“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” Edmund Burke
BY Z. S. ANDREW DEMIRDJIAN
In the dawn of a new year in the age of advanced human civilization, the people of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) are facing a doomsday, a time of existential crisis or great danger accompanied by anxiety and stress. Life-threatening, evil events are happening so often and to such a degree that they disturb one’s normal functioning in everyday life and lead to a lack of faith in the milk of human kindness. This feeling of isolation stems primarily from the silence of the international community when Azerbaijan is engaged in a brutal course of torturing the people of Artsakh into submission. Against the backdrop of increasing the pressure on the people of Artsakh to capitulate, President Ilham Aliyev has been resorting to many treacherous and illegal weapons, such as weaponizing siege starvation, weaponizing winter, weaponizing food, weaponizing the silence of the international community, and other non-conventional weapons. In this article, we shall attempt to demonstrate that President Ilham Aliyev has no longer been behaving as an ordinary dictator, but far worse than that. The day of his coronation has come. Let us get ready for the special pomp and circumstance. Since early December 2022, Azerbaijani Special Forces have been reportedly blockading the Lachin (Berdzor) Corridor, the only link of Artsakh with the outside world. This illegal blockade deprives the people from getting any help from other countries. Such a cruel measure is taken by Aliyev in order to subdue the people of Artsakh who have declared independence on the democratic principle of selfdetermination for nearly 30 years. President Aliyev has been the hereditary dictator of Azerbaijan for over 20 years. Since the end of the 44-Day War between Artsakh and Azerbaijan, Aliyev has been attacking Armenia proper as well as Artsakh, emboldened mainly by the silence of Russia and the indifference of the international community to voice their strong objections and sanctions. The following groups and individuals have been silent while Aliyev is terrorizing the Armenians of Artsakh: OSCE Minsk Group; European Union: President Joe Biden; President Vladimir Putin (Russia either plays neutrality or sides with Azerbaijan); other Western nations; and human rights organizations. So far none has laid meaningful sanctions on Azerbaijan, but for Ukraine all cried a river on its fate, sanctioned Russia, and helped Ukraine substantially in every way to fight Russia. Aliyev seeks to continue with war now that he has a full arsenal of modern weapons and the military ally of Turkey with the second largest army in NATO. The silence of the international community has promoted Aliyev from being a dictator to becoming a different political monster –a tyrant. Let us explain this metamorphosis by discussing as to what makes a leader a dictator or a tyrant and how each one behaves towards his or her citizens. Here is a portrait of a man drawn in blood. President lham Aliyev, son of the former president, Heydar, was elected the 4th and current president on October 31, 2003 after his father’s resignation due to his deteriorating health and eventually died several months later. For 20 years, Mr. Aliyev ruled Azerbaijan with an iron feast, which made him a hereditary dictator according to many scholars who followed the events in Azerbaijan. In the aftermath of the 44-Day War in 2020 with Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh), he has been going through a metamorphosis and emerging out of his dictatorial cocoon to become something else on account of his inhumane treatment of the people of Artsakh. On September 13-14, 2022, Aliyev attacked Armenia proper –again unprovoked. At least 204 Armenian servicemen were killed or went missing, according to a report by PM Nikol Pashinyan. Mass execution of Armenian POWs was circulated on the social media. Thus, Aliyev allowed his soldiers to rape and mutilate female Armenian POWs beyond the limits of barbarianism. He also occupied 125 square kilometers of Armenian sovereign territory into the bargain. In not too distant past, he condoned the cruelty of beheading Armenian captive soldiers alive whether in battle or in cold blood. For example, one of his officers axed an Armenian lieutenant to pieces in his sleep. Aliyev considered that action to be bravery. As a result, he dished out medals, promotions, and monetary rewards to those who committed crimes against Armenians and humanity. Is Aliyev a run of the mill dictator or a tyrant? Don’t these atrocities attest to his character as an evil tyrant? You be the judge. Let us explore. Early in December of 2022, he sent a group of military personnel disguised as environmentalists to blockade the Lachin (Berdzor) Corridor, which is currently the only link of the beleaguered people of Artsakh with the outside world. In other words, the people of Artsakh are cut off from getting the essentials of life such as food, medicine, and other items from abroad. If the measures taken by President Ilham Aliyev are utterly cruel and inhumane, then he has deteriorated from being a dictator to a tyrant. The change is due to the silence of the international community when he is abusing the people of Artakh and nobody seems to do anything to stop the ill-treatment of noncombat men, women, and children. So, I wanted to know as to what is the difference in real meaning between a dictator and a tyrant? As a result, I embarked on a journey of discovery and would like to share it with you. A dictator is the head of an authoritarian government which is run according to his or her will. This kind of power is hereditary or acquired without the consent of the people and is aided by a bunch of loyalists. Under the rule of dictatorship, all political power is monopolized by the dictator and the governance of his office, namely judiciary, administration, and legislature, are controlled by him or her and normally run by a coterie of family members, friends and advisors. Adolf Hitler of Germany, Aga Khan of Pakistan, Idi Amin of Uganda, Fidel Castro of Cuba, and Benito Mussolini of Italy are examples of world in-famous dictators. A tyrant, on the