Azerbaijan and Armenia have resorted to decades-old fight in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan. The clashes that started on Sunday have so far claimed over 200 lives, including 34 civilians.
The Foreign Policy Affairs Department of Azerbaijan, Hikmet Hajiyev, has held Armenia responsible for the attacks.
He tweeted with photos of injured people and demolished properties.
Armenia’s new attack against Azerbaijan is an act of aggression and use of force. It is yet another provocation of Armenia since the Tovuz incident.
What is Nagorno-Karabakh?
Stretching between western Asia and Eastern Europe, Nagorno-Karabakh is an internationally-recognized territory of Azerbaijan but controlled by Armenian separatists. Nagorno-Karabakh has been part of Azerbaijan since the Soviet era.
When the Soviet Union was weakening in late 1980, Armenia tried to annex the region through the regional parliament’s vote. The Soviet authorities blocked the move.
The region remained in Azerbaijan’s territory but controlled by the separatists. Fighting continued for years between the two forces, claiming tens of thousands of lives until Russia brokered a deal in 1994.
By the time, most parts of the territory had gone into the control of the ethnic Armenian group, which later declared it an autonomous state called the “Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast.”
Though the Armenian government does not recognize Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence, it supports them politically and militarily against Azerbaijan.
The Regional Game – Who Supports Who?
Turkey has always supported Azerbaijan against Armenia. This week, Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, demanded the occupiers to give up control of Azerbaijani territories and reassured support for ‘brotherly’ Azerbaijan.
The two other supporters of Azerbaijan are sworn enemies Pakistan and Israel. Pakistan does not recognize Israel and also has no diplomatic ties with the country due to its occupation of Palestinian lands. Pakistan also does not recognize Armenia supporting Turkey’s stance against the alleged Armenian genocide, hence, supports Azerbaijan’s claim on the Karabakh region.
“Pakistan stands with the brotherly nation of Azerbaijan and supports its right of self-defense,” Pakistan’s Foreign Office statement said.
Israel, on the other hand, has well-established ties with Azerbaijan and thus extends its support for the country.
On the other hand, Armenia is backed by its longtime strategic partner and former occupier Russia, and the new regional player, India. Russia has recently given Armenia S-300 ballistic missiles and new SU-30SM fighter jets.
India, on the flip side, is growing its footprints in Russia’s geopolitical backyard. The country has recently signed a $40 million defense deal with Armenia for supplying four SWATHI weapon locating radars.
Another supporter of Armenia is Iran. Though Iran portrays a balance of ties between Azerbaijan and Armenia, behind-the-scenes, it supports Armenia to counter the growing influence of Turkey in the region. Another reason for Iran to back Armenia is its longstanding conflict with Israel.
Other global powers, such as the United States, have only restricted their participation to appeals for peace so far. For all countries, the Karabakh region is an important transit route for the supply of oil and natural gas to the European Union.