Russia, guarding the de facto situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, has the power to cease hostile sides, but may not have counted on the intervention of its regional rival, Turkey. And the South Caucasus region could thus easily degenerate into a proxy war (arena) on the sacrificial altar of the geopolitical aspirations of regional powers.
It’s worth starting with a very quick historical overview. Nagorno-Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan was still established in the Stalinist Soviet Union on the territory of Azerbaijan. According to some historians, Stalin instructed the creation of the then-predominantly Armenian territory in Azerbaijan in order to reassure Turkey with this gesture and entice it towards communism. According to the majority, this was only part of the Soviet dictator’s “divide and rule” strategy to persuade Armenians to cooperate with the Soviet Union. Whatever his intentions, he became an Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan, proclaiming his independence and intention to unite with Armenia as the Soviet Union weakened. However, the move was rejected by Azerbaijan: as a result, a six-year bloodbath began. The war claimed some 30,000 lives and hundreds of thousands of refugees. In many cases, the warring parties committed atrocities equivalent to genocide against each other’s populations.
The war was halted by a ceasefire mediated by Russia, which supports Armenians, but the ceasefire can also be seen as an Armenian triumph. Remains of Nagorno-Karabakh as a breakaway enclave within the internationally recognized borders of Azerbaijan, and Armenian soldiers forgot to withdraw from the surrounding areas, so they were able to say goodbye to seven other regions of Baku. It has lost fifteen percent of its territory to Azerbaijan. From the Azeri point of view, Armenians are occupying part of their country.
Several observers took the position in the early days of the conflict that there would be another gunfire of a few days. Both countries have been hit by the coronavirus epidemic, the economy has slowed, and people’s dissatisfaction has peaked. The second wave of the epidemic has barely reached the world.
Stirring the stagnant water of Nagorno-Karabakh proves to be a great opportunity to whip up nationalist sentiments while diverting attention from real problems. The armed forces clash over some uninhabited area, everyone shows that they then don’t give in to the other, and then Yerevan and Baku reap the PR laurel leaves. Ilham AliyevIn the case of the Azerbaijani President, it was almost necessary to set the mood for the war, because in addition to the weakening economy due to the fall in oil prices and people’s growing dissatisfaction with their authoritarian rule, protesters stormed the Baku parliament after the July clashes. .
But in the early days of the conflict, military equipment had already been deployed (and fired), not fired from trenches into nothingness.
The Armenians launched an artillery attack on the second largest city in Azerbaijan, the Ganja, while the Azeris bombed the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh, Stepanker, with drones, among others. Opposing parties have lined up their means of killing and, for the time being, are measuring blows against each other in a limited way but already “involving” the civilian population.
Most recently, a few days of war broke out between Armenians and Azeris in 2016, but fighting was limited to the line of disputed territories. No state of war was ordered and Stepanker was not bombed. In July this year, the situation became hot again, which analysts said was the headwind of the current fighting. By then, clashes were already taking place on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, and although the conflict ended with a ceasefire again, the situation turned to a resting place rather than urging a solution.
The so-called “Karabakh pendulum” did not swing back in the direction of diplomacy and negotiation as before, but stuck there on the side of the war. There was a failure: the international community did not put the opposing parties at the negotiating table, so the clashes in July became the main test of the current fighting. Baku and Yerevan avoided negotiations citing the crown virus, although leaders of the two countries were able to meet other foreign dignitaries.
Perhaps the international community, after almost thirty years of fruitless negotiations, has not taken the caucasus of its Caucasus neighbors seriously, as there is Russia, which has influence over both countries and makes sure that the situation does not deteriorate because it has an interest in the de facto situation. But they did not take into account Turkey and its geopolitical aspirations.
After the summer clashes, Turkey and Azerbaijan began joint military exercises. Last year, Ankara sold a number of military equipment to Azerbaijan, considered a brother nation. At this year’s session of the UN General Assembly
Following the fighting in July, the then Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, who was considered an optimistic diplomat, resigned. He trusted that Prime Minister Nikol Pasinyan, who would come to power in the wake of the Armenian Velvet Revolution, would be open to settling the fate of Nagorno-Karabakh through diplomacy. He had to be disappointed, as Pasinyan proved to be harder than he thought. The Armenian Prime Minister demanded that the Nagorno-Karabakh separatists be represented in the negotiations.
Not to mention that he stated: