StoryBy taking back Karabakh from the Armenians, President Ilham Aliev responded to the nationalist aspirations of his people, including dissidents. If he emerges strengthened in his country, he ruins years of efforts to polish his image with Europe.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev, 59, poses in fatigues in front of the Great Mosque of Shusha, reconquered by his army two months earlier, on November 8, 2020. In the photos, taken on January 15, 2021 on the occasion of the premiere presidential visit to this city erected as the country’s “cultural capital”, he is accompanied by his wife, the first vice-president, Mehriban Alieva, and their eldest daughter, Leyla, both also in military uniform, their faces eaten by d ‘huge sunglasses. Around them, no one. Except distant sentries, visible from behind. These images want to show that the military triumph emanates from the person of the “victorious supreme commander”, according to the expression now used by the official media.
The Armenians were driven out of this natural fortress that they call “Shushi”, a priority military and political objective of the conflict which set Karabakh ablaze, from September 27 to November 10, 2020, at the end of a spectacular assault by Azerbaijani special forces across the cliffs. “We destroyed their army by fighting guns and tanks with small arms and knives. Where were they? They fled and hid in Yerevan ”, said the president exaggeratedly, in an ubiquitous register intended for state television.
To rent his “Glorious army”, he likes colorful expressions: “Our iron fist broke their backs and crushed their heads. If they provoke us, our response will be very harsh. They will regret it with another bitter defeat, exults the leader. We have proven our strength to the whole world. We forced the enemy [arménien] to kneel down and sign the act of surrender. “
Since the victory of November 9, after forty-four days of fighting, the smile has never left his lips. Long unloved, because he had inherited the power from his father in 2003 and lived in a luxury bubble, he relishes this patiently crafted personal triumph. From 2005, he converted Azerbaijani petrodollars into massive Russian, Israeli and Turkish arms purchases: drones, armored vehicles and jamming systems far more sophisticated than those available to the Armenians.
Aliyev was able to exploit the tragic errors of Armenian power – especially in July 2020, when the Armenian Prime Minister, Nikol Pachinian, performed a dance step in Shusha, and declared: “Karabakh is Armenian, that’s it! “, increasing the anger of Azerbaijani public opinion. He skillfully took advantage of the fact that global attention was riveted on the US presidential campaign.
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