The ideological origins of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict

  • One people's homeland cannot become another people's permanent homeland. Njde
  • An independent Caucasus is not only a guarantor of well-being for its peoples, but also a serious factor for international peace. Rasulzadeh


The Karabakh conflict has not been solved for more than a century, and the last war of 2020 failed to solve it even despite the fact that Azerbaijan has actually won the war against Armenia. The question is that the conflict is not a separate, stand-alone conflict outside the context of Azerbaijani-Armenian and, more broadly, Armenian-Turkish (Turkic) confrontation, which has no end in sight due to a divisive ideological foundation without which no final solution is possible. It may be temporary, tactical but not strategic. The ideology of conflict will always stir up hostile attitudes, which, as history has repeatedly shown, develops into the bloody conflicts that usually erupt during geopolitical cataclysms (1905-1907, 1918-1920, 1985-1991). Under such conditions, we cannot speak of a lasting peace, not only in the Caucasus but on the whole expanse of West Asia as well.

When it comes to conflicts like the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, we are being disingenuous. It would rather be called an Armenian-Turkish conflict, where the Armenian-Turkish conflict is, like the Azerbaijani conflict, a part of it. Armenians themselves do not divide the Turks into Ottoman or Caucasian and Persian, or go further than Uzbek or Turkmen. Armenian nationalist ideology identifies a Turk not by nationality and citizenship but by ethnicity, just as it defines Armenians as a tribe, an ethnicity.   

A legitimate question arises: What is the author making up? There is no such thing as slyness. There is a desire to understand why we cannot come to an agreement with Armenians and before the war in 2020 we were always losing to them, ceding territories, losing people's lives. They also suffered human losses, but not territorial losses. We have witnessed mass ethnic cleansing of Azerbaijani Turk territories.  In 1989, when the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet discussed the Karabakh conflict, Mikhail Gorbachev asked a rhetorical question to the Armenian claims about the infringement of Armenian rights: "And where have 1.5 million Azerbaijanis from the territory of the current Armenian SSR gone from the early 20th century to the present day? The Armenian scientists and figures failed to find an answer. It would be logical of me to ask a question: What happened to about 400,000 Armenians from what is now Azerbaijan, most of whose ancestors migrated here in the 19th and 20th centuries.  Their tragedy, just like the tragedy of the resettled and exiled Azerbaijanis, was not at all a concern for those who classify themselves as the Armenian race, not a people, and even worse, a scum.

It stands to mention that those who lived alongside Azerbaijanis and shared their bread, joy and hardship were seen by the race as the people and the scum of the earth. In the Soviet times, we remember well how the Azerbaijani Armenians in Yerevan were referred to as Karabakhians, or even worse, as servants of the Turks - the Shartvats. For the race to attain its goal, everything else attributed to Armenians was expendable material worthy of sacrifice in A six-metre bronze monument to the founder of Armenian Nazism, Garegin Njde, was unveiled in Yerevan on 28 May 2016, the Day of the First Republic (1918-1920), with President Serge Sargsyan in attendance. The healthy part of Armenians, which according to Njde's interpretation refers to the people or the rabble, described his teachings as fascist. I don't know if the majority holds this view.

It is worth remembering that the very fact of erecting the monument as a state act shows that in fact the statehood and its ideology is based on Njde's ideas. Official Yerevan does not openly proclaim Njde's ideas on a state level or proclaims a more subdued part, but the essence does not change. How can we not recall the statement of the former President of Armenia Robert Kocharyan on "genetic incompatibility" between Armenians and Azerbaijanis.   

Njde's racist ideology began to take shape as early as the early 20th century and manifested itself in the ethnic cleansing with its involvement in what is now Armenia, accompanied by massacres and the total expulsion of Azerbaijanis from Zangezur and other regions. The ideology of Armenian racism was finally formed and spread by Garegin Njde and Hayk Asatryan in the first half of the 1930s.

Granting this, they developed the ideology of classical Armenian nationalism, which aims to unite the Armenian people in the territory of historic Armenia (a historical and geographical area in the northern part of Middle West Asia, including Asia Minor, Armenian highlands and South Caucasus), within the framework of the Armenian state.

My reference to the Wikipedia source on Njde's doctrine in Armenian is explained as being due to the fact it more clearly displays an explanation of Njde's views than in other languages, where the description is leveled to suit the interests and views of foreign-language readers.

Recall that the very idea was called Tsekhakronism (a merger of the two words Tribal-Belief), which actually means tribalism, a part and natural extension of tribalism as the ideology of racism.

