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World What's going on with the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict

23:10  27 september  2020
23:10  27 september  2020 Source:   washingtonexaminer.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.

Long simmering tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan erupted into significant conflict this weekend.

a close up of smoke © Provided by Washington Examiner

At contention is the breakaway Azerbaijani province of Nagorno-Karabakh. While the province is recognized as Azerbaijani territory, it is dominated by ethnic Armenians who seek consolidation under Armenia's sovereign orbit. As the regional expert Thomas de Waal recently explained, "It is more than a territorial dispute. It is also a major clash over history and identity between two nations which have both lost grievously at the hands of the other, with 20,000 dead and mass displacement of more than one million people. Nowadays it endures as a fully-fledged conflict between two states that have shared a Soviet past but are still prisoners of their enmity with one another."

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.

So what's happening now?

Well, it is unclear who fired the first shots, but Armenia and Azerbaijan are now engaged in artillery, armor, and air combat. As the analyst Rob Lee observed, ".... both sides have longer-range aircraft and artillery/[multiple launcher rocket] systems that can strike each other's capitals, a capability that they effectively lacked before 2016. During the fighting in July, both sides chose to not use these systems, but that seems to have changed." The referenced skirmish in July led to a number of civilian deaths, but was quickly contained.

The present crisis is far more serious.

Motivated both by the desire to save face, and to secure nationalist prestige, each nation seems determined not to make the first concession. Evincing the nationalist undertones, Azerbaijan is publishing a steady stream of strike videos online. Its intent: to show that it will triumph over its western neighbor. Turkey is also inflaming the situation. Although located south of Russia's Dagestan province, Azerbaijan has long been a close Turkish partner. In turn, as shown on the map below, Turkey's eastern border with Armenia gives it means to exert pressure on its long hated adversary.

Democrats warn Turkey over involvement in Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict

  Democrats warn Turkey over involvement in Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict 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.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 allRep. 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.

This historic animus matters greatly. Turkey is infuriated by Armenia's legitimate claim that the Ottoman Empire conducted a genocide against its people during the 1914-1923 post-First World War period. Such history does not fit easily with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's nationalist identity politics, which aim to present Turkey as an infallible moral force in the region. There are credible reports of armed Turkish drones operating against Armenian forces, and Erdogan on Sunday warned that his nation "will continue to stand by its brothers in Azerbaijan as it has always done." Considering Erdogan's growing penchant for military escalation from Syria, to Libya, to the Mediterranean Sea, it's likely that he will seek to secure an outcome that is wholly to Azerbaijan's favor and Armenia's detriment.

What will happen next?

NATO has called for calm and a restoration of peace, and Vladimir Putin is also inclined towards that outcome. While the Kremlin has close links to both Azerbaijan and Armenia, it retains a formal security relationship only with the latter. But Putin doesn't appear to want escalation which carries the risk of destabilizing his southern flank. Likely echoing Putin's attitude, his Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov commented "that the entire world community, the UN, all neighboring states, the clergy immediately join this process and return peace to the Caucasus!"

'Imagine Caucasus becoming another Syria?': Armenia’s president pleas for urgent international support

  'Imagine Caucasus becoming another Syria?': Armenia’s president pleas for urgent international support Armenian President Armen Sarkissian issued a stern warning to the international community on Wednesday, as tensions flare between Armenia and Azerbaijan. require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.getMedianetNativeAds(true); }); "Imagine Caucasus becoming another Syria?" Sarkissian told CNBC's Hadley Gamble from Yerevan."The international community has to realize that if you don't interfere now, then Caucasus will become another huge problem," Sarkissian cautioned.

The risk, then, is that Azerbaijan and Turkey will sense that they have the initiative and can formalize a new state of affairs on the ground via continued military action. International pressure will be critical if peace is to be restored.

map: Google Maps © Provided by Washington Examiner Google Maps

Tags: Opinion, Beltway Confidential, Foreign Policy, Turkey, Russia, NATO, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Vladimir Putin, Republic of Georgia, Conflict

Original Author: Tom Rogan

Original Location: What's going on with the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict

Nagorno-Karabakh: Leaders spar over missile attack claims in Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict .
The president of the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region warned citizens in large cities of Azerbaijan Sunday to leave to avoid "inevitable loss" after he said Azerbaijan targeted civilians in the region's main city of Stepanakert the last couple of days. © Dmitriy Vinogradov/Sputnik via AP Smoke rises after the recent shelling, in Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh. Nagorno-Karabakh leader Arayik Harutyunyan said on Twitter that "mil objects in large cities of Azerbaijan are the target of the Defense Army of #Artsakh. Calling on Azerbaijani population to leave these cities to avoid inevitable loss.

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