Azerbaijan’s Military Manoeuvre Adversely Affects Caspian Issue, Ira


Shargh web site, Tehran,
2 May 04

The Republic of Azerbaijan is planning to perform a military manoeuvre
in the Caspian Sea in the coming days. Contrary to the remarks by
the commander of Azerbaijan’s Border Guards regarding the aims of
the manoeuvre in terms of evaluating the readiness of the border
forces of the Azerbaijan Republic in order to confront a possible
violation of its maritime borders, it seems that this military
action is commensurate with the deployment of NATO equipment in the
areas close to the northern borders of Iran and that the aims of the
manoeuvres are something else.

Holding military manoeuvres so soon after the recent Moscow conference,
during which the littoral states of the Caspian Sea declared their
verbal commitment to keep the Caspian Sea far from militarization
and help the establishment of a durable peace, is a matter that can
be studied from several points of view.

A long time ago, Aran and Shirvan were annexed forcefully by Tsarist
Russia and the name was changed to the Republic of Azerbaijan. The
policies of that republic in the later course of history were always
accompanied with the negation of the historical identities and always
affected the security of the northern borders of Iran. The leaders of
the Republic of Azerbaijan, which has fewer than 8 million population,
under the guidance of the late president of the Azerbaijan, Haydar
Aliyev, used the old doctrines of the former USSR to insist on the
common language of Azeris with Iranian Azerbaijan, as an element for
trying to separate this part of Iran from the rest of the country.

The Republic of Azerbaijan, since its independence from the 15
republics of the former USSR, has tried to regain old aims and has
tilted towards extraterritorial powers for financial and other
assistance. They have attracted 12.5m dollars from the White
House and Washington’s special budget to consolidate and equip
the Azeri Navy and bring it up to NATO standards, in line with the
militarization of the Caspian Sea. The military influence of the USA
on the regional countries around the Caspian Sea has been increasing
under many pretexts, like the training of military forces or holding
manoeuvres. For instance, every year we see the common manoeuvres by
the USA with regard to Kazakhstan. In order to increase the support
from the Republic of Azerbaijan, the USA has used its experience
of military and economic assistance programmes. The Americans
have presented warships and patrol boats to Azerbaijan. They are
consolidating their own presence in the region through a partner like
Azerbaijan to protect their oil interests. On the other side, the
Russian Federation, which had the reputation of a powerful military
presence in the Caspian Sea, has tried to enhance its military muscle
through holding naval manoeuvres. The great manoeuvre of the Russians
in the Port of Astrakhan, immediately after the summit of the littoral
states in Asgabat, was in the same line. The Russian Federation has
recently declared that it has to equip its forces in the Caspian Sea
with the latest military equipment.

Undoubtedly, Iran’s northern neighbours are taking advantage its
passive position. Relying on the great powers, they are trying to
enhance their military power in the Caspian Sea in order to gain more
advantages in there. They will be able to protect the security of
the pipelines under constructions, especially Baku-Ceyhan, which are
uneconomical routes designed to bypass Iran, as well as to pressure
Iran to go deeper into the passive mood and ignore its rights to
oil and gas in the Caspian Sea. This point gains importance when we
notice that four of the 14 main oil and gas fields in Azerbaijan are
within the 20 per cent limits that some Iranian politicians have set as
the acceptable share for Iran. Of course, Azerbaijan’s other allies,
like Turkey, which has 15 km of common border with Azerbaijan, and
Israel, are planning to expand the political, economic, and cultural
influence in the region, and they are supporting Azerbaijan from a
military point of view.

The reality is that, despite the failure of the repeated sessions and
conferences of the littoral states for devising a proper exploitation
plan in the Caspian Sea and the codification of joint military plans
in order to preserve the balance of naval power in the Caspian Sea,
can be followed by our authorities in order to protect the national
interests and facilitate the implementation of other plans. On the
other side, Iran’s power to affect the Karabakh and Talesh issues
are among Iran’s capacities that have not been used, and they can
be important in the preservation of stability along the maritime and
land borders and help Iran to play its natural and historical role.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

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