Sabre-rattling between Azerbaijan and Armenia: Historical preview, Causes, Regional power politics, Regional and International consequences and way forward


Wajahat Abro

Introduction:Nagorno-Karabakh has been a disputed territory between Armenia and Azerbaijan since the collapse of Soviet Union. The conflict may be reflected as Kashmir issue between Pakistan and India which has been a bone of contention since their inceptions. However, Islamabad and New Delhi have fought four devouring wars while Baku and Yerevan have stood face to face militarily twice. Both the conflicting parties have also faced similar border skirmishes. But amid global pandemic situation where COVID-19 has already led the world to turmoil and destruction, the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh has intensified regional and global peace to chaos. A devouring, decades-long, conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh erupted in late September into the worst fighting the area had ever seen since a vicious ethnic war in the 1990s. Skirmishes have been common for years along the front lines of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is internationally recognized as a part of Azerbaijan but is home to ethnic Armenians. This time the conflict is quite different, as perceived by analysts and former diplomats, because Turkey has offered overtly support to Azerbaijan. Both sides have been using drones and powerful, long-range rocket artillery. Turkey’s direct engagement in support of its ethnic Turkic ally, Azerbaijan, under Russian influence, rekindles the conflict which turns from the local dispute into a regional one. This conflict of interest led both the rivals to the nuclear standoff.

Historical background of the conflict:

Nagorno-Karabakh was acquired by Russia in 1813, and in 1923 the Soviet government established it as an Armenian-majority autonomous oblast of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic Detached from the Armenian S.S.R. to the west by the Karabakh Range, Nagorno-Karabakh thus became a minority enclave within Azerbaijan. But the tensions go back further, to at least World War I, during the fall of the Ottoman Empire, when Armenians were slaughtered and expelled from Turkey in what many now consider a genocide. That history, Armenians say, justifies their military defense of their ethnic enclave. The 1994 cease-fire, always meant to be temporary, left about 600,000 Azerbaijanis — who had fled Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding districts captured by the Armenians — stranded away from their homes. It also left Nagorno-Karabakh vulnerable to attack by Azerbaijan, which vowed to recapture the area. Ethnic antagonisms between Armenians and Azerbaijanis grew inflamed over the issue, and, when Armenia and Azerbaijan gained their independence from the collapsing Soviet Union in 1991, Armenians and Azerbaijanis in the enclave went to war. During the early 1990s the Karabakh Armenian forces, supported by Armenia, gained control of much of southwestern Azerbaijan, including Nagorno-Karabakh and territory connecting the enclave with Armenia. A series of negotiations followed—guided by Russia and a committee informally known as the “Minsk Group” (named for an envisioned peace conference in Minsk, Belarus, that was not realized)—that failed to reach a I’m lasting resolution but did manage to yield a cease-fire agreement in 1994, which, though periodically violated, has largely held. Major causes of the conflict: The Nagorno-Karabakh struggle is an issue of power. The issue is one of the greatest uncertain issues of the Soviet period. Following the breakdown of the Soviet Union and revelation of new states, Armenia promptly involved Azerbaijani grounds until the two nations had to arrive at a truce in 1994. From that point forward, 20% of Azerbaijan’s domains stay under Armenian occupation. Numerous global masterminds guarantee that precise financial victimization Karabakh Armenians in the Azerbaijan SSR is one of the primary driver of the craving for an exchange of sway to the association republic of Armenia. The war prompted the solidifying of commonly threatening gathering personalities in the two social orders. Flight and removal brought about the almost complete regional isolation of the two people groups. The nonattendance of social and monetary contacts since the episode of the war has prompted each side saving a misshaped, scornful picture of the other.

The involvement of regional powers:

The conflict, which has been shifted from a Euro-Atlantic to a regional, is analyzed a controversial one where Russia and Turkey do not want any western hegemony in their ground. The devastating war between Armenia and Azerbaijan is still reeling under the fatal consequences which will definitely lead both the countries into chaos, anarchy and destruction. The peace process in Nagorno-Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan has been months in the process. In this connection, Ankara expanded its manner of speaking against Armenia in August, on the centennial of the Treaty of Sevres, and in the wake of Turkish-Azerbaijani joint activities in late July and early August. Along these lines, reports of expanded Turkish military help and the exchange of military gear to Azerbaijan started to circle. The examination of Russia and Turkey’s legitimate responses to the heightening gives eyewitnesses a feeling of how the most recent vicious defrost may be a preface to a move in the structure of the contention – from an Euro-Atlantic undertaking to a regional one. In that move, Turkey’s unequivocal help for, and military presence in, Azerbaijan has been met with a moderately latent response from Russia, showed as an approach the two sides to limit from heightening the war – a place that puts the observation that Russia is Armenia’s key partner in question. Numerous outcasts are taking the view that the defrosting of the solidified clash in Nagorno-Karabakh is another part in the well established intermediary battle among Moscow and Ankara in the Caucasus. However, upon closer assessment, apparently the two sides are utilizing this restored struggle to cooperate to apply impact in the area while barring Western forces. Why do Russia and Turkey involve in the conflict?: In such a situation, Russia would use its different switches against both Armenia and Azerbaijan to guarantee they acknowledge a Russian-forced truce with a high likelihood of Russian peacekeepers being conveyed on the line of contact. Maybe the initial move towards this objective is Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s declaration (four days after the battling began) that Moscow is prepared to have both Armenia and Azerbaijan to examine the conceivable settlement of the contention “freely just as inside OSCE Minsk group”. From Turkey’s point of view, Ankara’s “ruins” from the ongoing clash and the conceivable Russian one-sided/territorial tact to determine the contention can be two-crease: a case of military and strategic triumph by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and all the more critically, the fortifying of Turkey’s “mentorship” over Azerbaijan Regional and international consequences: In the crate of Azerbaijan, Turkey authoritatively turned into an undeniable gathering to the contention. Clearly Russia will not, at this point have the option to pressure Azerbaijan, as Baku is presently completely under the support of Turkey, and Armenia is resolved to oppose the animosity that has been released against it. At present, the principle theater of military tasks is in Nagorno-Karabakh, yet the launch of a subsequent front isn’t precluded. Besides, Turkey is attracting Iran, which has kept up a limited situation on Karabakh throughout the years because of its understanding that the South Caucasus is a zone of Russian intrigue. The sharp internationalization of the contention, in the midst of an overall pandemic, is further demonstration of the profound potential, which started to be uncovered purposely. In any case, the affirmation of battle by Baku, just as explanations that the military activity will proceed until the total withdrawal of Armenian powers, features two significant changes in the Azeri way to deal with this period of the contention. Initially, Azerbaijan’s chief, Ilham Aliyev, wager the entirety of his chips on the primary assault. Be that as it may, with its absence of achievement, and the evident hefty misfortunes from the activity, may prompt a sharp decrease in his homegrown authenticity. Moreover, by breaking the whole arranging measure and inclining toward a military instead of a serene arrangement, Azerbaijan has given the Armenian authority the full good avocation to perceive the freedom of Nagorno-Karabakh, which has not been accomplished for quite a long time so as to give exchange measure alive. Blame game: Azerbaijan blamed Armenia for terminating ground-breaking rockets at the nation’s second biggest city, Ganja, and at a hydroelectric station, proposing a push to demolish non military personnel infrastructure.Even the driving force for the most recent threats, which started on Sept 27, is in question. Azerbaijan said Armenia shelled its positions first, while Armenia says an Azerbaijani hostile was unjustifiable. On Oct. 10, the nations consented to a restricted truce handled by Russia to trade detainees and gather the dead from the war zone.

Way forward:

There seems a constant struggle of warring parties over the disputed territory. Not only this, but the regional powers are also gearing the issue on the top. Locally, both the warring states should follow the instructions given by the UN in terms of cease-fire. Violating any term of the UN Convention, the party must be given hard and punitive punishment. People to people contact through trade and commerce will automatically reduce the hatred among the peoples of both sides. Interdependence is another key to solving the issue. Despite using massive military drones and missiles, economic tools are really workable in maintaining peaceful and cooperative ties between both the states. Regionally, being two emerging powers, Turkey and Russia must play a concrete and moderate role in the long-lasting matter. Rather pinching salt on the already fatal wounds, there direly needs a proper cooperation, interconnectedness, robust diplomatic tools, concrete and peaceful means of communication and finally, and most authentically, referendum and the will of the Nagorno-Karabakh people is quite important. Globally, International Media, International Court of Justice, International Peacekeeping Organizations, Global Security Forums and most importantly Security Council of the United Nations should come forward to solving the bone of contention between Baku and Yerevan. It is high time that the world powers and the organizations took the issue very seriously and sensibly to be concluded peacefully, otherwise the matter may lead the region into full-fledged war which will definitely disturb global peace and prosperity.


Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory, has been on the verge of the conflict of interests. The tiny territory, hardly visible on the world map, has almost become a warring ground where local and regional players are playing destructive game in pursuit of power gaining. The positive and significant role of International Forums and major powers is need of the hour, or else the issue would be reeling under the same umbrella as the Kashmir issue has long been bearing the brunt of atrocities.

– The writer is a have done Masters in International Relations from University of Karachi, freelance columnistof  multiple English newspapers and magazines for five years.


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