Azerbaiyán

In the shadow of Russia’s war in Ukraine, a series of clashes and a subsequent period of quiet have raised both fears about renewed fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh and hopes that diplomacy might still bring the parties closer to peace. In March, Azerbaijani forces seized territory around Farukh, an ethnic Armenian-populated village that has been patrolled by Russian peacekeepers since a ceasefire ended the 2020 war that upended an almost three-decade status quo in the region. The Armenian government, along with Nagorno-Karabakh’s de facto authorities, worried that the move might herald a broader Azerbaijani offensive, taking advantage of Moscow’s focus on Ukraine.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mourning the war dead in Yerevan, Armenia, December 2020. Artem Mikryukov / Reuters

As the ripples of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine pulse outward, they have left one region especially volatile: the South Caucasus. The Ukrainian conflict has paradoxically raised the likelihood of both further fighting and a negotiated peace in this area between the Caspian and Black Seas. The region was the site of a brutal war in 2020 between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh—an Armenian-populated enclave within Azerbaijan—and adjacent regions. The 44-day war left around 7,000 people dead and saw Azerbaijan inflict a crushing defeat on Armenia, reversing territorial losses it had suffered in fighting during the 1990s. The war also left unresolved questions, lingering disputes, and simmering tensions.…  Seguir leyendo »

Police detain demonstrators during a protest against the government of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Yerevan, Armenia, on May 5. (Vahram Baghdasaryan/Photolure/AP)

In the shadow of the war in Ukraine, an unlikely peace process is taking shape to normalize relations between Armenia and its historic adversaries, Azerbaijan and Turkey. What is surprising about this diplomacy is that it appears to have the support of both the United States and Russia.

The negotiations are controversial in Armenia, which was battered by Azerbaijan in a bloody 2020 war over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and still bears deep emotional scars from the 1915 genocide under the Ottoman Empire. Protesters in Yerevan have denounced Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s opening to Baku and Ankara and have called for his resignation.…  Seguir leyendo »

Armenian soldiers patrol the mountains near the frontier with Azerbaijan in the Gegharkunik valley. Photo by Celestino Arce/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, Azerbaijan has increasingly tested the will and capacity of the Russian peacekeeping mission deployed to the residual territory remaining under Armenian control at the end of the 2020 Karabakh war.

In early March, Azerbaijani forces were observed circling close to Armenian villages with loudspeakers urging the inhabitants to evacuate, and reports of increased ceasefire violations soon followed. On 8 March, a crucial pipeline supplying gas to the Karabakh Armenian population was cut off on Azerbaijani-held territory, leaving residents without heat for two weeks. Although the pipeline was repaired, it was reportedly cut off again, then restored.

Azerbaijani forces then advanced into the area which is ostensibly under Russian peacekeeper control, forcing the evacuation of one Armenian village, taking strategic heights overseeing others, and reportedly using drone strikes to kill three local Armenian servicemen and wound a further 15.…  Seguir leyendo »

Armenian soldiers at an observation post by the Sotk gold mine on the border with Azerbaijan. Photo by Alexander Ryumin\TASS via Getty Images.

The 2020 Karabakh war was widely framed as breaking the preceding status quo of 26 years, but assessments of its transformative potential overlook the fact the war resulted in outcomes satisfying only a minority of stakeholders – Turkey and, to a considerable but ambiguous extent, Azerbaijan. Two false narratives have circulated widely which obscure this absence of consensus – that the war ‘ended’ the Karabakh conflict, and that Russia ‘won’ the war.

Two significant post-war dynamics contradict the notion that the Karabakh conflict is now resolved. The first is the widening of the spaces and issues in conflict. Azerbaijan’s restoration of sovereignty over territories it lost in 1990s surfaced the long-submerged issue of border demarcation between Armenia and Azerbaijan.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Risky Role for Russian Peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh

When Russian peacekeepers arrived in Nagorno-Karabakh as part of a ceasefire deal between Azerbaijan and Armenian, they found it empty, blanketed in a thick November fog. After 44 days of brutal war, most [people] had fled, not believing the fighting was over. A year later, the region’s main city of Stepanakert is no longer a ghost town. Most of its residents have returned, followed by thousands of Armenians displaced from territories won over by Azerbaijani forces in the conflict. The scars of war are everywhere — damaged buildings, craters caused by missiles, and photos of the dead and missing hung for passers-by — but elders gossip on city stoops while children are playing in the streets once again.…  Seguir leyendo »

Helping Stabilise the New Status Quo in Nagorno-Karabakh

While the armed conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh has subsided, Armenia and Azerbaijan are still far from a political settlement. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2021 – Autumn Update, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to press for negotiations between Baku and Yerevan, aid to the affected regions and cooperate with Moscow, which has peacekeepers on the ground and the most leverage over the conflict parties.

Almost a year after a Russian-brokered ceasefire ended the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan and Armenia remain at loggerheads. With Armenian forces withdrawn, Russian peacekeepers now patrol the part of Nagorno-Karabakh that remains outside Azerbaijani control, but they are operating without a detailed mandate and risk being stretched too thin.…  Seguir leyendo »

Sign to the Armenian village of Sotk on the border with Kalbajar District, now in control of Azerbaijan via the 2020 ceasefire agreement between Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia. Photo by Alexander Ryumin\TASS via Getty Images.

