The Caucuses region was burning again. Recent skirmish between the two South Caucuses countries began after the Armenian forces instigated heavy assault at the Azerbaijani frontier positions in Nagorno-Karabakh (meaning Black Garden in Azeri language) area in early week of April resulting in killing of innocent civilians and soldiers on both sides. Later a ceasefire was brokered in Moscow to halt the war.
This outbreak of conflict was considered as the “most serious” since two decades of cease-fire between Azerbaijan and Armenia in 1994. This year also marks the 25th anniversary of this devastating yet unresolved dispute at the gates of Europe.
Nagorno-Karabakh is a mountainous region and has remained part of Azerbaijan since 1921. In 1991, Armenia unlawfully captured the Azerbaijani land of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding districts in a war after the collapse of Soviet Union. Cross-border tensions are a regular feature between the two countries since the truce in 1994 causing subsequent annual loss of dozens of lives from both sides. The fresh clashes were the heaviest and bloody ones and were blown into a full-scale war. United Nations, the U.S., the EU and other regional and international powers demanded restrain from both sides. Despite raised concerns and efforts of the international community, Armenia has locked itself into its positions and is yet to implement the UNSC resolutions on peaceful settlement of the dispute.
Pakistan has always stood by the Azerbaijani standpoint and even has never recognized Armenia as a sovereign state. Pakistan has also called out for truce and condemned Armenian aggression and repented over the killings of innocent lives. It is sad to note here that the war mongering pro-Armenian media has ignited a hysteria regarding Azerbaijan’s military operation but it was simply in defense of the population while it was Armenia which has attempted to breach peace in the region. Ironically, none of the key statements and facts seems to be reflected in international and regional media coverage of the current fighting. The tragedy will continue and sufferers will be the poor and innocent victims on both sides of the war.
The contemporary outbreak of the hostility between the two neighbors came as a surprise also when the international community was busy in the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington wherein the large number of the Heads of states and representatives from across the world were present to share concerns over the safety and security of nuclear arsenals including President of Azerbaijan Mr. Ilham Aliyev.
Azerbaijan is a strong and strategic regional player having a robust economic and political standing at the regional and international level. This image is against the image that Armenia wants the world to see of Azerbaijan. Hence to draw attention of the world leaders and community towards making a false claim of Armenia that Azerbaijan is an aggressor, this outbreak was the result while the truth is otherwise. On the other hand, the current outbreak of the clashes and breakdown of the “ceasefire regime” is reflection of failure of international community and related mediation efforts for not being able to force Armenia to comply with the historical United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions.
Minsk Group initiated by Organization of Security Cooperation in Europe(OSCE), co-chaired by France, Russia and US and also includes Belarus, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Finland and the two conflicting nations, is considered as defunct and a failure for the last two decades having only fruitless talks with zero results.
For Azerbaijan, foremost priority is to have full implementation of the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions while on the other side Armenia is not ready to start and talk about real peace process in accordance with the international law and good will for the benefit of the communities on both sides.
According to the UNSC resolutions, the Nagorno-Karabakh region is the “inalienable” part of Azerbaijan while called for withdrawal of Armenian forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan with immediate effect, completely and unconditionally. Moreover, four UN Security Council resolutions (822, 853, 874, 884), along with several documents and resolutions by International community have also recognized the fact about Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. This April, Armenia began the assault on Azerbaijan and exposed itself as the aggressor with intention to escalate the situation and conflict to sabotage the peace process.
The country has also committed war crimes wherein the Khojaly genocide of 1992 is still alive in the memories of the world and people who suffered the loss of their loved ones. It is also pertinent to note here that Armenia is pursuing the policy of military buildup, forced changing of ethnic and linguistic demographic outlook and destruction of cultural heritage in the occupied lands, which is happening right under the nose of international community. This military operation by the Azerbaijani forces were meant to safeguard the territorial integrity of the county
The conflict provides a complex picture of the long-standing dispute between the regional and international actors with deep historical roots hence providing a challenging geopolitical context for a peaceful settlement. This complexity, history of the conflict, locked positions of the parties, several decades of sufferings on both sides have impeded the movement towards the resolution of the clash. The Minsk Group created with a hope to resolve the conflict with dialogue and negotiations but remained a failure.
Nevertheless, peacebuilding in the region will require a vivid push of powers like Russia for instance. Moscow ties with Armenia and military relationship with Baku can help prevent these warning nations and will bring them to the negotiating table. As one analyst suggest that Russia may consider the option of deploying its forces or CSTO peacekeepers in Armenia along with the border of Azerbaijan. While U.S. should not only share verbal condemnation of the violence and invitation for negotiations but also acknowledge again the fact that Armenia has occupied the territories of Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan is an important player in the regional and international politics, thanks to the wealth of oil, gas reserves, geostrategic and geopolitical significance of the country. Both countries are highly militarized so there was a widespread fear that the current escalation of violence in the region between two may have a larger implications because of presence of high tech military equipment. Hence the conflict has all the ingredients to become a new full blown war because of presence of power players like Russia bordering Azerbaijan and Turkey bordering Armenia.
Earlier it was an interstate and intra-state conflict of the region. However with the passage of time the conflict has engulfed the neighboring countries also like Turkey and Iran, which somehow could not shy away from the conflict due to geopolitical interests. Armenia has also leaning over Russia for economic and military support while Azerbaijan is finding new alliances especially keeping in focus its strategic and economic significance. Russia till yet has played a neutral part and also influenced the conflict to come to a halt.
Unless and until the world community would not take any serious notice of the conflicts, we would not be able to root out the menace of terrorism, extremism and deprivation from the world.
Wars are not always the solutions to the conflicts; they only bring tears and distress. What is now necessary that to think “enough is enough” be it the conflict of Palestine, Afghanistan, Kashmir or Nagorno-Karabakh. We have to stand out and put an end to the tyranny and suffering of the humanity and in this regard role of international community is required. Also, much more is required from the countries involved in the conflict since the indigenous solutions would only be long lasting solutions to these conflicts.
Source: Azer news