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Azerbaijan at the Crossroads of Eurasia

The Tumultuous Fate of a Nation Caught Up Between the Rivalries of the World’s Major Powers

Fazil Zeynalov

Modern Azerbaijan came into being in 1991 following a national struggle for the re-establishment of its independence, initiated long before the collapse of the Soviet Union. It is situated in a unique geographic location, at the crossroads of Eurasia and on the famous Silk Road that links Europe and Asia. It has been the stage of particularly rich historical events, testament to its ancient State traditions, the wealth of its cities, the violence of the imperial invasions. Today this secular country, facing war with Armenia, is central to the geopolitical stakes in the region, whether in terms of the international strategies of major powers or the geo-economic considerations of oil and gas exports to Europe. It has put in place a multi-faceted foreign policy and initiated political and economic reforms as it moves towards a better future.

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Chapter VI – The domination of the Mongols

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Chapter VIThe domination of the Mongols

The emergence of mongol power fundamentally changed the stakes. The year 1206 marked the beginning of a long and tumultuous period in which a powerful Mongol State emerged under the leadership of Temujin, later known as Genghis Khan (1206–1227).1 Convinced that it was necessary to establish universal peace under the leadership of a single emperor, he set about conquering vast territories, an endeavour that was later pursued by his successors.2 The new political formation, comprising several tribes, was a machine of warfare whose military power had enabled the creation of a vast land empire never before seen. Azerbaijan, which was of particular interest due to its natural climatic conditions and strategic geographic location, formed part of this empire for an extended period.

6.1. The invasion of Azerbaijan and the creation of the Ilkhanate

With an ambition that probably had the entire world in his sight, Genghis Khan quickly turned towards the Middle East and the Caucasus. His army’s first expedition was more of a reconnaissance mission for future conquests with a view to gathering strategic information, particularly on the coastal areas of the Caspian Sea in the Caucasus.3 The Mongol military units, which were well-equipped and well-organised under the leadership of their two finest commanders-in-chief, Jaba and Subutai, managed to exploit the discord between the local feudalists and the weakened position of various States to secure decisive military victories. They penetrated the territories of Azerbaijan in...

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