Despite the elapse of six months since the ceasefire which brought the second Karabakh war to a close, there has been little respite in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.

Relations have remained sharply polarized by issues such as the continued imprisonment of up to 200 Armenians with reports of torture and death in custody, post-war casualties among Azerbaijanis due to mines in areas transferred to Azerbaijani control in 2020, and the destruction or alteration of Armenian cultural heritage in those areas.

Now a new crisis is unfolding with reports of a number of territorial encroachments by Azerbaijani troops across the international Armenia-Azerbaijani border.…  Seguir leyendo »

Armenians, flanked by police officers, take part in a protest to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Yerevan, Armenia, on March 6. (Karen Minasyan/AFP/Getty Images)

Despite a nudge from a senior State Department official, Azerbaijan has so far refused to return more than four dozen Armenian prisoners who were captured after a bloody war for control of the disputed enclave known as Nagorno-Karabakh.

The prisoner issue is a bitter legacy of the battle last fall in which Azerbaijan’s forces, backed by Turkish-made drones, regained control of much of the mountainous region that is officially part of Azerbaijan but had been governed by its majority-Armenian population since a 1994 war for independence. Armenia says it lost more than 4,000 soldiers — a huge number for the small, embattled nation.…  Seguir leyendo »

A family drives a truck loaded with a small house along a highway as they leave their home village in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh on Nov. 18, before a cease-fire takes effect to halt weeks of fighting. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to cease fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory in the South Caucasus. Over a six-week period, the worst fighting in decades left thousands dead.

A Moscow-facilitated cease-fire last month has brought Russian peacekeeping forces — and increased Russian influence. Azerbaijan took back territory Armenia had held since the 1990s, leaving Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan politically vulnerable after discontent with how he handled the war and the cease-fire.

Social media played a significant role in the way that Armenians and Azerbaijanis experienced this year’s brief war. Globally, people could follow military movements, drone footage, respond to statements by authorities and discuss the events.…  Seguir leyendo »

Dadivank Monastery is one of the hundreds of Armenian churches, monuments and carved memorial stones that will come under the control of predominantly Muslim Azerbaijan according to a cease-fire agreement reached this month. Credit Sergei Grits/Associated Press

Since its origins in the ninth century, Dadivank Monastery has withstood Seljuk and Mongol invasions, Persian domination, Soviet rule and, this fall, a second brutal war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Now the majestic stone complex — which includes two frescoed churches, a bell tower and numerous medieval inscriptions — faces something that could be even worse: a dangerous peace.

Perched on a rugged slope west of Nagorno-Karabakh, Dadivank is one of the hundreds of Armenian churches, monuments and carved memorial stones in a disputed region that will come under the control of predominantly Muslim Azerbaijan according to a cease-fire agreement reached this month.…  Seguir leyendo »

À l’issue de 44 jours de guerre sanglante dans le Haut-Karabakh (Artsakh, en arménien), les Russes ont été les instigateurs d’un accord obligeant les Arméniens à céder d’importantes étendues territoriales à l’Azerbaïdjan. Dès le 10 novembre, un cessez-le-feu est observé et environ les trois quarts d’Artsakh seront graduellement vidés de leurs habitants millénaires pour laisser la place aux Azéris. C’est une situation crève-cœur qui suscite la colère et l’indignation.

Depuis le 27 septembre, les Arméniens de la diaspora ont manifesté, participé à des collectes de fonds, pris d’assaut les médias sociaux, milité auprès de divers gouvernements pour la reconnaissance du droit à l’autodétermination du peuple d’Artsakh et la fin des hostilités dans le Haut-Karabakh.…  Seguir leyendo »

Photo by: Sergei Grits Ethnic Armenians load a truck as they prepare to leave their home in the village of Maraga, in the Martakert area, in the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020. A Russia-brokered cease-fire to halt six weeks of fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh stipulated that Armenia turn over control of some areas it holds outside the separatist territory's borders to Azerbaijan. Armenians are forced to leave their homes before the region is handed over to control by Azerbaijani forces. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

For the first time in history, a war has been won almost entirely by unmanned aircraft — by what are technically called “armed drones” or Remotely Piloted Vehicles (RPVs) and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs, guided autonomously).

On Nov. 10, Armenia surrendered to Azerbaijan, ceding control of the disputed enclave Nagorno-Karabakh located within Azeri territory. Nagorno-Karabakh borders Armenia, has a predominantly ethnic Armenian-Christian population that, together with Armenia, has fought to resist domination by predominantly Muslim Azerbaijan.

The Nagorno-Karabakh War has flared on and off for some 30 years, a long stalemate little noted in the Western press.

