Conflicto territorial

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 »

Employees of the Ministry of Emergency Situations work near destroyed houses in Ganja, Azerbaijan on 11 October 2020. They were hit by shelling after fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces began in and around Nagorno-Karabakh on 27 September. Mikhail Voskresenskiy / Sputnik via AFP.

Two weeks into a renewed war between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces over the breakaway territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and its environs, fighting appears poised to escalate. On 10 October, a Russian-brokered humanitarian ceasefire intended to enable combatants to retrieve the bodies of the dead and exchange prisoners appeared to fall apart as its ink was drying. Both sides have since struck towns and villages, with enormous damage to lives and livelihoods. While it may take time for the parties to return to peace talks, they and international actors must act to stem the mounting human toll. Whatever an eventual settlement entails, it will be closer to hand and more sustainable if the parties stop killing civilians and adding fresh grievances to an already intractable conflict.…  Seguir leyendo »

China aseguró recientemente que la línea media del Estrecho de Taiwán, reconocida oficiosamente por ambas partes desde hace décadas para prevenir conflictos con la isla de Formosa, es una quimera; en paralelo, tras la reciente visita a Taipéi del funcionario de mayor rango del Departamento de Estado de EE UU en cuatro décadas, el Ejército Popular de Liberación publicitaba un vídeo simulando un ataque a lo que parece ser la base aérea Andersen en Guam. Por su parte, la líder taiwanesa Tsai Ing-wen aseguraba desde la base aérea de Magong, en Penghu, que las importantes grietas surgidas en el statu quo consolidado tras el fin de la larga guerra civil china elevan a ámbar el semáforo de la estabilidad en la región.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘Hundreds of people have died since 27 September.’ A shelled street market in Tartar, Azerbaijan. Photograph: Valery Sharifulin/TASS

A tragedy is unfolding on the edge of Europe in and around the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh in the South Caucasus. A mostly forgotten war has restarted between Armenians and Azerbaijanis. Outsiders are struggling to respond. As someone who has reported on and studied this conflict for more than 25 years on both sides, let me try to lead you through the labyrinth.

It is worth emphasising first of all the human cost. Hundreds of people have died since 27 September, when the fighting broke out, almost certainly because Azerbaijan decided to launch a surprise offensive. Each side is now using fearsome long-range weapons that it has acquired over the last decade.…  Seguir leyendo »

Trying to find refuge from bombs in a basement this week in Stepanakert, a city at the center of a territorial dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Credit Reuters

Taking shelter in a hospital basement, 19-year-old George Alexanian can hear the suicide drones buzzing overhead in the city of Stepanakert.

A few days ago, he said, one of them headed toward the hospital but was struck down before it could explode. Yet being there, he told me, is better than staying home, where every strike felt like an earthquake. His sister is a doctor, working upstairs and sleeping in the hallway because the beds are all full.

“We get used to it,” he said. “But it’s hard to live not knowing if you’re safe.”

Workers hurry out of other basements for a few hours, then rush back down to shelter.…  Seguir leyendo »

Activists protest against the final draft of the National Register of Citizens in the northeastern state of Assam, in New Delhi, India, on Aug. 4, 2018. (Altaf Qadri/AP)

India and China are once again clashing along their disputed border in the Himalayas — for the first time since 1975. Soldiers on both sides have lost their lives — including at least 20 Indians and an unknown number of their Chinese counterparts.

Yet headlines in the outside world have largely overlooked the fate of local civilians — embodied by five young men from the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh. Apparently hired as porters for the Indian Army, they were captured by the Chinese on Sept. 1 and held captive until just a few days ago, when, thankfully, they were finally returned home to their families.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Turkish drilling vessel Yavuz is escorted by a Turkish Navy frigate in the eastern Mediterranean off Cyprus in August 2019. (Murad Sezer/Reuters)

On Sunday, Turkey pulled back its seismic exploration vessel, Oruc Reis, from the contested areas of the eastern Mediterranean to pave the path for the beginning of negotiations with Greece. Just as well. Tensions in “the East Med” — the shorthand for a corner of the Mediterranean with rich gas reserves and contested maritime boundaries — run so high that no one is ruling out an actual war between Turkey and Greece.

Turkey, Greece and Cyprus are at loggerheads about how to allocate zones to explore the newly discovered hydrocarbon resources in the area — with France throwing its weight behind the Greek position and the United Arab Emirates sending warplanes to Crete.…  Seguir leyendo »

An Indian army convoy carrying reinforcements and supplies drives toward Leh, on a highway bordering China, in Gagangir, India, on Sept. 2. (Yawar Nazir/Getty Images)

Last week, the India-China border standoff came the closest it has yet to war. As Taylor Fravel explained, the long-standing border dispute dates from the 1962 Sino-Indian War. The dispute came to a boil in May when a large force of Chinese soldiers crossed the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the disputed border between the two countries since 1962. A deadly skirmish in June temporarily raised tensions, but it was the result of tragic happenstance rather than large and risky military maneuvers.

Tensions have escalated more seriously since late August because both sides have jostled for tactical advantage, creating incentives for each side to outflank or even fight the other.…  Seguir leyendo »

Warships from Greece, Italy, Cyprus and France participate in joint military exercises from Aug. 26 to 28 south of Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean sea. (Greek Defense MiniStry/AP)

Last weekend, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded that Greece engage in talks over escalating tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, warning that “they’re either going to understand the language of politics and diplomacy, or in the field with painful experiences.” The Greek government, meanwhile, announced further steps this week to bolster the country’s defenses.

New tensions between the two longtime rivals flared up in mid-August, when Turkey deployed the research vessel Oruç Reis, flanked by two warships, to explore for oil and gas in contested waters between the islands of Crete and Cyprus. Greece accused Turkey of violating its sovereign rights — and dispatched warships of its own, precipitating a collision between a Greek frigate and a Turkish warship.…  Seguir leyendo »

Indian army soldiers at Gagangeer in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Tuesday. (Mukhtar Khan/AP)

Tens of thousands of Chinese and Indian troops are facing off in the uppermost reaches of the Himalayas, on the precipice of a possible war between the two major countries.

China’s incursions into eastern Ladakh across the Line of Actual Control that separates it from India should be seen as part of its global pattern of bad behavior. If left unchallenged, China’s provocative and perfidious military actions along the border with India could destabilize South Asia.

China’s massive buildup of troops and infrastructure in pockets across the border not only violates bilateral agreements, but also forces Indians to confront a new reality.…  Seguir leyendo »

Vingt-quatre heures avant sa visite d’Etat à Athènes en décembre 2017, M. Erdogan avait proposé de réviser le traité de Lausanne sur le tracé de la frontière gréco-turque avec cet argument novateur : «Comment des îles en mer Egée pourraient-elles être grecques alors que la Turquie est à portée de voix ?»

Depuis ce mardi 11 août une dizaine de navires militaires turcs qui accompagnent Oruc Reis, navire de recherche, sillonnent les eaux du plateau continental grec, européen donc, en mer Egée. Pour ne rien gâcher à la verve géopoétique du président turc, c’est l’équivalent d’un voisin bruyant, ayant officiellement demandé d’occuper une bonne partie de votre appartement sous prétexte que sa voix porte loin et qui dorénavant fait des rondes, arme à la main, sur votre trottoir en frôlant la porte d’entrée.…  Seguir leyendo »

It has been one year since India revoked the semiautonomous status of the disputed Jammu and Kashmir state and placed the region under a complete communication blackout and military siege, and detained thousands of Kashmiris.

One year later, the fears that the Hindu-nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi will accelerate an existing settler-colonial project that aims to alter the demographics of the Muslim-majority disputed region have materialized.

India’s long-standing war crimes in Kashmir— ranging from extrajudicial killings, home demolitions, rapes, use of human shields, arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, mass blindings and torture, to name a few — have been well documented, and endured by a population that has been denied its right to self-determination for more than 72 years.…  Seguir leyendo »

A year ago, India eliminated the semi-autonomy provisions of Jammu and Kashmir, the country’s sole Muslim-majority state and a region disputed by Pakistan, a move that analysts anticipated would ripple across the region.

