Poor peace for Armenia

Submitted by AWL on 17 November, 2020 - 3:25 Author: Michael Elms
Azerbaijani and Armenian flags

On 6 November, the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan ended with the capitulation of the Armenian side. A Russian-brokered treaty will see Russian and Turkish peacekeepers deployed to the Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) region, and the key strategic points of Shusha and Lacin ceded to Azerbaijan. Approximately half the (Armenian) population of Nagorno-Karabakh has already been displaced and few are likely to return.

This summer, Azerbaijan launched an invasion of the Republic of Artsakh, a self-governing Armenian-majority enclave within the territory of Azerbaijan. In the 1990s, Armenian fighters had staved off a likely-genocidal Azerbaijani invasion of the enclave.

Azerbaijan won this new war, overturning successive defeats in 1994 and 2016, by using its vast oil wealth to purchase highly effective drone technology, including the Israeli Harop drone. These “loitering munitions” and “suicide-diving” aerial weapons overwhelmed Armenian defences and permitted unprecedented Azerbaijani advances to the very edge of Stepanakert. Azerbaijan also enjoyed strong support from Erdogan’s Turkey, which sent military assistance including alleged Daesh fighters from Syria.

Given this background, the presence of Turkish troops on the borders of this Armenian enclave is unlikely to result in peace being kept. Indirectly, via Turkey, NATO has underwritten this war. The US State Department has long been keen to establish the closest possible alliance with Baku in order to get a slice of their oil wealth.

Nationalist Azeri demonstrations have broken out across Iran; demonstrations sponsored by both the Aliyev regime and its opponents greeted the taking of Shusha; and in Armenia, President Nigol Pashniyan has found himself besieged by furious protesters demanding the war continue.

While the Republic of Artsakh will continue to exist, Azerbaijan now controls key heights from which repeated invasions can be launched. Aliyev has stated his intention to continue his drive against the self-rule of Artsakh, and should his regime run into political trouble in future, a renewed offensive into Nagorno-Karabakh may save his skin.

Armenia, by far the weaker power, threatened by powerful neighbours, is right to fear sequels to the Armenian Genocide.

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