real war. Every night the sirens sound, you run away in the freezing cellars. And the Black Garden, Nagorno-Karabakh, is turning into a blood-red jungle every day. From trench bombing, we have moved on to long-range missiles. From the cannon fire on the villages, now the aim goes up to the enemy territory, to the large settlements within the borders of Azerbaijan and Armenia. An escalation, in just one week. Two hundred soldiers dead, at least 18 civilians killed, and the wounded who arrive in the hospitals by the hundreds.
Russian-made Armenian rockets rain down on Ganja, the second largest Azerbaijani city, 330 thousand inhabitants, and people even take shelter in the basement of the ancient Turkish fortress, what they call the Shield of Asia and protects from dark times. On Stepanakert Hill, in the self-proclaimed capital of Nagorno-Karabakh, when the Azeris are not shooting from Turkish drones, it is the Armenian women who prepare the supplies of buns, i jingial, and to bring votive flowers to the national monument, Tatik and Papik, Mamma & Pap: two large faces carved in the tuff, and in the soul of each one. Local TV shows the new exodus, we throw ourselves on the courier, the suitcases that are there: we escape from the Black Garden and go to the motherland to look for a new Eden, wherever it is.
The battlefield widens and we too will strike inside Armenia, threatens Baku. It will be a holy and patriotic war, like the ancient battles against the Ottomans, Yerevan promises. Indiscriminate bombing of civilians from both sides, reports the Red Cross: Hospitals, hundreds of homes, schools, markets, water and telephone networks, gas pipes are destroyed.
And if the poor puppets act despite themselves the usual part of tears and fear, as in any war theater, the puppeteers do not even hide too much. Russian Foreign Minister Sergej Lavrov, which has a military base and a mutual assistance pact in common with Armenia, warns Azerbaijan that too many Armenian civilians are dying. And it feels like the liberation of a village from the yoke of Armenian occupation, Jabrayil, is being announced by the Turkish defense minister even before the Baku government: Azerbaijani leader Ilham Aliyev likes to repeat that Azerbaijan and Turkey are one nation, albeit with two states.
To cease fire, not even talk about it. Even, Baku claims to have killed the leader of Artsakh, the hated Armenian state proclaimed in the disputed region: I’m alive and well, denies with a video the interested party, Arayik Harutyunyan, 46, the leader of the separatists for thirteen, after wearing his uniform and leaving for the front. The front line is thronging with dangerous hostilities. The Armenian leader, Nikol Pashinyan, who a year ago presented himself as the man of dialogue, in an interview with Angela Merkel underlines the presence of Syrian jihadists sent from Ankara, along with 150 senior Turkish officers who coordinate enemy operations. We are also ready for dialogue, says Azerbaijani Aliyev, strong in a rich economy and a full arsenal, but patience is over, we do not have time to wait another 30 years of OSCE mediation: the conflict must be solved now. The fact that now there are no margins: Azerbaijan willing to withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh only if Armenia stops bombing its cities; Armenia accepts a truce only if the Turks leave the region.
Beyond the Black Garden, however, only across the border are the strategies of the puppeteers Putin and Erdogan cultivated. And their dream, as in Syria or Libya, to reap the rewards of this new proxy violence. To name one: the South Caucasus gas pipeline runs along the Nagorno-Karabakh line, the one that brings Azerbaijani natural gas to Tanap, the Turkish consortium. Next year, after 25 years, the agreement that obliges Ankara to obtain energy from Moscow will expire. How strange, that all of a sudden they bomb right here: nothing better than a war, to discuss everything again.
October 4, 2020 (change October 4, 2020 | 22:04)
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