Armenia and Azerbaijan vow to keep fighting as deaths mount

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An Armenian soldier fires an artillery piece during fighting with Azerbaijan's forces in the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh on Sept. 29, 2020. (Ministry of Defense of Armenia via AP)
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A still image taken from a handout video released September 29, 2020 by the Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry shows Azerbaijan's artillery fires in direction of the enemy positions deployed in the self-Proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. (EPA/Azerbaijan Defence Ministry/Handout)
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Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan says that arch-foe Azerbaijan has declared war on his people after heavy fighting erupted along the frontlines of contested territory. (AFP)
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Updated 01 October 2020

Armenia and Azerbaijan vow to keep fighting as deaths mount

  • Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said it is not appropriate to speak of a summit between Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia during a period of intensive hostilities
  • Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev promised his military would keep fighting until Armenian troops withdraw fully from Karabakh

STEPANAKERT, Azerbaijan: Armenia and Azerbaijan vowed to keep fighting and rejected international calls for negotiations Wednesday as clashes over the disputed Nagorny Karabakh region raged for a fourth day.
In the breakaway province’s capital Stepanakert, two explosions were heard around midnight as sirens sounded. Residents said the city had been attacked by drones.
Streets were dark with public lighting shut off, although some shops were open in the city, which local authorities said came under fire when fresh violence erupted Sunday.
Moscow said Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron had called for a “complete” halt to fighting in Karabakh and said they were ready to intensify diplomatic efforts to help solve the conflict.
“Vladimir Putin and Emmanuel Macron called on the warring sides to halt fire completely and as soon as possible, de-escalate tensions and show maximum restraint,” the Kremlin said.
In a telephone call, the two leaders expressed “readiness” to see a statement made on behalf of the co-chairs of the Minsk Group — Russia, France and the US — that would call for an “immediate” end to fighting and start of talks, it added.
Armenian and Azerbaijani forces are engaged in the heaviest fighting in years over Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian province that broke away from Azerbaijan in the 1990s when the Soviet Union collapsed.
The confirmed death toll surpassed 100 people including civilians Wednesday, with both sides claiming to have inflicted heavy losses on the other.
Baku and Yerevan have ignored mounting international pressure for a cease-fire, sparking fears the conflict could escalate into all-out war and draw in regional powers like Turkey and Russia.
“We need to prepare for a long-term war,” Karabakh separatist leader Arayik Harutyunyan said Wednesday.
Moscow, which has a military pact with Armenia but also good ties with Azerbaijan, has repeatedly called for an end to the fighting and on Wednesday offered to host negotiations.

In separate phone conversations with his counterparts from both ex-Soviet countries, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reaffirmed Moscow’s “readiness” to organize a meeting.
But neither leader showed signs of being ready for talks.
Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev promised his military would keep fighting until Armenian troops withdraw fully from Karabakh.
If “the Armenian government fulfils the demand, fighting and bloodshed will end, and peace will be established in the region,” he said while visiting wounded soldiers.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said it was not “very appropriate” to speak of negotiations “at a time of intensive hostilities.”
In the Armenian capital Yerevan, dozens of men gathered outside a recruitment office to join the fight.
“We must act to defend our homeland against the aggressor,” said Kamo, a 32-year-old factory worker. “This is our land. We will die before we abandon it.”
There has been no let-up in the fighting since the weekend, with both sides reporting new civilian casualties Wednesday.
Armenia has recorded 104 military deaths and 23 civilians killed.
Azerbaijan’s defense ministry said its forces have killed 2,300 Karabakh separatist troops and “destroyed 130 tanks, 200 artillery units, 25 anti-aircraft units, five ammunition depots, 50 anti-tank units, 55 military vehicles.”
Armenia claimed that Azerbaijan had lost 130 troops while another 200 were wounded.
“Armenian armed forces destroyed 29 tanks and armored vehicles,” a defense ministry spokesman said.

