Hayk Kotanjian

A Professional Assessment by Counterterrorism Expert of Azeri Terrorist Operation in Nagorno-Karabakh


In an address to the international community on September 21 of this year, Armenian Foreign Affairs Minister Ararat Mirzoyan defined the large-scale offensive by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces, referred to as a ‘local counter-terrorism operation’ by Azerbaijani authorities, as ‘cynicism.’ This operation claimed the lives of hundreds of indigenous Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, including women and children.

In response to requests from colleagues in the scientific and expert community, allow me as a political scientist with international qualifications and expertise in counter-terrorism, to professionally identify the nature of the recent military aggression by Azerbaijan. It is crucial to state that the so-called ‘third Karabakh war,’ officially labeled as a ‘local anti-terrorist operation’ in Azerbaijan on September 19, 2023, is, in fact, a terrorist operation with the intent of committing genocide. Several factors support this assertion:

On September 19, 2023, the Republic of Azerbaijan initiated military actions with its armed forces, violating the UN Charter’s principle of non-use of force and the threat of force. Azerbaijan’s aggression against the Republic of Artsakh in 2020, which had legally determined its self-status in accordance with the UN Charter, disregarded five statements made by the presidents of Russia, the USA, and France on Nagorno-Karabakh. These statements, made in L’Aquila, Muskoka, Deauville, Los Cabaret, and Enniskillen, repeatedly emphasized that ‘the use of force would not form the basis for resolving the Karabakh conflict but would lead to catastrophic consequences, including ethnic cleansing.

Azerbaijan’s military operation in Karabakh in September of this year displays a terrorist nature, paralleling its methodology in Karabakh during the fall of 2020, which involved thousands of ISIS terrorists.

Azerbaijan’s terrorist operation was strategically timed to coincide with the global confrontation between the West and Russia over the conflict in Ukraine, taking advantage of the indifferent reaction from international organizations.

This terrorist operation targeted 120,000 Armenians, including 30,000 children, with the goal of extermination and deportation, constituting genocide.

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The terrorist operation by Azerbaijan followed a more than nine-month-long blockade of the Lachin corridor, initiated on December 12, 2022, with the same objective: the destruction of the Armenian population of Karabakh (Artsakh). Failing to achieve this through starvation, Azerbaijani authorities turned to physical extermination.

Consequently, the Azerbaijani authorities are currently committing a war crime against humanity, which is ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Armenian population of the self-determined Republic of Artsakh.

(Prof. Dr. Hayk S. Kotanjian, Honorary President of Political Science Association of Armenia, Counterterrorism Fellow, former Distinguished Visiting Faculty, National Defense University; former Visiting Research Fellow)

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