State Department cables show US scrambling to “buy” Azerbaijan’s silence on the Turkey-Armenia rapprochement process.
Azerbaijan’s military spending has not translated into an advantage for Baku, according to former US Ambassador to Azerbaijan, who in US diplomatic cable obtained by Wikileaks, said that the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Army has an advantage over Azeri forces in the event of war.
“Azerbaijan, even with its focus on improving its military capability, is unlikely anytime soon to structure a force large or well-equipped enough to overcome the terrain advantages enjoyed by the NK Self-Defense Force and the Armenian army,” said Derse in a US Embassy cable released by Wikileaks and published in the Moscow-based Russian Reporter Magazine.
The State Department cables show a rift between Turkish and Azeri leaders in the wake of the Turkey-Armenia rapprochement process and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s efforts to pressure the US to give in to its demands of higher military aid and other diplomatic overtures.
“Azerbaijan’s negative reactions to Turkey are fueled by [Turkish Prime Minister Receop Tayyip] Erdogan and [Turkish President Abdullah] Gul’s unfriendly treatment of Aliyev. Aliyev believes the Turks would have sold Azerbaijan out months ago without even the courtesy of a consultation. Azerbaijan’s trepidation about the process is also magnified by the drift I perceived in its relations with the United Stats, whom Baku perceives more and more to be responsible for the Turkey-Armenia process,” explained Derse in the cable.
“While the extent of Aliyev’s influence on the Turkey-Armenia process is debatable, what is obvious is that the U.S. is steadily losing influence in Azerbaijan as the process moves forward,” added the cable.
“It is plain that the United States cannot give President Aliyev what he really wants, which is an explicit linkage of the border opening to a solution of NK,” said the cable, which highlighted that Aliyev asked Ambassador Derse to explore:
–Progress on walking back Section 907;
–Defensive military sales, particularly air defense; and
–High-level actions to show commitment to solving NK,” outlined the cables.
“Either delivering on one of these items or showing a willingness to have serious dialogue on these requests could be enough to ‘buy’ Azerbaijani silence on Turkey-Armenia,” added the cables.