Our Analytics 27 february — 12:30

People between Ilham Aliyev and Ali Karimli (Our editorial)

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BY EYNULLA FATULLAYEV

Watching the pitiful scene of yesterday's opposition performance by a handful of supporters of the Popular Front Party, on the one hand, and a handful of the last adherents of Isa Gambar, on the other, many thousands of rallies and demonstrations of national democrats during the presidency of Heydar Aliyev came to mind. At that time, these opposition leaders accused the then president of the dictatorial manifestation of the political vertical he had built, although they themselves gathered dozens, and sometimes hundreds of thousands of supporters in the very same patch of the Yasamal district. But the opposition's accusations as if poisonous arrows flew past Heydar Aliyev. The great master of politics, with a sarcastic smile, threw glances at the tens of thousands of deceived people, who gathered around Isa Gambar (Ali Karimli never received this honour, for he was collaborating with the authorities in that period) and broke up with a dull expression on their faces. Both Heydar Aliyev and the opposition understood very well that it was impossible to change the status quo by rallies away from the centre of the capital. Permanently in a fit of political passion, the Musavatists promised to crack down on the Aliyev government in the central Azadlig (Liberty) Square. In a confident voice with enunciation the Musavatists threatened the ruling YAP's members with a 'Stolypin tie.'

What happened under the curtain of our Azerbaijani drama?

During the culmination of the so-called popular protest, on the crest of Isa Gambar's 'unprecedented popularity' in 2003, only 3-4 thousand supporters of the presidential candidate turned to Liberty Square. They promised 'Stolypin's tie,' but received a 'Tatar lash.'

Of course, opposition rallies can undoubtedly decide, as they decide in many capitals, the fate of political power. Million-strong waves of protest pulled down from the power pedestal more than one president in the post-Soviet space - from Tbilisi to Kyiv, from Chisinau to Bishkek... But one important feature! Neither in Georgia, nor in Ukraine, nor in Moldova, nor in Kyrgyzstan, nor even in Armenia, the society was split into supporters and opponents of the government. The society in these countries expressed a single consolidated uncompromising position: the government must go! And it did leave, or was overthrown by revolutionary whirlwinds. But, say, in Venezuela, society is split, and therefore neither the opposition, nor even the world community can easily undermine Maduro's power. Behind him there ia a large part of the people and a dedicated army... And in Egypt, society was split, therefore, unlike Tunisia and Libya, restoration soon took place in Cairo. And Sisi, who replaced the momentary green revolution, restored the durable order established by Sadat and Mubarak.

Rally in Yerevan

Another example is neighbouring Russia, where Navalny or Yashin can flood the entire Krasnopresnensky Boulevard, or Sakharov Avenue, with a protest masses. But the Russian spring will not come anyway, because the protest that has appeared on the streets is a drop in the ocean compared to the millions who cannot imagine life in Russia without Putin.

For about a quarter of a century, the Azerbaijani opposition cannot heed this obvious truth.

I repeat, in their best times, the Azerbaijani opposition, even gathering hundreds of thousands of supporters at their rallies, was completely helpless in front of millions of supporters of the president.

And what can the opposition do, and how can it in its current marginal and amorphous state change the situation, collecting no more than 7-8 thousand people for its actions? Is this small social group really the whole of Azerbaijan? After all, Ali Karimli is trying to present this in his speeches in this way, threatening the authorities in the near future with great upheavals.

The people are behind the president

Please note that yesterday, President Ilham Aliyev called on society to honour the memory of the victims of the Khojaly tragedy. See what kind of sea of people went to the main avenue of the country. Ilham Aliyev is in the front row with his colleagues, and behind the president's shoulders are tens of thousands of people following their leader.

On the same day, Ali Karimli called on his supporters to go to a march of their own. But only a miserable handful surrounded the opposition leader, who was rightly denied access to the monument to the victims of the Khojaly tragedy. What did Ali Karimli do? Surrounded by his handful of supporters he appeals to society: 'May the perpetrators of the Khojaly tragedy be cursed! They will receive punishment, and this is a matter of honour for our nation.'

Well, the nation itself punished the Popular Front and its successors in the person of Ali Karimli. Punished with alienation, censure, indifference, for it remained deaf and blind to the calls of the new Elchibey. Yes, Karimli is right more than ever, for the people it was a matter of honour, for the PFA itself was directly involved in the Khojaly tragedy unleashed by Armenian expansionism.

'Our goal is to punish the perpetrators and liberate Khojaly, Shusha, Lachin, Kalbajar, Aghdam!' exclaims Karimli. The almighty God once gave you this chance back in 1992. Why hasn't Ali Karimli answered our rhetorical question to this day? Indeed, during the attack on Khojaly, the Armenian army threw only 447 soldiers into battle. And at the same time in Aghdam under the control of the Popular Front's field commanders there were 12 T-72 tanks, 4 combat vehicles, 4 Grad multiple rocket launchers, 40 cannons and 2,500 soldiers!!! Why didn't the Popular Front detachments fight for Khojaly? Why didn’t they try to save people, leaving a small special-purpose police detachment face-to-face with the enemy? Why was the entire army and military equipment withdrawn to Baku to overthrow Mutallibov, leaving unarmed Azerbaijanis in Karabakh face to face with the advancing enemy army? And where was Ali Karimli himself at that time? Wasn't he at that time on the podium in front of the Milli Majlis (Parliament) building in Baku, surrounded by these very fighters, who left the battlefield for the sake of political power?

However, Ali Karimli does not stop, continuing to blame the authorities: 'Where were you during the Karabakh war?' Although he could ask himself, where was Ali Karimli in the midst of the fateful battles for Karabakh? After all, during the war, young man Karimli was only 26 years old!

In Armenia, politics was entered through thorny, but glorious military paths. The whole pleiad of Armenian politicians of the 1990s - from Sargsyan and Kocharyan to Vazgen Sargsyan and Samvel Babayan - came into power after victories on the battlefield. Into our politics came the people in flight who covered their names with shame. 33-year-old Gambar, 26-year-old Karimli, 29-year-old Arif Hajili, 28-year-old Nemat Panahli and many other peers of Kocharyan, Sargsyan, Vazgen Sargsyan, Vazgen Manukyan and other Armenian politicians, for whom the dream of victory in Karabakh was not only a cause of a lifetime, but also an alma mater of political science. Armenian democrats came into politics from the battlefield, Azerbaijani 'liberals' fled from the battlefield to politics. This is where the origins of our deplorable fate and sorrowful defeat lie.

Young man Karimli escaped from the battlefield into politics

Why is Karimli surprised that today he is left in pitiful loneliness? He chose this fate himself, trying to get the better of not only himself, but also of his people. After all, the immutable truth is on the surface. Why does one need to blame one's own people? Yesterday, tens of thousands went after Ilham Aliyev. Like the day before yesterday, they went after Heydar Aliyev.

In any case, the father and son managed to piece together the shattered country crushed by the defeatists. They managed to raise from its knees the people, once humiliated by such as Karimli.

After whom and for what should the people have gone? For a series of new defeats?

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