“Today, Armenians must understand one thing clearly: they are at the end of the road, and they have brought blood to the region with every step. They must either go back the way they came, or jump into the abyss in front of them. The choice is theirs.”
Aziz Alakbarli, Director of the Western Azerbaijan Community, August 4, 2023
Before 2020, Aziz Alakbarli lived a life that seemed destined for marginalia. An eccentric, radically nationalist academic and purveyor of historical theories that are baroque in their internal logics and outlandish in their claims, Alakbarli has spent over two decades at the extreme vanguard of Azerbaijani nationalist pseudoscholarship.
Today, however, Aziz Alakbarli is the chair of the Western Azerbaijan Community and an MP for the ruling New Azerbaijan Party, and his theories, together with those of his fellow pseudoscholars, are near-omnipresent on Azerbaijani social media.
The theories in Armenophobic pseudoscholarship are various, often intersecting and contradicting both themselves and related conspiracies: “Hays,” the Armenian endonym, are unrelated to the historic Armenians (who were Turks) and are from Syria, India, Italy, Iran, or Turkey; The Armenians have no roots in the modern Republic of Armenia, and have no authentic heritage there, or possibly anywhere; The great Armenian churches and monasteries were actually built by Caucasian Albanians, who themselves were Turks; The contemporary Republic of Armenia is in fact the “Ancient Turkish-Oghuz Land Armenia,” to borrow the title of Alakbarli’s first published work.
While conspiracy theories and nationalist, even racist, pseudohistories are a common phenomenon across the postsocialist space, something peculiar has happened in Azerbaijan; the eccentric ultranationalists, who might be called “The Radicals,” have proven triumphant. Their ideas are popular among the regime-aligned elite, are explicitly sponsored by the state, and flourish on the internet. An agglomeration formed of conspiracy theory and pseudohistory has congealed into a gestalt whole, a world view that increasingly functions as state ideology, and, through networks of GONGOs and community organizations, is disseminated through the patrimonial networks that define the Azerbaijani state and society. This ideology, this “High Armenophobia,” has already begun to transform the region.
The Young Custodians
One can imagine a place for the commemoration, perhaps even the reconstruction or revival, of lost cultural heritage in the Caucasus. There should be serious conversations on the fate of all those displaced during the Soviet and Imperial periods — Circassians, Meskhetian Turks, the Poles of Ukraine, Crimean Tatars, ethnic Germans, and the Armenians of Baku, Nakhchivan, or Karabakh; or the ethnic Azerbaijanis of what’s now Armenia.
A “serious conversation,” however, was unlikely to occur naturally in the hothouse atmosphere of the collapse of communism, which saw a generation of nationalist, sometimes ultranationalist, artists and intellectuals vie for political power with the remnants of the communist elite. The underlying social dynamics that led to the radicalization of an entire generation of late communist cultural activists are best described by sociologist Georgi Derluguian:
The radicals were found in the departments of history and philology. They were the custodians of (the) nation’s past and the national language and culture. This, however, was a local past and a local culture preserved in the museums and academic research institutes, both- respectable but low-paying institutions. The young custodians vaguely yearned for a better appreciation of their symbolic value but those remained merely dreams as long as nationalism remained a political taboo.
What makes a discussion of this period difficult is that these “dreams” varied from legitimate concerns, such as Moscow’s essentially colonial relationship with Azerbaijan, to the utterly fantastical, such as pseudo-scholar Davud Akhundov’s claims regarding the Caucasian Albanian origins of Armenian churches in Karabakh. When The Radicals found themselves in power across the entire region, they attempted to establish new nationalist orders in the void left by communism. Russophone, cosmopolitan Soviet Baku quickly became, under the presidency of Abulfaz Elchibey (himself a philologist of “Oriental languages” by training) the center of Turkic pan-nationalism and Azerbaijani irredentism. The historians and philologists had radicalized, and taken power briefly thereafter, though their reign was short-lived. Heydar Aliyev’s coup saw a return, in a new form, of the Soviet elite, and much of the pan-Turkism of the Elchibey years relegated to the background where The Radicals continued their work.