Njde preferred the term "ethnicity" instead of "nationalism", "patriotism" and other similar words.

Tribalism begins with the recognition of the tribe, including tribe's history, culture, way of life, its values and virtues, its present and aspirations; recognition of the Armenian tribe's respected contribution to the world of civilization.

Note that the tribal belief comes from the recognition of the tribe, i.e. belief in the strength, genius, will and ability of the Armenian tribe, its future and eternity.

Njde presented the credo of tribalism in his book "The American Armenian. Tribe and its Waste" where he listed 27 covenants.  The motto of the covenants is the slogan: 'Armenia for Armenians.

Below-cited are some of the covenants:

Nation lives, creates and perpetuates itself through tribalism. Tribalism is a powerful force in human culture. So why would a tribalist consider the falsification of tribal identity a crime against humanity and, in particular, against his own people?

Tribal religion is the niche of all teachings and currents that tend to keep our young generation away from the life-giving milk of tribalism.

He has the right and the duty to be bold, in whose hands is the fate of future generations.

For him, those sciences, arts and crafts which can be used for the might and victory of his race are preferable.

 By cultivating a personal will, tribalism supports the glorification of the Armenian spirit.

Njde seeks to deify the will of the tribe.

Tribalism demands from the individual an indestructible union with his/her tribe, recognizing the latter as the supreme parent. In this respect, tribalism views the family as a means of strengthening the tribe and considers that children in the family belong more to the tribe, the supreme parent, than to the immediate parents.

Tribalism conditions the desired happiness of the individual on the collective happiness of the tribe, which is to "see the strength of his people grow and Armenia expand justly".

In accord with tribalism, the greatest measure of individual freedom and individual expression, the 'supreme act', is submission to the tribe. In other words, an individual is free insofar as he does not oppose the interests of the tribe or harm its mores, and his self-expression should not turn into anti-tribal egoism.

As an ethos (a set of moral imperatives) instilling faith in the future of the tribe, tribalism does not preach a powerless fatalism, but obliges to create the great destiny the tribe deserves through the struggle.

According to Tsekhakronism, the Armenians are divided into three sense-conscious parts:

1. Tribe (race).

The race is the selected Armenians, whose main goal is to perpetuate their species in the homeland. It carries the Armenianness within it and transmits it to the generations. The homeland is irreplaceable for the tribe, its independence is as necessary as oxygen. The tribe fights and becomes a martyr, saving the honor of Armenians.

2. People

The people are an undecided, wavering part of Armenia. It is pro-mafia if it listens to the voice of the scum rather than the tribe. The people live the daily life, the tribe lives the eternal life, the people live the thoughts of the day, the tribe lives the memory of the past, the firm belief in the future and the constant struggle of the day at the same time.

The people are guided by partial interests, the tribe by all-Armenian interests. The nation is a mixture of classes, religions and parties, while the tribe has no ruling and subordinate classes, religious denominations or political trends, but only Armenians.

It is worth remembering that the people beg for justice and the right to live, the tribe conquers and asserts it. A nation may adjust to its inglorious condition, but a tribe does not tolerate the chains of a slave, the judgments of the world that harm Armenia may be corrected for it. In moments of danger, the people become confused and panic-stricken, while the tribe instinctively finds a way out. It is unable to foresee the danger, but the tribe senses it.

Granting the above, the people honor mediocrity, the tribe honors only its geniuses. "A nation produces scribes and a tribe produces prophets.

A nation does not know how to keep values and value heroes. Today it makes someone a hero, tomorrow it tramples or destroys yesterday's shrines, with the blindness of the mob. The tribe is the eternal bearer of its values, perpetuating the worship of its holy dead.

A nation suffers from an inferiority complex, while a tribe is full of pride and determination. "A nation adopts someone else's culture by denationalizing it, a tribe nationalizes what it adopts.

And the higher the tribe's specific weight in Armenians, the more it lives the canons of the tribe, the more powerful and vibrant it is as a nation. And the specific weight of the tribe should be raised at the expense of the people, converting it, orienting it towards the tribe. Thus, the main problem of tribalism is to unravel the Armenian nation.

3. Rabble (tanak)

Tanak is the anti-nationalist element of Armenians, the inner enemy of the tribe, harnessed into the chariot of the outer enemy - repugnant as an Armenian and repugnant as a human being. He has no obligation to Armenians, but fights for his rights. He has no nationality, and if he speaks Armenian, it is only because he has not yet found another way to communicate.  Tanak does not know his homeland.  It is a nationally dead element of Armenians, displaced once and for all.

