Powerful allies have been emerging after Azerbaijan declared war and attacked the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) over disputed land.
Armenian member of Parliament Mikayel Zolyan recently stated that the escalating conflict has all the makings of a “global catastrophe” that could lead to World War 3.
Nagorno-Karabakh, originally named Artsakh, is an ancient Armenian enclave located in the South Caucasus, close to a key energy pipeline that supplies oil and gas to the European Union. The enclave was given to Azerbaijan by Stalin but Azerbaijan hasn’t held control over it since the late 1980s after the Armenians of Karabakh fought a fierce battle with Azerbaijan for autonomy and won.
What is important however is that both Armenia and Azerbaijan are backed by powerful foreign actors, whose full agendas are unclear.
Almost immediately after Azerbaijan attacked the Armenians of Karabakh on September 27, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan quickly voiced Turkey’s support for its ethnic cousin Azerbaijan. Erdogan described his country’s alliance with Azerbaijan as “one nation, two states” on Twitter. Since then, Turkey has been providing advanced military arms to Azerbaijan like drones, long-range missiles and tanks. Joining Turkey is Israel, who has sold killer drones and cluster bombs to Azerbaijan. Cluster bombs have been outlawed by the UN because their sole purpose is to cause as many deaths as possible. Azerbaijan used cluster bombs on Karabakh’s civilians during the now one-month long war.
Zolyan accused Turkey and Azerbaijan of committing another genocide on the Armenian people. He recently showed evidence of the shelling of civilian villages adding, “there is killing of prisoners of war.” Zolyan thinks the remaining Armenians left in the region will either be massacred or forced to leave by the Azerbaijani army if the Armenian troops were to retreat. So far there have been three failed ceasefires brokered by Russia and the United States.
A Third World War?
Russia on the other hand supports Armenia but not necessarily Nagorno-Karabakh. While Russia has a guaranteed military alliance with Armenia with a base in Guymri, it considers Nagorno-Karabakh as a de facto Republic and is not legally obligated to fight for Armenia.
If Turkey did attack the Russian military base on Armenian soil or injure Russian soldiers, it would prompt Russia to bring in its allies and retaliate.
It is also important to note that this week Russian war planes destroyed a camp of Turkish-backed rebel fighters in northwestern Syria killing dozens of Syrian fighters according to a New York Times article. Analysts say the assault could be seen as a warning to Ankara. Russia has also been downing Turkish and Israeli drones sent from Azerbaijan to Armenian airspace.
Erdogan’s rhetoric against Greece hasn’t been helping the situation in the region either. Earlier this month, Turkey sent an exploration vessel near Greek territory to search for hydrocarbon resources. France and the European Union harshly condemned the act as provocation.
As of Saturday, 963 troops and 37 civilians from Nagorno-Karabakh have been killed according to The Associated Press. Azerbaijan has yet to report its death toll.
With evidence showing that Azerbaijan has imported Muslim Jihadists from Pakistan and Syria to fight in the war against the Armenians of Karabakh, the US Embassy in Azerbaijan issued a statement saying the embassy had received “credible reports of potential terrorist attacks and kidnappings against U.S. citizens and foreign nationals” in various locations across its capital city of Baku.