Turkey's thwarted invasion of Armenia in 1992/3
Submitted by Ianus (Poland), Apr 8, 2009 at 18:00
Guzel Ankara wrote :
> Is there a need for NATO anyway?
So why keep up the pretense of a united alliance, when the members obviously can not agree on a common course of action for Iraq, Afghanistan, putting a missile shield in Europe etc.. ?? <
Don't be so certain of the negative answer to your question. It may well happen that Turkey will need this shield and united alliance more than anyone else. I am not talking about the modern weaponry or training Turkey would otherwise be deprived of. It's rather Turkish megalomania and vagaries of its Moslem politics which can bring about its ruin if there is no NATO to protect its prodigal Islamic son. With her pan-Turkic dreams and open subversive activities streching from Chinese Turkestan through the former Soviet Republics , the Volga region, Northern Caucasus, Northern Iraq, Azerbaijan, the Crimea, among the Gagauz in Moldavia and Turkic nationalities in Iran and in Bosnia Turkey makes very powerful enemies. If Turkey is left alone without the NATO, the US and Israel , then the forces that she has conjured up may easily crush her. And even if every Turkish family changes into a pack of mad grey wolves her fate may be sealed for ever.
What I mean is explained below taking as the most relevant case an invasion of Armenia planned by Turkey in 1992/1993.
Recently I have come across this interesting article in English
which is fully supported by a well-documented, scholarly study in Russian
In short, during the Karabakh conflict (1990-1994) Turkey stood in badly hidden military confrontation with Armenia and intended to invade, defeat and occupy her southern territory to help Azerbaijan recapture Karabakh and enlarge its territory and restore its prestige. On several occasions the Turkish 3rd Field Army was made ready to cross the frontier. The army included at the hottest period of the confrontation c. 1500 tanks, 2500 artillery units with heavy artillery, 1100 armoured transport vehicles. It was supported by the 2nd Tactical Aviation Command with 260 war planes and a unit for psychological warfare. The army was engaged furthermore in training both Azeri soldiers and irregular "grey wolves" that became a major force in Azerbaijan at that time. Incidentally, important camps and recruitment centres for Azerbaijan fighters were organized also in many other places, i.al. in remote Turkish-occupied Cyprus. They were all supported and encouraged by the Turkish authorities.
In the meantime the Turks tried to assist the Azeris the best they could. They hoped they would easily defeat the Armenians. The Turks bought military equipment from the dissolved People's Army of East German for $ 800 mln and transfered it to Azerbaijan. A mass of volnteers from Turkey and high ranking officers with 10 Turkish generals (in retirement) were sent to Azerbaijan in 1992 to make the Azeri Army in the image of what the elder Turkish borther considered to be the ideal of all military art - Ataturk's troops. Azeri President Elcebey made Turkish general Yashar Demirbulak his personal military advisor and a senior member of the Security Council. Turkey gave a $ 30 mln credit to Azerbaijan to buy arms. The Russian press informed that by the end of 1992 c. 5-6000 Turkish soldiers and officers joined Azerbaijani forces to fight the hated Armenians. 5000 stinger rockets were smuggled from Turkey to Azerbaijan in disguise of humanitarian aid in the summer of that year.
The Turks didn't mind encroaching upon the Armenian air space to bring the military cargoes to Baku. But the Turks' hope were not justified by the results on the front. In 1992 the Armenians made it very difficult for the Turks and Azeri to keep the transports going through Nakhichevan bridgehead to Baku. The Turkish General Staff called for immediate intervantion. In the spring of that year the commander in-chief of the Turkish land forces Muhittin Fisunoglu had declared : " All the preparations have been completed. Now the Army is waiting for the command to move and act ". But the command didn't come. At that time in Tashkent the Treaty of Collective Security of the Commonwealth of Independent States was signed and Armenia was part of it. A Turkish agression would have provoked a large anti-Turkish coalition.
Instead of fighting the small Armenian army the Turks would have stumbled upon the former Soviet Army. So they tried to play the role of a peace-keeper. They remembered an old article of the 1921 Kars treaty and called themselves a guarantee of security and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan. In secret they still counted with a coming miltary victory of their pan-Turkic pupils.