It is worth citing that Armenian racism recognizes Turks, Bolsheviks and their anti-Armenian agents as enemies. It denies all currents, religions and doctrines that deny the necessity of nations.

The tribal believer is obliged to start a family with his tribesman and give offspring, because he knows that the continuation of the lineage is ensured by descent. A tribal cultist is not a cultivator of any science, art or craft, but a tireless warrior who seeks to make them serve his tribe.

A member of the tribe submits to the tribe he loves more than his own life. The will of the tribe is its supreme commander, it is the will of the tribe to win and hold out.

Tribalism is not against the Armenian Apostolic Church, on the contrary, considers itself an integral part of it, however, according to Njde, the Armenian Apostolic Church "misunderstood the mystery of Christian love and as a result it has caused unprecedented tragedy of the people" for centuries. Tribalism calls for the nationalization of the Armenian Church, its ideological re-evaluation.

"Our Church has made a mistake, a terrible mistake, preaching the morality of the poor and insolvent. After that he must speak of an Aryan people capable of love and self-sacrifice, if he wants traces of Christianity to remain in Asia Minor and Armenia. A strong and Aryan people are those capable of defying death for their own existence. This is how not only Armenians but also the Armenian Church will live. The self-defense of the Armenian people is the new doctrine of the Armenian Church".

Njde noted that the idea of tribalism is exclusively Armenian, while fascism is the Italian manifestation of nationalism and Nazism is German.

The difference between tribalism and Nazism is that the latter declares the Aryan tribe to be the only culture-forming race and the other nations to be inferior species. Tribalism is free from preaching the selectivity or exceptionalism. Nazism, with its need for so-called "life territories", tries to be measured, which, unnaturally, also goes beyond the homeland. Ethnicity is a problem for the return of our own homeland, the Armenian Highland. Nazism regards Jews as the evil of humanity, a culturally destructive species, and anti-Semitism occupies a key place in its teachings. It is completely absent from tribal religion. It declares the Turk an enemy of the tribe. Tribalism is also a commitment to revenge, a message not to forgive the Turk and thus a forge of vengeance, where "instead of every Armenian victim two new vigilantes will come into the world". Tribalism demands merciless revenge, a merciless trial for that bloodthirsty tribe (the Turks) which murdered half the Armenians. This enmity is not historical, but biological.

In 2012, Jeanne Andreasyan, head of the higher education program implementation unit of the Centre for Educational Programs (now Minister of Education) said: "This Njde ideology is actually a fascist ideology ... It's actually very dangerous for us as a 21st century society, because it's based on an aggressive world view, an obsession with shutting ourselves off from the world and defining our own superiority over other societies. If you take away all the nice words and leave its skeleton, the skeleton really is. It's very dangerous."

In 2021, when she became deputy minister of education, science, culture and sport, she was advised to retract her words. "I still think the same way about Njde and Njde's ideology, I won't say anything," replied Andreasyan, who now heads the Ministry of Education.

Anna Mailyan, professor of Conservatory, honored artist, singer, who denounced Andreasyan: "Garegin Njde's book should be on our tables as a second bible on February 12, 2021. Every child should be educated on Garegin Njde's ideas. Garegin Njde must not be perceived as a fascist. As an Armenian I forbid to talk about Garegin Njde with any fascist overtones. This man was able to inspire, organize national liberation struggle of the Armenian people and liberate Syunik. If there had been the right conditions, support and the right situation, perhaps, Artsakh and Nakhichivan would have been liberated and we would have had our historic territories," she said.


At a time when the theory and idea of tribalism was being developed and implemented in the Armenian community, Azerbaijani society was also in search of self-identification and awareness of ethnic and national identity. The main ideologist of Azerbaijani nationalism is considered to be Mohammad Emin Rasulzadeh, the head of the First Democratic Republic (1918-1920). He tried to awaken Azerbaijani nationalism through ethnicity, which in the early 20th century was a problem, as society associated itself with the Islamic religion and individuals - Persians, Turks, Arabs considered themselves as Muslims, but not ethnicities.   

Rasulzadeh, unlike Njde, was not a warrior, but only a journalist, educator, and political activist. He was an advocate of ethnic self-identification as a necessary foundation for the formation of a national identity, a national state, and a nation. Rasulzadeh does not divide ethnicity into race, nation and rabble. He does not preach exclusivity, eternal revenge and seizure or return of territories. He sees the future of Azerbaijani Turks in an alliance with the peoples of the Caucasus, including Armenians.

