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It’s Time to Call Nonsense on Azerbaijan’s Corridor Demands

Second Nagorno-Karabakh War
Image: Creative Commons.

Nasimi Aghayev, Azerbaijan’s ambassador to Germany and its former consul-general in Los Angeles, has established himself as the “Baghdad Bob” of Baku.

He repeatedly denied Azerbaijan’s blockade of the Lachin corridor, doubling down on the fiction that Russian peacekeepers and even Armenians were responsible for cutting off supplies to Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh. It is a logic analogous to suggesting Ukrainians in the Soviet Union starved themselves to make Soviet dictator Josef Stalin look bad.

For Aghayev, however, truth is irrelevant.

Azerbaijani diplomats have three jobs: Affirm dictator Ilham Aliyev’s every action, amplify his propaganda, and channel cash to those who can help.

Azerbaijan miscalculated the willingness of the international community to accept its talking points with regard to Azerbaijan’s Lachin blockade and its harassment of Armenians seeking to transit between Armenia and their homes in Nagorno-Karbakh. Even diplomats from countries closely allied with Azerbaijan privately concede concern with Aliyev’s increasingly erratic behavior. Aliyev, in 2023, increasingly looks and sounds like Saddam Hussein circa 1990.

With the world rejecting Aliyev’s narrative on Lachin, Azerbaijan and its agents, both registered and unregistered, now seek to shift the conversation to the so-called Zangezur corridor. Such a corridor would bifurcate southern Armenia in order to connect Azerbaijan with Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, an Azerbaijan enclave bordering Iran and Turkey but separated by Armenia proper. Azerbaijani officials say the November 2020 ceasefire mandated such a corridor. They allege Armenia violates that ceasefire by not allowing Azerbaijan to build or operate a road across Armenian territory. In reality, that ceasefire did not define the corridor or detail its control and the mechanism by which goods would transit.

While Aghayev and others say the corridor is necessary to allow Turkey to trade freely with Azerbaijan and further afield into Central Asia, he ignores that, just last week, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov, for example, acknowledged that Azerbaijan was building an alternative corridor through Iran. While Azerbaijan asks its propagandists to trumpet competition and schism between the two Shi’ite countries, Baku and Tehran have greatly increased ties and trade in recent years.

Aliyev may seek to transform the Zangezur corridor into a new casus belli as he lays claim to the entirety of Armenia. In reality, the reason for lack of overland trade between Turkey and Azerbaijan is neither Armenian intransigence nor the lack of a new corridor, but rather Azerbaijan and Turkey’s decades-long blockade of Armenia. Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey each face economic challenges, and each could benefit tremendously if they allowed free trade across their borders. Should Aliyev and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan so choose, they could end their blockade of Armenia instantly, open their borders and allow free passenger and commercial truck traffic across their territory on any number of roads. Unfortunately, a racist disdain for Armenians tends appears to motivate Aliyev and Erdogan more than a desire to help their own people.

The ramifications go beyond just economic development. While a pillar of Azerbaijani propaganda is that Armenia is a satellite of Iran, this is a self-fulfilling prophecy as the Azerbaijan-Turkey blockade of Armenia forces Armenia to use Iran as an economic outlet. Hence, those in Washington critical of Armenia-Iran ties, if sincere, should be at the forefront of demands that Azerbaijan and Turkey end their blockade.

Azerbaijan’s cheerleaders in Washington do U.S. national security and geopolitical interests no good when they enable Aliyev and Erdogan as both grow more erratic and detached from reality. The White House position should be a no-brainer and there should be no moral equivalence between those laying siege and those besieged. It is time for Turkey and Azerbaijan to end their blockade of Armenia.

Written By

Now a 1945 Contributing Editor, Dr. Michael Rubin is a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Dr. Rubin is the author, coauthor, and coeditor of several books exploring diplomacy, Iranian history, Arab culture, Kurdish studies, and Shi’ite politics, including “Seven Pillars: What Really Causes Instability in the Middle East?” (AEI Press, 2019); “Kurdistan Rising” (AEI Press, 2016); “Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes” (Encounter Books, 2014); and “Eternal Iran: Continuity and Chaos” (Palgrave, 2005).



