August 12, 2022

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Operation Revenge! Will Armenia and Azerbaijan return to war again?

In the midst of fragile peace talks, the Azerbaijani army said it launched an operation, dubbed “revenge”, in response to what it described as “the illegal terrorist movements of the Armenian armed groups in the territory of Azerbaijan.”

An Azerbaijani soldier and two Armenian fighters were killed, on Wednesday, in violence near Nagorno-Karabakh, the separatist enclave backed by Armenia, disputed since the 44-day war that killed thousands in late 2020, while the leader of the separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh, Arik Harutyunyan, signed a decree declaring Partial military mobilization in this region.

The new skirmishes come about two weeks after the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers held direct bilateral talks, the first between them since the 2020 war. move forward with talks” on concluding a peace agreement.

War possibilities exist

On the new tensions, Leon Radziosini, an analyst specializing in security and strategic affairs, said that “although some positive momentum has been recorded in the Armenian-Azerbaijani talks in recent months, the situation is not as rosy as it might seem. The root cause of the conflict, the final status of Nagorno-Karabakh is still unresolved.” .

Radziossini added, in statements to “Sky News Arabia”, that “we can say that the situation is now worse than it was before the 2020 war, during about two and a half decades of negotiations separating the first and second Karabakh wars under the auspices of the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed on the existence of Nagorno-Karabakh which should have a status. The contradiction about the nature of this status was and still is the reason that could ignite a war at any moment.”

“Azerbaijan has expressed its willingness to provide the highest possible level of autonomy within the region. At the same time, Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh authorities have rejected any possibility of Karabakh being under Azerbaijani control, and the only solution is Azerbaijan’s recognition of the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh,” he explained.

He continued: “After international pressure, the Armenian authorities hinted that they might theoretically agree to the broad autonomy of the region inside Azerbaijan under international guarantees, including the permanent deployment of the peacekeeping mission, but the regional authorities confirmed that any situation inside Azerbaijan is unacceptable for them, Because it cannot guarantee the rights of the Armenians and the Armenians will be forced to leave their homeland.”

“In return, the Azerbaijani authorities are pressing that if Armenia does not give up its demands to discuss the future status of Nagorno-Karabakh, then Azerbaijan will demand autonomy for Azerbaijanis in the Syunik region of Armenia similarly, and this is an indirect threat to the Syunik border invasion,” he noted.

He considered that “the only realistic way to move forward is to agree on some autonomy for Nagorno-Karabakh within Azerbaijan, with guarantees that the Armenians will continue to live there, and this will bring many gains to all including the West, which will demand the withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers from Nagorno-Karabakh after November 2025.” After the complete rupture of Russian-Western relations due to the Ukraine war.

After a first war in the 1990s, Armenia and Azerbaijan faced off in the fall of 2020 for control of the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh region, which broke away from Azerbaijan with the support of Yerevan. The last war killed about 6,500 people, and ended with a Russian-brokered truce.

Since that time, the European Union has been leading the process of normalization between the two countries, which includes engaging in peace talks, demarcating borders and reopening transportation between them.

In the framework of the armistice agreement, Armenia relinquished large areas of the territory it controlled, and Russia deployed a peacekeeping force of about 2,000 soldiers tasked with monitoring the observance of the fragile truce, and forces in Armenia considered the ceasefire agreement an “insult.”

Nagorno-Karabakh is a mountainous region. The Armenian majority, backed by Yerevan, declared its secession from Azerbaijan when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, which led to the outbreak of the first war in the 1990s, killing 30,000 people and displacing thousands of Azerbaijanis.