Armenia and Azerbaijan, two former Soviet republics in the Caucasus, are embroiled in a decades-long regional dispute. A deadly new fight broke out yesterday.
These were the largest clashes in the area since 2016, when 110 people were killed. Dozens of people were killed this weekend, sparking international calls to stop the fighting.
Armenia and Nagorni Karabakh (disputed territory) declared martial law and military mobilization, while Azerbaijan imposed military rule and curfews in large cities.
Fighting between Muslim Azerbaijan and majority-Christian Armenia threatened to trap local players Russia and Turkey. Armenian Prime Minister Nicole Paschini has called on global powers to block Ankara’s intervention.
France, Germany, Italy and the European Union have called for an immediate ceasefire. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said he is “deeply concerned”.
He said the US State Department had been in contact with both countries and asked them to “use the existing direct communication links between them to avoid further escalation”. Russian President Vladimir Putin has discussed the military explosion with Pashinian and called for an “end to hostilities.”
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has vowed victory over Armenian forces.
The latest news is that Kim Kardashian West – his father was Armenian – has been weighed down.
They claimed that Armenia was the victim of unprovoked attacks and that the news about the problem was misleading. They also demanded that all US military aid to Azerbaijan be cut.
Some expressed concern about the escalation of the conflict. “We are one step away from a big war,” Olasya Vartanyan of the International Crisis Group told AFP.
“One of the main reasons for the current increase is the lack of an active international mediation for three weeks.”
Why are these two countries engaged in intense and protracted conflict?
Here are some key issues surrounding the issue.
The Nagorni Karabakh region is at the heart of the conflict between the Armenian capital, Yerevan, and the Azerbaijani capital, Baku.
In 1921, Soviet authorities annexed mainly Armenian territory to Azerbaijan. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, it was captured by Armenian separatists with the support of Yerevan.
The ensuing war killed 30,000 people and forced millions of people out of their homes.
Russia, the United States and France have all agreed to a ceasefire in 1994, but peace talks continue and war breaks out from time to time.
Azerbaijan and Armenian separatists have blamed each other for the latest clashes over the weekend.
An explosion at the border in July killed 17 soldiers of both armies. In April 2016 he was killed in the deadliest battle in 110 years.
Rebellions and dynasties
Azerbaijani forces destroy an Armenian anti-aircraft system on the contact line of the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Source: AP / PA images
Armenia, a Christian country since the 4th century, has been plagued by political and economic instability since independence from the former Soviet Union.
The country’s post-Soviet leadership suppressed opposition to its rule, accusing the ballot results of being fraudulent and ignoring Russia’s interests.
In the spring of 2018, mass street protests brought incumbent Prime Minister Nicole Paschini to power. He then introduced anti-corruption and popular justice reforms.
Muslim-majority Azerbaijan has been ruled by a single family in the Caspian Sea since 1993. KGB leader Aliyev, a former Soviet security official, ruled the country until October 2003. .
Weeks before he died, he gave power to his son Ilham. Like his father, Ilham rescinded all opposition to his rule and in 2017 made his wife, Mehriban, the country’s first vice president.
Russia and Turkey
What about the role of Turkey and Russia in the war?
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With the desire to become a local power broker in the Caucasus, Turkey has left its burden behind oil-rich and Turkish-speaking Azerbaijan.
Mutual distrust of Armenia accelerates their alliance. Ankara regularly utters strong words in support of Baku’s ambitions to reclaim Nagorni Karabak.
Yerevan is hostile to Turkey in the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians by Turkey under the Ottoman Empire during World War I. Although more than 30 countries have recognized the killings as genocide, Ankara strongly opposes the term.
Russia, which has close ties with Armenia, is a major power broker in the region. It leads the military alliance of the former Soviet Union, a joint security treaty organization, including Armenia.
Yerevan relies on Russian support and military guarantees because Azerbaijan surpasses its defense budget for spending on weapons.
Oil and expatriates
Armenian army destroys Azerbaijani tank on the contact line of the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh
Source: AP / PA images
Azerbaijan has recently begun to increase oil revenues as part of an effort to change its image in the West.
Baku has invested in major sponsorship deals, including the Euro 2020 football championship (postponed due to corona virus pandemic). Baku, who was scheduled to host the tournament this year, has been competing in Formula 1 Grand Prix in Azerbaijan since 2016.
Azerbaijan seeks to move to European countries as an alternative energy supplier to Russia.
In the international arena, Armenia is home to a large and influential expatriate population who fled the oppression of the Ottoman period.
Kim Kardashian, the late singer Charles Aznavoor, and pop star and actress Cher all have roots in Armenia. Some, like Kardashian, who was outspoken about the Armenian genocide, appointed themselves ambassadorial ambassadors.
– © AFP 2020, Additional Reporting Ayof Barry