But now the decisive defeat of Armenia by futuristic RPVs portends a revolution in military technology akin to the invention of gunpowder or the use of manned aircraft in World Wars I and II that changed the dimensions and nature of warfare.…  Seguir leyendo »

The ceasefire brokered last week between Azerbaijan and Armenia has largely been cast as a means to end a decades-long territorial dispute. But, of course, reality might not be as smooth. In a region every bit as geopolitically fraught as the Balkans, the Caucasus has always been a patchwork of peoples pulled and shoved between greater powers, suffering successive waves of conquest and “ethnic cleansing”.

Zoom in more closely right now, though, and while Azerbaijanis can rightly celebrate a return to homes they were driven from 30 years ago, for the Armenian people at large, the risks could not be greater.…  Seguir leyendo »

Russian peacekeepers at the Dadivank, an Armenian Apostolic Church monastery, located in a territory that is soon to be turned over to Azerbaijan under a peace deal that followed the fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, in the Kalbajar district on Sunday. (Stringer/Reuters)

The guns are finally silent in Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory in the South Caucasus between Azerbaijan and Armenia. In late September, the longstanding conflict in the territory re-erupted into a six-week war that left thousands dead.

With local Armenian forces collapsing after a relentless Azerbaijani assault from the air and ground, the warring parties signed a nine-point ceasefire last week. Facilitated by Moscow, the agreement authorized the deployment of Russian peacekeeping forces to the region to establish new borders within the territory.

The implications of these new borders, however, extend well beyond Nagorno-Karabakh. As both sides bury their dead, here are five significant ways the 2020 Karabakh war will change the map of the South Caucasus — and the crucial questions that remain unanswered.…  Seguir leyendo »

A service member of the Russian peacekeeping troops walks near a tank near the border with Armenia, following the signing of a deal to end the military conflict in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, 10 November 2020.

After six weeks of bloody armed conflict over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, Russia has brokered a full ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan, signed by the presidents of Azerbaijan and Russia and Armenia’s prime minister. In contrast to three prior failed humanitarian ceasefires successively negotiated with the aid of Russia, France and the United States, this one appears to be holding. Its success reflects battlefield realities: Azerbaijan was winning militarily and Armenia faced a crushing defeat. But humiliation cannot be a strong basis for sustained peace. The parties and foreign stakeholders must ensure that the ceasefire holds; they also should take steps to ensure that the new regional order has benefits for all involved.…  Seguir leyendo »

As I write this column, the 2020 presidential elections are unfolding in the U.S. By the time you read it you may (or quite possibly may still not) know the results. Regardless of their outcome, they will have outsized implications. On the future of America’s economic and healthcare systems, its environment and immigration policies and its race relations among others. On public faith in its electoral process, the solidity of its institutions and the polarisation of its politics, as Crisis Group analysed in a recent report. But also on the rest of the world, whose denizens will be forgiven for lamenting that an event with such profound potential to affect their lives rests on a process over which they have no say, that is governed by a nearly inscrutable patchwork of rules, and that can deliver a Barack Obama one day, a Donald Trump the next.…  Seguir leyendo »

Azerbaijan army soldiers fire artillery in fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh. (Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry via AP)

During a visit four years ago to the disputed area of Nagorno-Karabakh, the Armenian population that dominates the enclave seemed as solid and immovable as the rocky hills that surround the region. “We are our mountains”, proclaimed a massive stone statue on the road to the capital’s airport.

The Armenians made that confident claim before drone warfare arrived in the rugged terrain of Karabakh. Azerbaijan’s use of Turkish- and Israeli-made drones has altered the balance of this conflict, putting the tough, battle-hardened Armenians on the defensive. Nearly 800 Armenians have died since the war began Sept. 27, according to official reports; the Azerbaijani side hasn’t announced casualties, but they’re also believed to be heavy.…  Seguir leyendo »

While the world is preoccupied with the Covid-19 pandemic, the regional conflict in the remote separatist enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh is threatening to escalate into a wider war on the doorsteps of Europe and Asia. Saturday's Russia-brokered ceasefire has already crumbled, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov acknowledging Monday that hostilities were continuing.

The violence, which broke out two weeks ago, has killed more than 300 people and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) president Peter Maurer told me that fighting is so intense even staff working close to the contact line had to take shelter frequently.

Nagorno-Karabakh is controlled by ethnic Armenians located in Azerbaijan and both Armenia and Azerbaijan, two former Soviet republics, have accused each other of violating the terms of the ceasefire.…  Seguir leyendo »

Demonstrators in Istanbul this month showed support for Azerbaijan, which the Turkish government backs in the country’s conflict with Armenia. Credit Emrah Gurel/Associated Press

A procession of cars filled with men waving the flag of Azerbaijan, honking and whistling drove through the Kumkapi area in Istanbul, which is home to the Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul and many Armenian families. The car rally, on Sept. 28, was a provocation, a threat that filled my community, the tiny Armenian community — 60,000 out of 83 million — in Turkey with fear.

After a decades-long fitful truce, the conflict over the status of Nagorno-Karabakh — a breakaway Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan — between Azerbaijan and Armenia resumed last month, leading to a large military deployment, destruction of civilian centers and thousands of casualties.…  Seguir leyendo »