The Nagorno Karabakh region is a point of severe contention between them

Nationalism and history ignite a chronic conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia

  • It is not easy to allow Azerbaijan to win.


  • Armenians suffered heavy losses due to the Azerbaijani bombing.



Fighting intensified around the disputed Nagorno Karabakh region along the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, killing dozens and destroying helicopters and tanks. The two countries called up their reserves, and declared martial law and the state of war in some areas. In fact, fighting between the two sides is normal, with hundreds of Accidents over the past years, but this round of violence heralds the transition to all-out war, as happened in the 1990s.

Forgotten conflict

It is the forgotten great conflict resulting from the disintegration of the Soviet Union, which lasted from 1992 to 1994, and was barely noticed by Westerners, despite the killing of at least 20 thousand people, and the displacement of one million people through ethnic cleansing, 70% of them Azerbaijanis who fled from the lands it controls The Armenians occupied it, while the rest of the Armenians fled the territories controlled by Azerbaijan.

The center of the war is Nagorny Karabakh, which is a beautiful mountainous region, whose name literally means "mountain black park", which plays a powerful role in the romantic imagination of both countries.

As part of the Soviet takeover of the Caucasus in 1919-1920, it was granted to the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic, despite having a large Armenian population, and this was not a big problem as long as Armenia and Azerbaijan were part of the Soviet Empire, and many Armenians lived in the neighboring republic. Them, and vice versa.

The religious differences between Christian-majority Armenia and Muslim-majority Azerbaijan were less significant in an officially atheist state, but as ethnic and religious protests became more acceptable in the 1980s, the Armenian population began to complain vigorously about their status.

This erupted into violence in 1989-1990, in Nagorno Karabakh, and the Azerbaijani cities of Baku and Sumgait, where the massacres against the Armenians led to the imposition of martial law by the Soviet army to try to stop the violence, but to no avail.

By 1991, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the war between the two newly independent states, over the disputed territories, which unilaterally declared their independence from Azerbaijan, was inevitable, especially since the leaders saw in national fanaticism an easy way to consolidate their power.

Rejected loss

The loss of the war caused a deep shock in Azerbaijan, not only because of the loss of land and the suffering of the Azerbaijanis who were expelled by the Armenian forces, but also because of the relative difference and strength of the two countries, as the population of Azerbaijan is three times that of Armenia, and this led to a large group of conspiracy theories about the loss , Including the widespread belief that the United States had covertly supported the Armenian side, and in fact the Armenian forces were simply better command, less corrupt and more committed, and Russia increasingly preferred Armenia, sending arms shipments and providing military training.

In 2004, Armenia and Azerbaijan sent military officers to a course in Budapest, run by NATO for members from outside the alliance, and in the middle of one night, an Azerbaijani officer named Ramil Safrov killed one of the Armenian officers during his sleep with an ax, then tried to kill another, and Safrov did not serve in Nagorno Karabakh War, but he was from a town now occupied by Armenia.

This may be an individual act, but after Azerbaijan managed to transfer Safrov from Hungary to Azerbaijan to spend eight years in prison on charges of murder, the president immediately pardoned him, raised him to the rank of major, granted him an apartment and financial compensation, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs described him as "imprisoned." In prison after defending the honor of his country and the dignity of its people ».

Frozen Conflict

In order to maintain a stronger position in negotiations and avoid allegations of aggression, Armenia maintained Nagorno Karabakh as a nominally independent republic rather than integrating it into its territory, and the United States and Russia have played an important role in the long-term, but largely useless, attempts to find a lasting solution to this issue. On the American side, Armenian Americans are a moderate lobbying group, but Azerbaijan has invested heavily in relations with American oil companies.

In theory, the two sides agreed on the principles of Madrid, in the middle of the first decade of the 21st century, which stipulated that Armenia give up the periphery of the lands it occupies around Nagorno Karabakh, and the displaced return to their homes, and both countries and external forces guarantee the rights of their residents, but Armenia does not have A desire to give up its actual control, and Azerbaijan has no incentive to give up its claim, especially since nationalism plays a decisive role in keeping the leaders in power in both countries, as both peoples strongly oppose the settlement, and for all this is not the only frozen conflict in the region, as it succeeds The collapse of the Soviet Union left many disputed territories.

