NK, Armenia Prepare for Revived Azerbaijan Military Pressures

Defense & Foreign Affairs Daily
August 12, 2004 Thursday

Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia Prepare for Revived Azerbaijan Military

As an indication of the growing expectation that the new Azerbaijan
Government of Pres. Ilham liyev was likely to soon begin escalating
its confrontation against the Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh,
the autonomous enclave on August 10, 2004, ended a week of military
exercises by the Nagorno-Karabakh armed forces. There were concerns
in both Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia that a visit to Baku by US
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on August 11, 2004, would be seen
by Azeri officials as encouragement for Pres. liyev, who is
embattled, politically, following his assumption of power on the
death of his father, Pres. Heydar lirza oglu liyev, in 2003.

The closing of the three-stage military maneuvers in Nagorno-Karabakh
was, significantly, observed by Nagorno-Karabakh officials and a
delegation of senior Armenian military officers led by Armenian
Defense Minister Serge Sarkisian. Commenting on the exercises,
Armenian Deputy Defense Minister Col.-Gen. Mikhail Harutiunian
“positively assessed” the readiness and capability of the Karabakh
armed forces. Sarkisian said the neighboring Armenian Army served as
a guarantor of the security of the population of Nagorno-Karabakh”,
but added that there was no real threat of a military conflict in the
near future and stressing that “the leaders of Nagorno-Karabakh and
Armenia have declared more than once that the Armenian side does not
intend to resume military operations”.

The implication of the statement, however, was that the Azerbaijan
Government did intend to resume such operations. In the past,
however, Karabakh forces had proven decisively superior to the

Meanwhile, US Defense Secretary Rumsfeld met with Azerbaijani Pres.
liyev and Defense Minister Safar Abiev on August 11, 2004, during a
one-day visit to Baku. Although details of the Rumsfeld visit were
not made public, he was expected to discuss plans for an expanded US
military mission in the country and review the deployment of
Azerbaijani troops in Iraq. Azerbaijani press reports also indicate
that Sec. Rumsfeld would discuss the recent visit to Baku by Iranian
Pres. Hojet ol-Eslam Mohammad Khatami. Rumsfeld previously visited
Baku in December 2003.