Meanwhile Back At The South Caucasus Conflict

I have been watching and writing about the armed conflict that has erupted once again between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Eastern Europe…..

My posts that can explain my thinking….

https://lobotero.com/2020/09/29/conflict-in-the-caucasus/

https://lobotero.com/2020/10/05/nagorno-karabakh/

I know a lot of information to take in….so for those that have an allergic reaction to reading…..

Now that I have filled in the gaps……let’s look at the situation more in-depth…….

Now to look at the players…the Azeris supported by Turkey and the Armenians supported by the West….let’s not forget that the nations involved were once satellites of the USSR…..will this lead to a confrontation between Russia and Turkey?

The “frozen conflict” between Armenia and Azerbaijan has turned very hot. What may seem to many Westerners a minor clash in a remote corner of the world actually has significant implications for regional security, energy markets and the ambitions of two problematic strongmen: Vladimir Putin of Russia and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.

The fighting, which goes back to the collapse of the Soviet Union, centers on a small enclave of ethnic Armenians inside Azerbaijan called Nagorno-Karabakh. The mountainous self-declared republic (which is not even formally recognized by its patron, Armenia) has a population of 150,000 but is highly militarized. The Azeris lost control of the area in a conflict in the 1990s that cost 30,000 lives, and despite much saber-rattling have been unable to get it back though diplomatic or military means.

In my time at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, I visited both countries several times. Dislike and distrust permeated the environment. The two defense chiefs at the time hated each other, and although both nations were nonmember partners with NATO (and had small troop contingents in Afghanistan), all that either man wanted to talk about was the duplicity and venality of the other. Unfortunately, each was accurately channeling the national view toward their neighbor in the Caucasus. Neither side seemed willing to give an inch, either literally and figuratively.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2020/10/04/commentary/world-commentary/war-caucasus-russia-turkey/

Armenia is now blaming Turkey (an old conflict that has no end)..

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said the support of Turkey motivated Azerbaijan to reignite fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh. The fighting continues in the disputed region, with around 300 people reported killed, including civilians on both sides.

“While it is true that the leadership of Azerbaijan has been actively promoting bellicose rhetoric for the last 15 years, now the decision to unleash a war was motivated by Turkey’s full support,” Pashinyan told AFP. “Without Turkey’s active engagement this war would have not begun.”

Pashinyan also said on Tuesday that Armenia was willing to make concessions with Azerbaijan to end the fighting if Baku was willing to do the same. “Conflicts need to be resolved on the basis of mutual concessions,” he said. “Nagorno-Karabakh is ready, and Armenia is ready, to mirror the concessions that Azerbaijan is ready to make.”

Azeri President Ilham Aliyev has previously stated that the fighting will continue until Armenian forces completely withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh. “Nagorno-Karabakh is our land. We have to go back there, and we are doing it now,” Aliyev said on Sunday.

Other heads of state have accused Turkey of driving the conflict, including French President Emmanuel Macron and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In an interview on Tuesday, Assad accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of being the “main instigator and the initiator” of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.

(antiwar.com)

This situation has the possibility of becoming a wider conflict that could suck in many Western countries as well as Russia…..but just what is Azeris fighting for?

But what, precisely, is the aim of the operation?

Azerbaijani officials haven’t said precisely what their strategic goal is in this round of fighting, but the scale of the offensive suggests that it is more ambitious than previous escalations.

Azerbaijani analysts say that the aim this time may be the recapture of one or two of the territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh that Armenian forces took during the war three decades ago.

“I assume that Azerbaijan intends at least to retake control in Fuzuli and Jabrayil; [those are] the two main priorities for this campaign,” said Fuad Shahbaz, an Azerbaijani analyst, in an email interview with Eurasianet.

https://eurasianet.org/as-fighting-rages-what-is-azerbaijans-goal

The only good news is that the two warring sides have agreed to a ceasefire…

Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to a ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Saturday. The two sides agreed to pause fighting while they exchange prisoners and the bodies of those killed in the conflict. More “substantive” talks over the disputed enclave are expected to start soon.

The announcement came after representatives from Armenia and Azerbaijan met in Moscow for talks mediated by Russia. According to Sputnik, the two sides agreed to a ceasefire after 10 hours of negotiations.

“A ceasefire has been announced, beginning 12:00 on 10 October, 2020, for humanitarian purposes for the exchange of prisoners of war and other detainees, and bodies of the dead, to be mediated in accordance with the criteria of the International Committee of the Red Cross,” Lavrov said in a statement.

The ceasefire announcement comes after the US, France, and Russia met in Geneva to discuss the conflict. The three countries co-chair the Minsk Group, which was set up in 1992 to foster negotiations over the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute.

(antiwar.com)

A ceasefire sounds like a good start right?

Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to a Russia-brokered cease-fire in Nagorno-Karabakh starting Saturday, but immediately accused each other of derailing the deal intended to end the worst outbreak of hostilities in the separatist region in more than a quarter-century, the AP reports. The two sides traded blame for breaking the truce that took effect at noon with new attacks, and Azerbaijan’s top diplomat said the truce never entered force. The cease-fire announcement came overnight after 10 hours of talks in Moscow. The deal stipulated that the cease-fire should pave the way for talks on settling the conflict. If the truce holds, it would mark a major diplomatic coup for Russia, which has a security pact with Armenia but also cultivated warm ties with Azerbaijan.

But the agreement was immediately challenged by mutual claims of violations. Minutes after the truce took force, the Armenian military accused Azerbaijan of shelling the area near the town of Kapan in southeastern Armenia, killing one civilian. Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry rejected the Armenian accusations as a “provocation.” The Azerbaijani military, in turn, accused Armenia of striking the Terter and Agdam regions of Azerbaijan with missiles and then attempting to launch offensives in the Agdere-Terter and the Fizuli-Jabrail areas.

This region is an opportunity for the US to show they can lead still……but the question will be will it?

Several Democratic Senators, in the wake of the war in Nagorno-Karabakh, are proposing that the U.S. impose sanctions or terminate all military assistance to Azerbaijan.  Evidently, they blame Baku for the war.  But while such resolutions may gratify the ubiquitous and deep-rooted moralism and desire to punish malefactors that affects the entire U.S. political class as well as interested domestic constituencies; this intemperate and misconceived move actually runs counter to U.S. interests.  Indeed, it would only confirm Azeri and Turkish suspicions that there is no understanding in Washington concerning the Caucasus and thus no reason to pay attention to this gesture of frustration or to anything else coming out of Washington. Neither would it bring the parties to peace, quite the contrary.  That decision would only lead them to seek patrons elsewhere and further estrange them from Washington while depriving the U.S. of leverage in the region.

Since crisis denotes opportunity as well as threat, this war actually behooves Washington to ponder the reasons for this outbreak of fighting as well as the fact that this war offers the U.S. an opportunity to get back in the ring in the Caucasus, advance its own and the belligerents’ real interests, and help bring about peace and legitimate regional order.  First, we must dispute the widespread belief that we have no vital or important interests at stake here other than possibly the safety of energy shipments to Europe from the Caspian that traverse Azerbaijan and Georgia.  In 1993 when this conflict began, Turkey raised the possibility of attacking Armenia to relieve Azerbaijan.

https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2020/10/09/the_war_in_nagorno-karabakh_actually_represents_an_opportunity_for_washington_580211.html

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3 thoughts on “Meanwhile Back At The South Caucasus Conflict

  1. That region has been a mess for so long. Even the Soviets couldn’t really manage it during the USSR days, and I doubt we will see any successful resolution anytime soon.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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