Armenia, Azerbaijan and the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict

Armenia and Azerbaijan have restarted their conflict over the mountainous region of Nagorno-Karabakh, when they accused each other of unprovoked attacks on September 27. The two countries have had tension since the Soviet Union dissolved,  fighting in minor border skirmishes that last a few days, but since last month, things have escalated.

The region was, and still is, recognized as Azeri territory, but is mainly populated by Amenians. In 1988, Armenia asked for Azerbaijan to give them Nagorno-Karabakh, but Azerbaijan refused. This resulted in  war that killed at least 30,000 people.

Since the end of the war in 1994, Russia has been trying to keep the conflict from escalating. Along with France and the U.S., Russia has made a formal military alliance with Armenia, while still keeping close ties with Azerbaijan. Today, however, this arrangement is failing.

Within the past few weeks Azerbaijan has bombed Armenia, to which Armenia responded by destroying  two Azeri helicopters and three drones.

 Azerbaijan launched tanks, planes, missiles and drones as a counter attack.  Since October 2, Stepanakert, the largest city in Karabakh with  over 50,000 inhabitants, has been under artillery fire from Azerbaijan. 

Turkey, a long-time enemy of Armenia has been taking this conflict as an opportunity to back Azerbaijan, by sending in at least 1,000 militia fighters previously deployed in Syria to aid Azerbaijan, as well as giving the Azeri forces weapons and training. 

Armenia and Turkey’s conflict goes back to the late 1800s, and early 1900s. There were not only several Ottoman massacres of Armenians in 1894, 1895, 1896 and 1909, but the Ottoman Empire also committed genocide against them. .

 In 1915, after the Central powers (including the Ottoman Empire) lost World War I, the Ottomans put the blame on Armenia for their defeat, since they sided with Russia. 

In March of 1915 the Turkish government rounded up Armenian academics and allowed the military to deport Armenians claiming they were
“security threats.” The Ottoman Empire forced the Armenian people to make  death marches across the Syrian desert to concentration camps, where many men, women and children died.

They passed laws that allowed the confiscation of Armenian property, and they also disarmed Armenians who previously fought in the Ottoman army and transferred them into labor battalions where they were worked to death.

The University of Minnesota’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies has compiled figures that show there were 2,133,190 Armenians in the empire in 1914 and only about 387,800 by 1922. Since then Turkey and Armenia have had a tense relationship, and are often on different sides of conflicts.

 As a result of these recent conflicts in Armenia and Azerbaijan, 70,000-75,000 people have been displaced, and already 350 people have been killed. 

At the 75th United Nations general assembly talks of a ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan were attempted, and both sides spoke about the issue

 Ilham Haidar, president of the republic of Azerbaijan demanded “Immediate complete and unconditional withdrawal of the armenian armed forces from the azerbaijani occupied territories.” going on to say “Armenia continues to ignore the union security council’s resolutions for almost 30 years. International sanctions must be imposed on Armenia as an aggressor state in blatant violation of the international law norms.” 

 “The Azerbaijiani representative, who tried to build the deceptive argument upon the legal aspects of the conflict, failed to mention that the people of Nagorno-Karabakh gained independence in the context of the disintegration of the soviet union  in full compilation both with the international and legal terms at the time.” Said Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, the UN representative of Armenia, in retaliation,  “The people have the right to determine their on future free of fear and oppression under full exercise of their democraitc government.” 

Neither side would agree to take the blame or end the conflict, instead blaming the other for the skirmishes and of attempted genocide.

As of now there have been no more updates on this conflict, and while it looks as if there will be no peaceful resolution anytime soon, both sides continue to talk with international mediators in hopes of one.

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