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Current Affairs

Geopolitics of Azerbaijan and Armenia conflict

Date: 03 October 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Military action in Nagorno-Karabakh, a region disputed between Armenia and Azerbaijan, has resulted in the death of at least 100 civilians and Armenian combatants.

 

Background

While the two countries have fought over the region for decades, the current conflict is being seen as one of the most serious in recent years. 

 

Details

  • Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, but most of the region is controlled by Armenian separatists.

  • Nagorno-Karabakh has been part of Azerbaijan territory since the Soviet era. When the Soviet Union began to collapse in the late 1980s, Armenia’s regional parliament voted for the region’s transfer to Armenia, which was turned down by Soviet.

  • Years of clashes followed between Azerbaijan forces and Armenian separatists. The violence lasted into the 1990s, leaving tens and thousands dead and displacing hundreds of thousands. In 1994, Russia brokered a ceasefire, by which time ethnic Armenians had taken control of the region.

  • While the area remains in Azerbaijan, it is today governed by separatist Armenians who have declared it a republic called the “Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast”.

  • While the Armenian government does not recognise Nagorno-Karabakh as independent, it supports the region politically and militarily.

  • What’s different about the current flare-up is that this is the first time that both countries have proclaimed martial law.

  • The conflict is getting worldwide attention because of the involvement of regional rivals Turkey and Russia.

  • Muslim-majority Turkey backs Azerbaijan, and recently condemned Christian-majority Armenia for not resolving the issue through peaceful negotiations. Turkey recently declared unconditional support to Muslim-majority Azerbaijan.

  • Russia and Turkey also back opposite sides in the civil wars playing out in Syria and Libya and Turkey’s support for Azerbaijan may be seen as an attempt to counter Russia’s influence in the region of South Caucasus.

  • Other countries, including the US, have limited their participation to appeals for maintaining peace so far. For all countries, the region is an important transit route for the supply of oil and natural gas to the European Union.