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Main » 2009 » October » 9 » Armed confrontation on the North of Azerbaijan
17:39
Armed confrontation on the North of Azerbaijan

As reported by the website of  Dagestan Mujahedeens Jamaat Shariat, on the night of September the 20th there was an armed confrontation between Azerbaijani border guards and Mujahedeen-ansars of Dagestan. Jamaat Shariat reports that there are casualties on both sides and finds it surprising that both Russian and Azerbaijani mass media has been silent about this battle. The source also informs that the attack of mujahedeens was beaten off with the help of Russian border guards. Meanwhile, attention should be paid to the fact that the border between Azerbaijan and Russia is not recognized by the mujahedeens as such and is termed as “the so-called “Russian-Azerbaijani” border.” Also it is reported that battles are rather frequent on the Southern flank as well as on the territory around the border. 

Even if we take into account that Mujahedeens usually call small confrontations as “battles”, we still have to admit that the situation on the Russian-Azerbaijani border is heating up every month. Mujahedeen-Ansars explain their strive to intrude the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan saying that “Azerbaijani puppets are actively inhabiting the indigenous lands of Lezgins with refugees from Karabakh and Armenia, destroying the historical monuments of Dagestan peoples and forcibly putting “Azerbaijani” nationality in the passports of Lezgins. As a matter of fact there are no regional leaders among Lezgins, Tsakhurs and Avars. There is not a single school, not a single local radio or TV station in their mother tongue. While the number of Dagestan people living in their indigenous lands is from 500 thousand to 1 million.         

This message is worth paying attention to despite some “outdated” information. The passports of the Republic of Azerbaijan for already several years do not indicate the holder’s nationality, a fact which finds hostile reaction among the indigenous peoples. If in the past more determined and nationalistic representatives of indigenous peoples could register their nationality in case they wanted to (by this depriving themselves and their family members of many opportunities of career and educational development), the current national ‘depersonalization’ allows Azerbaijani government to realize discrimination policies completely ignoring the nationality factor. Accusations of destroying the national monuments of indigenous peoples also seem to be a little outdated – now these are being declared as “Albanian” monuments, which in Azerbaijani reality means “Turkic”.   

However, the tendency of militant-islamists to “creep” from the Southern part of Russia to the territory of Azerbaijan is apparent. And the consequences of this phenomenon can be much more serious than it is may seem from the first sight. The following phrase from Jamaat Shariat “There is a great possibility that the events may develop similar to  the Georgian scenario, in which case along with the negotiations on Karabakh process they will have to negotiate on 7-12 regions up to the capital Baku” is not at all a fiction allegory. The islamists are really capable of blowing up the North of Azerbaijan Republic and strange though it may sound, their first accomplice in this is Baku, or to be more exact, the ethnic and religious discrimination conducted against the indigenous inhabitants of this region of Azerbaijan.     

In fact the problem of interrelations between the government and indigenous peoples of Azerbaijan has existed ever since the creation of the Republic of Azerbaijan – starting from 1918. And it referred to all the spheres of these peoples’ life without exception -from birth and data in their passports up to the right for education, work, obtaining a scientific degree, etc. Lezgins, Avars and Tsakhurs were always considered in this republic as an annoying element as by their very existence they reminded the Transcaucasian Turks about their nomadic past and about the fact that they were incomers in this region. Throughout all the past decades Azerbaijan was doing everything possible either to assimilate the indigenous people or to force them out of the republic, or to be more exact – out of their historical homeland.  

And if prior to gaining independence this confrontation was of predominantly ethnic character, then after 1991 it acquired also a confessional aspect. The overwhelming majority of Turkic people of Republic of Azerbaijan are Muslim-Shiites while the Lezgins, Avars and Tsakhurs are Sunnis. Thus it’s not by an accident that the Azerbaijani border guards are called as Murtadas – Muslims who have rejected Islam and have turned into gavurs.  

In the article of Jamaat Shariat there is also an abundance of complaints of religious character directed against Azerbaijani authorities: The indigenous residents are not allowed to preach in the mosques in their native language or to carry beards; burglaries into the houses of Lezgins and Avars are also frequent…” Also, Allahshukur-Pashazade, who calls himself the religious leader of Caucasian Muslims and carries a sophisticated title of Sheikh-ul-islam Haji Allahshukur Pashazadeh, is scornfully referred by the article as the “so-called “sheikh””.

At last the article brings forward the accusations of deliberate physical annihilation of the representatives of indigenous peoples. Perhaps this is the most widespread and well-argumented accusation against the Azerbaijani authorities. Suffice is to say that more than one third of those who died serving in the armed forces of Azerbaijan during the year of 2008 were the representatives of indigenous peoples. This fact has many times been reported in Dagestan mass media. That is why the complains of Jamaat Shariat such as this “The matter has gone so far that the young people from these regions (inhabited by the indigenous peoples) are being sent to serve on the frontline with Armenia, while the Azerbaijanis are positioning themselves in the home front by paying from one up to three thousand dollars” are not at all an exaggeration.

Azerbaijan has received a serious warning! The realization of threats on the part of mujahedeens is capable of destructing the peaceful life in this republic; and the only way out from this situation is for Baku to make a rapid change in its policies towards indigenous peoples. On the other hand the shift of this policy can burry the plans of Azeris nourished ever since 1918 to create a Turkic state on the territory of Southern Caucasus.  As there is no doubt that in the truly tolerant (and not just proclaimed as such) Azerbaijan where there will be no repressions on the national ground, the “number” of indigenous peoples will increase rapidly. Hundreds of thousands of Lezgins, Avars, Tats, Talishes, Udis and other native peoples will by all means remind of their national identity.   

In Baku they do realize this of course. That’s why they are not ready to provide the indigenous peoples equal rights together with Turkic people. It is not a mere coincidence that Azerbaijani political scientist Rasim Agaev, commenting on the Jamaat Shariat’s article, remembered Putin’s phrase that was often mocked in Baku – “We will catch them in the toilet and kill them.” And Gyulnara Inandz, director of international informational-analytical on-line center Ethnoglobus while speaking of the indigenous peoples of Azerbaijan has already armed herself with the term “smaller peoples.” And naturally, all the Azerbaijani “experts” without exception “observe the Armenian trace in all that’s happening.”

Levon MELIK-SHAHNAZARYAN  

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