Much of the literature written on the subject of Azerbaijani pseudoscholarship, especially by Armenian authors, tends to stress continuities between Turkish and Azerbaijani literature, but a detailed analysis points to major discontinuities and differences in discourse. The relevant pseudo-scholarly theories are clearly Soviet in both form and content, with only superficial similarities to those espoused by ultranationalists in Turkey. Many of the core assertions of Azerbaijani pseudoscholarship would shock the ülkücüler, literally “idealists,” Turkish ultranationalists in the tradition of author Nihal Atsız and Turkey’s Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) founder Alparslan Türkeş. Two of the leading theorists of the early post-Soviet period were Firudin Celilov and Aziz Alakbarli.
Both Celilov and Alakbarli were philologists working on Oriental languages at Baku State University in the late Soviet period from outside the traditional Baku clientelistic networks, only to find major prominence in an independent Azerbaijan with an appetite for nationalist discourse. Both Celilov and Alakbarli are what are called Yeraz, ethnic Azerbaijanis from what is now the Republic of Armenia. The displacement, sometimes violent, of ethnic Azerbaijanis and the continuing degradation or mistreatment of Azerbaijani heritage are serious topics worthy of serious scholarship and thoughtful activism, neither of which the Azerbaijani state seems interested in sponsoring.
Celilov was born in 1947 in what is now Ararat region, within the borders of Soviet Armenia. His career began much as many other philologists in the Soviet Union, with works on serious topics such as Azerbaijani syntax and morphology, but by the time he served as education minister in the Elchibey government, his intellectual interests had begun to run toward the exotic. Celilov argues that Turkic languages have their origin near Lake Urmia, in the provinces of West and East Azerbaijan, Iran, a theory without any meaningful evidence that was likely inspired by the importance of irredentist Bütöv Azərbaycan, “Whole Azerbaijan” territorial claims on Iran en vogue during the Elchibey years. Ancient Armenians were in fact Turks (“Armans” from the Turkic ”ar-man,” or “brave I am”), Artsakh was originally Turkic (from ”ar-sak,” or ‘“brave man”), Caucasian Albanians and Scythians were also Turkic, and the Arman-Turks were replaced by “Hays” (the Armenian endonym, here meaning non-Turkic Armenians) only through a process of colonization. Celilov lost his position in government with the fall of Elchibey and the rise of the ex-communist Aliyev, but many of his theories, most notably the bizarre dichotomy between “Hay-Armenian” and “Arman-Turk” and his continued insistence that “Hay” is an insult remained influential and reappeared in much subsequent pseudoscholarship.
Alakbarli’s career has followed a different path, far more closely resembling Derluguian’s trajectory of “Young Custodian” or this article’s “Radical.” He was born in 1960 in Aralez, a town called Qaralar in Azerbaijani, also in modern Ararat region. Like all of the major figures mentioned in this article, Alakbarli was a philologist by training, working on Oriental languages, though unlike Firudin he appears to only have had the equivalent of an undergraduate degree before 1991. Although Celilov achieved some success in more serious scholarship relating to Turkish linguistics, and appears to occasionally be willing to criticize the Aliyev regime, much of Alakbarli’s relationship to the government appears to be at once obsequious, solicitous and strident. His first book, The Ancient Turkish-Oghuz Homeland Armenia, despite its outlandish title, was a modest, innocuous work published in 1994, and focused primarily on the relatively laudable subject of recording Turkic toponymy in Armenia. By the middle of the 2000s, however, Alakbarli was clearly beginning to see professional benefits from Aliyev’s early flirtations with sponsoring pseudoscholarship.
