Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict. Where did the hostility of countries come from?

We remind you that on Monday there were heavy fights between Azerbaijan and Armenia. This is not the first time that these two countries have been fighting for Nagorno-Karabakh, which has been a bone of contention between them for years. It is the longest lasting ethnic conflict in the former USSR.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Defense of Armenia announced that Azerbaijan began intensive artillery fire at Armenian positions in Goris, Sotk and Jermuk on the night of Monday to Tuesday. Azerbaijan, on the other hand, replied that its actions are the result of Armenian provocations in the regions of Dashkesan, Kelbajar and Lachin, as well as mortar shelling by Armenians. Azerbaijani website oxu.az reported that the actions of the army are not an attack, but carrying out the operation “A definite answer” to provocations.

The conflict between the feuding states has been going on for years, with short ceasefires. It is impossible to count how many human lives it has consumed. The fights of 2020 alone cost both countries their lives in total over 5,000. people – not only soldiers, but also civilians. It is estimated that around 30,000 people have died since the Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict turned into open war in 1992. people. However, no one knows the exact number.

In addition to the deaths, the fighting for Nagorno-Karabakh in the 1990s resulted in the displacement of over 700,000 people. people. Entire families lost their possessions and were forced to look for a safer place to live.

As reported by press agencies – Monday’s shelling by Azerbaijan did not focus only on Nagorno-Karabakh, which was de facto occupied by this country two years ago, but was aimed at the territory of Armenia.

The question is, what is this war all about? Where did the hatred of two nations come from? Where are the foundations of the hostility of these two neighboring states?

The territories of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh have been inhabited by the Armenian Christian population, struggling with the invasions of Muslim peoples, since the 9th century.

In 1603, Shah Abbas, during the so-called During the first war with the Ottomans, he recognized the autonomy of Nagorno-Karabakh, so that after almost 150 years – in 1750 – the Persian Shah established the Karabakh Khanate under Persia in this place. From that time, the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh was under the rule of the Muslim dynasty for 56 years, until 1806, when the territory came under the rule of the Russian Empire.

The original Christian Armenians inhabiting these areas mixed with the Muslims who were arriving in these lands during the Persian rule. The first fights between the Armenians and Azeris took place in this area in 1905, during the Russian Revolution. After these events, Armenia and Azerbaijan declared independence and started a border conflict.

Although Nagorno-Karabakh was mostly Armenian, Azerbaijan decided to include it in its territory. The main reason was the property of Armenian villages, which was much richer than Muslim estates. Eventually, following the intercession of Great Britain, Nagorno-Karabakh became part of Azerbaijan. Britain wanted in the future to have access to the Caspian oil promised by Azerbaijan. The British state also had the option of using force in the event that Armenia openly spoke out against the new border – a significant number of British troops were stationed in the Caucasus at that time.

Since the 1960s, Armenia, part of the Soviet Union, tried to include Nagorno-Karabakh in its territory in order to prevent further demographic changes, which indicated that in the future Muslims could become dominant in the region.

This happened earlier in another part of Armenia – Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. This area was inhabited by conflicting Armenians and Azeris, and was also the subject of a dispute between the two conflicted countries. The annexation of Nakhichevan to Azerbaijan, followed by the Soviet terror waged to suppress nationalist movements, reduced the number of Armenians inhabiting these lands to just 1.4 percent.

From 1987, ethnic riots began to occur more and more often in Nagorno-Karabakh, which in the first year of clashes cost the lives of over 200 people.

Fighting broke out thanks to the Karabakh Committee – an Armenian organization with a strong national character, proclaiming the construction of Armenia only for Armenians, devoid of other nations and religions. The committee quickly gained popularity among almost all Armenians, and then began to provoke anti-Nazi riots and fuel hatred of the Azerbaijani living in Armenian lands.

The committee even formed its own militias to expel Azerbaijan from Nagorno-Karabakh. People were directed by the Azeri authorities to Sumgait, where the Armenian population also lived. The growing number of Azerbaijani refugees in the city intensified anti-Armenian sentiments.

