Azerbaijanis still too nervous to celebrate Nagorno-Karabakh victory

Azerbaijanis still too nervous to celebrate Nagorno-Karabakh victory
Baku's unusually silent streets, which are usually full of music coming from different restaurants, suggests that that residents are still in mourning for the war dead. / bne IntelliNews
By bne IntelIiNews September 26, 2023

Reaction in Azerbaijan has so far been muted to its military victory last week against the tiny forces of the breakaway territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Azerbaijanis are tired of war but it is not yet clear that the 30 years of conflict are finally over against the ethnic Armenian enclave as well as Armenia itself.

The Ministry of Defence of Azerbaijan also has not released the names and number of military casualties of the latest fighting. However, according to Germany-based independent journalist Habib Muntazir, more than 200 Azerbaijani soldiers were killed in the 24-hour conflict.

Many Azerbaijanis therefore think it is not advised to celebrate until the official announcement and the mourning period is over. The unusually silent streets of Baku, which is usually full of music coming from different restaurants, suggests that that this is the case.

If and when the territory is finally taken over, and the Ilham Aliyev regime tells Azerbaijanis to celebrate, then it will be safe to do so.

Some Azerbaijanis have criticised the latest attack by their country. bne Intellinews tried to interview citizens about their opinions on the military operations in Karabakh. Many refused to share their names. This isn’t surprising as at least five people have been detained in Azerbaijan for anti-war posts on social media.

Former diplomat Emin Ibrahimov was arrested on September 20. He was sentenced to 30 days of administrative detention for anti-war posts in social media. He wrote that a potential military operation will strengthen Russia's position in South Caucasus.

 “They say that the result is most important. Everything should serve people. How can a policy that strengthens the reaction, gives wings to the corrupt, blocks progress, and plays into the hands of Russia, be a good result?”

“ And now you expect us to believe that Russia will give Karabakh to us [Azerbaijan] and will leave us alone? Wishful thinking,” he tweeted.

According to Ibrahimov's lawyer, Agil Lahij, people in civilian clothing unlawfully entered his home claiming to represent Azersu, the state company in charge of distribution of water. They detained him without shoes and socks on, conducted an illegal search, and confiscated his family's electronics, including an HP computer and several phones.

He was subsequently charged with "supporting terrorism" and given a 30-day administrative arrest.

Ibrahimov believes his arrest is due to his opinions expressed on social media, as there's no evidence of him supporting terrorism.

Khatai District court also sentenced labour rights activist Afiaddin Mammadov to two months in pre-trial detention on September 21. According to the information provided by his relatives, at that time a person near the house injured himself and threw a knife at Mammadov: "Police officers immediately came to the scene and arrested him," they said. But it was not possible to find out the reaction of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and other official institutions to all this.

Among other arrests were journalist Nurlan Gahramanli (Libre), activists Nemat Abbasov – himself a veteran of Second Karabakh war – and Amrah Tahmazov who were sentenced to 30 days in administrative detention.

According to the government-funded Centre for Social Research, the Azerbaijani population is highly in favour of peace with Armenia:

Survey date

Support for peace agreement

Oppose peace agreement

No opinion

May 2023




September 2022




December 2021




Baku is now preparing for the integration of Nagorno-Karabakh. According to a statement by the presidential administration, Karabakhi capital Khankendi (Stepanakert for Armenians) was connected to the Azerbaijani power grid on September. Reserve cells in Shusha substation were already installed in 2021.

The Aliyev regime downplays the ongoing refugee wave. The Azerbaijani pro-government media keep interviewing Armenian refugees passing through the Azerbaijani checkpoint on the Lachin Corridor to Armenia and claim that this is only temporary relocation.

However, many observers expect the territory to be ethnically cleansed. The territory had a special status under the Soviet Union and has fought bitterly for 30 years for self-rule. Azerbaijan is refusing to give it any kind of autonmy. Its leaders have said they expect almost all the population to flee rather than live under Baku rule.

Azerbaijanis themselves are pessimistic about the chances of integrating the ethnic Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh into Azerbaijan.

According to Ilkin Hüseynli, a PhD student in political philosophy at the University of Milan who spoke to bne IntelliNews, there is no possibility for Armenians to return to Karabakh under Azerbaijani rule, unless some remarkable change of power occurs either in Azerbaijan or Russia, even in that case it would possibly take decades.

Rauf Azimov, a Toronto-based lawyer and himself a refugee from Nagorno-Karabakh, recalling his own family’s experience as a refugee, also questions the possibility of an Armenian return to Karabakh.

“They have been painted as the enemy for decades, used as villains responsible for all our failures. How could anyone seriously believe Armenians can be integrated into Azerbaijan? Any Azerbaijani who witnessed war and suffered ethnic cleansing must speak up against it, even if all our base instincts tell us otherwise. Or history will not forgive us,” he said on his Twitter account.