Armenia and Azerbaijan. The Clash of Civilizations on the Fault Line.

The map of Armenia after the 44 day Azeri victory over the Armenians in 2020. Today there is basically no Norgorn-Karabakh. Ii has ben subsumed into irredentist Azerbaijan.

Samuel Huntington in his epochal  book, The Clash of Civilizations explained what should have been obvious to  modern historians but were rarely touched upon, i.e.- that the most intractable wars are intercultural wars, civilizational wars. Before the era of post modernism, the old historians did in fact depict cultural factors as a primary cause of war.  ( think of the Persian-Greek wars- now the Greek  Turkic conflict). In this era, primarily since WWII, the more recent historians, engulfed in a tidal wave of leftist ideologies, have bitterly assailed Huntington’s book. It violated their most precious assumptions, among them that all wars have some economic, ideological sociological, perhaps racist basis for conflict.  ( Given that the Cultural wars do contain an element of Racism).Western colonialism, imperialism, was and continues to be a favorite.  Their theme, perhaps somewhat more tactfully put, is that wars  are explainable and have remedies if only the people would listen to the enlighten intellectuals, – the modern historian. Ambitious dictators, poverty, racial discrimination, populist causes, the evils of capitalism, etc are at the top of the list. To be sure these have been and still are, factors at times, but these wars usually have an ending, a conclusion. Revolutionary wars end when the revolutionaries take over, nationalist wars end when one side is vanquished or the leaders chose to call it quits, usually with some great power intervention.

Armenian troops


Azeri victory parade 2020

Basically with the demise of  religious faith  in the West, particularly Christianity, Western historians are unable to grasp the fact that the loss of religious fervor in the West has not occurred in the East.   The Eastern elites may be total atheists but they are smart enough to use religion to control the masses.  So according to these modernists,  the genocide of the Armenians by the Turks was some manifestation of ultra nationalist feeling, not religion. ( Even the preeminent Middle East historian Bernard Lewis declines  to call it genocide, because it was not centrally directed by the state.) The forever  war  between the Jews of Israel and the Muslims of the Arab world, are simply a nationalist contest between Palestinian nationalists and Jewish Zionists. So goes the conventional story embedded in scholarship by the likes of Edward Said, the ersatz Palestinian, who has probably done more to destroy Middle Eastern scholarship than anyone I can conjure up.

The confused ethnicity of the Azeris.religiously tied to the Iranians but ethnically Turkish. Politically Azerbaijan and Iran at odds as Iran frets about the loyalty of their Azeri population

But cultural, civilizational, wars are often interminable. They can only end when one side is obliterated or rendered helpless and the people evicted or subjugated. They have truces for sure, but do not end unless the condition above is met.The truces are usually on the basis of some greater power, interposing themselves, but as soon as the Great Power influence fades, the war resumes, perhaps on a low intensity basis until one side decides the Gods of War favor them and the war is resumed.

It should be pointed out that the territorial demands of the Azeris also include a corridor -or much more- to their cut off piece of Azerbaijan called Nakhchivan on the border with political rival Iran. Now that the Azeris are feeling their oats they will push the corridor demand and Armenia is too weak to resist if they continue to be abandoned by Russian and the West

Armenian refugees 2015 trying to escape  death rape and servitude of the Turks.Many Armenian women ended up as indentured slaves to wealthy  Turks and Arabs

One such war has just occurred and is now in a truce hiatus- the Armenian-Azerbaijan war- A war between Christian Western oriented Armenians  and Islamist Azerbaijan. A truce has been declared because an Armenian enclave of Nogorno- Karabakh has been obliterated. Any Armenian  who values his life and that of his/her family is leaving or being evicted. The fact that the  street smart president of Azerbaijan has enlisted Western help, particularly Israeli,  is of no lasting impact. The wars of  Mohammed and his successors against the Christians in the Arab world saw both sides enlist some opposing religionists  at times. Same with Zoroastrian Persians and  Muslim Arabs.

The strong Orthodox faith of the ordinary Armenians

Today there is no Armenian enclave known as Nagorno -Karabakh.  It now belongs to the Azeris.No matter the historic, moral, diplomatic or humanitarian concerns. Oil rich Azerbaijan,  cozy with the West and international oil CEOs, new friend of Israel, enemy of Iran,  succeeded in a blitz short war  against the orphaned  irregular forces of the Armenian population of Nagorno Karabakh.   Feebly supported supported by  friendless and poor Armenia. they had no chance of survival, so they  unconditionally surrendered. As long as history records can be ascertained , this region was always part of the Armenian land, but in a twisted history engineered by the  duplicity of the former USSR, of which Armenia was once an important principality, the ownership of the land was never completely settled. The Soviets left it as a self governing enclave  with a clouded right of self -determination.

Armenian Refugees from NaGorno Karabakh


Armenian share some blame if we only look at the secular factors, the 6-year war which “ended” in 1994, with a resounding Armenian victory. The Armenians, enthused by their   win over the Azeris, refused to negotiate a peaceful settlement. But no matter.  Even if they had the war would have resumed war at some point. Now the Armenians thirst for revenge. They have clout. Not in Armenia  but in the outside world. Only 20% of the Armenian diaspora live in Armenia.  Many more live in Russia or the West. The Armenians, like the Jews, are a very ingenious, smart, cohesive people  who are usually good loyal citizens of the country they happen to live in but their historical anger  against their eternal enemy the Turks continue. Not longer in violence- as it was right through the seventies- but now using their influence in the Western countries to irritate the Turks. For instance it was the  American Armenian community who pushed through  congress the official recognition of  the Turkish  genocide of the Armenians  of Turkey- a people who lived there long before the mongol hordes overran their land.It is no coincidence that the Azeris are in fact a Turkic people,( despite their Shi’a Islam) and constantly  profess their kinship to Turkey.

Armenians trekking to Armenia proper.


About Tex

Retired artillery colonel, many years in a number of positions in the Arab world. Graduate of the US Military Academy and the American University of Beirut. MA in Arab studies from the American University in Beirut along with 18 years as Middle East Seminar Director at the JFK Special Warfare Center and School, Served in Vietnam with 1st Inf Division, Assignments in Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt, plus service with Trucial Oman Scouts in the Persian Gulf. Traveled to every Arab country on the map including Iraq, Syria, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.
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