April 7, 2016 –
Parties to the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh have agreed to a truce. Press secretary of the Ministry of Defense of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) Senor Hasratyan announced this. The agreement was reached at 12.00 am local time. Earlier consultations on the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement were held by the diplomatic heads of the US and Russia, Sergei Lavrov and John Kerry. The conflict is being discussed at the OSCE Minsk Group meeting on the Karabakh settlement. It is expected that the co-chairs of the group – representatives of Russia, the US, and France – will today go to the region.
Today, according to the Defense Ministry of Armenia, the Azerbaijani side used MLRS “Smerch” and Israeli “Nagore” combat drones. Azerbaijan refutes this information, although it acknowledges that it possesses such weapons. The Azerbaijani military have strengthened their position in the occupied territories of Karabakh. Previously, on April 3rd, Azerbaijan already declared the Azerbaijani side had violated the ceasefire in the evening. The Azerbaijani side’s actions demonstrated that they do not intend to stop there, and plan to continue to advance deep into Armenian territory. Thus, the fate of the truce hangs by a thread.
The Western media and Azerbaijan
The policy of the Western media’s coverage of the conflict is noteworthy. Despite the influential Armenian lobby, the leading Western media agencies are actually taking part in the conflict on the side of Azerbaijan; they actively promote the diplomatic maneuvers of Azerbaijan – its alleged cessation of hostilities on Saturday. This is indicative of the activity of a more serious propaganda machine than the one that is at the disposal of the post-Soviet state’s security services.
Despite the military buildup, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev has, in the past, pursued a policy of balancing between Russia and the West. However, the number of provocations in the Karabakh conflict zone has increased significantly in parallel with the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine. At the same time, pro-Western forces in Armenia tried to organize the so-called “Electromaydan”, and before that, to launch an anti-Russian campaign in connection with the murder of an Armenian family by Russian sectarian-soldier Valery Permyakov. After the start of the Russian military operation in Syria, it became clear that Nagorno Karabakh is the most likely candidate for destabilization by the West and pro-Western circles in Turkey.
It is important that the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan started the conflict when the country’s president was in the United States, where he concluded an agreement on cooperation with the global hegemon. After some time, the Americans published the Panama Papers leaks, which compromised Aliyev. The behavior of the first person of Azerbaijan, which is not peculiar for him, suggests that the blackmail continues. The decision on the war was taken not in Baku, but in the West, which is interested in the conflict. So, a big war is inevitable despite the peace initiatives of the diplomats.
The war is unprofitable for Azerbaijan
The conflict is unprofitable, not only for Russia and Armenia. The former is forced to switch between other international problems, including Ukraine and Syria. The war in Karabakh is in fact a new front of the global conflict between the West and Russia. Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh have casualties, the war is already underway on their territory, and they do not intend to change the beneficial-for-them status-quo.
Azerbaijan, with all its high military capabilities recently demonstrated that it could not break the forces of Armenia and NKR using a kind of Blitzkrieg, and thus, a war that will bleed the nation is on the horizon. A return to the previous status quo would signal the defeat of Aliyev and the possible ousting of his regime. The possible internal cause of Azerbaijan’s renewal of the conflict – the need for a “small victorious war” in a crisis due to the fall in oil prices – is present, but is not decisive. The risk of failure outweighs the risks that would face the Aliyev regime in a peaceful situation.
The tactics that Azerbaijan has chosen indicates that it is ready to move forward in small steps: biting off pieces of territory, and then declaring a truce to strengthen and further continue the offensive. After some time, the Armenian side will grow tired of these “truces”, and it will then be blamed for disrupting the peace process. The Western powers would support such behavior by Azerbaijan, including the use of their Turkish agents of influence. Turkey is likely not interested in the war, as it will face another new front in addition to the existing Kurdish and Syrian ones, which could lead to its “imperial overstretch”, and as consequence, the Erdogan regime will be replaced by a more pro-Western one.