The Dictionary of the Western Azerbaijanis
The Monuments of Western Azerbaijan, Alakbarli’s 2007 work, which has been translated into several major languages including English, is a bizarre book. Assertions such as the following are quite common:
“Being of Turkish origin, Gregory Enlightener [sic] carried out this job with great will and belief.”
The logic here appears to be that Saint Gregory the Illuminator was a Turk because the Parthians (the ethnic origin of Saint Gregory the Illuminator’s father Anak) were Turks, and that his racial strength as a Turk was somehow instrumental in the Christianization of Armenia. The Arman-Turks stand in direct contrast with the “Hay-Armenians,” who only arrived in the region in the 15th century. Alakbarli’s hostility to the Hay-Armenians is explicitly racial:
“‘Hayk [presumably Alakbarli’s Hay-Armenians; his terminology is inconsistent] girls and brides, connected with the moral of disgrace, try to be stitched to bold Turkish fellows, to want to get married to Oghuz boys, in other words, to share our properties and goods’ he warned the shah. ‘I am afraid of mixed marriage, oh my shah!’”
From the perspective of the ülkücü Turkish ultranationalists, there are several major heresies here. First, many ultranationalist intellectuals in Turkey, starting with Atsız, have argued (correctly) that Scythians and Parthians were Iranian-speaking peoples, not Turkic. Second, most ülkücü intellectuals stress the Central Asian heritage of Turkic peoples, and after Türkeş and the Turkish right’s turn toward Islam with the Turkish-Islamic synthesis, laying claim to Christian heritage in Western Asia would prove problematic. One of the few consistencies seen here between Azerbaijani and Turkish pseudoscholarship is the characterization of Armenian women, who are at once desperately attracted to Turkish men and also a moral and racial threat to them due to the “moral of disgrace.”
While going through Alakbarli’s work, it is hard not to think one has accidentally found an unintended sequel to Serbian postmodern novelist Milorad Pavić’s Dictionary of the Khazars; bizarre claims are made off-handedly, and terms and names are used awkwardly or simply inappropriately in ways that are surreal, even humorous. The English-language translation is awkward, but most of the major factual and terminological errors (which are in absolute abundance even apart from the Armenophobic mythmaking) are consistent in the Russian and German translations of the work. While many scholars of the post-Soviet space would be quick to relegate this nationalist pseudoscholarship to esoterica, perhaps an Azerbaijani answer to Anatoly Fomenko’s new chronology or Pavle Ingorokva’s bizarre theories on Abkhazian ethnogenesis, these specific Armenophobic ideas have a great deal in common with late Soviet antisemitism and deserve careful analysis.
Bullshit, Bad Faith, and Ax Murderers
Valery Yemelyanov was, like Alakbarli, Celilov and Elchibey, a Soviet-trained philologist specializing in Oriental languages. Like Celilov and Alakbarli, his work appears to have begun with more traditional linguistics before venturing into racialized pseudohistory and parascience. In Yemelyanov’s history, the “Aryan-Veneti,” ancestors to the Slavs, were autochthonous to Europe and the Levant, where they (the somehow Aryan Phoenicians) invented the first alphabet. Jews, rootless wanderers, came to Aryan-dominated Palestine (from the Russian опалённый стан, or “burned field”), where they subverted the noble rule of the Aryan-Veneti through mischief, eventually inventing both Christianity and Islam as a way of destroying the naturally superior Aryan-Veneti beliefs, reflected in both Slavic paganism and Hinduism.
Yemelyanov has a dark reputation, and deservedly so; even apart from his noxious theories, which are recently en vogue among the most online segment of the radical right, he was also imprisoned for murdering his wife and dismembering her with an ax. With that said, the similarities here are obvious: the entire history of a region, perhaps even the world, is made malleable by conspiracy. Entire ethnicities—the Aryan-Veneti and the Arman-Turks—are invented to populate a mytho-history wherein the racial elect dwell in a harmony ultimately despoiled by an intruding race of merchant schemers with no connection to the land, or any land.
