Descending Upon Nakhichevan

Nakhichevan, 2010. (Photo: kikiwis, Wikimedia Commons)

What’s going on in Nakhichevan? It worries me. Not the at-best-misleading “news” (several weeks ago) emanating from Azerbaijan that they took control of territory that had been in Armenian hands. Even if that were true, it would be an insignificant blip, and, it’s not true.

What worries me are more substantive issues. What’s happening with the population of the area? In one source, there’s a reference to its growth from 307,200 in 1991 to 410,100 in 2011. That’s HUGE. Think about it, a one-third increase in the number of people in the span of less than one generation? But is it true? Or, equally, is it true that huge numbers of people fled that so-called “autonomous republic” after the Armenian side won in Artsakh? I recall some statistics that purported the region’s population had been halved as a result, but half of what?

Why does population matter anyway? The more people are there, the more that can be marshalled to arms should a conflict erupt on the Republic of Armenia’s southwestern flank where this now-devoid-of-Armenians region lays.

Turkey is the root of my concerns. Plans for a railroad connecting the Nakhichevan and Turkey have been put forth, but no action has been taken since 2012. That’s good news. But the very fact that a project such as this lingers and festers is cause for concern. A railroad would enable faster delivery of military needs to our enemies in case of a conflict. As it is, the Turkish military is said to have an actual presence in Nakhichevan. This is hardly a surprise. Couple this with the incident referenced above when Azerbaijan took some action, perhaps the real intention was to probe for Armenian weakness. That was not an isolated incident. Every so often, they take such action. But the Turkish presence there is “unofficial” since formalizing such a condition would intrude on Russia’s perception of its space. Despite this, Turkish media occasionally report plans to build a Turkish base in Nakichevan. This, too, is likely a probe to see what reactions are elicited.

All this is possible because of a land swap between Iran and Turkey under the Tehran Convention of 1931. This gave Turkey an 11 mile (18km) common border with Nakhichevan. Ostensibly, this came about as a result of the Kurdish rebellion that preceded it. Because Kurds were crossing the border from Iran, Turkey wanted a more controllable border. Even an Armenian source cites this. Supposedly, the land swap was not to gain a common border with Nakhichevan for pan-Turkic reasons. But it baffles me why people cannot conceive that Turkey wanted the land swap for both reasons – the Kurdish and Nakhichevan benefits it bestowed.

Of course the pan-Turkist Kemal Ataturk would not publicly state the Nakhichevan angle. Would you? But it is what anyone with that expansionist, Turkist mindset would do. It’s completely rational.

Meanwhile, a border wall between Iran and Turkey is under construction by the former and was scheduled for completion this spring. I do not know what to make of this. Supposedly, Iran welcomes its construction, but I don’t see why it would. That’s very shortsighted, and Tehran usually thinks very long term.

We must heighten our awareness of Nakhichevan. Happily, Yerevan officialdom seems to be aware of the importance of this front. But more public, especially Diasporan, awareness is important so that if the time should come when trouble starts, we can be of more assistance. Also, it would help us spread the word in government circles worldwide that Turkey likely has nefarious plans for the Republic of Armenia via Nakhichevan.

Let’s start reading and spreading more news about the place-of-the-first descent (of Noah’s ark) as the region is named (Nakh-eech-e-van).


Garen Yegparian

Asbarez Columnist
Garen Yegparian is a fat, bald guy who has too much to say and do for his own good. So, you know he loves mouthing off weekly about anything he damn well pleases to write about that he can remotely tie in to things Armenian. He's got a checkered past: principal of an Armenian school, project manager on a housing development, ANC-WR Executive Director, AYF Field worker (again on the left coast), Operations Director for a telecom startup, and a City of LA employee most recently (in three different departments so far). Plus, he's got delusions of breaking into electoral politics, meanwhile participating in other aspects of it and making sure to stay in trouble. His is a weekly column that appears originally in Asbarez, but has been republished to the Armenian Weekly for many years.

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  1. Nakhichevan? Armenia can’t even handle Artsakh issues. Merely a few years ago they even gave away Artsakh lands, and Azerbaijan paid no price for any of its aggression and ethnic cleansing for the past century, including in 2016. Very simply, Armenians are INCOMPETENT in matters of statehood. Armenians are not even smart enough to influence Russian politics to their advantage, so because of that Nakhichevan will remain a pipe dream since “Mother Russia” has deep rooted friendship and agreements with Turkey on that territory. Armenians are also not even smart enough to turn the tables on Azerbaijan in regards to Artsakh, lowering themselves to becoming nothing more than lowly beggars for having won a war. As ridiculous as that sounds, leave it to no one else but Armenians to have this legacy. Country 1 attacks country 2. Country 2 wins. Country 1 starts dictating to country 2. In what reality does this take place? Oh wait, I forgot about “Mother Russia”, which is pretty much the reason why country 2 dictates to country 1 for having lost a war. Armenia neither has the brains, nor the right ally to deal with such a situation that it is in.

    • To be more precise Armenia didn’t “give away” anything to Azerbaijan during the 2016 war. Yes, Azerbaijan did take control of 1-2 outposts in a no mans land zone.. but at the cost of what? Azerbaijan lost 1,200 soldiers deploying 2 battalions each consisting of 3,000 soldiers and they couldn’t penetrate 1km into Armenian territory. More artillery was used in 1 hour of the attack than the entire karabakh war that night. Tanks, helicopters, suicride drones. All this information was intercepted by a letter from General Sadiqov of Azerbaijan to Aliyev. I must disagree with you in a few areas regarding Armenians and statehood. Armenia also launching a counter attack to advance into deep enemy territory was quickly halted by the Russian army. Armenians aren’t stupid, another attack would be the end of Azerbaijan and the world can’t do nothing to stop them. If turkey intervenes then WW3 will start.

    • Regardless of what any excuse is, regardless of what Azeris lost, what remains the truth is that a state launched an attack, and once again there was absolutely no consequence, except in fact a reward of lands. What has Armenia done about this? Absolutely NOTHING! That is the reason that I doubt Armenian statehood competence. Like I said, at the hands of “Mother Russia”, the “logic of war” has been reversed against Armenia, and for the past century Armenians have been and remain too incompetent to deal with this reality. To my knowledge, nowhere in the history of warfare does a nation lose a war it started and then proceeds to get advantages and benefits from its victim and dictates to them what can and can’t be done, except of course when it comes to Armenia. No country that exists has seen its lands cut up like a checkers board, except of course when it comes to Armenia. And all of this is due to the “protection” of an “ally” called “Mother Russia”. Armenians are good at chess on the chessboard, not in the world of politics.

  2. How about the Azeris swapping Nakhichevan for the Armenian controlled buffer regions surrounding Artsakh. It makes sense. Nakhichevan is isolated from Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan wants the buffer regions back.

  3. I would partition Turkey into three regions. Eastern Turkey, Naxçivan and NK-Artsax will go to become Greater Armenia. South-eastern Turkey will become part of Greater Kurdistan. Western Turkey will become part of Greece. Ankara and central Turkey can remain Turkish.

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