Home World News Armenia vs Azerbaijan Over Nagorno-Karabakh: An ‘Obscure Conflict’ Returns

Armenia vs Azerbaijan Over Nagorno-Karabakh: An ‘Obscure Conflict’ Returns

Screen grab of military action from Armenian Defence Ministry video. September 27, 2020

NEW DELHI: As conflicts go, the latest round of bloodletting between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave has underscored the region’s deep ethnic fissures and rivalries. It’s not clear which side started the fighting, but some facts are indisputable.

Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but is dominated by Armenian Christians who want nothing to do with Azerbaijan. Neighbouring Armenia sees a need to intervene to help its ethnic compatriots, and there may be some truth in the Azeri claim that Armenian troops have infiltrated through their territory to bolster Nagorno-Karabakh’s defences.

Both Armenia and Azerbaijan have declared martial law and ordered mobilisation of troops. Armenia claims to have knocked out three Azeri tanks, three UAVs and two helicopters, while its allies in the enclave say they have lost some positions to the attacking Azeri military.

Screen grab from Azerbaijan Defence Ministry video claiming destroyed and abandoned Armenian combat vehicles. September 27, 2020

Armenian President Dr Armen Sarkissian (interviewed by StratNews Global Editor-in-Chief Nitin Gokhale in May 2020) accused Azerbaijan of “unprovoked military aggression regardless of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk group co-chairs’ continuous efforts for a peaceful settlement.” The Minsk group, with diplomats from the U.S., France and Russia is trying to mediate and build on a 1994 ceasefire.

Armenian President Dr Armen Sarkissian. Photo: Presidential Office

Inevitably, other neighbours have jumped into the fray, notably Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who while voicing support for Azerbaijan, accused Armenia of being “the biggest threat to peace and security in the region.”

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That has inflamed passions even further. The Armenians have long demanded that Turkey apologise for the genocide of Armenian Christians in the fading days of the Ottoman Empire. More than 1 million were expelled from Turkey over a nine-year period beginning in 1914 accompanied by reports of mass murder. Turkey has denied any wrongdoing and rejected calls for apology.

Azerbaijan and NATO member Turkey signed an Agreement on a Strategic Partnership and Mutual support in 2010 under which both agree to support each other “using all possibilities” in the case of military aggression against either. Armenia and Russia, with a base and 5,000 troops permanently stationed in the country, are allies under the 1992 Tashkent Collective Security Treaty.

If the conflict continues, there are worries on the impact it could have on Europe’s oil supplies. According to data from Turkey’s Petroleum Pipeline Corporation (BOTAŞ), a pipeline link from Baku to Ceyhan, on Turkey’s eastern Mediterranean coast, carries 1 billion barrels of oil per day, with most of it going to Europe and some to Israel. All of the 9 billion cubic meters of gas moving westward from Azerbaijan goes to the Turkish market.

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev makes a televised speech. September 27, 2020. Photo: Presidential Office

The latest round of fighting is reminiscent of the period from 1988 to 1994 when Nagorno-Karabakh and adjoining Nakhichevan sought to break away from Azerbaijan. The fighting ended only after Russia intervened. There was another round of fighting in 2016, which also sputtered out.

President Putin has spoken to the Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and is expected to do the same with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev. But positions appear to have hardened on all sides and any ceasefire could only be temporary until a permanent solution is reached.

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The 'Eye' of the story not the 'I' of the story. That's Amitabh Pashupati Revi's credo from the beginning of his professional journey in 1995. From conflicts in the war zones of Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq to nuances of international politics in the Maldives,Thailand, and South Sudan, Amitabh has reported from all the world's continents, except for Antarctica(so far). Though, he has documented the world's third pole, the Siachen Glacier!
Amitabh reports and produces documentaries on the two-front China-Pakistan threat to India. His ground reports from Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh have received viewership in the hundreds of thousands. Amitabh has interviewed world leaders, top global analysts, and experts in India, Russia, the United States, and Australia as well. Along the way, he’s picked up the Russian language, the Ramnath Goenka Award for his reporting on the 'Islamic State' terrorist group in Iraq, the Khaled Alkhateb Award for his reporting from Palmyra, Syria, and the UN Dag Hammarskjöld Distinguished Journalist Fellowship. Last but not least, as a founder member of StratNews Global, Amitabh helps lead the reporting, editorial, production, and administration teams at StratNews Global, BharatShakti, and InterStellar on their journey ahead.