Things get worse

The year 2019 witnessed a lot of violent rhetoric from both sides, and after the recent bloody skirmishes, along the border, in which each side blames the other for its onset;

Politicians have begun to lean toward nationalism more than usual, especially amid the tension and economic failure caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Corrupt army

It seems difficult to see an Azerbaijani victory to control Nagorny Karabakh, and the initial skirmishes cost lives on both sides, but also if the Armenian story is believed, the battles witnessed the destruction of much more equipment on the Azerbaijani side than the Armenian materiel, and Armenia occupies the heights, which makes it difficult The Azerbaijani progress to difficult mountainous lands is extremely difficult, and independent assessments still see Azerbaijan's military readiness as weak, the army is dissatisfied, corrupt and ineffective, and it suffers from a desertion rate close to 20%, and the profits from oil brought huge investments in new equipment between 2008 and 2014, but The collapse in prices has left the country struggling financially amid political turmoil and brutal repression, and the military lacks training to use the weapons it has purchased.

A sudden advance by Azerbaijan could lead to direct intervention by Moscow, most likely to impose a swift ceasefire, and Russia and Iran have offered to negotiate an end to this new round of hostilities.

There is also an alarming potential for the spread of conflict.Turkey, for example, stood firmly with Baku, thanks to the strong ties between the Azeris and the Turks, and Ankara's long-standing hostility towards the Armenians, who continue to raise the issue of the Armenian genocide in Turkey in 1915.

The religious aspects of the original conflict remained less valuable, compared to national fervor, and Nagorno Karabakh never became a religious issue the way Chechnya used to be, but the most likely possibility might be a painful and relatively small war, followed by another peace. According to the lists of victims, so far, most The dead were not even born when the conflict first began.

A sudden advance by Azerbaijan could lead to direct intervention by Moscow, most likely to impose a swift ceasefire.

Military losses during the conflict:

Armenia: 6000.

Azerbaijan: 11 thousand.


390 thousand Armenians displaced from Azerbaijan.

360 thousand Azerbaijanis displaced from Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh.

Chronology of the conflict:

Historically, the Nagorno Karabakh region was called "Aristakh" and was included in ancient Armenia.

At the beginning of the 19th century, the region became part of the Russian Empire.

After the revolution of 1917, the region entered the domain of Azerbaijan, and during the First Congress of Armenians it was declared an independent administrative and political region.

- In 1920, the Armenian-Azerbaijani War took place, and the Soviet Army intervened to stop it, and the region returned to Azerbaijan.

February 20, 1988: The session of the Assembly of the People’s Representatives in the region addresses a request to Armenia, Azerbaijan and the leadership of the Soviet Union to transfer the region to Armenia.

- June 14, 1988: The Armenian House of Representatives approves the application to annex the region to the Republic.

- June 17, 1988: Baku Parliament decides to keep the region in the Republic of Azerbaijan.

December 1, 1988: The House of Representatives in Armenia and the House of Representatives of Nagorny Karabakh decide in a joint session to unify the region with Armenia. In the same year, clashes took place between Armenians and Azerbaijanis, including killing and destruction.

August 29, 1991: Azerbaijan declares independence from the Soviet Union.

- November 23, 1991: Azerbaijan revokes the autonomy of the Nagorno Karabakh region.

- December 10, 1991: a referendum is held on the independence of the region.

January 6, 1992: The Nagorno Karabakh Declaration of Independence is approved.

January 1992: Azerbaijan sends its forces to the region, and hostilities continue, until 1994, and Azerbaijan loses control of the region, and seven adjacent regions.

May 5, 1994: With the mediation of the Commonwealth of Independent States, Armenia, Azerbaijan and the regional authority sign the Bishkek Protocol on a ceasefire.

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