By Amin Bagheri
The dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh region between Armenia and Azerbaijan is 30 years old. The Republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia have been at war with each other for three decades since independence. The Nagorno-Karabakh crisis has become the first news in the region these days, and the conflict between Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan has affected not only the two countries but also neighboring countries.
Due to the importance of this conflict and the crisis that has arisen between the two countries from time to time, regional and trans-regional countries sometimes intervene in this conflict, sometimes positively and sometimes profitably. The Nagorno-Karabakh issue, like all political tensions in the post-Soviet period, was one of the consequences of a power vacuum resulting from the collapse of world power.
The years that coincided with the collapse of the Soviet Union are the years when the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict began and in the years 90 to 92 AD which has led to the occupation of about 20% of the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the expulsion of one million Azerbaijani citizens. Consequently, some Armenians living in the Republic of Azerbaijan are decided to leave the country, but war crimes are pursued by so-called Armenian separatists.
As the crisis intensified, the two countries’ neighbors and international powers sought to find solutions. In the meantime, Turkey is one of the countries that has tried to arrange peace talks by pursuing a mediation policy. But it failed due to the sabotage of regional and international powers. Because if it was concluded, on the one hand, the beginning of Turkey’s role in the Caucasus and Central Asia would cause, and on the other hand, the power of countries like Russia in the region would be questioned.
At the same time in those years, the UN Security Council passed four resolutions calling on the separatists and the Armenian government to reconsider and renounce the occupation and withdraw from the occupied territories, but none of these resolutions were considered by Armenia.
During this period, the organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) formed a group called Minsk, which includes the United States, Russia, and France. Since 1992, after the ceasefire, the Minsk Group has tried to provide a legal framework for the issue, but countries are using it as leverage in their big games that have led to no result. Because the Minsk Group’s game over the years has shown that they want neither war nor peace to continue so that they can sell their weapons and have an excuse to be in the region. On the other hand, the Armenian side has never been willing to accept the most ordinary principles and has not taken any steps to start negotiations.
Azerbaijan began to question its territory
In the Karabakh war, not only the territory of the Karabakh region was occupied, but also 7 other provinces of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Thus, it is quite clear that the Armenian side, in addition to its claim, has occupied five other areas that were the subject of the 2007 Madrid principles.
According to the terms of the talks, it was decided that Armenia would evacuate the five regions and return them to Azerbaijan. Then, in the second step, a new process will begin to determine the task of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which Armenia did not accept.
Consequently, following the failure of the Madrid Summit, UN Security Council Resolutions 882, 853, 874, and 877 as well as the stalemate of Menisk’s efforts, led Baku to conclude that it had to take action. Besides, the Armenian lobby is active in these countries, especially the United States and Russia, and these activities have caused the Azerbaijani side to be disappointed in achieving the goal through these countries.
Until now, whenever there was even talk of retaking Nagorno-Karabakh, Russia was considered a major obstacle to intervention. In other words, Russia’s deterrent role has been very important in the past. As it had recently, when Azerbaijan began to retake its occupied territories, it had faced significant Moscow interference. But in this period, the appearance of Putin’s policy is something else that he has announced that he will not interfere in the affairs of others. Compared to previous years, there was hope for peace in the past, but the behavior of both sides, especially Armenia, over the past year has not been such as to hope for peace.
In closing, Azerbaijan does not seek war, bloodshed, and escalation of tensions and in a specific framework, tries to liberation its occupied territories. But the Armenian side is trying to take these conflicts beyond Nagorno-Karabakh, which is why it has launched two war tactics. First, it is trying to provoke Baku by bombing military areas and targeting civilians in a completely inhumane manner.
Secondly, considering the tensions between Turkey and Europe and declaring that Turkey supports Azerbaijan, Armenia is trying to consider the current conflict as trans-regional and to reciprocate its inability by resorting to supra-regional powers.
Regarding the position of the interested countries, it can be said that this war is the result of a stalemate in the proposals and actions of the United States, Russia, and Europe in providing a solution, and in fact, it can be said that Baku has been waiting for years for a peaceful solution to retake its occupied territories. But after years of waiting in vain, this time it has set to work. And perhaps it is precisely because of this incompetence and disorder of international organizations and bodies in resolving this conflict that this time, none of them has taken a stand against Baku and only advises two sides of the conflict to stop the war and start negotiations.
Accordingly, in the current changed situation, Azerbaijan itself is the only one to claim its occupied territory, and this time to act through the military. It should be noted that this time Armenia did not have the support of the United States and Russia as before, and conservative Europe only invites the two sides to peace, a peace that has led to 40 years of occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan.
*Amin Bagheri is a member of the Iranian International Studies Association in Tehran. His research focuses on Iran and the Middle East