations in Azerbaijan is
precisely the policy pursued by Iran. Our biggest neighbour opposes
the western oil export route and Azerbaijan’s entrance into the sphere
of the West’s interests.

One should bear in mind that Azerbaijan is a multi-ethnic
country. This fact has always been in the focus of the foreign and
internal forces interested in the escalation of tension in our

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS