Nagorno-Karabakh: A forgotten conflict

Nagorno-Karabakh: A forgotten conflict

Cover credit:  Remocontro

Cover credit: Remocontro

The region of Nagorno-Karabakh is the subject of an unresolved conflict between Azerbaijan and its ethnic Armenian majority.

The conflict has roots dating back over a century, mainly with competition between Christian Armenian, Muslim Turkic and Persian influences.

Credit:  Aljazeera

Credit: Aljazeera

This area became part of the Russian empire in the 19th century.

After World War I and the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, the new Soviet rulers established the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region within the Soviet Socialist Republic of Azerbaijan.

Credit:  Wikimedia

Credit: Wikimedia

As Soviet control loosened toward the end of the 1980s, Azerbaijan declared its independence from the Soviet Union and removed the powers held by the enclave's government.

At the same time, the Armenian majority voted to secede from Azerbaijan, proclaiming the unrecognized Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh. The declaration of secession from Azerbaijan was the final result of a territorial conflict regarding the land.

Credit:  Lyunse

Credit: Lyunse

Full-scale fighting erupted at the end of 1992. In the spring of 1993, Armenian forces captured regions outside the enclave itself, threatening the involvement of other countries in the region.

By the end of the war in 1994, the Armenians were in full control of most of the enclave, also holding the nine percent of Azerbaijan's territory outside the enclave. Besides the fact that almost 300,000 people lost their lives, as a result of the conflict 230,000 Armenians from Azerbaijan and 800,000 Azeris from Armenia and Karabakh were displaced.

Neither population has been able to return home. Since the truce, a stalemate has prevailed. Azeris resent the loss of land they regard as rightfully theirs, while the Armenians show no sign of willingness to give it back.

Azerbaijani refugee child from Karabakh. Credit:  Wikimedia

Azerbaijani refugee child from Karabakh. Credit: Wikimedia

Since December 2006, there have been positive signs in the peace process. An example being that by 2010 a number of serious ceasefire violations have occurred.

Recent events in Nagorno-Karabakh have brought violence back to Southern Caucasus. In the early morning of the April 2, 2016, Azerbaijani troops entered territory controlled by the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic where civilians were killed, as well as soldiers on each side.

It seems that the instability in the price of oil, along with increasing discontent with President Aliyev’s regime, have motivated Azerbaijan to revive this conflict, in an attempt to obtain domestic support.

Credit:  Today Online

Credit: Today Online

Even if the media has not given great relevance to the issue, there is an urgent need to call on all parts of the conflict to maintain the current ceasefire, leaving aside all military operations.

Some international associations, such as the European Free Alliance Youth and Organization for Security and Cooperation, are putting their efforts to ensure that political negotiations will continue.

The established ceasefire must then evolve into a peace plan, since an escalation of violence, with the confrontation of Armenia and Azerbaijan allies, could trigger a full-blown regional conflict in the Middle East.

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