I went to Baku last week. A few things: everyone I spoke to, even avowed members of the government opposition, supported Azerbaijan's role in the conflict wholeheartedly. There was a real martial ardour on the streets.
Hatred towards the other side and disinformation about the conflict is widespread. It isn't possible to access social media without a VPN. The government narrative is the one that is widely believed. Everything else is dismissed as "fake news".
There's mass support and nigh-on adoration for Turkey. Plenty of people told me that Russia's power is waning in the Caucasus and that Turkey has stepped in. Many referenced historical pan-Turkic links and claimed that Russia had tried to keep them apart in the past.
One vitally important factor from the Azerbaijani side is the return of people displaced during the 90s to N-K. There are hundreds of thousands of them and their plight exerts powerful domestic pressure on the government.
I went and spoke to a refugee family who lived in very basic conditions outside Baku. No sign of that oil wealth that keeps the centre of Baku so glitzy. They still had the keys to their house in N-K. They're very hopeful they'll be able to return.
Among them was a woman in her late 70s. She said that Armenians didn't used to be their enemies, and that they used to trade with them. She said she could imagine living among them again, but she also said that they had become Azerbaijan's enemies.
It's still very unclear what would actually happen with ethnic Armenians in N-K if Azerbaijan did re-take it. Aliyev says that they could live there if they disarmed. But with the hatred on both sides, analysts told me, that seems unrealistic.
Here's the piece. I worked independently, without a government minder https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/world/armenian-fears-grow-as-turkish-flags-flutter-in-otherbaijan-3629209tj
Armenian fears grow as Turkish flags flutter in ‘Otherbaijan’
In front of the Armani store by Port Baku mall, a tiny dog pulled on its lead as its owner — wearing white denim and a significant number of gold chain necklaces — air-kissed a passing acquaintance. Ahttps://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/world/armenian-fears-grow-as-turkish-flags-flutter-in-otherbaijan-3629209tj