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A service for global professionals · Thursday, February 29, 2024 · 692,213,392 Articles · 3+ Million Readers

Armenia Under the Gun

In late September, one of the most shocking human upheavals since the century began took place in the former Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, a small, hilly patch of territory nestled within Azerbaijan. After three decades of tensions and conflict, it took just one day in September for Azerbaijan to seize the disputed enclave. Armenia stood largely on the sidelines, not strong enough to intervene, causing Nagorno-Karabakh’s population of some 120,000 ethnic Armenians to flee en masse in one of the starkest examples of forced displacement in the twenty-first century. And yet international attention soon drifted away from the South Caucasus. Azerbaijan has faced no international consequences for its actions, a fact made all the more striking by the possibility of a new war in the region.

The fall of Nagorno-Karabakh did not resolve all the problems between Armenia and Azerbaijan. These two neighbors have never established diplomatic ties and do not engage in trade, and their citizens cannot freely visit one another. Both countries have now raised three generations of people who view the other side as the enemy. Their shared borders are lined with miles of military positions, and their border skirmishes just in the past three years have resulted in more casualties than the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh over the same period.

Much is at stake. After more than a decade of rearmament and arms deals with Israel, Turkey, and other countries, Azerbaijan’s military is far more powerful than Armenia’s; it could within a matter of hours take control of swaths of Armenian territory. Its forces have already occupied a series of positions in southern Armenia. Observers fear that Azerbaijan might be preparing another offensive, with the goal of securing a route to its own exclave of Nakhichevan—a region of around 100,000 people that is separated from Azerbaijan by a sliver of Armenian territory. An aggressive Azerbaijani military action to establish this corridor could lead to the partition of Armenia, creating hundreds of thousands of new refugees in the process. With outside powers, including Armenia’s erstwhile ally Russia, preoccupied by conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East, Armenia cannot count on external support.

The full article can be read in Foreign Affairs.

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