By Svante E. Cornell
Azerbaijan, a small post-Soviet republic situated at the western shore of the Caspian Sea, has oversized significance becaus of its strategic position on the corssroads of Europe and Asia, its oil assets, and
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Extra resources for Azerbaijan Since Independence
This decline would last until the early 1990s, with the renewal of international investment and participation in the oil industry. The oil boom had immense implications for Azerbaijan, and specifically for Baku. As always, Swietochowski‘s observations are to the point: The overall result of the ―oil revolution‖ was a dichotomy not uncommon in a colonial situation: a generally traditional but lopsided economy, with a single rapidly growing industry based on mineral resources rather than on manufacturing, geared to external markets, owned largely by foreign investors, and operated by nonnative skilled labor.
73 Of course, nothing of the sort happened. While Shaumian‘s armies advanced at first, the four-day Battle of Gökçay ended their progress, and opened the road to the fall of the Baku Commune. The twenty-six commissars escaped by ship to present-day Turkmenistan, where they would meet their death, executed in the desert by the local government, which was led by the Social Revolutionaries. In their place, the Social Revolutionaries created the Central Caspian Dictatorship in August 1918 with the support of the British army, which was eyeing the Caucasus from its base at the Iranian Caspian port of Enzeli.
Azerbaijani intellectuals, especially the subsequent leader of the Musavat party Mämmädemin Räsulzadä, played a leading role among left-wing intellectuals in the period that followed. As for Turkey, the 1908 coup by the Committee for Union and Progress (CUP; Ittihad ve Terakki Cemiyeti) was more decisive than developments in Iran, as it rapidly changed the political climate in the Ottoman Empire. Most important, whereas nationalism of any type, including Turkish, had been repressed under the Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamit II, the Young Turk movement that now dominated Turkey‘s political landscape encouraged Pan-Turkism.