other hand, is the head of an authoritarian government which is run according to the will of one man or woman who possesses very oppressive and ruthless character. The head of the government often looks after his or her own interest at the expense of his subjects. Under tyranny, the administration, judiciary, and legislature are controlled by people hand-picked by the tyrant. History tells us that many monarchs in the past had become tyrants due to greed and oppressive character and the subjects being isolated in an environment of silence. The tyrant rules his or her subjects through the weapons of fear, intimidation, and torture just like how President Aliyev has been treating the Armenians. Tyranny is supposedly the worst form of governance, where the ruler is corrupted to the fullest. Like Aliyev, all tyrants are filthy rich through dubious ways imaginable. In-famous examples of tyrants are Pol Pot of Cambodia, Genghis Khan of Mongolia, Pinochet of Chile, Sadam Hussein of Iraq, etc. It should be noted that both dictator and tyrant were once positive titles given to leaders of the ancient world. In Ancient Greece, rulers of city states traditionally held the title “tyrant”, and the Greeks never had any negativity toward the word. However, in Athens, before democracy was introduced, the last tyrant Hippias (570 B.C.-490 B.C.) was particularly unfair in using his power and the title (the word tyrant) got a bad name, especially when Plato and his followers later treated “tyrant” as a negative term in their political discourses. As for the term “dictator” used in Republican Rome, it was reserved to a senate appointed, a constitutional incumbent who held absolute power in matters of governing the country as well as in carrying out his military duties. Titus Flavus (501- 493 B.C.) was the first dictator and Augustus Caesar (63 B.C.-14 A.D.) was the last dictator of Republican Rome. When Augustus killed his dictator-grandfather and thus this act by him gave a bad name to the term “dictator”. In modern times, the two nouns dictator and tyrant have very similar negative meanings. In today’s context, they are unfortunately often being misused interchangeably. However, it is critical to understand the key difference of the words in order to appreciate the essence of the difference between dictator and tyrant. Dictator refers to a ruler with total power over a country, while a tyrant refers to a cruel and oppressive ruler. A dictator is not necessarily a cruel and oppressive ruler. However, most dictators tend to be tyrants. This is the key difference between a dictator and a tyrant. Additionally, it should be noted that a tyrant essentially is a dictator who, after gaining power, becomes a tyrant. The difference between a dictator and a tyrant is, therefore, determined by the length of tenure and degree of misuse of power. A dictator assumes power without the consent of the people. This is done either through an armed ouster of the ruler or through heredity as was the case of President Ilham Aliyev. He or she might be a good leader and may bring some prosperity for the subjects. However, as the dictator stays in power for a long period of time, such as President Aliyev has been too long in power; he or she may become a tyrant treating the citizens according to his whims. When a dictator finds himself in an environment where no one dares to hold him or her responsible for his evil, inhumane actions, the dictator slowly, but surely becomes a tyrant. Silence is making President Aliyev get away with murder. The people’s silence is a tyrant’s greatest advocate. In a subtle way, silence is advocating aggression against the Armenians. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “We will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” When people break their silence, the tyrant begins to shape up if he or she wants to maintain power. However, silence of the international community lionizes a dictator into a tyrant. Such a change happens for silence implies consent, which communicates roughly that people like Aliyev tends to assume lack of clear response to an action, such as laying a siege on the people of Artsakh, is a tacit approval of that action. As a result of silence, Aliyev gets away with murder because a tyrant exploits silence and knows the following maxim quite well: “Qui tacet consentiret (the maxim of the law means “Silence gives consent” (Sir Thomas More 1478-1535, in A Man for All Seasons). The international community, especially Armenia’s “loyal” friend and “ally,” President Vladimir Putin, should know that in matters of politics, silence implies consent. If Putin disagrees with Aliyev’s attempt to exert power, he has to speak up. If he does not, he has no one to blame for the tragic results but himself. Matter of fact, President Aliyev is no longer a dictator. He has graduated to becoming a tyrant, who rules his subjects through the weapons of fear and torture. If we consider fear and torture to be cruel and oppressive measures used upon innocent people, then President Aliyev should be stamped as a tyrant. A tyrant by definition is a demon. With this kind of a cruel character, it would be difficult to maintain a stable peace. He would continue to abuse and plunder until he gets all he wants. Patriotic Armenian military officers should know that the only way to intimidate a cruel and an oppressive tyrant is by possessing an equal or greater power to strike back. Breaking silence will also be the greatest weapon against President Aliyev’s cruelty and oppression directed at the fully democratic Republic of NagornoKarabakh. We encourage the members of the international community with moral clarity to let us hear their voice against tyrannous government leaders. In view of President Ilham Aliyev’s of condoning of cruel and barbaric treatment of the Armenian soldiers and civilians, on account of torturing the people of Artsakh either to flee their homeland or stay and starve, President Ilham Aliyev has earned the stain and stigma of being a cruel character. I personally would crown Aliyev as the cruelest tyrant of the 21st century. I have no reservations to give him the well-deserved title: Tyrant –so should you and the rest of the democracy loving world!