Decades of bitter rivalry between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh have exploded into all-out war. But what drives the feelings of ordinary Azerbaijanis towards the conflict? Journalism trainer Dan Mason has worked extensively in Azerbaijan and gives this personal view.

A young boy walks past buildings destroyed in a rocket attack on Ganja, Azerbaijan’s second city. Image: Orkhan Rahmanli
A young boy walks past buildings destroyed in a rocket attack on Ganja, Azerbaijan’s second city. Image: Orkhan Rahmanli
A young boy carries belongings past buildings destroyed in a rocket attack on Ganja, killing civilians many miles from the front line. Image: Orkhan Rahmanli

The steel thread that unites every Azerbaijani

The first time I saw the cluster of grey towers in the far distance, I thought it might be an old Soviet factory complex. But as our car drew closer I saw apartment blocks, built miles from anywhere on a featureless plain. A few children played with a ball among scattered parked cars. Washing fluttered from concrete balconies. …

Dan Mason

International journalism trainer and media project manager

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