A ceasefire agreed by Armenia and Azerbaijan last weekend appears fragile over the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Nagorno Karabakh, one of the post-Soviet conflict zone has escalated again. Like other post-Soviet disputes, this conflict has the presence of regional powers, failed territorial settlements, ethno-religious rivalry and economic crisis as well. Trans-Caucasus region has been contested among Iran, Turkey and Russia for a long time. After the first World War, short lived Trans-Caucasian Republic collapsed due to infighting and Soviet aggression. Armenian dominated Karabakh region remained as an autonomous oblast in Azerbaijan SSR. During the fall of the Soviet Union, Autonomous Nagorno Karabakh assembly declared Independence inciting a six year long war till 1994. Armenians kept 20% of Azeri territories occupied under Artsakh Republic. Since then, the Nagorno-Karabakh Line of Contact has remained a frozen conflict which occasionally keeps on erupting. In 2014, both parties got some damage with Armenians having the upper hand. In 2016, Azeris managed to reclaim some territories.
Up to a million people were displaced by the war in the early 1990s. Getty images
In 2018, election of Centrist Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan brought some hope of peace. He even showed willingness to communicate Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, son of Heydar Aliyev whose leadership neutralised Armenian threats over infighting Azeri Zones. But situation changed when nationalists won unrecognised Artsakh election in March 2020. Fighting broke out in July. United Nations General Assembly witnessed heated exchange between Armenians and Azeris. Conflict escalated the very next day.
“Azerbaijani claims on recaptured territories from Artshakh, as per Azeri Diplomat Ali Alizada”
This conflict has seen bizarre situation regarding alliances. Russia is the main arm supplier of Armenians, wheras Israel supplies to the Azeris. Pakistan who does not recognise Israel, does not recognise Armenia too for its occupation of Azeri lands. Turkey supports Azerbaijan as another Turkic Nation. Armenia enjoyed support of Shia Iran against another Shia Majority Azerbaijan. But this time overwhelming support of Azeris in North Western Iran worked on Iran to remain neutral. Russia too declared the conflict is going on Azeri territory, condemned Turkey for inciting Azeris by France, Cyprus(Southern) and Greece, contestant in Eastern Mediterranean.
Russia took proactive measure to the ceasefire. Neither Russia nor Iran, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan could afford conflict to continue after US Presidential Election is over as US intervention is not a suitable option for them. After Azeri success over Russian made Armenian weapons, Israeli Arms Industry could find a bigger market in Georgia and Ukraine. Both of these countries are militarily threatened by Russia. Turkey may celebrate avenging Russia and Iran over defeat in Idlib in last winter.
The big question still remains, how long Karabakh issue can be kept unresolved.
Featured photo- Ganja, Azerbaijan after a huge explosion: Civilians are suffering on both sides. Getty images