These are, at base, conspiracy theories. Crumbs of unrelated, esoteric facts are collected and baked together as arcane refutations of thousands of years of history. It is a mistake to even regard these as lies; they are what philosopher Harry G. Frankfurt calls “Bullshit.” A lie exists in relation to the truth, while Bullshit exists outside of it and all relationship to truth or falsity is incidental; Bullshit is meant to convey something different. “Gregory the Illuminator was willful because he was a racial Turk,” as a claim, is not truth-apt, a statement that can be verified as either true or false because it is liberated from all pretense of historiographic constraint. This is a claim made in bad faith in the Sartrean sense, and the only meaningful internal logic of the claim is conspiratorial racial hatred. The outrageousness is the point; as the feeling of outrage inspired in the heart of honest interlocutors is core to the appeal of such statements.
Jean-Paul Sartre’s Anti-Semite and Jew was written during the Nazi occupation of France, and it is clear that the philosopher had thought seriously on the topic and encountered many forms of antisemitism in his life. To Sartre, antisemites have abandoned sincerity to pursue a life of passion, namely, passionate hate. Azerbaijani PhD Candidate at Charles University Bahruz Samadov has tied this to the Lacanian concept of jouissance in which enjoyment is derived from transgression. In this case, jouissance is “the desire for complete destruction that emerges during such events as the 2020 war or any interaction on social media. During such interactions, the subjects receive enjoyment through the accelerated desire for the destruction of the enemy.” One could easily add here the production, dissemination, and argument for conspiratorial pseudohistory. High Armenophobia, like the most radical forms of antisemitism, renders all epistemologies subject to the demands of hatred: all organizations can be discredited if an Armenian was involved at any level, all ethics secondary to animosity to the mənfur düşmən, or “hateful enemy.”
While many observers hoped that Azerbaijan would continue to exist as a “normal” post-Soviet autocracy, or perhaps even liberalize, the Aliyev regime began to enshrine racial and historical grievance and irredentism as state ideology. By the time Ramil Safarov, an Azerbaijani soldier who nearly beheaded a sleeping Armenian soldier with an ax ( somehow this article’s second ax murderer) returned to Baku to a hero’s welcome, the writing was on the wall. NGOs were targeted, dissidents kidnapped off the streets of Tbilisi. However, a curious thing began to happen around this time, as social media was widely adopted in the Azerbiajani cultural space; pseudohistories and conspiracies began inventing themselves without the involvement of The Radicals.
A ubiquitous claim on Azerbaijani Twitter is that the “Hays,” the contemporary Armenians distinct from the ancient Turkic Armenians, are from India. This theory does not seem to have an obvious origin in either Turkish or post-Soviet pseudohistorical literature. After exhaustive research, there does not even appear to be an obvious pre-social media Azerbaijani work of pseudoscholarship that suggests a South Asian origin of Armenians. The idea seems to have arisen either from a misunderstanding of the term Indo-European, or, more likely, simple conflation of Armenophobia with Antiziganism, as many of the specific claims or themes of Armenophobia are borrowed from other hatreds. Azerbaijani social media, however, takes this idea quite seriously. For instance, the comments of a YouTube clip from the film Sohni Mahiwal, starring the Soviet Armenian actor Frunzik Mkrtchyan, see multiple Azerbaijanis commenting that this is somehow a hint at the Indian origins of Armenians. A fictional movie with a minor role played by a single Armenian actor is given as evidence for a totally unsubstantiated theory that would alter the entire history of Western and South Asia. Stochastic facts are made to correlate and are presented as evidence of a systemic whole. This, in the terminology of QAnon, is baking.
This process is best explained by Annie Kelly, a postdoctoral researcher and journalist who researches conspiracy theories and the far right: “‘Baking,’ in QAnon terms, means decoding the cryptic messages posted by Q, which are the ‘crumbs.’ Different ‘bakers’ will interpret these messages in different ways, meaning there tends to be a multiplicity of readings for any one Q post.”