  1. EMIP

    January 2, 2023 at 4:10 am

    Turkophobe Michael Rubin writes “In reality, that ceasefire did not define the (Zangezur) corridor or detail its control and the mechanism by which goods would transit.” However, Article 9 of the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire agreement specifically states:

    “9. All economic and transport connections in the region shall be unblocked. The Republic of Armenia shall guarantee the security of transport connections between the western regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic in order to arrange unobstructed movement of persons, vehicles and cargo in both directions. The Border Guard Service of the Russian Federal Security Service shall be responsible for overseeing the transport connections.”
    (Source: Wikipedia 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire agreement)

    Yet again Mr. Rubin stands hoisted by his own petard.

  2. Warsame

    January 2, 2023 at 7:50 am

    It says nothing about a corridor. First go educate yourself on the definition of a corridor then come back. It is a systematic problem in turk society. The deduction powers are low

  3. Bedir Memmedli

    January 2, 2023 at 8:58 am

    Russian peacekeepers are here to maintain peace and avoid any confrontation between Armenians and Azerbaijanis. However, they are not border guards or customs officials. These are Azerbaijan’s responsibilty! Just like any other independent country, Azerbaijan has a full right to control what comes in and what goes out. No one cares how Armenia refers to Azerbaijan’s legitimate Karabakh region. Just because Azerbaijan doesn’t allow Armenians to use the corridor to transfer stolen natural resources, mines and explosives, arms, narcotics, provocateurs, and armed terrorists, it doesn’t mean it is closed. Open your eyes and watch how ambulances, civilian vehicles, etc. freely use this corridor rather then relying on Armenian fake news.

  4. John Evans

    January 2, 2023 at 5:08 pm

    Transit of goods and people through other countries is a normal feature of international commerce, but a “corridor” implies something quite different and is not mentioned in the agreement from 2020. The fact of the matter is that both Azerbaijan and the Armenians of Karabakh need unrestricted access to their exclaves. If Baku could bring itself to recognize that there is a de facto Armenian state functioning in Karabakh, there might be a basis for a deal, but by blockading the Armenians, Baku is only making matters worse.

  5. EMIP

    January 3, 2023 at 3:40 am

    Reader John Evans’ claim that “there is a de facto Armenian state functioning in Karabakh”, a geographic area universally accepted as part of the nation of Azerbaijan, only perpetuates the legally baseless claim that has led to decades of war in that region. Akin to arguing because Hispanics and Latinos compose 50.1% of the U.S. State of New Mexico’s population according to the 2022 Census, there is “a de facto Mexican state” functioning there. New Mexico is part of the sovereign nation of the United States of America, just as Karabakh is an indivisable part of the sovereign nation of Azerbaijan.

  6. aksu

    January 4, 2023 at 12:22 am

    It is Armenia that’s not implementing ceasefire agreements on the two respective corridors. On top of that, Azerbaijan is defending its own sovereign territory. There is no blockade and humanitarian aid is going through.

    Having lost the battle Armenia is desperate to compensate some of its losses. Michael Rubin however sees no problem with supporting a Russian-oligarch ruled and Russian-military supported unrecognised breakaway region (Nagorno Karabakh) allied to Iran, in this specific case. The world powers just watched and did nothing to stop Armenia’s illegal occupation of Azerbaijani land since the early 1990s. The chickens came home to roost, finally.

  7. Arash

    January 5, 2023 at 1:07 am

    This is like asking Germans to be nice to Jews if they never acknowledged the Holocaust!!

    It’s time for the US to use all its economic might and sanction both Turkey and Azerbaijan into dust until they officially recognize the Armenian genocide.

  8. Enis Pınar

    January 5, 2023 at 11:38 am

    Reader Arash refers to the “Armenian Genocide”. The Genocide Convention was only adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948 and entered into force in 1951. Therefore, trying to retroactively (ex post facto) apply the term “genocide” to events occurring circa 1915 during WW1 is legally baseless.  In fact, two separate clauses in the U.S. Constitution prohibits ex post facto laws: Article 1, § 9 which prohibits Congress from passing any laws which apply ex post facto “No bill of attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.”, and Article 1 § 10 which prohibits the states from passing any laws which apply ex post facto. Which is why at the 1945-1946 Nuremberg trials, the Nazi perpetrators of the Holocaust were only tried for War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity; because there was no crime of genocide in existence.