The brave Azeris trained by the bravest of humans Anatolian Turks would beat the cowardly Armenians. And so the goal would be achieved without a WWIII. But instead of winning the Azeris lost one battle after another, one village after another. But the defeats exasperated the Azeris. After the fall of the town of Susha vice-speaker of the Azeri Parliament Tamerlan Karaev declared angrily that if Armenia doesn't withdraw her forces Azerbaijan would turn to Turkey and "demand she takes all necessary measures to stop the Armenian aggression". He and his colleagues also promised to reward with oil any country that would help Azerbaijan militarily.
Azeri Prime Minister Gasan Gasanov declared that the oil pipeline would go through those countries that would help actively Azerbaijan to solve the Karabakh conflict. The further worsening of the situation on the front forced the Azeris to urge immeditae military intervention of the Turkish 3rd Army. In November 1992 Gasanov visited Ankara, talked to Dogan Guresh , the then chief of General Staff, and asked him to give president Demirel the personal message of Geydar Alyev concerning 'direct military assistance'.
As nothing came out of these initiatives, internal fighting and quarrels in Azerbeijan intensified. Elcebej had to flee, Colonel Surat Guseynov organized a successful coup d'etat in 1993. In Baku the new president Geydar Alyev pushed the country to join the Commonwealth of Independent States but didn't abandon hopes for a decisive victory in the battlefield. The Turks sent more and more weapons, military trainers , provided Turkish military hospitals for treating the wounded Azeri soldiers.
The 220th Armoured and 9th artillery groups of the 9th Sarykamysh Division were deployed directly on the Armenian border. There were skirmishes along the boderline. Yet the Armenians were winning the war. The Turkish Prime Minister Tansu Ciller threatened that if the Armenians make further progress "Turkey is not going to stand idly by ".
But the international situation was against the aggressive Turkish plans. Especially after "the Karabagh Army captured the Azeri military trophies near the village of Shahbulagh, where the Turkish and even the US weaponry from the NATO warehouses was found and identified. It raised a scandal in the US Congress and led to the American sanctions against Azerbaijan."
Yet, the acute political crisis in Russia in October 1993 seemed momentarily to favour the Turkish plan of a blitz against Armenia. Unfortunately for Turkey it developed however in the wrong direction. So once again the Turks saw no other way out but the last attempt on the part of the Azeris to militarily stop the Armenian advances. In December 1993 a great Azeri offensive began with Turkish officers and equipment. But after a few initial successes under heavy casualties its impetus petered out and by February 1994 it was clear it had failed to achieve the intended goals. The uninterrupted reverses discouraged the Azeris and undermined their faith in the elder pan-Turkic brother while they also disappointed and embittered the Turks who blamed the Azeris for the dismal outcome of the war.
In May 1994 in Beshkek a ceasefire agreement was signed. The Turks didn't help their Azeri bothers reconquer Karabakh. Their plans to invade Armenia with which they kept the Azeri optimism couldn't be implemented. The political and social crisis in Azerbaijan intensified. The mountains of weapons the Turks imported were used to settle scores between different warring Azeri factions and criminal groups. With never ending defeats the moral of the Azeris fell dramatically.
The soldiers trained in Turkey deserted the units, sold the arms or engaged rather in crime and smuggling than in a jihad against the Armenians and openly blamed the Turks who only demanded sacrifices, promised bright victories or abundant booty and did nothing to hel them in need. They were scared to fly in a single Turkish division to Armenia to force the Armenians' hand.
At that time the US pressure and a political realism prevailed in the Turkish policy. Invasion of Armenia would have meant a certain war with Russia that engineered the Armenian victories. However militarized and fanatical Turkey was no match for Russia. It was only the US and NATO that guarantee Turkey's safety who wanted to play the role of a local superpower. And the US and NATO were against Turkey on that occasion.
Now with the rejection and contempt for America as a normal discourse in Turkey and calls to leave NATO, Turkey may well get what she wants and fully deserves. A hostile America , a hostile Russia and Turkish megalomania and her jihad to liberate the Turkic territories in Karabakh occupied by the Armenians combined by her pan-Turkic delirium may well get her where she belongs. Turkey's downfall and partition would be the best possible outcome for the nighmare of the Turkish barbarity which no modern uniform and no best NATO equipment can hide from the world.
Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".
Reader comments (521) on this item
Comment on this item
You can help support Daniel Pipes' work by making a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum. Daniel J. Pipes