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How Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict Could Spark Major International Crisis

Springtime in the doubtful domain of Nagorno-Karabakh is predicted enough. As certain as the plane trees start to flower, skirmishes mangle out between Azeri and Armenian troops.

On April 2, however, the typically short-lasting, day-long protocol morphed into the makings of a critical general crisis.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have been fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh given 1988, when the Soviet Union began to collapse. As Moscow started to lose control of its extremities, the largely ethnically Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh attempted to split from Azerbaijan. The conflict that erupted claimed 30,000 lives and displaced adult to one million people, before a Russia-brokered cease-fire agreement was sealed in 1994.

The war competence have ended, though assent was never secured. Both sides dug in, and constructed miles on miles of trenches. Across a no-man’s land of barbed-wire and mines, 20,000 Armenian and Azeri soldiers glance any other down. Over the past year, both sides have combined heavier and heavier equipment.

The clear takeaway from this weekend’s hostilities is that the conflict Nagorno-Karabakh is prepared to boil over. The fighting was the worst seen given the 1994 cease-fire, and claimed at least 50 lives, including several civilians. But the most poignant disproportion between the clashes that sparked on April 2 and all prior skirmishes was their length and intensity.

Azerbaijan appears to have struck first, responding to an vague irritation opposite the entire line of contact. “It was a strategy designed to seize, secure and hold tools of the assigned territories,” says Richard Giragosian, executive of the Yerevan-based Regional Studies Center, an independent consider tank.

Armenia claimed to have retaken domain seized by Azerbaijan. By the time both sides stopped sharpened at each other on April 5, it indeed seemed that the previous standing quo has been more-or-less preserved.

Azerbaijan is undone with the de facto function of its emperor territory, though changes in domestic politics are the major motorist on the Azeri side. The collapse in global oil prices has strike the Azeri economy tough and President Ilham Aliev is underneath vigour to pursue victories in Karabakh. “War is the best distraction,” says Simon Saradzhyan, a fellow at Harvard University and native of Karabakh.

Nagorno-Karabakh: 28 Years of Conflict

Then, there is Turkey. Moscow’s argument with Ankara has serve difficult an already moving conditions in the southern Caucasus, that is flanked by Russia and Turkey. Azerbaijan is ethnically tied to Turkey, and there is no adore mislaid between the Turks and Armenians. On April 3, Turkish President Recep Erdogan blustered that Turkey’s Azeri brothers would delight over Armenia and retake the occupied territories.

Armenia, in fact, has the upper palm in the conflict, in that it still controls the high belligerent in Karabakh. On one level, Turkey is antagonizing the situation. On another, it might, only might, get drawn into a deeper war. “Erdogan too is politically thankful to support Azerbaijan opposite Armenia,” says Saradzhyan.

On the other side of that equation is Russia — a close fan of Armenia and obligated to protect it from foreign troops aggression. The good news is that Russia has distant some-more ability to influence the situation than Turkey has. It has clever mercantile ties with both Baku and Yerevan, and is home to strong diasporas from both countries. Azerbaijan is also a large customer of Russian arms, spending around $4 billion in recent years.

Russia is pulling for both sides to lay down their arms and set terms for a renewed cease-fire. Putin hold a phone discussion with the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia on April 5. On April 7, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is due to fly to Yerevan, while Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov heads to Baku. Russia’s Defense Ministry is also reportedly in touch with the counterparts.

That this coincides with identical delegations from OSCE members like the United States and France would prove the international village is coordinating efforts to prevent another destabilizing crisis.

But bad blood runs low in the South Caucasus. A war competence have been prevented on April 5, though the can has simply been kicked down the road. The intractable dispute for Nagorno-Karabakh has not come any closer to a pacific resolution. Instead, a precedent has been set: weapons like flamethrower-tanks and indiscriminate complicated rocket artillery are now satisfactory game.

War has a nasty proof of its own, says Saradzhyan.

The April 1 line of contact competence be easy by negotiations in the entrance days, though Nagorno-Karabakh will sojourn an unrecognized self-governing state populated by Armenian Christians.

It will still be surrounded by a primarily Muslim Azerbaijan that is apropos fast discontented with the Armenian function of 17 percent of its territory.

Something, eventually, will have to give.

Article source: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/article/564934.html

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