The military escalation between the Armenian and Azerbaijani forces that the Karabakh region is currently witnessing is nothing but the latest episode of the conflict that has continued for more than 30 years, albeit the most dangerous one since the 1994 armistice.
Karabakh region, which Armenians call “Artsakh” and consider it part of ancient Armenia, entered the strength of the Russian Empire at the beginning of the 19th century.
After the revolution of 1917, the region was finally annexed to the young Azerbaijan Soviet Republic, despite the objection of the Armenians, who were the majority of its population, and the granting of the autonomy system.
In 1988, with the rise of nationalist tendencies in the dilapidated dead federation, the Legislative Council in Karabakh called for the transfer of the region to Armenia, but the Azerbaijani authorities refused to do so. The start of tension in the region worsened until clashes broke out between Armenians and Azerbaijanis, interspersed with manifestations of killing, destruction, and displacement.
In response to Karabakh’s declaration of independence in 1991, Baku sent its forces to the rebel region, but success was not its ally, and Azerbaijan lost control of Karabakh and 7 adjacent regions, before Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Karabakh signed the ceasefire protocol in May 1994.
Since that time, the fragile calm prevails in the situation around Karabakh, interspersed from time to time into rounds of fighting, most notably what was called the “Four Day War” in April 2016, as well as the clashes that took place on the front line in July of this year.
During the past years, the “Karabakh Republic” did not gain recognition of its independence from any country, including Armenia, which provided it with various aid and great support and defended its interests in the international arena.
The Karabakh authorities also do not participate in the settlement negotiations taking place under the auspices of the “Minsk Group” of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which includes Russia, the United States, and France, because Azerbaijan does not recognize them as a party to the conflict.
Azerbaijan demands the return of all “occupied lands” without any conditions, and insists on the return of the Azerbaijani displaced from Karabakh and the adjacent “occupied areas”, who are estimated at 600,000 people, to their original areas.
Baku has repeatedly announced its readiness to regain these lands by armed force, while Turkey, an ally of Azerbaijan, imposes a blockade on Armenia, and among the conditions that Ankara presents to open the borders with Armenia is the settlement of the land dispute with Azerbaijan.