The Indian government scrapped the constitutional provisions of autonomy in Article 370 and 35A, dissolved Kashmir’s state assembly and split the region into two union territories. The government also surged paramilitary troops, instituted months of communications blackouts and curfews, and detained thousands of political leaders.

India’s leaders contend these measures were needed to clean up the “mess” of Kashmir and dismantle a system they claimed fostered separatism, radicalization, militancy, corruption and underdevelopment.…  Seguir leyendo »

A man shows a piece of shrapnel after attacks carried out by the Armenian army at Dondar Kuscu village near Tovuz, Azerbaijan. Photo by Aziz Karimov/Getty Images.

Although the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict is focused on the Line of Contact around Nagorny Karabakh, a new – and significant – outbreak of violence has happened some 300 kilometres away on high ground along the de jure Armenia-Azerbaijan border.

Although not a first, violence in this area has generally been contained by the proximity of major transport and infrastructure arteries, and of civilian populations on both sides of the border. Plus, unlike in Nagorny Karabakh, the extended deterrents conferred by Armenia’s membership of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and bilateral agreements with Russia are also – theoretically at least – in force.…  Seguir leyendo »

Tras el choque del mes pasado en el valle del Galwan (región de Ladakh), en el que murieron 20 soldados indios y una cantidad desconocida de uniformados chinos, la India y China se preparan para un duelo prolongado en la disputada frontera en los Himalayas (aunque se informa de una retirada del sitio del enfrentamiento). Lo más importante, sin embargo, es que la reciente escaramuza puede ser señal de un cambio más amplio en la geopolítica asiática.

Esta idea puede parecer a primera vista exagerada, ya que ambos países venían haciendo esfuerzos aceptables por convivir. Si bien nunca llegaron a una solución duradera respecto de su disputada frontera de 3500 kilómetros (2200 millas), en 45 años no hubo un solo disparo en la línea de control efectivo (LAC por la sigla en inglés).…  Seguir leyendo »

Donald Trump managed to avoid touching off a forest fire in the tinder-dry forest around Mount Rushmore with his Independence Day fireworks display, but instead his administration seems to be doing its best to set Asia on fire in the South China Sea.

Two aircraft carrier strike groups headed by the USS Ronald Reagan and the USS Nimitz have moved into the South China Sea for the largest military exercises in years just as China has been holding its own drills around the Paracel Islands, which it seized from Vietnam in 1974 in a move the United States has never accepted.…  Seguir leyendo »

An Indian army convoy drives toward Leh, on a highway bordering China, on June 19 in Gagangir, India. (Yawar Nazir/Getty Images)

On June 15 at 6.30 p.m., Col. Santosh Babu, an Indian army officer from the southern state of Telangana, organized 20 of his men to accompany him on what he thought was a straightforward mission. He’d been informed that the monthlong simmering tension between India and China at different points of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh was drawing to a close. Military commanders had agreed to “de-escalate»; the Chinese were to withdraw from areas inside Indian territory. His job that evening was to ensure that the two tents erected by the Chinese inside the Galwan Valley (named such by the British for Rasool Galwan, a teenage Indian trekker who helped save their lives in 1895) were taken down, per the negotiated agreement.…  Seguir leyendo »

World War II veteran Ivan Timchenko, 103, with his granddaughter in Baku, Azerbaijan during the 75th anniversary of the Allied victory. Photo by Aziz Karimov/Getty Images.

Eighteen months on from a reported agreement by Armenia and Azerbaijan’s foreign ministers to prepare their populations for peace, both states have in reality remained largely preoccupied with consolidating domestic power due to enduring socio-economic frustration and populations radicalized by the ‘four-day war’ back in 2016.

A rapidly evolving international context since then has been dominated by regional tensions in Ukraine and the Middle East, and between the United States and Iran. And the COVID-19 pandemic now presents both Yerevan and Baku with new threats and problems.

Armenia’s measures to contain the virus were roundly criticised as ‘too little, too late’, while the de facto authorities in Nagorny Karabakh were rebuked by many in civil society for pressing ahead with elections despite risks to public health.…  Seguir leyendo »