Why Armenia and Azerbaijan are Fighting? - Seeker's Thoughts

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Why Armenia and Azerbaijan are Fighting?

Deadly fighting erupted on 27th September 2020, between Armenia and Azerbaijan. These two ex-soviet republics in the caucus are locked in a decades-long territorial dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.



Both Armenia and Azerbaijan are part of the Transcaucasia and South Caucasia geographical region in the vicinity of the southern Caucasus Mountains on Eastern Europe and western Asia consisting of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.


The conflict is more than a cold war-era relic. Both sides enjoy the support of powerful backs. With the South Caucasus occupying a strategic position in the global energy market, the fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan could reverberate beyond the region.

On 28th September, authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh reported 26 of its servicemen had been killed in the fighting, bringing its total losses to more than 80.

Many other countries show concern that the conflict could spill out of the region and draw in neighboring powers, including Turkey, Russia, and Iran. They are also keen to maintain stability because significant gas and oil pipelines run through the area.


The latest intense conflict began on 27th September, with both Armenia and Azerbaijan blaming each other for the escalation. 

According to both parties, they had mobilized more soldiers and declared martial law in some areas.

The fighting is the deadliest seen in the conflict since 2016; around 200 people were killed in clashes.


The leaders of both nations have fuelled the issue time and again for their vested political interests.

What is the history of the conflict?
Nagorno-Karabakh region has 95% of the population as ethnically Armenian and is controlled by them, but it is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan.

Religiously Armenia is a Christian majority, while Azerbaijan is a Muslim majority country.
Christian- majority Armenia and Muslim majority Azerbaijan have had conflicts for centuries; religion does not play any significant role in the current war. A lot of the blame rests with Joseph Stalin, a former Soviet leader. He placed the majority Armenian region of Nagorno-Karabakh (known as Artsakh to Armenians) Azerbaijan after the red Army conquered the Caucasus In the early 1920s.


In 1920 Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous region was established within Azerbaijan by the Soviet Union. 

In 1988 Nagorno-Karabakh legislature passed a resolution to join Armenia despite the region’s legal location within Azerbaijan’s border.

In 1991, the autonomous region officially declared that it would not join either of the countries after a referendum, which was boycotted by Azerbaijan .war erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the area, leaving roughly tens of thousands of causalities and hundreds of thousands of refugees.


In 1994 Russia tried to mediate a ceasefire, which has remained in place since.
In April 2016, the region was incredibly tense because of violent fighting between the two countries, known as the four-day war.

Apart from this, intermittent ceasefire violations between Azerbaijani and Armenian troops have caused hundreds of death in the past decade.


What do both regions say?
In an interview taken by BBC, Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan accused Azerbaijan of sabotaging a peaceful settlement to the conflict and insisted Armenia must defend the region.
According to the spokesperson of Azerbaijan’s presidential administration, the country took “counter-measures” against provocations by Armenia.

What are the international reactions to this issue?
Turkey has declared its support for Azerbaijan, while Russia, which has military bases in Armenia but is also friendly with Azerbaijan – asked for an immediate ceasefire.
Armenia has been accusing Turkey of providing direct military support to help Azerbaijan gain control of territory, whereas Azerbaijan has denied the claim.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Endogen called on Armenia to immediately end its “occupation” of the region with withdrawing, saying this was the only course of action that would secure peace.


On the other side, the United Nations Secretary-General Guterres has shown overly concerned and urging both sides to stop fighting.

Russia’s foreign minister held urgent talks both with Armenian and Azeri leadership.
France, which has a large Armenian community, called for an immediate ceasefire and dialogue.

Iran, which borders both Azerbaijan and Armenia offered to broker peace talks.
The USA, also seeking to stop the violence.

What can be the consequences of this conflict?
Such conflicts will create tensions, and its impact can be worse in the future; this may cause social unrest in the region, which is already suffering from the deadliest pandemic COVID-19.
Civilians living in these regions would suffer and can be directly impacted and potentially displaced if any large-scale war breaks out between the two countries.

This conflict could also disrupt oil and gas exports from the region since Azerbaijan is a significant oil and gas exporter to Europe and Central Asia. This conflict may even lead to higher oil prices globally.


A way forward
The conflict between the two regions is quite tense, and the international mediators should intervene immediately and push sides for peace to prevent any future escalations.

Also read

Some facts about Nagorno-Karabakh
Internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but the majority of the population is ethnic Armenian
An estimated one million people displaced by war in 1988-1994, and about 30,000 were killed.
Separatist forces captured some extra territory around the enclave in Azerbaijan in the 1990s war.
The stalemate has mostly prevailed since a 1994 ceasefire.
Turkey openly supports Azerbaijan.
Russia has military bases in Armenia.
A mountainous region of about 4,400 sq. km (1,700 sq. miles)
Christian Armenians and Muslim Turks traditionally inhabited it.
In Soviet times, it became an autonomous region within the Republic of Azerbaijan.


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