December 10, 2020 Special Dispatch No. 9082

Russian Media Outlet 'The Azerbaijani Army Is Being Purged Of The Officers And Generals Who Started Their Career In The Soviet Union... Those Who Have Completed... Training In Turkey Are Placed In Key Positions – Turkish Advisers Are Placed Above Them'

December 10, 2020
Russia, Turkey, South Caucasus | Special Dispatch No. 9082

On November 12, 2020, the Russian media outlet published an article, titled "'Who Were The Turkish Generals That Led The [Azeri] Attack On Nagorno-Karabakh?" describing the role of Turkish officials in the recent Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.

According to, the Azerbaijani army is being purged of the officers and generals who started their careers in the Soviet Union and studied in Soviet military schools. Instead, those officers who have completed an internship or a training program in Turkey are placed in key military positions. In addition, Turkish advisers are placed above them. stressed that, even though Baku is celebrating the Russia-brokered truce as its own victory, the reality is that – as far as the control of the military is concerned – the real victory belongs to the Turkish generals.


Below is's article:[1]

The Turkish Generals In The Azerbaijani Army

"Analysts are assessing the results of the most important military conflict of recent times, the Azeri victory in Nagorno-Karabakh. They are paying special attention to the role of the Turkish military, including their operation of drones. Who were the Turkish generals that led the successful offensive of the Azerbaijani army and what the Azerbaijani military are dissatisfied with – the VZGLYAD newspaper investigates.

"Several days ago, in the midst of Azerbaijan's offensive operation in Karabakh, a number of Russian and Azerbaijani publications reported the dismissal and even arrest of the First Deputy Minister of Defense of Azerbaijan and Chief of General Staff Colonel General Najmeddin Sadigov. He was charged with treason and cooperation with the Russian military intelligence service. It was additionally stated that the general opposed 'the Turkish dominance in the leadership of the Azerbaijani armed forces.'

"The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry has denied information about the arrest of the chief of the General Staff. He has not, however, appeared in public since then, and his page suddenly disappeared from the military department's official website.[2]

"General Sadigov's position has been shaky for a long time. Back in the middle of summer, a whole package of accusations was thrown into the media space of the South Caucasus countries. Sadigov was rebuked for being born in Dagestani Derbent, and for his Lezgin origin; for his poor knowledge of the Azerbaijani language, and for having relatives in Russia; and most importantly for the fact that his cousin allegedly served in the Russian army on the territory of Armenia, on the 102nd military base in Gyumri. All this serves to remind us of a serious split in the Azerbaijani army. It emerged a long time ago, and the active hostilities have intensified and exacerbated it. Turkish advisers had already gained significant influence in the Azerbaijani army. They were responsible for personnel training and rearmament, but at the beginning of the operation in Karabakh they took a dominant position. Not everyone liked that. General Sadigov is credited with having remarked at one of the meetings: 'If we give away to the Turks our army, then maybe we should give them our wives too?'

"The fault line is in part generational. The Azerbaijani army is being purged of the officers and generals who started their careers in the Soviet Union, studied at Soviet military schools, and therefore may have military friends in other post-Soviet states, including Russia and Armenia. Those who have completed an internship or training in Turkey are placed in key positions. Turkish advisers are placed above them.

"'The group headed by Major General Bahtiyar Ersay, Chief of the Operations Directorate of the Turkish Land Forces of Turkey, directly participated in planning the military campaign against Nagorno-Karabakh,' an official close to the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry told the newspaper VZGLYAD. For obvious reasons, he asked to remain anonymous. 'Ersay is stationed in Baku. After the removal of the chief of the General Staff of the Azerbaijani armed forces, Najmeddin Sadigov, he personally oversees the General Staff on the operation against Karabakh. He reports to the top military and political leadership of Turkey on the course of the operation,' the source continued.

"Lieutenant General Şeref Öngay, commander of the 3rd field army of the Turkish Land forces, located in the Erzincan region of Eastern Anatolia, also participated in the planning and implementation of the operation in Karabakh. 'He visited Azerbaijan in September and October, and before that, in the summer. Öngay and several other Turkish generals were planning the joint Turkish-Azerbaijani offensive operations,' the source adds.

"Another source in Baku, a former high-ranking diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed to VZGLYAD that generals Ersay and Öngay took part in the conflict. 'According to my information, Ersay is the military leader of the entire operation in Karabakh,' he said."

From Rebels To Guerrilla Fighters

"General Ersay is a reserved and non-public figure. To date, he has not been mentioned in the Russian media. He was barely mentioned even in the English-language media. In the Turkish press, Ersay only appears in a few articles. The most complete version of the general's story was told by Hürriyet in August 2016.[3] In 2003, when serving as an intelligence officer, Ersay took part in an attempted military plot, known as 'Operation Sledgehammer,' against Recep Erdoğan, who had just assumed the post of prime minister. Information about the coup attempt was only disclosed in 2010. Ersay was arrested and sentenced to 16 years, but was pardoned immediately after the sentence was announced. The reason for this leniency of the Turkish authorities is not clear.

Major General Bahtiyar Ersay (Source:

"According to some reports, Ersay cut a deal [with the prosecution] and agreed to testify against the other conspirators. Whatever may be the case, instead of a prison term, he was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General and was sent to the 'Kurdish front.' He was given command of the 2nd Commando Brigade that took an active part in operations against the armed PKK [Kurdistan Workers' Party] formations in northern Turkey. He killed several hundred Kurdish fighters and was considered one of the best experts in counter-guerrilla warfare.

