A Snapshot of the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict
A Brief Overview
This week clashes have started once again in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, a territory in between Armenia and Azerbaijan that has been fraught with conflict throughout recent history, with tensions rising into open war in the latter years of the Soviet Union’s control over the area.
The Nagorno-Karabakh region has, in recent years, been predominantly populated by Armenians, but during Soviet times, this region was part of the Azerbaijan SSR and had the status of an autonomous region.
In the 1980s, Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh accused the government of the Azerbaijan SSR of ethnic discrimination and gathered signatures and held rallies in support of the region becoming part of the Armenian SSR.
This led to a sharp conflict between representatives of the two peoples, which resulted in riots, pogroms, and the mutual expulsion of populations from the (Armenian and Azerbaijani) republics.
In 1991, the conflict escalated into a bloody war, accompanied by mutual ethnic cleansing and war crimes. The First Karabakh War ended in 1994 with the declaration of a ceasefire regime. Armenian forces gained control over Nagorno-Karabakh and several other surrounding territories, creating a de facto independent state. However, the conflict remained unresolved, and tensions persisted.
On September 27, 2020, fresh clashes broke out between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces, marking the beginning of the Second Karabakh War. The fighting intensified, resulting in numerous casualties and the displacement of thousands of people.
The conflict once again brought international attention to the long-standing dispute and raised concerns about the potential for wider escalation.
Various factors contribute to the complexity of the conflict. One key issue is the question of self-determination for the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. The majority of the population in recent years identify as Armenians and have sought independence or unification with the Republic of Armenia.
Azerbaijan, on the other hand, claims territorial integrity and asserts its sovereignty over the region. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan believe the Karabakh region is part of their ancestral homelands predating Soviet control in the area, which has added complications to the conflict.
International efforts to resolve the conflict have so far been unsuccessful. The OSCE Minsk Group, co-chaired by France, Russia, and the United States, has been mediating in the negotiations for a peaceful settlement.
However, numerous ceasefire violations and a lack of political will from both sides have hindered progress.The ramifications of the ongoing conflict are far-reaching.
The humanitarian situation has deteriorated, with reports of civilian casualties, infrastructure damage, and the displacement of thousands of people. Moreover, the conflict has wider implications for the region, potentially destabilizing the delicate balance of power in the South Caucasus.
As the fighting continues, international calls for a ceasefire and a peaceful resolution have multiplied.
However, reaching a lasting solution to the conflict remains a formidable challenge, requiring political will, compromises, and the commitment of all parties involved.