Azerbaijan, officially the Republic of Azerbaijan, is the largest country in the Caucasus region, located at the cross roads Eastern Europe and Western Asia. It is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the north-west, Armenia to the west, and Iran to the south. The exclave of Nakhchivan is bounded by Armenia, Iran and Turkey. The name Azer is a Persian word means fire, and Baijan means guardian.
Azerbaijan formely Azerbaidzhan Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) - was incorporated into the tsarist empire from Persia in the nineteenth century. While most muslims of the former USSR belong to the Sunni branch of Islam, the Azerbaijanis are are primarily Shias and enjoy close cultural and historical ties with both Turkey and Iran. The Azeri languaage is a dialect of Turkish, and 9 million Azerbaijanis lives across the border of Iran. Under the leadership of Musavat party, Azerbaijan experienced a brief period of Independencefrom 1918 to 1920, but was occuppied by the red army and eventually incorporated into the USSR.The failure of the Soviet Government to establish order in the territory became a focal point for protest by the Azebaijani Popular Front in the fall of 1989. In Dec 1989 the Popular Front led an uprising against Soviet Power that was brutally crushed, with hundreds killed and martial law imposed.
Under these conditions, The Azerbaijani Communist Party dominated elections in Sept 1990to the 350 seat of the Azerjaidzhani Supreme Soviet, the popular front winning only 40 seats. Accusations of electoral fraud was rampant. President Ayaz Mutalibov, who was simultaneously first secretary of the Azerbaidzhani Communist Party, pursued a conservative national -communist line defending the sovereignty of the republic while suppressing opposition. He supported the Coup d'etat against Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in Aug 1991, once the coup failed, Mutalibov declared his republic independent and transformed the communist party into the Democratic Party of Azerbaijan.In March 1992, Mutalibov was forced to resign as a result of Azerbaijani military setbacks in Nagorno-Karaback.