April 22, 2016
Regardless of which side you choose to listen to in the Armenian/Azeri conflict, one thing everyone can agree on is that the ceasefire is not holding. The regularly ignited dispute between the two neighboring countries has been a fixture for years but, over recent months, has seen a flare up that is threatening to throw yet another part of the world into chaos and open warfare.
On April 5, Russia was able to organize and mediate between chief officials of the Azeri and Armenian militaries and clench a “ceasefire agreement” on the “contact line” in Nagorno-Karabkh, the area currently being fought over by the two countries and Armenian “militias.” However, ever since the ceasefire agreement was made, both sides have traded accusations that the other side has violated the agreement. In fact, the accusations of violations are so numerous that one could scarcely call the ceasefire a functioning agreement. For instance, Armenia has claimed that, in the last 24 hours alone, Azerbaijan has violated the ceasefire 50 times. There have been similar claims against the Armenians by the Azeris.
A Brief History Of The Conflict
The roots of the Azeri-Armenian conflict are connected to both national histories and the fall of the Soviet Union as well as ethnic histories and regional ties.
Essentially, in the late 1980s a referendum was held by the inhabitants of the Nagorno-Karabkh region where the majority Armenian population largely voted for reunification with Armenia while the minority Azeri population boycotted the vote. The vote obviously favored independence from Azerbaijan and reunification with Armenia causing a rift between both countries which escalated from a political disagreement and social disharmony to outright violence and eventually military operations that only grew as the Soviet collapse appeared more and more imminent.
Nagorno-Karabkh is a small enclave located within Azerbaijan but whose territory is actually held by Armenian “paramilitaries” and the self-declared “Government of Nargorno-Karabkh.” In fact, the territory held by Armenian forces surround and extent past the boundaries of Nagorno-Karabkh, which creates a novel border dispute between the two countries as well as a porous border situation.
The National Sentiment
In Azerbaijan, the declaration of separation and the subsequent defeat to Armenian forces, who were perceived as drastically inferior both in terms of military and demographic strength, intensified nationalist feelings. As a result, a campaign of destruction of ancient Armenian sites took place in Azerbaijan in an apparent Azeri attempt to erase any cultural and historical evidence and legacy that Armenians had in the country as well as to provide the opportunity for the falsification of history in regards to the Armenian presence and connection to the land. As such, this is the same method that was employed by Turkey in the time leading up to the Armenian genocide. It is the same method as that of ISIS regarding Shi’ite, Christian, and other religious artifacts and sites.
As a result, after being faced with the anti-Armenian sentiment in Azerbaijan, the Armenians in Nagorno-Karabkh are even more entrenched and committed to the idea of independence and separation from the Azeri national government.
Outside Supporting And Opposing Forces
Turkey plays a conspicuous role in the Azeri/Armenian conflict. Interestingly enough, the Azeris have ethnic and linguistic ties to the Turks and Turkey has shared a rich and bloody history of discrimination, antipathy, and violence toward Armenians. This anti-Armenian history, coupled with Erdogan’s Islamism, has contributed to the reasoning behind Erdogan’s recent statement that Turkey stands with Azerbaijan “to the end.”
Of course geopolitical elements are at play here as well. After all, the Turkish “nationalist” Grey Wolves operate a chapter in Azerbaijan, a clear indication that NATO and not only the Turks has a clear foothold in Azerbaijan. Indeed, Azerbaijan is an active participant in NATO’s Partnership For Peace and Individual Partnership Action Plan. Azerbaijan has also shown signs that it intends to become a member of NATO proper in the near future.
Armenia, for its part, is also a member of the NATO Partnership For Peace program, the Partnership Against Terrorism, and theEuro-Atlantic Partnership Council. While it is not a member of NATO, there are talks of the future of Armenia by “opposition” parties who argue for joining the Anglo-American world army.
On the other hand, Russia is also heavily involved in both Armenia and Azerbaijan. In 2015, a report was released which claimed that Azerbaijan purchased around 85% of its weapons from Russia in the past five years. The weapons transfers amounted to about $4 billion worth of transactions.
Russian ties go deeper with Armenia, however, since the tiny nation hosts two Russian military bases there, serving as an extension of Russian influence as well as a deterrent against Turkey.
With Russia maintaining such close ties with both nations, it presents a very precarious position for the Russian leadership in regards to the Azeri/Armenian conflict. On one hand, weapons deals and military bases provide a close relationship with which to negotiate a peaceful solution. On the other hand, a close relationship with both countries provides for the necessity to walk very carefully so as not to appear to be taking one side over the other and thus isolating one of the Russian partners. One false step can cost Russia either billions and influence or bases and influence.
With all of this in mind, (i.e. the Russian influence and arms sales to both countries as well as the growing/ever-present NATO “Western” influence), both Armenia and Azerbaijan are clearly attempting to walk a tightrope between two world powers amid a potentially explosive situation that could ignite the region in conflagration.
With both the Syrian and the Armenian/Azeri conflict holding so much interest for Russia and Turkey, the potential for Erdogan to overplay his hand is a distinct possibility. As with the hubris of many world leaders, however, the most unfortunate aspect to a loss of one’s senses is that the general population pays the price in blood and treasure.
Brandon Turbeville – article archive here – is the author of seven books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 andvolume 2, The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria, and The Difference it Makes: 36 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President. Turbeville has published over 650 articles on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s radio show Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV. His website is BrandonTurbeville.com He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com.
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