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Politics Democrats warn Turkey over involvement in Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict

19:35  29 september  2020
19:35  29 september  2020 Source:   thehill.com

Armenia and Azerbaijan clash over disputed region

  Armenia and Azerbaijan clash over disputed region Long-simmering tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan appear to have flared up in the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region, with both sides accusing each other of attacking civilians. © Armenian Defense Ministry/AP A photo released by the Armenian defense ministry appears to show an Azerbaijani tank being destroyed on September 27, 2020. The neighboring former Soviet republics have long been at odds over the territory -- which is situated within the borders of Azerbaijan -- and fought a war over it that finished in 1994.

Congressional Democrats are warning Turkey against getting involved in the contested southern caucus territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, where renewed fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia threatens a wider regional conflict.

Eliot Engel wearing glasses and looking at the camera: Democrats warn Turkey over involvement in Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict © Greg Nash Democrats warn Turkey over involvement in Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement Tuesday that "the influence of external actors such as Turkey recklessly meddling in the conflict is troubling" and called for all sides to end hostilities and resume negotiations.

Fears grow of war between Armenia and Azerbaijan as fighting continues for second day

  Fears grow of war between Armenia and Azerbaijan as fighting continues for second day Azerbaijan and Armenia are reporting more casualties as the violent flare-up between the two Caucus nations continued for a second day. © Provided by Washington Examiner On Monday, forces tied to the two countries reportedly exchanged rocket and artillery fire in the escalating battle that began on Sunday. The fighting is raising fears of a wider conflict in the region and the possibility that Turkey, which backs Azerbaijan and Russia (which has a mutual defense agreement with Armenia), could become involved.

Long-simmering tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan escalated into open conflict on Sunday in the contested area of Nagorno-Karabakh, with some of the fiercest fighting the region has seen in years and reports of dozens killed and hundreds wounded, including civilians.

The contested status of the territory, claimed by Azerbaijan but administered and occupied by ethnic-Armenians, had been under a decades-long mediation process by the Minsk Group, part of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and co-chaired by the United States, France and Russia.

Armenia claims Turkey 'shot down' one of its jets during Nagorno-Karabakh fighting

  Armenia claims Turkey 'shot down' one of its jets during Nagorno-Karabakh fighting Armenia says Turkey shot down one of its fighter jets as fighting with Azerbaijan around disputed enclave Nagorno-Karabakh intensifies. Armenia's defense ministry on Tuesday said a Turkish F-16 had shot down an Armenian SU-25 fighter in Armenian airspace, killing the pilot. A ministry spokesperson said the Turkish jet took off from an airbase inside Azerbaijan and had been providing cover for Azerbaijani aircraft attacking Armenian positions.

The co-chairs issued a statement Sunday to cease fighting and return to negotiations.

But the violence has already drawn a response from Turkey, with Ankara throwing its support behind Azerbaijan and deploying Syrian fighters to help its regional ally, Reuters reported on Monday.

Turkey's actions were followed by pledges of support from Russia and Greece for Armenia - increasing the risk of armed conflict between Ankara and Moscow in addition to increased tensions and possible fighting among NATO allies.

Armenia and Azerbaijan are NATO partners, while Turkey is a NATO member.

Engel said the international community must remain committed to the peace process.

"As a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, the United States should not tolerate Turkey disrupting the peace process and exacerbating a conflict already careening toward drastic escalation," Engel added.

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  Exclusive: Armenia, Azerbaijan Speak Out, Here's What They Want from U.S. As their countries battle at home, Newsweek spoke to Armenian and Azerbaijani ambassadors to the U.S., who disagree on much but both see Washington as having an important role in resolving their deadly conflict.But there's one thing they do agree on—things can never be the same.

Two days earlier, Sen. Bob Mendendez (D-N.J.), the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called for a ceasefire.

"I strongly condemn Azerbaijan's attack on Nagorno Karabakh, yet another act of aggression supported by Turkey," Menendez tweeted on Sunday. "The Trump Administration should suspend security assistance to Azerbaijan and engage through the OSCE Minsk Group to bring about a ceasefire."

Other Democrats in Congress who have called for a deescalation of tensions include Rep. Brad Sherman, the second-most senior Democrat of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who blamed Azerbaijan for instigating the attacks and Turkey for inflaming the fighting.

"At this sacred time for my family and co-religionists, I'm troubled by the recent Azeri attacks on [Nagorno-Karabakh]," Sherman wrote on Twitter over the weekend.

"We must condemn this aggression and urge Baku to cease offensive military action and return to the peace table. We should halt military aid to Azerbaijan and urge Turkey to abstain from sending arms or fighters."

The fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan, explained

  The fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan, explained Dozens have been reported killed and hundreds wounded since fighting between the two former Soviet republics broke out on Sunday. It is unclear what flared the so-called "frozen conflict," which stretched into its fifth consecutive day on Thursday, but the fighting has already been the worst in decades. The fighting has exacerbated tensions between NATO allies France and Turkey.

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, blamed Azerbaijan and Turkey for the outbreak of violence.

"For months, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, have increased their use of combative rhetoric and provocative actions toward Artsakh and Armenia," Pallone said in a statement while calling on the State Department to hold Azerbaijan and Turkey accountable.

President Trump said on Sunday that his administration was looking at the situation "very strongly" given that the U.S. has relations with both Baku and Yerevan.

"We have a lot of good relationships in that area. We'll see if we can stop it," he said.

State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said the same day that Deputy Secretary of State Steve Biegun had spoken with the foreign ministers of both Azerbaijan and Armenia in an effort to de-escalate tensions.

"The United States believes participation in the escalating violence by external parties would be deeply unhelpful and only exacerbate regional tensions," Ortagus said.

"We urge the sides to work with the Minsk Group Co-Chairs to return to substantive negotiations as soon as possible. As a Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, the United States remains committed to helping the sides achieve a peaceful and sustainable settlement to the conflict."

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Video: Armenian, Azeri forces accuse each other of shelling far from Karabakh (Reuters)

Why Armenia and Azerbaijan are fighting, and why it could get uglier .
The countries have fought for years over a breakaway region, but this time, the U.S. isn't helping to mediate, and other major powers are picking sides.International observers and analysts warn that, unlike during previous clashes along the two countries' shared border, it may be hard to negotiate peace this time, not least because NATO member Turkey has backed Azerbaijan and the United States appears uninterested in playing the vital role of arbiter.

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