Ankara: Violence flared up between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabakh region on Sunday (September 27, 2020) and both the countries have accused each other of launching the attack and of claiming to have an upper hand in the war. While the Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that the enemy started an attack and the military of Karabakh region is responding, the Defence Ministry of Azerbaijan argued that Armenia has attacked them and it has begun a “counterattack” operation.
The Armenian Defence Ministry has claimed about gunning down two Azeri helicopters and destroying three tanks and the Azeri government has asserted about destroying troops, military objects, and equipment of the Armenian military.
The current war is being seen as an outcome of the Turkey-Russia conflict, with Turkey supporting Azerbaijan and Russia aligning with Armenia.
The violence was triggered by the Turkish aggression as it began attacking Russian forces along the Syrian border and in July 2020, instigated Azerbaijan to attack the Armenian forces in the Tovuz region — the junction point of Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia — to give a message to Russia. Just a couple of days after the conflict, diverging from covertly supporting Azerbaijan, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan openly declared that Turkey shall support Azerbaijan in its conflict with Armenia.
Armenia’s Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan accused Turkey of attempting to increase instability in the region in an interview with the Russian news agency Interfax.
“Today Turkey is trying to export this policy of destabilization to the South Caucasus region. This is a serious concern. Turkey is pursuing an unconstructive and dangerous policy. And Turkey’s actions continue to pose a threat to the security of Armenia”, Mnatsakanyan said.
Turkey has been deploying terrorists from Syria and Libya to Azerbaijan to help it fight the war with Armenia. It is also supplying Azerbaijan arms and widely famed Turkish drones. the war broke-off between both the countries, Turkish President came forward to state that by attacking Azerbaijan, Armenia has proved once again it is the biggest obstacle to peace and stability in the region.
“Armenia, which has added a new one to its attacks on Azerbaijan, has once again proven that it is the biggest threat to peace and serenity in the region. The Turkish nation continues to stand by its Azerbaijani brothers and sisters with all its means, as it has always done,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made a statement on his Twitter account.
Both the countries have been a part of the erstwhile USSR and root of the conflict lies in the disintegration of the USSR. With the disintegration of the USSR and formation of independent countries, the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh became a breakaway territory between Azerbaijan and Armenia and went through intense violence.
The majority Armenian community began demanding to integrate the territory with Armenia, which was supported by a popular vote of region’s legislature. Though a ceasefire was declared in 1994, the region has been going through violence between Armenian community and Azeri armed forces till date. The last major clash between both the countries over the region was in 2016.
Though the UNSC has recognised the region as a part of Azerbaijan, Armenia is currently controlling the territory through the self-declared ‘Republic of Artsakh’ — an administration controlled by ethnic Armenian community. Armenia also controls a significant amount of territory surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh.
The escalated tensions between both the countries have been built over the past few months and as soon as the tensions began to escalate, Turkey deployed Syrian fighters in Azerbaijan to fight Armenia. Several media reports from last week highlighted that cadres of the Hamza Division – a terrorist group trained and sponsored by Turkey arrived in Azerbaijan. The Hamza Division is a prominent part of the Turkey sponsored Syrian National Army (SNA).
A United Nations report released in the current month highlighted that Hamza Division and the entire SNA were involved in war crimes in areas under their control since Turkish forces took the control of Kurdish cities Afrin and Ras al-Ayn in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
The report added, “SNA members also looted and destroyed cultural property, in violation of international humanitarian law.”
“Credible reports have emerged that Turkey is transferring its militant proxies based in northern Syria to Azerbaijan as tensions & skirmishes with Armenia rapidly increase.”Greek City Times reported.
Erdogan is famed to exploit terror outfits to his advantage and has also used the SNA in Libya to fulfil his geopolitical objectives and desire of becoming the self-declared Caliph of the Muslim Ummah. The group has led to innumerable casualties in Libya. However, with Libya moving towards peace and stability, Erdogan has now shifted the terrorists of the group to Azerbaijan.
It is also believed that Erdogan has directly deployed Turkish troops along the border region to fight with the Armenian community soldiers in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Turkish armed forces have also been conducting joint exercises with the Azeri forces and helping them in capacity building as well.
Turkey has since long been extending its full-fledged support to Azerbaijan. In fact, this support is stemmed in the deep-rooted hatred of the Armenian community by Turkey. Subsequent Turkish governments have ensured the ethnic cleansing of Armenian community staying in Turkey and the consequent demographic change.
The Turkey sponsored attack in Nagorno-Karabakh has worsened the human rights situation in the region, which already had a fragile human rights condition. An attack during the COVID-19 pandemic has added to the woes of the Armenian community of the region.
The instigations by Erdogan are costing the regional peace and existence of an entire community. The back to back provocations to attack Armenians are similar to efforts of Hitler to cleanse Jews. If the global fraternity doesn’t come forward to stop Azerbaijan backed by Turkey, then the world could very soon see the Armenian community moving towards endangerment.