Azerbaijan has declared victory in the ongoing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, a contentious dispute that has resulted in the loss of 200 lives. This protracted conflict is deeply rooted in historical and ethnic tensions in the South Caucasus region.
What is Nagorno-Karabakh?
Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Artsakh, is a mountainous region located in the southern Caucasus Mountains. While it is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, its population is predominantly ethnic Armenian. The region operates its own government, closely aligned with Armenia, but lacks recognition from the United Nations or any other country. This dispute is further complicated by the historical claims of both Armenians, who are predominantly Christian, and Azerbaijanis, who are mostly Turkic Muslims.
History of Conflict
The roots of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict trace back more than a century. In 1922, Armenia and Azerbaijan became constituent republics of the Soviet Union. As the Soviet Union dissolved in the late 20th century, tensions escalated over Nagorno-Karabakh. The conflict, which spanned from 1988 to 1994, led to the deaths of approximately 30,000 people and the displacement of over a million more.
In 2020, Azerbaijan launched a military offensive, igniting the Second Karabakh War. Within 44 days, Azerbaijan gained a decisive victory, regaining control of seven surrounding districts and about one-third of Nagorno-Karabakh, resulting in an estimated 6,500 casualties. The conflict was resolved through a Russia-brokered ceasefire, with Russian peacekeepers deployed to the Lachin Corridor, a crucial route connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia.
On September 19, 2023, Azerbaijan initiated a major military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh, claiming to respond to a perceived terrorist threat. The Azerbaijani defense ministry alleged that Armenian landmines had killed two Azerbaijani civilians and four police officers, an allegation disputed by the Armenian government. The situation quickly escalated.
However, peace was restored when Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenian authorities agreed to a ceasefire brokered by Russian peacekeepers, just a day after the military operation began. President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan stated that his country had “restored its sovereignty” through “successful anti-terrorist measures” in Karabakh.
Peace Talks on the Horizon
As tensions remain high, Azerbaijan is set to engage in peace talks with Armenian separatists. These negotiations are scheduled to occur in Yevlakh, more than 200 kilometers west of Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku. Simultaneously, the UN Security Council has called for an emergency session to address the ongoing conflict. Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced Russian peacekeepers will mediate these crucial peace talks.
The Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh remains a complex and enduring issue, deeply intertwined with historical, ethnic, and political factors. As the international community watches closely, hopes are pinned on the upcoming peace talks to bring an end to this longstanding dispute and prevent further loss of life in the region.
Sources By Agencies