Several months ago, I wrote that things had been tense on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone since the collapse of the USSR, but only now are we hearing of a resumption of active hostilities, the deployment of heavy weaponry and heated engagements.
Observers on the ground have no doubt that the heaviest fighting in years is going on, and this is only the early stages of what may develop into a larger geopolitical conflict, involving proxy sources.
Each side is posting videos of their forces destroying the heavy armour of the other. Both Azerbaijan and Armenia may be playing to a domestic audience by mobilising, but Turkey is involved too. As ever, anything involving military aggression in support of an ally also plays well for a Turkish domestic audience.
Outside meddling in the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict is nothing new, and one should keep in mind that much is below the surface. Different actors have different reasons for wanting this conflict to either remain frozen or escalate, and what happens will be governed by how much these actors respect each other, or don’t.
Moscow and Washington may be happy for the conflict to stay frozen, as they can then pursue their own agenda, goes the traditional theory. Those who don’t like either Moscow or Washington, either now or historically, see a potential geopolitical victory over both sides in resolving the conflict by force when the big boys have failed to do so.
All the while neither country fully develops, and the status quo is maintained, at least in the case of Azerbaijan. After thirty years, negotiations have not worked and the populace of Azerbaijan is tired, seeing others spout off about “territorial integrity” while not being interested in restoring its own.
House Select Committee on Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) was the first US Congressman to condemn Azerbaijan’s alleged pre-emptive attack back in July, saying, “I am very concerned by the recent provocative and destabilising actions taken by Azerbaijan in recent days along the Armenian border, including the shelling of Armenian soldiers.”
His diatribe continued with “how these actions must also be viewed in the context of Azerbaijan’s consistently bellicose rhetoric towards Armenia and Artsakh,