After a grisly violent conflict followed by a ceasefire, Armenia is still in tension. With an agreement orchestrated by Russia, Armenia lost its territories and withdrew from the Nagorno Karabakh – a region that has a significant history with Armenia and was controlled by Azeris for a long time. As Azerbaijan celebrates victory and sets their president, Ilham Aliyev, a national hero, they mark the settlement date as National Victory Day. Protests are rising against the government and Nikol Pashinyan, the Prime Minister of Armenia, fleeing refugees from Nagorno Karabakh, and the spread of gruesome videos of beheadings uprise the hate in Armenia and their uncertainty. The conflicts weren’t new, it was there since Armenian Turks for centuries, but this time we have some interesting geopolitics to discuss.
Armenia and Azerbaijan are two small countries in the Caucasus region along with Georgia surrounded by big guys – Russia, Turkey, and Iran. These countries are highly influenced and even force all problems in this region and the deep-old rivalry between Christianity and Islam. Russia plays a crucial role in the region from the early days, they always supported the Orthodox Christians in Armenia who always fought with surrounding Islamic countries; but in the Soviet times both Armenia and Azerbaijan were peaceful and the SSRs were good next-door-neighbors under the steady leadership of the USSR. The golden age of the union ended and the countries became republics and the problem started over; Armenia captured Azerbaijan’s Armenian majority area Nagorno Karabakh along with surrounding areas which made a huge number of refugees for Azerbaijan, where Russia helped them in this capture. Russia was the defense partner and they also had their military bases in Armenia, but they had a good relationship with Azerbaijan too. When the Azeris started to improve their economy with oil and natural gases from the Caspian sea Russia became more friendly with them. Armenia initiated looking west and Pashinyan had a clear connection with the west, then they recruited Russian officials to be replaced by pro-western executives. Moscow noticed this and they officially demanded Armenia to give back some region to Azerbaijan in late 2019s even Armenia rejected it. The war between Azerbaijan and Armenia started in September when Russia played neutral and organized a peace deal that agreed to withdraw Armenians from Nagorno Karabakh and dispatch peacekeepers to the region to save properties and monasteries in the region. What’s interesting here is, an aggressive country like Russia didn’t back Armenia even though they have a defense agreement. Moscow believes they only need to protect the internationally recognized border. On Armenian part, they hate their government while international media reported Armenians in Nagorno Karabakh welcomed Russian soldiers with greetings and flowers.
Turkey is the second influential member of the Caucus. Turkey and Azerbaijan consider themselves one nation – two states. Both follow one root and cultural heritage since the Ottoman empire. They followed a strong affinity and common enmity to Armenians but followed by Ottoman’s downfall and Turkey’s secular standings, they didn’t intervene in the region excessively much. However, the neo-ottoman Erdogan always backed to reclaim Nagorno Karabakh and, from the beginning of the conflict they gave all their support to Azerbaijan. The Turkish drones, other army facilities gave an enormous advantage in the fight. With the presence of Erdogan in the victory rally in Baku, Turkey reflects Azerbaijan will ensue Turkey’s dominance in the Islamic world by establishing itself as the savior of Islam along with Pakistan who is reviving their Turko Mongolian heritage. Iran, the other big lad in the neighborhood is a kind of neutral. They remain stable with Armenia even though Azerbaijan is a Shia majority country. Iran has a lot of Azeri people in their northern region and they fear secessionism and Azerbaijan’s increased ties with Israel and the Gulf countries. They blocked transportation of military equipment to Armenia when the conflict began.
Armenians are outraged, they feel betrayed by their government, but it is making a dual impact on politics. Some people say Russia betrayed and they must lean towards the United States, who played a major role in the peace talks after the 1990s. They became a member of the military alliance and got closer to France who is another mediator in the region. The good relationship with rich Christian countries in the European Union and the empathy from the EU will help them balance economic growth with Azeris, who are growing faster by oil and stream of capital from rich Muslim countries. At its counterpart, Russian supporters say the government’s western slide has caused Russia’s relaxed response, and getting closer to Russia is the solution. In the future, the peace treaty in the region will cause follow-ups and is expected to be a major geopolitics topic for the discussion.