Let us turn to the main parts of his article 'Panturanism and the Problem of the Caucasus', which was a continuation and development of his views and ideas in the early 20th century, in the 1930s. This paper was read in March 1930 in Paris before an audience consisting of representatives of the Caucasian, Ukrainian and Turkestan emigration.

"For our people to be strong, to live a happy life and to prosper, it is necessary that the state should pursue a fully national policy. It is also necessary that the policy should be fully consistent with our internal state system.

When I speak about the national policy I mean the following:

To remain within the limits of its national policy and, above all, to base itself on its own strength, to preserve its existence and work for the welfare of the country, in order to achieve its real happiness and well-being. Specifically, not to subject the nation to ruin in pursuit of a pipe dream and utopian dream. To expect a cultural and human attitude from the cultural world and to maintain mutual friendship with it."

As the panturanism movement developed into a known system of political thought, two tendencies changed in it: the romantic centralist tendency and the realist federalist tendency.

One must bear in mind that the representatives of the first trend, influenced by the German racial theorists, found the blood kinship of the Turkic peoples, some commonality of their languages, as well as their religious homogeneity, sufficient to create a unified Turkish state at a convenient political combination.

With the Romantics with such sentiments, the socio-political scheme was based on a conservative-authoritarian concept and had rather a military-caste character, which, of course, could not count on wide popularity among the democratically minded and liberally minded part of the intelligentsia.

The realist current, on the other hand, though inspired by the higher ideal of the movement, attached far more importance to the real results of the awakening of national consciousness than to the romantic dreams of it. The realistic movement, aware of the commonality of the national-cultural interests of all Turkic peoples, did not envision the unification of the latter into a centralized state. It sought, above all, the liberation of individual Turkic peoples in the form of separate independent states.

Note that the first current, by the way, which never took the form of a specific political program, did not attract especially the Turkists of Azerbaijan, and this was quite understandable, because with the all-developing democratic structure of the new Azerbaijani society, emerging on the ruins of the feudal Middle Ages, a movement with clearly opposing tendencies certainly could not succeed.

It is worth remembering that Azerbaijani politicians, in particular the activists of the Musavat Party, stood in opposition to romantic panturanism as a utopia with no real ground to stand on. On the contrary, in their view, the slogan of a confederation of the peoples of the Caucasus was more in line with the vital and real interests of Azerbaijan and the entire Turkic world.

The idea of the Caucasian Confederation

As noted above, a realistic trend of panturanism was developing in Azerbaijan and succeeded in combining the interests of ideology with the real needs of the country. Azerbaijani Turkism went along the lines of the federalist concept, which, as in the Czech example, led Azerbaijanis not only to the idea of Azerbaijani independence, but also to the conviction of the need to create a Confederation of the Caucasus. The Azerbaijani Democratic Party of Turkic Federalists "Musavat" adopted the following resolution at its second congress in Baku in 1919: "Having discussed the report of the political section on the idea of a Caucasian confederation, proceeding from the real interests, both national and economic-political, and realizing that only through close association of the Caucasian republics makes it easier to achieve international recognition and guarantee their political and territorial integrity,  the second congress of the "Musavat" Party decided: to recognize the association of the Caucasian republics in a free union of the Caucasian confederation as desirable, and to call all Caucasian democracy as well as governments of neighboring republics contribute to the implementation of this idea.

The same year the Azerbaijani government submitted a proposal to unite the Caucasian republics in a confederation at an Armenian-Azerbaijani conference held in Baku. The Azerbaijani proposal, which at the time was rejected by the Armenian delegation, was partially implemented in 1920 in the form of a military-defense alliance between Georgia and Azerbaijan, with the expectation that Armenia might also join the alliance if desired. At the same time the Azerbaijani press debated the issue of a Caucasus customs and railway convention.

Not only representatives of the ruling Musavat Party, but nearly all currents of the Azerbaijani political thought and prominent political figures, from the very beginning of the emergence of the Republic of Azerbaijan, inclined to unite all the Caucasian peoples into a single confederative state...

For a good reason the Azerbaijan political figures defended this idea so zealously. Common political and economic conditions of Caucasian isthmus dictated the necessity of such political program.

If in the former times the Caucasus was an arena of struggle between neighboring nations, the last period of common life and sufferings of this region proved vividly that separatism of some Caucasian peoples brought misfortunes not only to this nation, but also to all other nations of the Caucasus. The commonality of history, the common suffering, more precisely, the common destiny created a common, more or less similar psychology among all the peoples of the Caucasus. The terrible years of terror and red imperialism, equally pressing with bloody pressure all the peoples of the Caucasus, brought these peoples ever closer together and strengthened in them the consciousness of their common national and political interests.

