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World Exclusive: Armenia, Azerbaijan Speak Out, Here's What They Want from U.S.

11:45  02 october  2020
11:45  02 october  2020 Source:   newsweek.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.

Armenia and Azerbaijan are on the brink of conflict that will roil NATO, the Middle East and oil markets. James Stavridis is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is a retired U . S . Navy admiral and former supreme allied commander of NATO, and dean emeritus of the Fletcher School of Law and

Tensions over Nagorno-Karabakh region have caused one of Europe’ s ‘frozen conflicts’ to erupt.

a group of clouds in the sky: Azerbaijani forces fire artillery in this photo shared by the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry on September 30. Baku views the conflict as a fight to assert Azerbaijan's U.N.-recognized sovereignty over the ethnic Armenian-ruled territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, also called Artsakh, while Armenia sees an Azerbaijani aggression interrupting a ceasefire on an unresolved issue. © Azerbaijan Ministry of Defense Azerbaijani forces fire artillery in this photo shared by the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry on September 30. Baku views the conflict as a fight to assert Azerbaijan's U.N.-recognized sovereignty over the ethnic Armenian-ruled territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, also called Artsakh, while Armenia sees an Azerbaijani aggression interrupting a ceasefire on an unresolved issue.

As their home countries wage a bloody battle with no signs so far of abetting, Newsweek spoke to the ambassadors to the United States from rivals Armenia and Azerbaijan, who both see the U.S. as having a potentially crucial role in resolving their conflict, though they fundamentally disagree on what that role should be.

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.

Azerbaijan is being egged on by Turkey’ s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. But there are no pressing U . S . interests at stake in the Caucasus. And previous American efforts at mediation don’t allow for any optimism that Trump might succeed this time.

Armenia and Azerbaijan - which have already mobilised more soldiers and declared martial law in some areas - blame each other for starting the fighting. Mr Erdogan' s chief adviser, Ilnur Cevik, also said Turkey had told its Azeri allies to go as far as they wanted . Armenia has accused Turkey of

But there's one thing they do agree on—things can never be the same.

The latest eruption of violence in the century-long conflict is less than a week old but has already left hundreds of casualties, including civilian deaths on both sides. The opposing armed forces are battling over the contested territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

This 1,700-square-mile stretch of the South Caucasus region between Asia and Europe is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but is led by ethnic Armenians who also view the territory as part of their historic homeland, which is now under near-constant fire before the world's eyes.

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

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As of September 24th, Azerbaijan and Armenia have introduced martial law, and the situation is nearing all- out conflict over the Nagorno Karabakh region. According to Global Firepower, Armenia is ranked 111th out of 138 countries considered for the annual GFP review 2020.

Azerbaijan is not the bad guy here , regardless of your bizarre and biased sympathies. No you’re right there is no Armenians in Nakhichevan, they were “kicked out ” during the Soviet Union. 2- Azerbaijan brought Syrian terrorists to murder the Armenians (we saw what they did to yazidies in

As part of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Minsk Group, the United States has joined fellow co-chairs France and Russia in an effort to halt the rapidly-escalating hostilities. So far, they've condemned the use of force and called for an immediate halt to the fighting.

But both Yerevan and Baku's top representatives in Washington say more needs to be done.

"Right now, what is necessary is an intervention of the highest levels, together with other mediators, Russia and France, to stop the violence," Armenian ambassador to the U.S. Varuzhan Nersesyan told Newsweek.

He accused Azerbaijan, along with its closest partner and historical Armenian foe, Turkey, of coordinating the latest assault in order to coincide with the U.S. elections, a moment of distraction for a country already gripped at home by civil unrest and the lingering socioeconomic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Armenia last night accused Turkey of 'supporting Azerbaijan to carry out genocidal acts', a reference to the early 20th-century massacre which it calls the Armenia and Karabakh declared martial law and military mobilisation on Sunday, while Azerbaijan imposed military rule and a curfew in large cities.

Here is an Azerbaijani infantry unit getting caught out in the open due to not having scouted out the We should all rally around the government of Armenia . Similarly, Diaspora Armenians should set Speaking Truth To Empire: U . S . leaders knew A-bombs unnecessary to win World War II August 21

Still, his wish is for the U.S. to step up in a significant way.

"Our expectation and hope is that the U.S. will intervene decisively to stop Turkey and Azerbaijan," Nersesyan told Newsweek, "and condemn their violence and create conditions for the resumption of negotiations. This is what we expect now."

Stationed just about a mile away from his Armenian counterpart in Washington, Azerbaijani ambassador Elin Suleymanov said he too expected the U.S. to act.

He recalls how his country actually led efforts to establish Washington's role as co-chair of the Minsk Group. This came, he argued, in spite of objections from Paris and Moscow, which Baku felt were too sympathetic toward Yerevan in the wake of their deadliest war amid the breakup of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Today, Suleymanov casts a suspicious eye on Russia's role in supplying Armenia's military and reports of Iran facilitating such arms shipments.

As for the U.S., however, he called it an "honest broker" that would be expected to uphold the United Nations Security Council resolutions adopted in the wake of the previous conflict, all of which call for Armenian forces to withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh, which is known to its local leaders as the Artsakh Republic.