QAnon is a conspiratorial belief system based around a series of posts on the internet message board 4Chan from someone—the titular Q—claiming to be a “white hat” patriot working in the U.S. government. Q brought together a number of conspiracy theories that were already emerging, such the pedophilia-related Pizzagate and elements of the Satanic panic of the late 20th century. New ideas based on Q posts are combined with preexisting ideas (Pizzagate) and sometimes spontaneously spawn new ideas, such as that John F. Kennedy Jr. survived a plane crash in 1999 and will lead a violent fascist revolution in the United States called the Great Awakening that will execute all of Donald Trump’s enemies in military tribunals.
Plana Sadık Kal
The parallels between QAnon and state-sponsored Armenophobia in Azerbaijan are often quite exact. During the Second Karabakh War, a persistent rumor on the Azerbaijani side was that advancing Azerbaijani forces had found an imprisoned soldier, Imran Shamkhalov, from the First Nagorno-Karabakh War who was kept in an underground bunker as a slave. No pictures were ever found of this soldier or his liberation, but the rumor spread far enough that Azerbaijani dissident Khadija Ismailova, who had received substantial support from Armenians during her politically-motivated imprisonment, had to issue an apology for her repeated references to the outlandish claim. This was, ironically, the same month that much of the QAnon world was obsessed with theories about “mole children” living in tunnels below New York who were about to be liberated by the Great Awakening. Occasionally, the exact same language is used: ethnic Azerbaijani, Turkish ultranationalist politician Sinan Oğan campaigned in the 2023 Turkish presidential election on the slogan “Plana Sadık Kal,” literally “Remain Loyal to the Plan,” itself more than similar to one of the most famous QAnon slogans: “Trust the Plan.”
An interesting feature of both QAnon and High Armenophobia is that they are both conspiracy theories meant to foster loyalty to the existing social order—a novel conspiratorial weltanschauung intended to mollify rather than mobilize.
According to Annie Kelly, “QAnon has often struck me as somewhat unusual for a modern American conspiracy theory because of its relationship to countersubversion, mobilization and the state. The narrative of QAnon assures its believers that a secret battle is being waged and won against the malevolent ‘deep state’ by the ‘whitehats’’ in government, and all QAnon users need to do is ‘trust the plan’ … Most conspiracy theorists understand themselves as subversives, but in this case QAnon users are actually invited to adopt the position of the countersubversive.”
The social function of High Armenophobia is to control the pace of politicization and radicalization of Azerbaijani state and society. The support of Turkish ülkücü organizations for Azerbaijani causes is appreciated, and their activities are sponsored in Turkey, but politicization and radicalization are intended to happen strictly within the patrimonialist framework of Azerbaijan. According to Azerbaijani political dissident and anti-war activist Giyas Ibrahim, Azerbaijani Nationalists lost some interest in Turkish ultranationalist intellectuals such as Nihal Atsız after 2016 “because the entire country became fascist.”
To paraphrase the Turkish ultranationalist journalist and politician Agah Oktay Güner, The Radicals and their Elchibey-era Turkic pan-nationalism, once disgraced, were now in power.
The past three years have seen a shift in how academics and analysts discuss the Azerbaijani state. Prior to the 2020 war, much of the scholarship on the country focused on the regime as a post-Soviet authoritarian, neo-patrimonial authoritarian state fundamentally similar to Nazarbayev’s Kazakhstan. Between the return of Ramil Safarov and the Second Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, however, the conversation began shifting. To quote analyst Laurence Broers:
“In Azerbaijan, the elite previously relied most heavily on co-optation given the availability of resource rents. In the long-term, however, this would not be a stable formula as rents are finite. One way to read the Second Karabakh War in terms of its domestic importance is as a bid for legitimacy, on the one issue which does unite Azerbaijanis. This signifies the transformation of leadership away from a de-politicizing paternalism and towards a more politicizing strongman image. Nationalism is the new currency, and specifically its Turcophile orientation, which was in significant ways tempered in Azerbaijanism.”
