Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev wishes to capitalize on his great success on the battlefield in order to reinforce his government at home. Presently, the support for the Aliyev government is at an all-time high among local Azerbaijanis, who are hoping that the recent Azerbaijani victory over the secessionist regime will lead to one million Azerbaijani displaced people being able to return to their homes.
During the First Karabakh War, the Armenians had ethnically cleansed Karabakh and the seven Azerbaijani districts of Azerbaijani, leading to the loss of one fifth of Azerbaijan. They destroyed all of the homes and nature in the area, replacing them with landmines designed to keep Azerbaijanis out. The destruction was so vast that former Israeli Communication Minister Ayoob Kara claimed that it was worse than anything he witnessed in Southern Lebanon. But now, after the Azerbaijani military victory, it is a different reality and Karabakh is slowly getting rebuilt thanks to the strong leadership of President Ilham Aliyev and all Azerbaijanis are grateful for that.
In a recent New Year address, President Ilham Aliyev stated: “The year 2023 is coming to an end. A number of significant events took place in the life of our country in 2023. Of all these events, however, the restoration of our state sovereignty will forever remain in the memory of the Azerbaijani people. Following a one-day anti-terrorist operation carried out in 2023, Azerbaijan fully restored its state sovereignty, the occupying forces were expelled from the territory of Azerbaijan, the enemy army was crushed, and its military hardware was either destroyed or taken over as trophy. I would like to once again sincerely congratulate all the people of Azerbaijan on the occasion of this historic event.”
He added: “We wanted to resolve the issue peacefully for three years. We believed that the Armenian leadership would properly analyze the results of the Second Karabakh War and draw the right conclusions. Unfortunately, this did not happen. For three years, not only did Armenia fail to fulfill its obligations, but it actually staged new military provocations against us and carried them out. The 15,000-strong Armenian army illegally stationed on our lands was not withdrawn from Karabakh. On the contrary, new weapons, ammunition, military equipment and mines were delivered into Karabakh, and mine terror against us continued.”
The Azerbaijani President noted that his country could not put up with this situation: “We repeatedly warned the leadership of Armenia and the western countries behind it that this situation could not continue like that. Either the separatist regime is dissolved, and the Armenian army is withdrawn from our territory, or we would restore our state sovereignty by force. Regrettably, our words fell on deaf ears. The anti-terrorist operation, which started on September 19 and lasted only one day, even less than that, ended with complete victory of the Azerbaijan army. The separatist regime collapsed, fell to its knees before us, waved the white flag, surrendered, was forever expelled from our lands, and thrown into the trashcan of history. With this, the very roots of separatism in Azerbaijan were eradicated, and separatism – that scourge will never raise its head in our lands again.”
And it is in the wake of this era that Azerbaijan seeks to hold elections. Mazahir Afandiyev, Member of the Milli Majlis, recently wrote: “In this moment of transformation and the creation of modern political architecture, the Republic of Azerbaijan, as the locomotive of the South Caucasus and new center of power, is embarking on a new path, and, of course, new approaches should be used. From this point of view, the Decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan on holding early presidential elections fully reflects current reality while also demonstrating to the world how the Azerbaijani people are mobilized around their President, statehood traditions, and ideology.”