Reports from the Caucasus were clearly indicative of the overall mood that prevailed among the politically-minded strata of the Caucasian peoples. This mood was in keeping with the political program that prevails today amongst the Caucasian emigration, i.e. the idea of Caucasian solidarity.

An independent Caucasus was not only a guarantee for the well-being of its peoples, but also a serious factor for international peace. Our southern neighbors, perpetually threatened by the northern danger, could only be secure in their fate with a free Confederation of the Caucasus as a buffer state. There is no doubt that our real activities in achieving pan-Caucasian statehood could have instilled in our southern neighbors the respect due to us and our work.

An independent Caucasus with its political, let alone economic opportunities would be of paramount importance for international politics as well.

This principle, as mentioned above, was partially realized in the form of the military-defensive alliance between Georgia and Azerbaijan. If we failed to implement it fully, there would be many reasons beyond the scope of this report. It may be noted that that one reason for non-implementation of this idea was the same provocation and demagogy, which even today through the mouths of Mr. Khondkaryan and Co. are trying to break a united front of the Caucasian peoples.

War test

The ideas of Njde and Rasulzadeh passed the test of endurance during the Second World War. It was especially important to understand how sincere Rasulzadeh was when preaching the idea of Caucasian unity.

From documents obtained from Moscow archives by history professor Jamil Hasanli.     

Personal testimony of Kamsarakan Peter, a prisoner of war in the former German army, 10 January 1949: GA RF. F. R-9401. Op. 2. Д. 234. Л. 204-220.

Peter Kamsarakan's testimony has a separate section on Njde's "Rasa" group. Njde, he wrote, "rejected also the possibility of settling the Armenian issue with Turkey peacefully. On the other hand, he told me his admiration for Hitler's actions, he respected and revered Germany, past and present, and he expected Germany to re-divide the world and settle the Armenian problem. He hoped that with the help of Nazi Germany it would be possible to create an Armenia that would be closely allied to it.

M.E. Rasulzadeh was a central figure in the Azerbaijani emigration during the Second World War. As Poland was invaded by Nazi Germany in September 1939, he moved to France, and when the Wehrmacht occupied France in the spring of 1940, he moved to Switzerland. Rasulzadeh was invited to Britain by the Polish government-in-exile established on September 30, 1939, and President Wladyslaw Sikorski, who settled in London, but left it on the eve of the German attack on the USSR and moved to Bucharest where he stayed until the Soviet troops arrived. Us distinct from Njde, Rasulzadeh preferred to distance himself from Germany. And this was so conspicuous that the Soviet security services considered him a Polish, Turkish and even Japanese spy, but did not say a word about possible links with the Abwehr.

Detailed background information on Njde and Rasulzadeh was prepared and presented to the leadership by Pavel Fitin, head of Soviet foreign intelligence. Garegin Njde is described as the closest person to Fascist Germany among the Caucasian emigrants. Rasulzadeh's cautious attitude towards Hitler's regime was due to his greater awareness of Germany's invading plans. He knew from sources in Ankara and Berlin that Germany had no intention of restoring the independence of the Caucasian peoples, including Azerbaijanis, if the USSR was defeated (Pavel Fitin to Molotov. Information about M. E. Rasulzadeh, 17 July 1944: RSASPI. Ф. 82. Op. 2. Д. 1090. Л. 142).

By the way

As we can see, there are two completely opposing fundamental ideas and approaches to the development of Armenianism and Azerbaijanism. They are mutually exclusive. If we look at Rasulzadeh's ideas, which formed the basis of the development of the Azerbaijani nation, from the perspective of the doctrine of Njde, they are classified by Tsehakronism as rubbish. And vice versa, if you look at Njde's ideas from the standpoint of Rasulzadeh's doctrine, they may be classified as racism, which was rejected by the realist Turks, to whom today's followers of Rasulzadeh in Azerbaijan belong.

In that case, can we ensure that the Armenian-Azerbaijani and Armenian-Turkic conflict is tactically resolved and prevented from developing into the strategic dimension? This is virtually impossible and utopian if the dominant ideology of the Njde is maintained. It is up to Armenians themselves to solve the problem if it is perceived as a problem in the Armenian society. It is their choice. The issue concerns us too, of course, in the sense that the presence of a valid Njde ideology forces Azerbaijanis and Turks to prepare for the ensuing battles, whether they want to or not. Njde tribalism is an eternal and dangerous smoldering source of potential 21st century wars and tragedies.

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