Nagorno-Karabakh: Armenia and Azerbaijan conflict nears a point of no return

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On Wednesday, Azerbaijani authorities stated not less than 21 civilians have been killed and dozens extra injured after rockets fired by Armenian forces utilizing a Russian-made Smerch missile system hit the Azerbaijani city of Barda, which is a few 20 miles away from the entrance traces of the conflict. Reporters visited clinics whose flooring have been slick with the blood of the wounded. Amnesty International confirmed that these rockets had unleashed cluster munitions, that are designed to inflict indiscriminate harm and banned beneath worldwide conference.

“The firing of cluster munitions into civilian areas is cruel and reckless, and causes untold death, injury and misery,” stated Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, in a assertion. “As this conflict continues to escalate, Armenian, Armenian-backed and Azerbaijani forces have all been guilty of using of banned weapons that have endangered the lives of civilians caught in the middle.”

Armenian officers have accused Azerbaijan of hitting civilian websites in its regular bombardment of Armenian positions within the Armenian-populated enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. Both sides have repeatedly denied focusing on civilian areas and blame their adversary for unchecked aggression. The Armenian and Azerbaijani international ministers are scheduled to satisfy Friday in Geneva, however there’s little optimism for progress. Three cease-fires have already collapsed since hostilities flared on the finish of final month. In each nations, nationalist sentiment is at fever pitch.

“The conflict may soon reach an irreversible point where it will not stop without a dramatic expansion of fighting and increased loss of life,” wrote Carey Cavanaugh, a professor on the University of Kentucky who helped lead internationally mediated negotiations between the edges in 2001.

At the conflict’s coronary heart is Nagorno-Karabakh. A legacy of Soviet mapmaking, the area was bitterly fought over after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Though inside Azerbaijan’s internationally acknowledged borders, Karabakh and seven adjoining districts remained managed by ethnic Armenian forces after a Russian-negotiated truce ended the bloody battles of the early Nineties. Close to a million Azerbaijanis have been displaced from their cities and villages by the combating then.

But a stop-and-start peace course of within the years since — punctuated by periodic skirmishes — has did not resolve the stalemate. “The two sides became so entrenched in their positions that a finely spun diplomatic solution found no takers,” wrote Thomas de Waal, senior fellow at Carnegie Europe. “Back in 2006, French, Russian, and U.S. mediators drafted a plan to thread the needle of the conflict, finesse the sovereignty dispute, and restore the rights of as many Armenians and Azerbaijanis as possible. But their Basic Principles document has never gotten serious traction among the region’s elites or its broader societies.”

Authorities in Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku, pin the failure of negotiations that led to the outbreak of the conflict on the Armenian authorities’s provocative nationalism, together with a “victory” speech by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan delivered this spring within the Karabakh metropolis of Shusha. Azerbaijan now desires to see an Armenian withdrawal to internationally acknowledged borders, as laid out by earlier U.N. Security Council resolutions and agreements that have been by no means applied.

“The final nail in the coffin of the negotiation process was when he said that Nagorno-Karabakh was Armenian,” Hikmet Hajiyev, international coverage adviser to the Azerbaijani president, instructed the New York Times.

On the bottom, Azerbaijan seems to be successful. Its superior navy, enhanced by Israeli- and Turkish-made drones bought with Baku’s appreciable oil wealth, has been capable of wrest management of a quantity of the districts abutting Nagorno-Karabakh that had been in Armenian fingers. It’s clear the previous month’s battles have shifted the established order in Baku’s favor extra decisively than years of intermittent talks and skirmishes.

Tens of hundreds of ethnic Armenian civilians fled the advance; tens of hundreds extra Azerbaijanis might ponder returning to lands they as soon as inhabited. Thousands of troopers have reportedly died on each side. Through the fog of warfare, stories counsel Azerbaijani forces could also be about to grab a rugged, strategic land hall that connects Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia.

The Armenians see the Azerbaijani offensive now as an existential menace to the folks of Karabakh. “Because of Azerbaijan’s maximalist expectations and approaches, we ended up with a war,” Varuzhan Nersesyan, Armenia’s ambassador in Washington, instructed Today’s WorldView. He stated Azerbaijan unleashed “a blitzkrieg” on Armenian forces and that Turkey’s substantive assist of Baku has tipped the scales of the conflict.

Nersesyan blamed Turkish “neo-Ottomanism” for “undermining regional peace and security.” He accused the Turkish authorities of eager to “finish the job” of the Armenian genocide of 1915 and solid Azerbaijan as a keen confederate in an unreconciled historic atrocity.

Such rhetoric infuriates Azerbaijani officers. “Armenia is not fighting Turkey. Armenia is fighting Azerbaijan,” Elin Suleymanov, Azerbaijan’s ambassador in Washington, instructed Today’s WorldView. “I know it’s difficult for them to understand Azerbaijan is a much stronger country.”

Suleymanov argued that the Armenians need the conflict to escalate to a point the place Russia, which maintains a navy base in Armenia and nearer ties with Yerevan, might ship in peacekeepers. He rejected the narrative of “civilizational war” coming from Armenian officers and blamed the political deadlock on Armenian unwillingness to barter in good religion. Nersesyan made the identical declare about his Azerbaijani counterparts.

“The only countries that can prevent a war without end or a latter-day Russian-Turkish great-power deal — while reaching a fair settlement — are Armenia and Azerbaijan themselves,” de Waal wrote. “But doing that would require them to conclude that resolving their conflict is more in their common interest than persisting with military force or allowing others to resolve it for them.”

So far, little mutual understanding seems on present. “For years, we have talked about the need for populations to prepare for peace,” stated Suleymanov, referring to the prospect of Karabakh’s Armenians dwelling side-by-side with Azerbaijanis. “We have a diverse country and we want them to be part of it.”

Nersesyan, although, argued that Azerbaijan was deluding itself if it believed it might safe unilateral concessions from the Armenians. “These advances are temporary,” he stated.

By Ishaan Tharoor – www.washingtonpost.com

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