Armenia, Azerbaijan Renew Clashes Over Nagorno-Karabakh

  • It is estimated over 1,000 people took to the streets of Baku.
  • There was a serious conflict in the region beginning in 1988.

In Baku, participants of an unauthorized rally in support of the Azerbaijani army broke into the country’s Parliament building.  A video of  the rally was posted on Telegram. The police had to disperse the demonstrators who entered the building. In addition, law enforcement officers had to use water cannons.

Nagorno-Karabakh is a disputed territory, internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but mostly governed by the Republic of Artsakh (formerly named Nagorno-Karabakh Republic), a de facto independent state with an Armenian ethnic majority established on the basis of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. Since the end of the Nagorno-Karabakh War in 1994, representatives of the governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan have been holding peace talks mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group on the region’s disputed status.

The people were marching through the central streets of the capital of Azerbaijan, chanting patriotic slogans. It is estimated over 1,000 people took to the streets. Participants waved national flags, chanting “Glory to the army,” “Soldiers forward,”and “commander-in-Chief, declare mobilization.”

The reason for the march is the recent flare up at the Armenian-Azerbaijani border on Sunday. Both nations accuse each other of provocations and attacks.  The fighting continues in the regions of Tovuz and Tavush, which also border Georgia, and are located a few hundred kilometers from the unrecognized, disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The situation there is now calm. On July 14, Baku reported that 11 Azerbaijani servicemen were killed. The Russian Foreign Ministry said it was ready to help stabilize the situation.

The history of Nagorno-Karabakh’s statehood goes back to ancient times. According to Movses Khorenatsi, a 5th-century historian and founder of Armenian historiography, Artsakh was part of the Armenian Kingdom already in the 6th century BC, when the Yervanduni dynasty established its power over the Armenian Highlands after the collapse of the state of Urartu.

Greek and Roman historians, such as Strabo, in their works mention Artsakh as an important strategic region of Armenia, supplying the best cavalry to the tsarist army. In the first century BC, King Tigran II of Armenia (reigned 95-55 BC) built one of the four cities named Tigranakert in Artsakh. The name of the locality “Tigranakert” has been preserved in Artsakh for centuries, which allowed modern archaeologists to start excavating the ancient city in 2005. This is an official version of the Gandzsar.

There are no diplomatic relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, largely due to the ongoing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Due to the two wars waged by the countries in the past century—one from 1918 to 1921 and another from 1988 to 1994—the two have had strained relations.

Nagorno-Karabakh is a small region of the land in Transcaucasia, and has an ancient and difficult fate, where Armenians and Azerbaijanis are intertwined. The geographical region of Karabakh is divided into flat and mountainous parts. Lowland Karabakh, historically, was dominated by the Azerbaijani population in Nagorno—Armenian.

After the collapse of the Russian Empire due to the Revolution of 1917, Karabakh became the scene of the bloody Armenian-Azerbaijani war of 1918-1920. The conflict escalated again in 1988. At the time, the Soviets were too busy with Perestroika and Mikhail Gorbachev couldn’t contain the conflict. It became another scene of bloodshed between Armenians and Azerbaijanis.

The Russian Foreign Ministry made a statement that they will step in to resolve the conflict. Unfortunately, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues his agitation, and offered support to Azerbaijan. Turkey, of course, was responsible for the Armenian genocide.

Additionally, Azerbaijan borders Iran, and also has Iranian support. At the same time Iran and Turkey have very different geopolitical interests. Turkey can’t afford another conflict for the myriad of reasons, including the economic challenges.

If the conflict continues to escalate in the region, the Kremlin will send in its forces to support Armenia. Nevertheless, the conflict is not favorable for the surrounding nations at all.

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Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

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