Erdogan in Baku: «The struggle is not over». What is important to understand?

Translation: The Victory Parade in the Patriotic War that took place yesterday in Baku became not only a demonstration of the triumph of the Turkish-Azerbaijani Muslim alliance and the humiliation of the Armenian crusaders (it should be noted that during the war they themselves drew crosses on their uniforms and equipment), but also an event with strategic consequences that should be seriously considered by thoughtful Muslims.

Let’s start with the undoubtedly good news that remained in the shadows yesterday, noticed only by commentators on social media. In addition to the military and political dimensions, yesterday’s event also had a religious dimension. While the leaders of Turkey and Azerbaijan of the previous «secular» generation undoubtedly went to celebrate the victory with glasses of champagne, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Ilham Aliyev visited a mosque before the parade, where they performed a prayer (namaz). And it is important to note that it was a Sunni mosque, and there was no Shiite turban in front of President Aliyev, indicating that he performed a Sunni prayer (among Shiite Muslims, prayer without a turban is considered invalid).

In addition, many observers noted that Dr. Ali Erbas, the head of Turkey’s Department of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), was noticed at yesterday’s festive events, but the so-called «Sheikh ul-Islam» of Azerbaijan, Allahshukur Pashazade, was not noticed (if he was present at all). This is a good reason to comment on the doubts and objections that arose at the beginning of the war when some of our readers questioned whether non-Azerbaijani Sunnis should support historically Shiite Azerbaijan. Our attitude towards the Shiite axis and the global Shiite project is well known to our regular readers, but we supported Azerbaijan precisely because of Turkey’s leading role and in the hope that their partnership and the implementation of the slogan «two states — one nation» would lead to the gradual Sunniization of Azerbaijan, which has accompanied the growth of Turkish self-awareness among its inhabitants over the years, but has been curbed by the authorities at certain moments. If Allah wills it, we hope that with the arrival of Turkish military specialists and technologies in Azerbaijan, as well as investments, Turkish religious scholars and teachers will also come who will contribute to the spiritual development of the Azerbaijani people in the right direction.

This does not mean violent imposition of Sunnism or persecution of Shiism, but it is necessary to understand that firstly, the majority of Azerbaijanis are nominal Shiites or not very religious at all, which makes it possible to direct efforts primarily to filling this vacuum. And secondly, the Safavids once eradicated Sunnism in this region with fire and sword. This does not mean that the same should be done, but it does mean that for the peoples of this region, and not only Azerbaijanis, but also Persians, Sunnism is not something foreign — it is what they followed until Shiite Islam was imposed on them.

Now to the geopolitical aspects. President Aliyev reminded his people and the whole world that Zangazur, Gekha and Yerevan are historical Azerbaijani territory from which hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis were expelled. President Erdogan recalled that 102 years ago, the Islamic Army of the Caucasus, created in the Ottoman Empire, liberated Baku from the Dashnak invaders and honored the memory of its leaders, including Enver Pasha. And both warned Armenia of the retribution of the iron fist of Azerbaijan and Turkey if it tried to disturb the peace.

However, contrary to the immediate hysteria of the Armenian media and commentators, neither President Aliyev presented territorial claims to Armenia on its internationally recognized borders, nor did President Aliyev call for the beating of Armenians associated with the figure of Enver Pasha. As for the first point, Armenia still maintains claims to the internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan and raises the issue of recognizing the independence of the NKR, while Ilham Aliyev merely recalled historical facts. As for Enver Pasha, Armenian nationalists also consider Garegin Nzhdeh a hero — they glorify him for conquering Zangazur for the Armenians, ignoring the massacre of Turks that he organized. But Enver Pasha was not glorified for the massacre of Armenians — his memory was honored for the liberation of Baku.

It is important to note and understand that yesterday both presidents — of Turkey and Azerbaijan — called on Armenia to reconcile, to leave behind the era of enmity and to open a new era in the history of the region, an era of cooperation. Both presidents announced the work on the creation of a six-sided platform of regional cooperation involving Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iran, Russia, Georgia and … Armenia, if it wishes to join, by extending a hand of cooperation. And the president of Turkey announced that his country is ready to open its borders with blockaded Armenia, if it wants to move towards cooperation.

Of course, all this is not because the presidents of Turkey and Azerbaijan are naive and short-sighted. The context of these initiatives is completely different — as Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared yesterday, after the end of the war for the liberation of Karabakh, the struggle will not end, but will continue in other ways.

But against whom and what is this struggle? Is it against Armenia for some disputed territories? No, after the liberation of most of Karabakh by Azerbaijan, with its capital in Shusha, it is already a much larger, practically global struggle, in which Armenia is being used by the enemies of Islam, and Armenian politics itself has voluntarily taken on the role of their vanguard, condemning its country to another, relatively small, but humiliating catastrophe.

But we, Muslims, must also understand the magnitude and the risks of this struggle. And that Azerbaijan, which has sided with Turkey, may now face not only Armenian revanchism, but also a global coalition of crusaders who will use it only as one of their instruments. And this confrontation covers a vast territory, starting from Libya, through Greece and Cyprus, and continuing, but not necessarily ending, in the Caucasus. But most importantly, the front of this struggle was and remains Turkey itself, where the enemies of its current leadership have been trying to overthrow it for years and will continue to do so by various methods.

Can the forces represented by French President Emmanuel Macron today try to conquer Turkey by force? No, it is almost impossible. But they can very well try to conquer it economically and politically, and what is more, they are openly calling for it, as Macron has done, as well as the newly elected president of the United States, Joe Biden.

And here they may have more chances. For example, the data from the polls conducted this week by the research company Metropoll show that today the approval of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s policies in Turkey has decreased by 4.7% to 46.2% compared to the previous period, and the number of his opponents has increased by 1.9% to 46.6%.

In other words, more Turks now disapprove of Erdogan’s policies than approve of them, and this is mainly due to the economic consequences for the country, including inflation and currency depreciation, which are hitting their wallets. And although Erdogan is still the most popular politician on a national level with 36.6% against 10.3% for Meral Aksener, 10.1% for Kemal Kilicdaroglu and 8.8% for Ali Babacan, such a situation cannot be called stable.

Therefore, today’s announcement of new sanctions against Turkey by the EU and the USA should be taken as seriously as other strategic threats. Of course, we would like to defeat all the enemies at once — the Emirati Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and the Saudi Muhammad bin Salman, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Syrian dictator Assad, Emmanuel Macron and Joe Biden, Kurdish communists, Armenian nationalists, Shiite sectarians, Kharijite terrorists, Gulenist conspirators, and then China oppressing the Uyghurs, India oppressing the Kashmiris, and so on.

But it is clear that this is unrealistic — politics is the art of the possible, and the art of a strategist is to prioritize in enmity and correctly assess one’s own strength, turning enemies, if not into friends, then at least into neutral partners. And the calls of the leaders of Turkey and Azerbaijan to Armenia, which has received a hard lesson, to move from enmity to cooperation should be evaluated precisely in this context.

Both Turkey and Azerbaijan have a lot at stake today and tomorrow, which will lead them to cooperate with anyone who is ready to accept their conditions for cooperation or offers acceptable conditions of their own. And for Armenia, it will now be a matter of preserving its statehood, which has been made clear to it by the leaders of Turkey and Azerbaijan, on the one hand, offering it cooperation and, on the other hand, outlining what awaits it if it continues its policy of confrontation.

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