"'All I know about them is that they are punishers. They were very cruel, including against civilians who sympathized with the PKK. They were taking no prisoners, which is par for the course for the Turkish military. There were many volunteers among the [Turkish] soldiers, including the 'Gray wolves' (ultra-nationalist Turkish movement – VZGLYAD). The brigade has a bad reputation,' Albert Barry, an activist of the Dutch radical left party Socialistisch Alternatief, who joined the PKK in the mid-2010s along with several other Europeans, tells VZGLYAD.

"According to Hürriyet, Ersay also participated in operations in Libya. In particular, he was responsible for the evacuation of Turkish citizens from that country after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi's regime. He participated in instructional seminars at the NATO Joint Warfare Center in Stavanger, Norway.[4] In August 2019, the Haber media holding reported that the Supreme Military Council of Turkey (Yüksek Askeri Şura, YAŞ) had awarded Ersay the rank of Major General.[5] Public information about Lieutenant General Şeref Öngay is very sparse. He graduated from the military academy in Ankara in 1982 and served in various units of the ground forces. In 2014 he was appointed commander of the 9th Army Corps. For a time he was the head of the infantry school in Tuzla.

"According to the VZGLYAD sources, the work of Turkish generals in Azerbaijan is supported by about 200 military advisers. While not on the front line, they are engaged in organizational and personnel work. Two dedicated satellite communication terminals have been set up for the needs of Turkish specialists, one in Baku and another at the military airport in Qabala. The Azerbaijani military are forbidden to use these terminals. The Azerbaijani military are also ordered to obey all commands and wishes of the Turkish advisers, and never to disobey or contradict them. This often causes their discontent.

"'Karabakh belongs to Azerbaijan! Write that down and be sure to publish it. I want to be understood correctly,' retired Azerbaijani Lieutenant Colonel Oleg Guliyev, who now lives in Moscow, told VZGLYAD. 'Azerbaijan must retake the whole of Karabakh. This is right and just. But we must retake Karabakh by ourselves. If we retake it while on a Turkish leash, then we will get Karabakh, but we will lose the rest of our nation.'"

The General Of Aerial Drones

Major General Göksel Kahya (source:

"Another Turkish commander who took part in leading the operation in Nagorno-Karabakh is Major General Göksel Kahya, head of the Turkish Air Force's 1st Supply and Maintenance Center. Last Sunday, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev met in Baku with Turkish Foreign and Defense Ministers Hulusi Akar and Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu. Details were not disclosed. Göksel Kahya also participated in the negotiations. There was no official mention of that, but the Telegram channel identified him from the photographs of the meeting.[6] It is noteworthy that this was already the second meeting between Kahya and Aliyev. The first one took place in August, and just the same, all participants of the meeting were mentioned by name, with the exception of Kahya. Once again he was identified from a photograph, by the Nagorno-Karabakh Observer group.[7]

"According to VZGLYAD, Kahya has been residing in Azerbaijan since July, at the very least. Before coming to Azerbaijan, last spring and summer, Göksel Kahya was coordinating the work of the Global Center for Security and Operations (GCSO) in Libya. The center's focus was to control the Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones in support of the troops of Libya's Government of National Accord (GNA) that were opposing the forces of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. The use of Bayraktar TB2 drones proved a game-changer. The GNA forces stopped Haftar's offensive, just as he was about to storm Tripoli. In certain areas of the front, they even managed to launch a counteroffensive and recaptured the coastal cities of Surman, Sabratah and Al Ajaylat. Kahya's involvement was revealed when Haftar's army captured several Turkish advisers and obtained their correspondence, along with copies of the passports of all Turkish specialists working for the GCSO. As a result of negotiations between Ankara and Haftar, the prisoners were released, but the scans of passports, including that of Göksel Kahya's, were published by Al Marsad.[8]

"Kahya's appearance in Azerbaijan, where, just like in Libya, drones were used en masse, is yet another coincidence, quite significant and hardly accidental. 'Undoubtedly, Göksel Kahya manages all Bayraktar TB2 flights in the war zone in Nagorno-Karabakh. All operational intelligence data obtained with the help of Bayraktar TB2 is reported to Kahya, and he, in turn, reports this data to Turkish President Recep Erdoğan,' concluded Denis Korkodinov, who directs the International Center for Political Analysis and Forecasting, and specializes in the Transcaucasian countries.

"Geopolitical Cyprus, a Cypriot think tank specializing in military and political research in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, recently reported, citing its own sources, that it is none other than Kahya who coordinates the use of Bayraktar TB2 in Nagorno-Karabakh."[9]

"As Far As Control Of The Military Is Concerned, The Victory Belongs To The Turkish Generals"

"The Bayraktar TB2 drones have become Azerbaijan's trump card in this military campaign. Most of the video footage showing the destruction of Armenian equipment and personnel was captured by them. The plan was Turkish, the generals were Turkish and the drones themselves were also manufactured in Turkey. It is, however, an open question as to who owns them and who controlled them.

"The point is that there have been no official reports on Azerbaijan's purchase of Bayraktar TB2. It was only this June that Baku's intention to purchase drones from Ankara was for the first time announced on Azerbaijani television by Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov. There have been no reports that the deal went through. Where did Baku get them? 'That is a very interesting question. There are two theories, of about equal weight. Either the deal was done in secret so as not to attract attention, which is an existing practice, or [there was no deal and] the drones in fact belong to the Turkish army. That said, it has to be known that it takes at least several months to train qualified drone operators. It is my belief then that in either of these options, the drone operators must have been Turkish specialists,' explains Ruslan Pukhov, the director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST). And so, Baku may celebrate a victory. But as far as control of the military is concerned, the victory belongs to the Turkish generals."


[1], November 12, 2020. The article was written by Andrey Veselov.


[3], September 18, 2016.

[4], March 22, 2019.

[5], August 1, 2019.

[6], accessed December 10, 2020.

[7], December 9, 2020.

[8], June 30, 2019.

[9], September 29, 2020.

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