    Moreover, Article VI of the UN Genocide Convention states:”Persons charged with genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in article III shall be tried by a competent tribunal of the State in the territory of which the act was committed, or by such international penal tribunal as may have jurisdiction with respect to those Contracting Parties which shall have accepted its jurisdiction.” None of those conditions have been met with regard to either the Ottoman Empire or its 1923 successor, the Republic of Türkiye. As regards the 1919-1920 Constantinople military courts-martials held under pressure from the British who were then occupying the city, they were show trials where the defendants were denied defense counsel and were totally devoid of the basic legal precepts of justice.

    Finally, retroactively levelling such an accusation only against the Muslim Turks while overlooking the fact that 523,000 Turks, Kurds and other Muslims were killed throughout Anatolia in attacks by Armenian gangs starting from the late 1880’s to 1915 and beyond, a figure cited in academic publications such as The Criminal Law of Genocide by Paul Chalfont, is also blatantly one-sided.

    For example, in April, 1915 Armenian gangs and the Armenian residents of the city of Van inside the Ottoman Empire, upon hearing that their allies the Russian army was advancing towards the city, engaged in the ethnic cleansing of the Muslim Turkish and Kurdish residents of the city. In that one city alone, 60,000 to 80,000 civilian men, women and children were slaughtered by the Armenians. Doesn’t that constitute an act of “genocide” on the part of the Armenians if we are going to retroactively apply the term back to that time period?

  9. Ani Armen Yan

    January 5, 2023 at 12:36 pm

    I have never hated a group of people just their governments and rulers but reading these comments from “Turks” I’m realizing how big of a problem you are. All you spew is lies and propaganda. Just like Hitler your times going to run out. Lie , lie, lie and sing it from the mountain tops of Mount Ararat ( you know the mountain in Armenia stolen by jealous Turks aka stab you in the back while you sleep Turks. No one likes you guys in the Middle East. Al you have is the Kurds and Azerbaijan all the same shit. No one else likes you they just take your money but again your times coming up soon.

  10. Arash

    January 5, 2023 at 2:52 pm

    Enis Pınar:

    Typical Turk mental gymnastics logic!

    So it’s ok for Germany to not acknowledge holocaust then right? It occurred before 1948 after all!

    I don’t care about the terms. Holocaust, holdomor, genocide…

    Terms don’t matter. What matters is that Turks targeted Armenians with the intention of eradicating them and by in large they did.
    Eastern Anatolia that was historically occupied by Armenians, long before any Turks appeared there in the 11th century mind you, is now cleansed of Armenian people.

  11. Enis Pınar

    January 5, 2023 at 8:19 pm


    You keep referencing the Holocaust as if there is a similarity with the events pertaining to the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire c. 1915. Why don’t we look at what some prominent Jews had to say on the subject:

    “We reject attempts to create a similarity between the Holocaust and the Armenian allegations. Nothing similar to the Holocaust occurred. It is a tragedy what the Armenians went through but not a genocide.”- Shimon Peres, on 10 April 2001 while Minister of Foreign Affairs prior to winning the Nobel Peace Prize and becoming Israel’s 9th President.

    “The Armenians want to benefit from both worlds. On the one hand, they speak with pride of their struggle against the Ottoman despotism, while on the other hand, they compare their tragedy to the Jewish Holocaust. I do not accept this. I do not say that the Armenians did not suffer terribly. But I find enough cause for me to contain their attempts to use the Armenian massacres to diminish the worth of the Jewish Holocaust and to relate to it instead as an ethnic dispute.” – There Was No Genocide: Interview with Prof. Bernard Lewis By Dalia Karpel, Haaretz daily (Weekend Issue), Jerusalem, 23 January 1998.

    Or perhaps you would care to listen to the reasoning of the late Prof. Dr. Bernard Lewis, Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University and conferee of the National Humanities Medal from the U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities as stated in his own words on the subject during an appearance at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on 25 March 2002:

    Finally, with regard to your assertion “that Turks targeted Armenians with the intention of eradicating them”, perhaps you would care to explain why the hundreds of thousands of Armenians living in Western Anatolia were not relocated but only those in Eastern Anatolia where a large number of whom engaged in fighting on the side of the invading Russian Army and attacking Ottoman supply lines in a failed attempt at insurrection hoping to create an Armenian state within the borders of the Ottoman Empire? Or do you deny that rebelling Armenian gangs such as the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party (SDHP) had in their own official manifesto the slogan “Those who cannot attain freedom through revolutionary armed struggle are unworthy of it”?

    Armenians had previously lived peacefully alongside the Ottoman Turks for centuries and were a highly respected minority with many of their community having attained some of the highest posts of that empire.

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