Once Elchibey was elected president, a new administrative team was set up. A research fellow of the Academy of Science was appointed Secretary of State, a former Serious Fraud Office employee became Minister of Internal Affairs, a physician - Minister of Foreign Affairs, a mathematician - Minister of Defense, a pathologist - Minister of State Security, lecturer in Azerbaijan State University (now Baku State University) became Chairman of the State Customs Committee, a silk plant director - Army Corps Commander, etc.
Appointed to executive power positions both within and outside the capital were people with little or no public administration experience. That soon resulted, among other things, in a staff turmoil as appointees were complete misfits and bloated corruption proved a commonplace at different levels of the government machine.
Army-building was carried out in such difficult conditions; there were many people in volunteer militia who, apart from lacking skills and experience, would often defy orders and violate discipline.
It was in the first days in power that the new government mounted an offensive in Karabakh. The stronghold of Gulustan and several villages in Goranboy District were retaken from Armenian control without significant losses. Not long after, Azerbaijani army marched through Agdere District, liberated from Armenian militants.
Early in August 1992, Azerbaijani detachments were already in Vank village, 12 km north of Khankendi. Both Karabakh and Armenia were disheartened, with rallies starting in Yerevan (Irevan) to oust President Levon Ter-Petrosyan.
These military successes, however, were not backed by any action on the diplomatic arena; Azerbaijani parliament declined to ratify the CIS Accession Agreement, signed back in December 1991 by President Mutallibov in Almaty. Azerbaijan thereby was stripped of full-fledged participation and right to vote in the interstate entity that addressed issues of critical importance for the fledgling republic.
Once the parliament issued the ruling, no representatives from Azerbaijan could attend the meetings of heads of CIS member countries. Each time such meeting took place in Moscow, Hikmet Hajizadeh, Azerbaijan's Ambassador to Russia, attended as an observer and watched helplessly as the Republic of Armenia was taking CIS-wide actions against Azerbaijan.
Armenian side eventually managed to procure military assistance and prepare for counter-offensive. The next political blow came from the United States, with US Congress adopting the absurd Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act (photo insert), which read as follows: "United States assistance under this or any other Act... may not be provided to the Government of Azerbaijan until the President determines, and so reports to the Congress, that the Government of Azerbaijan is taking demonstrable steps to cease all blockades and other offensive uses of force against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh."
It was not long until the government faced a new opposition in the person of the Azerbaijan National Independence Party (ANIP). Once brothers-in-arms who had jointly worked to oust Mutallibov, they became sworn enemies.
This confrontation transpired in parliamentary session that were still broadcasted on TV. MP Etibar Mammadov and his faction, unhappy with governmental policy, used each opportunity to criticize even the tiniest mistakes made by president or the government in internal or foreign policy.
Once the government raised prices for bread and other food, they were flooded with negative criticism by leaders and pet media of the new opposition. The latter did not concern themselves with such details as supply and demand, budget, self-financing, wartime hardship, etc. The government therefore learned the hard way what it was to get pressured by opposition and subjected to its presumptuous criticism; in their time, "frontists" had employed the same approach against Mutallibov's government.
Meanwhile, Armenian army launched an offensive in November 1992; it drove Azerbaijani troops out of Agdere District by early 1993 and started preparations to capture Kalbajar.
It became obvious that neither the army nor the minister were capable of leading the war effort. Rahim Gaziyev's bold statements could no longer move anyone, and he resigned in February 1993.
Elchibey then summoned to Baku his representative in Karabakh, Surat Huseynov. After a personal meeting with President, Huseynov was discharged from all positions of authority and restored to the office of Manager in Yevlakh Textile Factory.
Huseynov reacted by recalling his 709th
brigade from the front back to Ganja base, refusing to disband it.
Elchibey thereafter dismissed Prime Minister Rahim Huseynov and replaced him with Panah Huseynov, who was assisted in his duties by Vice-Premier Rasul Guliyev, former manager of a refinery.
Taking place against the backdrop of aggravated battle situation, these power changes, as the subsequent events clearly showed, were unable to change anything at all.
On 27 March 1993, Armenian forces launched an offensive on Kalbajar District. Azerbaijani troops were unable to repel this assault, as they lacked good coordination, robust communication, and mutual support, whereas the opponent was successful in suppressing localized islands of defense.
Armenian artillery was shelling Azerbaijani positions from both mountain part of Karabakh and Armenia. Civilians were fleeing in panic; they could only escape through the Murov Pass or by helicopters.
Armenians announced the successful completion of Kalbajar District capture operation on 2 April 1993, followed by the resignation of scandalous Azerbaijan's Minister of Internal Affairs Isgandar Hamidov.
The occupation of Kalbajar dealt a heavy blow to the Popular Front's regime.
President Elchibey introduced a two-month state of emergency in the country in order to overcome the consequences of the heaviest military defeat. Although unable to change anything anymore, staff transfers rolled through the government again.
The occupation of a district outside Nagorno-Karabakh still caused a backlash from the international community.
The UN Security Council adopted on 30 April 1993 the first resolution (No. 822) on the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Apart from the call on the both sides to put an end to hostilities, it contained a special appeal to Armenia, demanding it "immediately withdraw occupation forces" from Kalbajar.
The loss of Kalbajar was a harbinger of bloodshed in Ganja, where Elchibey's ex-representative on Karabakh affairs Surat Huseynov, who had returned to the 709th
brigade he controlled, fomented a mutiny to depose the PFA-Musavat government.
The government led on 4 June Operation Typhoon to suppress the mutiny, during which Huseynov's brigade was attacked by the governmental forces. Its barracks were shelled by artillery, and armored vehicles were deployed. Internal security troops and presidential guard units assembled in vicinity of Ganja.
But they never saw it coming; not only did Surat Huseynov repel the attack, but he also seized Prosecutor-General, who went to Ganja with an arrest warrant, as well as Minister of National Security and some other high officials. All but complacent, he made preparations and planned to move out towards Baku.
Journalist Thomas Golz, who was at that time in Ganja, found out why Huseynov acted so boldly; he was a successful heir to the entire bulk of weaponry left by the Russian 104th
airborne division that had left Ganja ten days back. Authorities fallen into disarray, Huseynov launched an unobstructed "march" on the capital of Azerbaijan