Nagorno-Karabakh: Identity

The name, Nagorno-Karabakh, is de facto an amalgamation of opposing factors in the region. Nagorno is a Russian-derived word of “mountainous”, while Karabakh is a fusion of the Turkish-Persian influence meaning “large garden” (Wilson & Parker, 2017)

The two Caucasus states of Azerbaijan and Armenia have been in the limelight for the recent strife in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. It is a land where more than 140,000 of ethnic Armenians reside and where Azeri forces lay claims to after the collapse of Czarist Russia. In 1994, the enclave saw gunfire which took the lives of 30,000 people and led to the exodus of Azeris, the descents of Turkic-Iranian Azerbaijanis out of the region.

Following 1994 where both sides ended the war with a truce, a discord erupted on 27 September (Safi, 2020) which both sides accused each other of intentional shelling and following the skirmishes, both sides introduced martial law. Tensions were on the rise when Turkey proclaimed support for Azerbaijan, which led to a fear that the conflict would morph into a deadliest warfare since the 1990s.

Turkey had officially expressed its solidarity with Azerbaijan, with the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan quoting “…international community, which has failed to give a necessary and sufficient response to the provocative aggression of Armenia, once again shows its double standards”. Azerbaijan and Turkey have strong affinities in relation to ethnic and historical ties (Shimoni-Stoil, 2020), while the process of harmonization with Armenia has been haunted by the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians during the Ottoman rule. Azerbaijan officials have said it is now the moment to resolve the status of Nagorno-Karabakh and regain control in the region which lawfully belongs to them (Gatopoulos, 2020).

Russia has been actively trying to broker a deal between the disputed parties, but is thwarted by the Turkey-Azerbaijan alliance in hope of marginalizing Russian influence in the region. Although Russia is a supplier of weapons to both countries, Azerbaijan, who has been slightly better on the finances, has been purchasing equipment from Israel and Turkey. This has caused Russia to contemplate its strategies and after 2016 begun selling their weapons to Armenia to counterbalance the forces of Azerbaijan.

Peace talks and discussions have been mediated by the US, France, and Russia in order to reconcile both sides (Kim, 2020). However, Erdogan claimed that the trios have been neglecting the issue for years and should not be let to participate in the peacemaking process. 

Following a Russian-brokered peace deal, it is now in the favour of Azerbaijan to reclaim the region, which ethnic Armenians were forced to evacuate the region and have left many burning their houses and exhuming graves in fear that Azerbaijan will cause destruction to their possession. In Armenia, public unrest and outcry has erupted, calling the incumbent prime minister Nikol Pashinyan to resign, accusing the act of the government as a form of “treachery” (Safdar, et al., 2020).

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