By Peter Tase
On December 17-18, 2014, Armenian armed forces have violated the cease fire over fifty times on various parts of the line of contact between the troops of Azerbaijan and Armenia.
The Armenian forces from the village of Mosesgeh in the district of Berd opened fire against the positions of Azerbaijani armed forces in the village of Alibayli located in Tovuz district. Almost simultaneously, the Armenian armed forces located in the villages of Berkaber and Paravakar in the Armenian controlled district of Ijavan attacked with a heavy gun fire the positions of Azerbaijani armed forces in the village of Gizilhajili in the Gazakh district and Kehneqishlaq of the Aqstafa district. These are only two of the numerous sporadic armed clashes that took place in different sectors of the line of contact within a time frame of less than 24 hours. Such a protracted conflict in the heart of the Caucasus region is a significant setback for the economic development and social welfare of nations that border the aggressive nation and government of Armenia. Over the last two decades Azerbaijani nation has striven to maintain peace and stability in the region, it has acquired an impressive economic growth despite of the belligerent attitude of Armenia who has occupied more than twenty percent of Azerbaijani territories. Baku is perhaps one of the top ten most developed capital cities of the world.
Additionally, on August 1st, 2015, Armenian gunmen violated the cease fire 120 times in 24 hours. Armenian soldiers, located in Noyemberyan region, attacked ruthlessly the defensive positions of Azerbaijani armed forces in Gazakh region. Armenian government has repeated the same story over and over again since Yerevan signed a cease fire agreement with Azerbaijan in 1994. On August 13, 2015, Armenian armed forces broke the cease fire 108 times in many locations nearby the line of contact.
On July 31st, 2014, at least eight members of Azerbaijan armed forces were killed by the Armenian soldiers in the Azerbaijani provinces of Aghdam and Tartar. According to the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan, eight Azerbaijani servicemen died during the armed clashes; the loss of their lives was as a result of a three days long battle with Armenian reconnaissance and intelligence officers who wanted to violate the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. Additionally as the peace talks were halted, embroiled in stagnation in 2011, two years later (2013) low intensity conflicts and armed confrontations by Armenian armed forces had persisted and their provocations became very frequent within the national territory of Azerbaijan.
It is absolutely evident that intermittent armed clashes are becoming a routine and Armenian armed forces are intensifying their aggressive behavior against Azerbaijani soldiers at a time when Yerevan is facing the negative consequences of having an anticompetitive, oligopolistic structure of a national economy, as well as refraining from strengthening the rule of law, lack of leadership in the war against corruption and curtailing an elevated unemployment rate (in early 2015 unemployment rate was over 19 percent).
For over two decades, Armenia has ignored the international community and has not approved, adopted the four UN Security Council resolutions, one of the resolutions “demands the immediate cessation of all hostilities” and ensure the full withdrawal of Armenian troops from the Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding regions – that are occupied by Yerevan for over a quarter a century – as well as ensure and respect the full territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. The German chief diplomat to Turkey, Ambassador Martin Erdmann, is absolutely right when stating that “under the international law, Nagorno-Karabakh belongs to Azerbaijan”. Armed clashes in the line of contact between Armenian and Azerbaijani troops are expected to escalate; there is no doubt that Yerevan – just like in the recent past – will continue to be the aggressor and maintain an intolerable attitude that is only perceived in rogue-puppet states. Over the next few months there will be a sharp escalation of fighting provoked by Armenian forces in the line of contact against Azerbaijani soldiers and the violations of territorial sovereignty conducted by Armenia in the Azerbaijani soil will continue to persist.
It is unfortunate that experts of the South Caucasus region such as Thomas de Waal are not able to identify who are the aggressors in this types of protracted armed clashes. Indeed, it is crystal clear to understand that if Armenia is respecting and acknowledging Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity we would not have this sporadic and unnecessary bloodshed for over 25 years. Such a conflict begun in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan, after four years of heavy fighting, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s territory, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
Armenia has been hit very hard from the current economic down turn of Russia, its main trading partner. Protests in the streets of Yerevan have taken place for over ten days in a row, throughout 2015, and the government of Armenia uses the protracted conflict with Azerbaijan as a reason to distract its population’s attention from the economic stagnation and high level of corruption that is prevailing in Yerevan. Moreover the U.S. State Department is trapped within Yerevan deception strategy and is turning a blind eye towards the recent events and protests in Yerevan. Surprisingly enough, the US State Department has not found the time to denounce: the violations against human rights committed by Armenian authorities against its own people, while peacefully protesting in the streets; condemn and call upon the government of Armenia to fight corruption and promote civil liberties in the country.
As a member of the Eurasian Economic Union, was established by Moscow, Armenia has stepped away from its close ties with the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, as a result Yerevan has lagged behind on improving its transparency in the government and embrace a free market economy.
Moreover the OSCE Minsk Group has proved to be a dinosaur in the recent negotiations that have taken place and unfortunately have not produced any tangible results. France and the United States are working together to bring a bilateral meeting between the President of Armenia and the President of Azerbaijan. However concrete results of such a meeting are far away from reality since Russian president is not expected to attend the UN General Assembly in New York, without Moscow, Armenia’s long time patron, it will be very difficult to make progress on this issue.
Many international affairs experts find it difficult to have a long lasting solution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict when Moscow is not participating in the negotiating table. This crisis has become one of those messy conflicts that apparently are not rewarding for Washington, at a time when Azerbaijan has been a faithful ally to the United States. It is imperative for the United States and Russia to become more engaged in solving such a protracted conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan which is holding back the economy and infrastructure development of the Caspian region.