Exclusive: Official at Center of Armenia, Azerbaijan Conflict Calls It Fight to Death

  Exclusive: Official at Center of Armenia, Azerbaijan Conflict Calls It Fight to Death "We've been here our whole life, and we are staying here to do what we can. It would be wrong not to worry, but it would be wrong to panic and leave your post," Artsakh representative to the U.S. told Newsweek.For this tiny republic, defeat could mean the end of his internationally unrecognized government, and perhaps worse for its constituents.

Turkey is stridently backing Azerbaijan and Armenia claims that Turkey has sent mercenaries into the conflict. They say, is Turkey here , is the Turkish military here ?,' Erdogan said. Armenia and Karabakh declared martial law and military mobilisation on Sunday, while Azerbaijan imposed military

Armenia and Azerbaijan clash over disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region – video report. Russia has been traditionally close to Armenia but has forged links with the Baku elites in recent years, and continues to sell “There is nothing for us here .” As with the Azerbaijan proposition, some men who

"So what we hope the United States can do is to look for what could provide for sustainable peace and development in the region," Suleymanov told Newsweek.

And, to Azerbaijan, he says that means "only one thing": "The withdrawal of Armenian troops and an end of this occupation. Without that, any ceasefire, anything would be fragile."

map: A map outlines the former Soviet province of Nagorno-Karabakh, now the heart of yet another deadly conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the South Caucasus region. Wikimedia © Wikimedia A map outlines the former Soviet province of Nagorno-Karabakh, now the heart of yet another deadly conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the South Caucasus region. Wikimedia

With the collapse of past agreements such as those made following flare-ups in 2016 and just months ago in July, Nersesyan also saw no way to return to the status quo. The latest round of fighting appeared to shake the very foundation for ceasefires that, fragile as they were, held for decades with only occasional interruptions. That is until this week, when Azerbaijan moved to assert its U.N.-approved sovereignty over Nagorno-Karabakh.

"There is no longer a way to continue the same way it was in the past," Nersesyan said. "This latest aggression demonstrated once again that there is no way that will revert the wheel of history back."

He claimed that there is no way Azerbaijan can or should control the contested region before a final decision was made on its status in line with the self-determination of its inhabitants.

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"Azerbaijan, with this latest act, shows that Nagorno-Karabakh does not have a way back," Nersesyan said, "and cannot be whatsoever subjugated to Azerbaijan. This is what Azerbaijan wants."

He sees any peaceful resolution as needing to address this root cause of the conflict.

"The existential issue of the security of Nagorno-Karabakh should be on the table," Nersesyan said. "This is the way if the negotiations regime can go forward. So we're very much looking forward to working with the U.S. and other co-chairs on this matter."

Suleymanov has a different idea of how the Minsk Group and its co-chairs, including the U.S., should apply their guarantor status.

"It's very important that the United States actually insist as a co-chair of the Minsk group that the international law is upheld," the Azerbaijani diplomat told Newsweek, "and on the Armenian withdrawal from the occupied territories."

Suleymanov said the interests of both countries would be served by Armenia's withdrawal.

"That's actually not just in the interest of Azerbaijan, of course it is," he said. "But it is equally in the interest of Armenia, because that will ensure its own peaceful future."

An Armenian soldier fires artillery in this photo shared on September 29 by the Armenian Ministry of Defense. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan are claiming gains against the other, while accusing the other of receiving outside support from their respective regional partners. Armenian Ministry of Defense © Armenian Ministry of Defense An Armenian soldier fires artillery in this photo shared on September 29 by the Armenian Ministry of Defense. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan are claiming gains against the other, while accusing the other of receiving outside support from their respective regional partners. Armenian Ministry of Defense

Though they seek peace, constant news of wartime carnage at home has taken a toll on two men acting on behalf of their countries from some 6,000 miles away.

Nagorno-Karabakh: Leaders spar over missile attack claims in Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict

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"It's very emotional, of course," Nersesyan said. "It's difficult to watch my own country, Armenia, fight the combined forces of Turkey, Azerbaijan and jihadist militants."

Although he acknowledged the personal burden, he saw it as his duty to try to bring an end to the ongoing clashes.

"But of course, we have diplomats who are part of the job, we work with the U.S. government and fulfill our mission here to try to help out the situation to stop the violence," Nersesyan said.

Suleymanov, who rejects as "quite offensive" the widely reported notion that his country was importing Turkey-sponsored insurgents from Syria, also dreaded the brutality with which the two nations were sparring, as unsurprising as it may have been given the unsettled nature of their feud.

"This is really a bad situation," he told Newsweek, "but it was not unpredictable. This is what's been happening all along."

Now, before it gets even worse, he called on Washington "to be proactive in pursuing both peace and supporting local peaceful solutions."

The alternative, he warned, is further instability.

"The United States is an important part of the web of stability and security in the region," Suleymanov said. "So, the sort of disengagement from the United States, ignoring the region, abandoning it in some ways, creates this kind of a power vacuum, which is very dangerous."

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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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