Our Analytics 26 february — 15:30

Let's not forget another culprit of Khojaly: Popular Front of Azerbaijan! (Our memory)

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BY EYNULLA FATULLAYEV

If anyone has the moral right to talk about the Khojaly tragedy, then last of all this right belongs to representatives of the Popular Front of Azerbaijan (PFA). The paradox of the situation is that the current cohort of the opposition leaders of the PFA is not even the followers of the founders of the Front. The same political figures, who played a crucial role in exacerbating the consequences of the Khojaly tragedy as the dominant destabilising factor of domestic policy, are in the foreground. Ali Karimli, one of the Front's ideologists and leaders of its Supreme Assembly of 1992, Isgandar Hamidov, head of the frontist assault brigade, Jamil Hasanli, Elchibey's adviser, Arif Hajili, another adviser of Elchibey, Isa Gambar, NFA board member, are in the front ranks of the opposition...

Immediately after the treacherous offensive of the Armenian army against the unprotected peaceful town of Khojalyand left by the military units of Azerbaijan, the Azerbaijani opposition focused public attention not on trying to reverse the course of hostilities in Karabakh, but made an open call for the overthrow of legitimate President Ayaz Mutallibov. Although it was possible to call the PFA an opposition under President Mutalibov with a very big stretch. Government, including the power branch, was controlled by the Front. Moreover, the main bastions on the line of defence of Karabakh were also in the hands of the frontists. In February 1992, Rahim Gaziyev was responsible for the defence of Shusha. He was already the commandant of the city. The defence of Aghdam was entrusted to another frontist leader, Tamerlan Garayev. There was another howler settled there - the future commander from the PFA, Fahmin Hajiyev. Subsequently, Fahmin Hajiyev was not storming Khojaly, but Azerbaijan's state television!

It is a stone's throw from Aghdam to Khojaly. But Tamerlan Garayev, like other oppositionists, who squeezed into power only for the sake of Mutalibov's speedy displacement, didn’t raise his finger to prevent an impending catastrophe. And later, Rahim Gaziyev declared to the whole world that in Shusha for several weeks they already knew about the expected attack on Khojaly. They knew, but did not do anything.

Moreover, on the day of the occupation of Khojaly, the defence minister was another leader of the PFA, a police sergeant from Kemerovo Tahir Aliyev. Prior to the appointment of a prominent 'commander' sergeant as defence minister, the crowd of frontists removed from the office (in the literal sense of the word!) the incumbent defence minister - one of the most experienced Soviet military generals Valeh Barshadli. Such a military leader did not suit the frontists. They needed a Kemerovo sergeant at the head of the defence department. And of course, Tahir Aliyev, like Tamerlan Garayev and other members of the PFA Supreme Assembly, was not on the front line, not in the trenches (which didn't exist as such), not in command posts, but in the corridors of Milli Majlis (Parliament). Their sole purpose was to enforce the decision of the Supreme Assembly of the National Front of Azerbaijan on the overthrow of the president.

After all, immediately after the Khojaly tragedy, President Mutallibov declared civil reconciliation in the country and called for nationwide consolidation, persuaded to forget about internal divisions and conflicts, proposing to form a coalition government and throw all forces on the liberation of Khojaly. The leadership of the PFA was implacable. And one of the main opponents of national consolidation to change the status quo on the Karabakh front was precisely Ali Karimli. During the heated debate at a meeting of the PFA Supreme Assembly, he insisted on the immediate resignation of Mutallibov as the only chance to save the country. The intentional and deliberate transformation of the struggle for Karabakh resulted in an irreconcilable political struggle, which led the country to a prolonged civil bloody confrontation, as witnessed by our political history. Azerbaijani military units controlled by the PFA not only failed to return Khojaly, but two months later they also surrendered Shusha to the enemy almost without a fight, then Lachin... And a few months later another frontist, Etibar Mamedov, would loudly declare in the Parliament: 'Isa Gambar, not force me to tell you how you surrendered Shusha.' Gambar retorted with 'honour and dignity': 'Etibar Mamedov, but Lachin is on your conscience.'

There was no one then to defend the two main outposts of Nagorno-Karabakh - all the troops were drawn to Baku for war with Mutallibov, whom the losing party bureaucracy turned into a decorative idol of struggle with the upcoming neo-Bolshevism. True, a little later, in the summer of 1992, the Azerbaijani army launched a successful counter-offensive in the direction of Mardakert. But Azerbaijan was more indebted for this to the Russian mercenaries - Surat Huseynov and Rasim Akbarov, who had no relation to the units of the PFA. Yes, and this counteroffensive too choked in the early autumn. And opened the way to even more shameful defeat. In April 1993, the PFA government surrendered Kalbajar almost without a fight. Thus, in one year, the fate of the Karabakh war was sealed. The Popular Front field commanders surrendered the mountains and descended to lowland Karabakh...

What to say about Karabakh, if the populist national policy of the PFA almost led to the separation of two more provinces from Azerbaijan - the northern and southern regions, mainly populated by ethnic minorities. This party of Ali Karimli, rejecting the multi-ethnic nature of the Azerbaijani public education, declared Azerbaijan a country of Turks, causing blind and frenzied separatism throughout the country. They were trying to pull apart the newborn Azerbaijani state.

And after all these shameful pages of modern history, the PFA with the mouth of the very same Ali Karimli continues to shamelessly accuse the current government and the founder of the Third Republic, Heydar Aliyev, at the cost of incredible efforts of whom in 1993 an end was put to the disintegration of the state, of surrendering Karabakh! One can silence conscience, as well as guilt. But how can one silence one's guilt in front of a whole nation? After all, these political leaders, who are again claiming revenge and seizure of power, have committed serious political crimes against an entire people and state! And there is no remorse, regret, recognition of the fatal mistakes that caused the nationwide defeat.

All this faceless entourage of Elchibey, which has no place in power, but in the humiliating rubbish dump of history, being nailed to the pillory, is trying to slip into the front rows of the Khojaly March today, hoping to get the coveted photo of the opposition with the grieving people. There will be no more unity of the people with such opposition. Too many political crimes are on its conscience. People who back in 1992, immediately after the Khojaly massacre, called for national turmoil, coups and directly participated in the blasphemous surrender of Karabakh without a fight and war, are now rushing to join the grieving people who mourn the innocently killed children, old people, women. They were killed by the Armenians only because they were Azerbaijanis. And along with the Armenian expeditionary corps, they were also killed by 'ours.' By their indifference, betrayal, attempt to transfer the war from Karabakh to Baku. The Armenian military units and these 'ours' opened the way to the Khojaly massacre!

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