Conflict Between Armenia and Azerbaijan
By John Mikko Velasquez
The accumulating tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan has finally erupted during this past summer. Over a hundred people have been wounded and dozens have reportedly been killed. The two countries are fighting over the Azerbaijani breakaway territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. In addition, both Armenia and Azerbaijan are backed by some major world powers. Unlike in previous clashes, peace might not be negotiable. These events could escalate for the worst because the current conflicts might draw in Russia, and Turkey. Russia is Armenia’s military ally and has a base in the country. Meanwhile, Turkey has overtly backed Azerbaijan.
Originally, Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan were part of the Soviet Union. After this alliance dissolved, Nagorno-Karabakh declared its independence, however, its declaration of independence resulted in a war with tens of thousands of casualties. Although Nagorno-Karabakh is mostly populated by Armenians, it is internationally recognized as a part of Azerbaijan.
Officials from both sides claim that each side has inflicted significant losses to the other, including killed civilians. Neither country has shown any proclivity toward peace talks. Meanwhile, videos show that missiles, tanks, and kamikaze drones were used in the battlefield. This use of heavy artillery has reached an unprecedented level. For example, a Turkish plane flew into Armenia and shot down one of its aircrafts. Then, both Turkey and Azerbaijan denied having any ties to it. According to CBS, “The hostilities that began at the end of September are said to be the worst since 1994, when the war ended with a ceasefire and Armenia taking control of the region.” Although both nations called for a ceasefire, skirmishes occurred frequently between both sides in the last three decades. The last significant skirmish that escalated occurred in 2016; at the time, dozens of troops were killed from both sides. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, no major power made efforts to de-escalate tensions when another skirmish erupted this past summer. A senior analyst, Olesya Vartanyan, for the International Crisis Group stated, “All the signals were in place, everything was telling that escalation was coming. And there was diplomatic silence. We are definitely one step away from a large-scale war in the region.”
On October 10, leaders forged a cease-fire agreement so that each side can collect the dead bodies on the battlefield and to exchange prisoners. Ilham Aliyev, the Azerbajaini president, stated that although he was happy to have talks, however, he is not going to make any concessions. President Aliyev stated, “We are winning and will get our territory back and ensure our territorial integrity.” Aliyev is insisting that they will not stop the skirmishes, until they get their territory back - as a show of power. To stop a potential large-scale war, the major powers, like the U.S., must step in and be the mediator before the point of no return.