Broers characterizes the current moment as one of “performative hybridity” in which the authorities in Azerbaijan are able to make usage of various, contradictory discourses simultaneously. The Armenians are Hay-Armen “Gujarati” racial degenerates who will be chased out of the “sacred Oghuz land of Western Azerbaijan.” Simultaneously, Armenians are insensitive, reprobate Islamophobes, Turcophobes and “Azerbaijanophobes” who were bent on the annihilation of the perfect multiculturalism of pre-war Karabakh under Azerbaijani domination. Both narratives are useful, both are used, and the seeming tension between the two is not only unresolved but utterly irrelevant; these are both Bullshit statements, so all concerns of veracity and internal consistency are moot.
This “hybridity” is obvious in Alakbarli’s recent work. For the past several years, Alakbarli has found himself in increasingly prestigious positions, which has already been the subject of scrutiny. In 2019, Rahim Shaliyev wrote “Libraries Full of Hate: From Azerbaijan to Georgia” for OC Media, which focused at length on copies of The Monuments of Western Azerbaijan appearing in Azerbaijani-language libraries in Azerbaijani communities in Georgia. This international scrutiny either did nothing or actively benefitted his career, as he became an MP from Azerbaijan’s ruling New Azerbaijan Party. Always involved in the various government-sponsored refugee organizations and publications, Alakbarli was a natural fit for the position of director of the newly formed Western Azerbaijan Community, a continuation of some of these same organizations he had worked with since the 1990s.
Several articles have already been written on the Western Azerbaijan Community, but most seem to fundamentally misunderstand its means, if not its purpose. It is relatively clear that the Western Azerbaijan Community is an attempt to enshrine Yeraz grievance at the same level as Karabakh Azerbaijani grievance in order to perpetuate the ethnic conflict that keeps the Aliyevs in power, but the “means” here are what Broers calls “characteristic hybridity,” as the organization releases one statement in English and a very different type of statement in Russian or Azerbaijani. In English, the official spokeswoman of the Western Azerbaijan Community, Ulviyya Zulfikar, makes statements such as the following:
“We (the Western Azerbaijan Community) are not making a territorial claim. We don’t have an army, we are not calling a special area of a sovereign country “republic.’ We just want to return to our homes which we were forced to leave in Armenia in 1987–91, in a peaceful (sic), safe and dignified way and reintegrate into their society.”
To return to the language of philosopher Harry Frankfurt, this is Bullshit. The Western Azerbaijani Community will simultaneously use UNHCR language while agglomerating to itself previous irredentist organizations such as the Goycha-Zangezur Republic, will accuse Armenia of Turcophobia, Azerbaijanophobia and Islamophobia while simultaneously giving pride of place to racist pseudoscholars. All internal contradictions and factual discrepancies are part of the appeal; the outrage they inspire are the point.
Working Towards the Senpai
Yaqub Mahmudov, the former Head of the History Institute of the National Academy of Sciences, once stated that “we Azerbaijani historians are the soldiers of President Ilham Aliyev.” It would be easy to regard this as the drastic, self-aggrandizing hyperbole of a major academic in a militarized society, a deeper truth is reached accidentally. All of these pseudoscholars — Mahmudov, Alakbarli, Celilov, Akhundov, even grandees such as Suleyman Aliyarli — are cogs in an apparatus, honored officiants in a vast political economy of hateful conspiracy and pseudoscholarship. Their purpose is to transform Armenophobia from, to borrow the terminology of wartime German psychologist Michael Müller-Claudius, a “latent, static” hatred to a “dynamic” one — a new, High Armenophobia; the casual Armenophobia of a given Azerbaijani is transformed into a worldview for those closely connected to the regime.