On February 26, 1988, the first small Azerbaijani demonstration was held, at which slogans were raised to protect refugees fleeing Nagorno-Karabakh. The next day, the demonstration was held again, in which over 15,000 people took part. people. After its end, the Azeris attacked the Armenians who lived in this city. There was an event known as the Sumgait Massacre. 32 citizens of Armenia died, and almost 2,000 people were injured.

After these events, the Karabakh Committee sent a letter to Mikhail Gorbachev, in which he demanded that the perpetrators be punished. Ultimately, he organized a national rally, despite a prohibition by the Soviet authorities, which resulted in the arrest of his (committee of) leaders.

An open war between the states broke out in 1992. The Azerbaijani authorities deprived Nagorno-Karabakh’s autonomy, to which the Armenians living in this region responded by declaring independence. The initial guerrilla fight between militants made up of Armenians and Azeris living in the inflamed area turned into a war between the two countries.

At the beginning of the war, the Armenian side had an advantage. The country’s army even managed to capture the so-called the Laczyński corridor, which allowed Armenia to connect with Nagorno-Karabakh without having to tear through inhospitable mountains.

The Armenian army also committed massacres on civilians in the town of Chodżały. At the end of February 1992, they approached the city and fired on a column of people evacuating, and then began artillery shelling of the city. According to the Azerbaijani authorities, more than 600 civilians were killed then.

The year 1992 also brought an unsuccessful Azerbaijani counteroffensive, which not only ended with the Armenians regaining the previously lost lands in Nagorno-Karabakh, but also causing a change of power in Azerbaijan and the overthrow of the then president.

In late 1993, Azerbaijan again struck the Armenians, but Armenian troops, reinforced by massive supplies of weapons from Russia, repulsed the attack. A total of about 7,000 died then. people, of which two-thirds on the Azerbaijani side.

Peace talks began in 1994, but they did not bring any tangible results. Armenia demanded recognition of the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan completely did not agree to such a solution. The ceasefire has been regularly broken since then.

Under international law, Nagorno-Karabakh is owned by Azerbaijan. Nobody recognizes his independence, not even Armenia, which supports him financially and militarily. The situation in the region is so tense that a war between the two countries may have global effects, mainly due to raw materials.

The countries are located in a strategic region in terms of supplies of raw materials, and a pipeline connecting Azerbaijan with Turkey runs near Nagorno-Karabakh, from which supplies are crucial for the European Union, especially in the light of Russian aggression against Ukraine and problems with gas supplies from Russia.

A clash between two countries may also involve much more powerful forces in the fight. Turkey does not hide its sympathy with Azerbaijan – they are linked not only by trade relations, but also by cultural ties resulting from their common heritage. Additionally, she considers Armenia to be an enemy and a country that poses a threat to stability in the region.

For many years, Turkey did not maintain any diplomatic relations with Armenia. The border between the states was closed. It was only this year that the first steps were taken to establish diplomatic relations. It was even planned to open the border to tourist traffic, but with the exclusion of citizens of Armenia and Turkey, only for foreigners. It is not known how the Azerbaijani attack will affect these relations.

Another force in this dispute is Russia, which has practiced the “divide and rule” policy from the times of Stalin until today, trying to be a mediator between the conflicting states, actually supporting Armenia. However, two years ago it refused military aid to its theoretical ally. It is doubtful that Russia this year, weakened by its defeats in Ukraine, will want to meddle in a new conflict.

Azerbaijan, realizing that Russia would not join the conflict, attacked. It does not have to be afraid of special interference by the European Union in defense of Armenia – in the light of the lack of gas supplies from Russia, the Union will not decide to take any drastic measures against the state, which is such an important exporter of natural gas to the community.

While the ceasefire has been announced, it is not clear how long it will last. The history of the two feuding states has shown many times how fragile these types of arrangements are.

Sources: Defence24, Forsal, Wikipedia

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