The Torment of the Armenia-Azerbaijan War
The past few weeks have witnessed an intense and escalating conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed land of Nagorno-Karabakh. Since the Sunday of September 27 2020, armed forces from both sides are engaged in a continuous military tussle. Over 100 separatist leaders and civilians have been killed, and Turkey and Russia's diplomatic interventions are scaling up an already bitter adversary. There are growing apprehensions that this conflict might turn into a full-fledged war like the one in 1992.
The issue has now moved beyond the South Caucasus territories to become a matter of grave international concern. Germany, France, Britain, Belgium, and Estonia have called for an urgent intervention by the UN Security Council. The former Soviet countries have been in a continuous geopolitical struggle over the land for a long time, even before the Soviet Union's infamous breakup. With public dismay, violence, and political chaos in a rife, the ensuing tensions seem to warn an impending threat to global security.
Let us try to understand the historical conundrum underlying this dispute briefly.
1920- The Russian Red Army March
When Russia incorporated Azerbaijan and Armenia into the U.S.S.R., the Armenian-dominated area of Nagorno-Karabakh was incorporated into the Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan. Since then, the Armenian ethnic groups and leaders had created a tussle with Azerbaijan.
1980-1989- The Fall of the Soviet Union
When Soviet communism in the U.S.S.R. started to put its hands down, leading to the Soviet Union breakup, there was a call for the control over Nagorno-Karabakh to be relinquished by Azerbaijan and be rightfully handed over to Armenia. This started to escalate a long-running, ethnically-fueled cold war between the countries to something of more threatening proportions in the early 1990s.
1992-1994 The Nagorno-Karabakh War
This war has to be one of the most vicious events to be entrenched in history, which left almost 30,000 dead, more than a million injured, and more than a million refugees.
1994- De facto control be Armenia
With the government's help, the Armenian militia negotiated a ceasefire operation that led to a de-facto control of Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh. Therefore, what is still claimed by Azerbaijan is populated by Armenia and controlled by it.
Although political authority over Nagorno-Karabakh was wrested from Azerbaijan since 1988, it still is claimed by Azerbaijan. And in actual reality, Nagorno-Karabakh is ruled by the Republic of Artsakh, a self-proclaimed state in the South Caucasian territories sharing international borders with Armenia and Azerbaijan. It is recognized as a self-governed state only by the non-UN members Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both being de facto proclaimed states internationally recognized to be a part of Georgia, and Transnistria, a de facto state claimed to be a part of Moldova. Due to Artsakh's reliance on Armenia in significant ways, it is recognized to be a part of Armenia de facto. Therefore, all the military and political interventions are majorly associated as a conflict between Armenia versus Azerbaijan, in a more real sense.
Several countries have raised diplomatic urgency. The aggressive geopolitical backing of Azerbaijan by Turkey and the worrisome statements released by both countries show no bright light for the end of this hostility. This war is a kind of a long-forgotten conflict that has suddenly melted down again with full force. And amidst the chaos, perhaps, the real bait is not the land of Nagorno-Karabakh, but the innocent people of these countries bearing the brunt of a power struggle fired by uncertainty and frivolous claims.