This political economy is described at some length by independent Azerbaijani researcher Cavid Aga. “University deans, rectors often offer their ‘services’ to the government. They employ students with promises of good grades or exemption from exams to troll during some campaigns. For example, the Justice for Khojaly campaign included one such farming event. However, the dean of the university didn’t get anything in return from the government, because he just offered, and didn’t ask anything in return.”
Within this political economy, many function on what Cavid called “Notice Me Senpai” syndrome. All actors work to be noticed within the system through increasingly radical, often independent-minded action, and within it there are no incentives to appear as an ermənipərəst, an Armenophile. The sole constraint is maintaining both the primacy of the Aliyev-Pasheva dynastic interests and the coherence and proper function of extant patrimonial networks. Turkey lacks these constraints; Turkish ultranationalist politics are greatly more agonistic than the entire Azerbaijani political spectrum, which means that Turkey is likely to play a greater and greater role in the radicalization of Azerbaijani society as Turkey itself radicalizes, possibly complicating Ankara-Baku relations.
What is witnessed here is “cumulative radicalization,” in the terminology of German historian Hans Mommsen. All incentives push in one direction, leading to greater and greater radicalization at every strata of society. The Azerbaijani internet troll searches for more and more offensive content to post, in search of the next great jolt of jouissance. The pseudoscholars posit greater and greater absurdities, which the younger generations fervently believe and begin to ‘bake’ by themselves. All Azerbaijan begins to use a concept conceived by the historian Ian Kershaw, to ‘Work Towards the Führer;’ Ilham sets the agenda, Ilham sets the pace, and those below him, everyone, works toward what they believe to be his goals, and all those under the leader look for more and more radical ways to gain praise.
Much of the extant scholarship and activism on radicalization and counter extremism in the Caucasus has focused either on Russia-funded right wing organizations, such as the Georgian Alt-Info, or else possible Iranian influence in the Shia clergy in Azerbaijan. Nationalist radicalization and pseudoscholarship in Azerbaijan has, by contrast, been held back by the insistence on equivocations between Armenian nationalism and Azerbaijani nationalism and a disinterested insistence that Azerbaijani and Turkish Armenophobia were essentially similar. Some major scholars and activists have worked diligently on this topic, notably Viktor Shnirelman, Laurence Broers and Azerbaijanis such as Bahruz Samadov, Cavid Aga, Giyas Ibrahim, and Altay Goyusov and the Baku Research Institute have all added greatly to the understanding of this phenomenon. Coming from the perspective of the study of Turkish and Russian nationalism, however, it is difficult not to find gaps in the literature; there is no exact equivalent of Jenny White’s pioneering work on the Turkish right, or Selim Koru’s continued coverage of the ülkücüler, Ryan Gingeras or Sinem Adar’s work on Turkish security policy, or Nick Ashdown’s tremendously insightful piece “A Political Murder Reflects the Rise and Fracture of Turkey’s Far Right” for New Lines Magazine. The few exceptions to this trend have been Azerbaijani dissidents or Armenians, both of whom are regularly dismissed as biased.
The unfortunate truth of the situation is that the entirety of the South Caucasus is now set to be remade by an ideology few have even attempted to understand. The continued insistence that the Azerbaijani government is too rational, too cynical to believe outlandish conspiracies should be taken as seriously as claims on February 23, 2022, that Putin was too clever to believe Russian pseudoscholarship on Ukraine. People like Alakbarli either earnestly believe what they are saying, or are so warped by hatred that they do not care about the reality of their conspiracy theories; possibly both. Cynicism and conspiracy theory are not antithetical; the latter requires the former, the former the latter, so the relationship is near-syllogistic and mutually reinforcing.
Collective disinterest and ignorance have stood as midwives to the emergence of this violent new weltanschauung, this High Armenophobia. The region has already seen a half-decade of cataclysm because of this ideology, and now anxiously awaits future catastrophes.
October on EVN Report
Politics & Opinion
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