Azerbaijan waging front-line war of attrition – Armenian paper

Azerbaijan waging front-line war of attrition – Armenian paper

Golos Armenii, Yerevan
15 Jun 04

Azerbaijan is waging a localized war on the contact line dividing
Armenian and Azeri troops, according to an Armenian newspaper
article. The war, which takes the form of fire-fights and armed
sorties into Armenian territory, has the aim of wearing down the
morale of Armenian forces, the article said. It advocated pursuing
the enemy “right up to Azerbaijani positions”. The fire-fights and
sorties have noticeably increased since Ilham Aliyev became Azeri
president, according to the newspaper. The following is the text of
Aris Kazinyan’s report in Armenian newspaper Golos Armenii on 15
June headlined “Exhausting tactics: new form of war”; subheadings
inserted editorially:

Cross border fire-fights increasing since Ilham Aliyev became Azeri

The situation on the contact line has worsened in full accordance with
the pronouncements of the Azerbaijani authorities about the possibility
and even the expediency of settling the Karabakh issue by war. Two
days after Armenian military units stopped sorties by enemy groups
in the Tavush and Fizuli [Fuzuli] areas, on 10 June the Azerbaijani
side opened fire on the village of Movses in the same Tavush Region
[Armenia]. The firing came from the Kohanabi heights in Tovuz District
of the Azerbaijani Republic. It is interesting that since Ilham Aliyev
came to power the cease-fire regime has been broken more often and,
as a rule, this has coincided with the known dates for regular OSCE
monitoring of the border.

Since May 1994 the cease-fire regime has been broken hundreds of
times, as a result of which not only has agricultural work been
frozen, but many of our compatriots have died. By the way, while
on the Armenian side it is mainly civilians, peasants, who have
died, on the Azerbaijani side servicemen have predominated. It
is not difficult to guess the logic of these official statistics:
Armenian arable farmers and stockbreeders have become the victims
of Azeri diversionary sorties and the fact that the [Armenian]
army stops these sorties has led to such lamentable results for the
rank-and-file soldiers in the enemy’s army. The fact that all these
years Azerbaijan has been the initiator of cross-border exchanges
of fire stems from this statistical material: it is Baku alone, not
Yerevan or Stepanakert, that constantly talks about resuming the war,
as it is Azerbaijan that is displeased with today’s disposition of
forces and the de facto positioning of the borders.

Azerbaijan waging “localized” war

In this regard it should be emphasized that the increasingly frequent
cases of cross-border fire are also the result of the inappropriate
reaction of international structures to what is taking place, their
unwillingness to call a spade a spade and evident aspiration to
“please” all the parties of the conflict simultaneously. The Azeri
authorities have never been “called to order” for their stubborn
and persistent use of military rhetoric in their speeches and for
propagation of the idea of the possible settlement of the Karabakh
issue by means of a new, major war. Judging from the realities of
the last 18 months, there is every reason to say that, unlike the
previous, often disorganized and spontaneous, cross-border exchanges
of fire, Azerbaijan has already begun to carry out a plan to conduct
a localized war.

Special diversionary groups are already operating within the structure
of the enemy army, which is now being reformed. They specialize
in mimicking a partisan war by means of sorties to capture new
heights. The diversion on 8 June not far from the Armenian village
of Berkaber, as well as others, had this objective as well. It is
evident that these violations of the cease-fire are organized and
coordinated directly by official Baku.

Azerbaijan hoping to destroy Armenian troop morale

But we should note that the main objective of the strategy of
“diversionary partisan” war is not to reach new boundaries, but to
damage the spirit, resolve and confidence of the Armenian border
guards. The authors of this strategy think that the “desired result”
will be achieved by similar actions along the whole length of the
contact line. Today, avoiding open battles (by the way, only because
of their weaker level of combat readiness) and starting the tactics
of “exhausting the enemy both physically and morally”, Azerbaijan
hopes soon to demoralize the Armenian soldiers and officers, whose
spirit, organization and principle played a decisive role in the
1989-94 war. In this regard we should seriously think not only
about defending civilians in the border areas from these sorties,
but also about pursuing the transgressor right up to Azerbaijani
positions. This may not only calm the enemy, but also make him back
off from the tactics used today.

It is also necessary to pay attention to the political component of the
“diversionary” war. In spite of the danger inherent in the tactic, it
nevertheless ends up advocating the preservation of the “security line”
which Azerbaijan hates so much. The vast majority of border violations,
accompanied by attempts at diversion, take place in the areas where the
contact line is narrowest: 70 per cent of the sorties and exchanges of
fire take place in Tavush Region, where the main commanding heights,
starting from Barekamavan and Koti, are controlled by the Azerbaijani
army. In the regions with a stronger and wider “security line” the
number and “quality” of such actions is minimal. We think that the
Armenian side should certainly use this condition in its well-founded
explanations of the vital necessity to preserve the “security line”.