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War and Peace Part II: Azerbaijan and Palestine

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Armenias marvel at Israeli chutzpah
Armenias marvel at Israeli chutzpah
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Part I considered the remarkable similarities between Armenians and Jews. They both were socialist, then capitalist, adapting as the need arose. Both suffered genocides and achieved independence as fallouts from the upheavals of the 20th century.

Teflon imperialists

Which brings us to their remarkable 'achievement': to (almost) single-handedly occupy their neighbour's territory, against all odds--and hold on to it--against international opinion, Armenia for close to 25 yrs, Israel close to 70 years. Armenia taking 20% of Azerbaijan, Israel 100% of Palestine. They both insist history bequeathed them those lands, and their tragic 'holocausts' justify their violation of international law to ensure their safety.

Both countries have lived this occupier lifestyle on a war footing ever since, and yet prosper even as their nemeses wallow in poverty and suffering.

The world mostly admires these plucky aggressors and has little time for either the Azerbaijanis or the Palestinians. It seems there is little solidarity in the Muslim world, or at least little effective solidarity.

True, there is a Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, but, so far, it is more just an irritating buzzword than anything with real bite. Trade with Arab neighbours is minimal, but not with other Muslim countries.

This is sad, as Israel's founders argued Jewish settlers could live peacefully with the Muslim inhabitants, and would bring western high tech investment and education, providing a win-win situation for Arabs and Jews.

The Armenians made no such empty promises. But the result in both cases has been very much win-lose. The prospects for peace in both conflicts without a radical rethink is zero.

Israeli crocodile tears

Israel and Armenia have minimal diplomatic and economic relations, despite the fact that Armenians have almost as much claim to Jerusalem as Jews, dating their heritage in Jerusalem back a thousand years. Devout Armenian Christian Israelis will be there until the second coming.

During her visit to Armenia in 2012, the Israeli Minister of Agriculture Orit Noked stated, "We are like each other with our history, character, with our small number of population and having communities abroad." But no mention of the main similarities: their common genocidal histories and their common bizarre way to make sure they are not repeated.

Israeli interests have meant cozying up not to their Armenian brothers, but to Armenia's Palestinians. Although Azerbaijan has not opened an embassy in Israel, Azerbaijan is one of the few Muslim countries besides Turkey, Egypt, and Jordan to develop bilateral strategic and economic relations with Israel.

Economics trumps religion. Along with Russia, Israel is Azerbaijan's main source of military hardware, supplying Azerbaijan with battlefield aviation, artillery, anti-tank, anti-infantry weaponry, and military training. In 2016, current Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman supported the position of Azerbaijan in the 2016 Armenian--Azerbaijani clashes by calling it "absolutely justified".

Only Israelis and Turks can come to Azerbaijan visa-free. According to a 2009 US diplomatic memo made public through Wikileaks, Azerbaijan president Ilham Aliyev once compared his country's relationship with Israel to an iceberg: "Nine-tenths of it is below the surface."

Economic secret: no oil

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Armenia's GDP fell nearly 60%. Most major enterprises -- chemicals, electronics, machinery, processed food, synthetic rubber, and textile -- were bankrupted. To make matters worse, the 1988 Spitak earthquake killed more than 25,000 people and made 500,000 homeless.

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Eric writes for Al-Ahram Weekly and PressTV. He specializes in Russian and Eurasian affairs. His "Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games", "From Postmodernism to Postsecularism: Re-emerging Islamic Civilization" and "Canada (more...)

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