Azerbaijan Since Independence by Svante E. Cornell

By Svante E. Cornell

Azerbaijan, a small post-Soviet republic positioned at the western shore of the Caspian Sea, has oversized value becaus of its strategic situation on the corssroads of Europe and Asia, its oil assets, and

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Azerbaijani Turkish developed into a literary language in a form close to that used today, as is shown by remarkable works of the time such as the prose and poetry of Muhammad Fuzuli. The long tenure of the Safavid dynasty helped integrate Azerbaijan into the Persian world while giving the Azerbaijanis the distinction of being the only Turkic people that is predominantly Shia. ‖7 From its capital in Tabriz, the Safavid court gradually moved its seat southward in the face of Ottoman attacks. In 1592 Isfahan became the capital, and would remain so until 1795.

Ajarians and other Muslims who had risen up against Russian rule as Turkish armies advanced were also massacred when czarist forces took back these territories. AZERBAIJAN BEFORE SOVIET RULE 19 A combination of factors muted the Azerbaijani intelligentsia in this complex and unpredictable situation; four are particularly noteworthy. 48 Indeed, as would be the case in 1918 and again in the 1990s, many Azerbaijanis resented the big-brotherly and intermittently condescending attitude that Turks adopted toward them in spite of what Azerbaijanis considered their equal or even higher level of culture.

The Armenians, for their part, pursued two equally bleak prospects: seeking continued protection from Russia, then reaching out to the Allied powers, especially France and Britain, for succor. But Russian forces withdrew, and the Allies would have been unable to come to Armenia‘s support even if they had so desired. As for the Azerbaijanis, their loyalty to the Transcaucasian state was dubious. ‖66 In fact, relations between Armenians and Azerbaijanis had deteriorated significantly following the March massacre in Baku; the Azerbaijanis‘ eagerness to see Turkish forces in the Caucasus was much related to this.

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