[Armenian News note: the below is translated from the Russian edition of Turan]
A Baku-based political commentator has suggested that Armenia's decision to restore a mosque in Karabakh provides insight into the possible return of some parts of the breakaway to Azerbaijan.
Elxan Sahinoglu was commenting for the independent news agency Turan on a JAMnews report that said that Armenians were restoring the "dilapidated" Govharaga mosque in the town of Susa with the help of Iranian specialists and financial aid from a Kazakh businessman.
"Why have Armenians started restoring the mosque in Susa but not the mosque they destroyed in Agdam [District of Azerbaijan, part of which is controlled by Armenians]? The reason is that while they, possibly, subconsciously agree to return several [seven] districts outside Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan, they are not going to return the town of Susa, which is a strategic military springboard," Sahinoglu said.
He said that in recent years, Armenians had been trying to rebuild the infrastructure in the town of Susa as well as in Kalbacar and Lacin districts, and to settle Armenians from Arab countries in those areas in the hope that the land would not be given back to Azerbaijan.
The Armenians involve Iranians in the restoration work for the same reason that they involved Iranian specialists in the restoration of a mosque in Armenia's capital city, Yerevan, Sahinoglu said. Armenians want to bring Iranian tourists to Nagorno-Karabakh and those tourists would pray in the Susa mosque like they have done in Yerevan, the report cited the commentator as saying. "Tehran, however, understands that Nagorno-Karabakh is not Armenia, and Iranian tourists in Nagorno-Karabakh will cause Azerbaijan to issue diplomatic notes [of protest]. Economically, Russia and Azerbaijan are more attractive to Iran than Armenia or Nagorno-Karabakh, therefore Tehran itself should prevent its citizens from visiting Nagorno-Karabakh," Sahinoglu said.
He added that the developments around the Susa mosque showed that "Armenians are letting the world know that they categorially do not want to give Susa back to Azerbaijan… Our country should find other, more effective instruments to put pressure on Armenia," he said.
Turan went on to cite another Azerbaijani political commentator, Ilqar Valizada, as saying that the historical Susa, Karabakh and Iravan khanates were Iranian land and that Tehran found it important to show that it had cultural, historical and material legacy in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. As for Armenia, it seeks to highlight that there is nothing Azerbaijani on that land and hopes to secure room in Nagorno-Karabakh for Iran for specific projects in the region, the pundit said. He said that the shared interests of Armenians, Persians and have created "historical falsification like this one" and "this kind of dubious restoration work, which aims to change history". He added that the people restoring the mosque will try to erase the traces of Azerbaijanis in the history of the region and the mosque.
"Behind the current developments in Susa, there are serious political motives that are supported outside the region and involve other countries," he suggested.