Karabakh’s defense ministry, for its part, said Azerbaijani forces “continued artillery shelling” along the frontline.
The two sides have accused each other of targeting civilian areas, including some away from Karabakh.
Yerevan claims that Turkey, a longstanding ally of Azerbaijan, is providing direct military support for Baku.
It said on Tuesday that a Turkish F-16 flying in support of Baku’s forces had downed an Armenian SU-25 warplane, but Ankara and Baku denied the claim.
The Karabakh separatist leader reiterated claims Turkey was involved.
“The real enemy is Turkey,” Harutyunyan said.
There have been reports of Turkey sending fighters from Syria, where Ankara is allied with some rebel groups, to join the Azerbaijani side.
Azerbaijan for its part also claimed Armenia was deploying foreign fighters.
“Mercenaries from Middle Eastern countries are fighting against us alongside Armenian forces,” Aliyev’s foreign policy adviser, Hikmet Khadjiyev, told AFP.
Russia’s foreign ministry said that “fighters of illegal armed groups including from Syria and Libya” were being deployed to the conflict zone.
It said it was “deeply concerned” but did not say who was responsible or lay any blame.

“We are definitely very close to seeing a large-scale war, possibly even on a regional scale,” said Olesya Vartanyan of the International Crisis Group.
Karabakh’s declaration of independence from Azerbaijan sparked a war in the early 1990s that claimed 30,000 lives, but it is still not recognized as independent by any country, including Armenia.
Talks to resolve the conflict have largely stalled since a 1994 cease-fire agreement.


Indonesian president ‘honored’ to have UAE street named after him

Updated 22 October 2020

Indonesian president ‘honored’ to have UAE street named after him

  • Abu Dhabi’s Al-Ma’arid Street renamed President Joko Widodo Street

JAKARTA: Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Tuesday said it was “an honor” for him and his country that a street in the UAE capital had been named after him.

Al-Ma’arid Street, one of Abu Dhabi’s key roads, was on Monday renamed President Joko Widodo Street during a ceremony that coincided with the first anniversary of the Indonesian leader’s inauguration for a second term in office.

Writing on social media, Widodo said: “It is a recognition and an honor, not only for me, but for Indonesia.” He also expressed hope that the two countries’ relations would be “stronger, mutually strengthening, and beneficial for the people of the United Arab Emirates and Indonesia.”

Indonesia’s ambassador to the UAE, Husin Bagis, told Arab News: “The initiative to rename the street after President Joko Widodo came from His Highness (Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan), who also presided over the street renaming ceremony on the spot.”

The envoy said that the street was near to the future location of the Indonesian Embassy compound, which was currently under construction.

According to UAE news agency WAM, the crown prince has also directed officials to build a mosque named after Widodo, in Abu Dhabi’s Diplomatic Area, in recognition of the Indonesian president’s close friendship with the UAE and his efforts to strengthen the relationship.

Indonesia-UAE relations have grown closer since Widodo’s visit to Abu Dhabi in January, during which he secured investment projects worth $22.9 billion in what has officially been described as the biggest trade deal in the country’s history. The visit was to reciprocate the crown prince’s trip to Indonesia in July 2019.

Recent cooperation agreements between the two countries have included plans for the construction of a mosque on a plot of land in Widodo’s hometown of Solo in Central Java.

The mosque will be a replica of Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and serve as an Islamic center offering training for clerics. A groundbreaking ceremony is slated to take place in December.

Widodo is the latest Indonesian leader to be celebrated through an honorific street name in a foreign country. In Rabat, Morocco’s capital, Avenue Sukarno was named after Indonesia’s first president, while Mohammed Hatta Street in Haarlem, the Netherlands, recognizes the Southeast Asian country’s first vice president. Sukarno and Hatta are considered the fathers of Indonesia’s independence.

The name of the country’s third president, B. J. Habibie, appears on a bridge in Dili, the capital of East Timor, in honor of his decision to hold a referendum there which allowed East Timor to secede from Indonesia.