Nagorno-Karabakh Hostilities: New War Erupting

According to Azerbaijan’s defence ministry, “anti-terrorist” operations have begun in the country’s breakaway province of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is controlled by Armenia.

For months, tensions have been high around the ethnic Armenian enclave, which is recognized internationally as part of Azerbaijan.
Eleven Azerbaijani police officers and civilians were murdered in a mine explosion and another event.
Air raid sirens have been heard in Karabakh’s capital.

Outbreak of a war

The Azerbaijani military “violated the ceasefire along the entire line of contact with missile-artillery strikes,” according to defence officials in the breakaway territory. Other speakers from Karabakh spoke of a “large-scale military offensive.”

The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, a small region in the South Caucasus, has been a source of tension and violence between Armenia and Azerbaijan for decades. Understanding the history behind this protracted dispute is crucial in comprehending the complexities of the ongoing hostilities.

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Historical Background

Nagorno-Karabakh, a landlocked mountainous region in the South Caucasus, has a diverse population but a predominantly ethnic Armenian population. Throughout its history, it has been a source of contention between various regional powers, including Persia, Russia, and the Ottoman Empire.

Nagorno Karabakh
  1. Early History: Nagorno-Karabakh has a rich history dating back centuries, with a mix of ethnic and cultural influences. It was under Persian control in the 18th century but was later annexed by the Russian Empire in the early 19th century.
  2. Soviet Rule: After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the South Caucasus saw a period of instability, leading to the establishment of Soviet rule. Joseph Stalin, a Soviet leader of Georgian descent, played a significant role in the region’s borders. In 1923, he transferred Nagorno-Karabakh from Soviet Armenia to Soviet Azerbaijan. This decision has been a source of historical dispute.
  3. Dissolution of the Soviet Union: The late 1980s and early 1990s saw the Soviet Union’s dissolution and a surge in nationalist sentiments across its republics. As the Soviet Union weakened, ethnic tensions in Nagorno-Karabakh resurfaced.
  4. Conflict Erupts: In 1988, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict escalated into open hostilities, leading to a full-scale war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The conflict resulted in thousands of casualties and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people.
  5. Ceasefire and Frozen Conflict: In 1994, a ceasefire was brokered by the OSCE Minsk Group, but a final resolution to the conflict remained elusive. The region of Nagorno-Karabakh, along with surrounding territories, remained under the control of ethnic Armenian forces, leading to a “frozen conflict.”
  6. Escalation and Renewed Hostilities: Tensions flared up again in September 2020, resulting in a significant escalation of hostilities. A ceasefire agreement was brokered in November 2020, with Russian mediation, but the underlying issues persist.

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Root Causes of the Conflict

Several factors contribute to the enduring conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh:

  1. Territorial Dispute: The heart of the conflict lies in the question of territorial sovereignty. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan claim Nagorno-Karabakh as their own, with historical, cultural, and political justifications for their claims.
  2. Ethnic Dimension: The ethnic dimension is a crucial aspect of the conflict, with ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh seeking self-determination and the right to join Armenia, while Azerbaijan insists on its territorial integrity.
  3. Nationalism and Identity: Nationalist sentiments in both countries have further fueled the conflict. The dispute is deeply ingrained in the national identities of Armenia and Azerbaijan.
  4. External Actors: Various international actors, including Russia, Turkey, and Iran, have interests in the South Caucasus, complicating efforts to find a peaceful resolution.
Destroyed tank

The Baku defence ministry accused Armenian forces of “systematic shelling” of army posts on Tuesday, and claimed it had retaliated by conducting “local, anti-terrorist activities… to disarm and secure the withdrawal of formations of Armenia’s armed forces from our territories.” It asserted that it was not targeting civilians or civilian institutions, but rather that “only legitimate military targets are being rendered ineffective by the use of high-precision weapons.”

According to Armenia’s defence ministry, the accusations of Armenian firing are not accurate.

Is the Work on the brink of a new large scale war?

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is a multifaceted and deeply rooted dispute with a complex history. It has resulted in significant human suffering and remains a source of regional instability. Despite several ceasefire agreements and ongoing mediation efforts, a lasting resolution to the conflict remains elusive. Understanding the historical context is essential for anyone seeking to comprehend the challenges and complexities of this ongoing conflict and its implications for the South Caucasus and beyond.

It is essential to note that the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh is fluid, and tensions can rise or recede based on various factors. Diplomatic efforts continue to seek a peaceful resolution to the conflict, but achieving a comprehensive and lasting agreement is challenging.

The international community and relevant stakeholders have a vested interest in preventing a large-scale war and promoting a peaceful settlement. Continuous dialogue, diplomatic negotiations, and conflict prevention mechanisms are essential tools in reducing the risk of a major conflict in the region. However, the situation remains unpredictable, and vigilance and efforts to maintain peace are crucial.

Latest fire exchange shows how fragile peace is in disputed regions especially when another major war if fought like the one in Ukraine. Tensions are at all time high and many countries try to solve disputes in a dangerous manner while the eyes of the world are directed towards other regions.

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