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Has The Age-old Azerbaijan–Armenian War Ended?

Location and Demographics of Armenia and Azerbaijan 

Armenia and Azerbaijan are two countries in the Caucasus region, situated at the intersection of Europe and Western Asia. The captivating Yerevan city is the capital of Armenia. And the beautiful sea-facing Baku city is the capital city of Azerbaijan. The religious composition of Armenia is dominated by 97% of the Christian population. The Armenian constitution allows the freedom of religion, including the right to practice any religion. So other than Christians, some people practice different faiths in Armenia like Russian Orthodox Church, Islam, Judaism, and more. However, Azerbaijan has 94% of the population which practices Islam, in which 85% population is Shia Muslim, and the rest 15% is Sunni Muslim. Besides this, other people believe in the Russian Orthodox Church, Armenian Orthodox Church, Judaism, Hinduism, etc. 

Reason Behind the Endless War 

These two countries have a long history of territorial conflict. The conflict is regarding the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, a small mountainous and forested piece of land in the Caucasus. Even though Azerbaijan claims this piece of land to be part of their territory, it was under the occupation of the Ethnic Armenian separatists from the 1992 war till last year. This region is dominated by ethnic Armenian people and has Azerbaijani people in the minority. 

For more than 30 years, this region has been the centre of conflict between these two countries, and the war over its claims has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced more than a million people. The European Union and the United Nations have actively exhorted both sides to cease hostilities but were not able to draw an armistice. 

Russian-Turkey Vendetta 

While understanding the involvement of Russia and Turkey, it is necessary to bring light on two important facts, first, that the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan has received a large amount of attention mainly because of the involvement of Russia and Turkey, and second, that Turkey and Russia also share a very long history of warfare. 

These two countries try to maintain a stable bilateral relation amongst themselves for their national interests. Russia possesses a good amount of natural gas reserves and high-tech military equipment, which Turkey does not. On the other hand, Turkey has a large consumer market base and is a transporter country since it provides European market links to the Russian and Asian sellers. 

Russia and Turkey have an age-old geopolitical conflict. The neighbouring countries of Turkey, namely: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belorussia (Belarus), Moldavia (Moldova), Georgia, and regions of the Black Sea which controls the Bosporus strait near Istanbul, were part of the Soviet Union until its dissolution, and they still receive some economic and military support from Russia. Armenia receives indirect support from Russia through the arms supplies provided covertly to both Armenia and Azerbaijan. Moreover, Russia has a military base in Armenia along with a military alliance called the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, which is an intergovernmental military alliance between former Soviet Union states. Nevertheless, Russia always tries to balance its position in front of the world. Moreover, President Vladimir Putin has appealed to both countries for a ceasefire multiple times. 

However, we can see direct support from Turkey to Azerbaijan (both countries have an Islamic majority). In order to understand Turkey's role in this conflict, one needs to understand its geographic advantage. The Caspian Sea is the oldest and most significant oil and natural gas producing area globally. A pipeline called “Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (a province in Turkey)" takes oil from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean region. The Western Root Exporter Pipeline (WREP), which includes Baku-Supsa (a village in Georgia), transports crude oil from the Caspian Sea to the Black region and the Baku-Novorossiysk (a city in Russia) pipeline, from there the crude is further shipped via tankers through the Bosporus and Dardanelles streets (controlled by Turkey) to the European market. Next is the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas pipeline that passes through Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey to Europe. Lastly, the South Caucasus pipeline transports Natural gas from the Caspian Sea through Georgia onto the Georgia-Turkey border, enabling further transportation to Europe through the Trans-Anatolian pipeline. 

The whole pipeline assembly places Turkey at the centre of 72% of the world's natural gas and 73% of oil reserves. Therefore it forms a natural bridge between energy source countries and the consumer markets. Moreover, Azerbaijan is an integral part of the transportation system and thus receives direct support from Turkey. Although, Turkey's relations with Armenia have never been good. When there has been some conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Turkey has often closed its borders with Armenia, affecting Armenia's and other countries' economies. 

Nevertheless, the conflictive issues that Russia and Turkey have amongst themselves, these two countries have always prioritised their respective interests. 

The 2020 Confrontation 

Azerbaijan always wanted to have a corridor called Zangazur running through its exclave Nakhichevan to its ally Turkey. In order to reach Turkey, this corridor needs to pass through Armenian territory, which was completely unacceptable to Armenia. 

The Armenian government supported the Nagorno-Karabakh region politically and militarily until the Azerbaijani soldiers captured most of the region in 2020. The month of July 2020 saw the rise of the conflict between these two countries when violent clashes broke out between the people of both countries on the line of contact, and a few people got killed. After which, public anger erupted in Azerbaijan, and a mass demonstration was carried out. People in Azerbaijan demanded that the country should take possession of Nagorno-Karabakh. Soon both the countries started inculpating each other for disturbing the peace and killing people belonging to opposite nationalities in the region. On September 27, 2020, explosions hit the area of Nagorno-Karabakh. As the Azerbaijani army captured the region, outgunned by advanced drones, Armenian forces had no choice but to retreat and finally agree to a ceasefire in early November 2020. 

The Ceasefire 

With more than 6,000 lives lost on both sides in one year, and after losing large tracts of land (internationally regarded as part of Azerbaijan) to Azerbaijan, Armenia declared a ceasefire. 

After the Azerbaijani forces, backed by Turkey, managed to recapture various regions of Nagorno- Karabakh, Armenia asked help from its primary security ally Russia to contain its territorial sovereignty. And both the countries signed the Russia-contrived truce on November 10, 2020. Around two thousand Russian peacekeepers were deployed for patrolling in and around Nagorno- Karabakh soon after signing the agreement. 

Ever since both countries have observed relative peace, "Under the mediation of the Russian side, an agreement was reached to cease fire at Armenia's eastern border. The situation has relatively stabilised," the Armenian defence ministry had said in a statement last year. 

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Tags: #Armenia-Azerbaijan #Nagorno-Karabakh #Armenia #Azerbaijan

1 comment

8 months, 1 week ago by aqibmulla2002

Amazing and a very informative article…! Waiting for more to come!

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