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Simon Maghakyan, a visiting scholar at Tufts University who studies heritage crime, recently warned in Time magazine that Azerbaijan intends to invade Armenia. This attack would come on the heels of Azerbaijan’s September invasion of Nagorno-Karabakh, a historically Armenian ethnic enclave within Azerbaijani territory, and the subsequent campaign of ethnic cleansing in the ancient region, Maghakyan argued.
Unfortunately, his claims are not far-fetched, say other researchers. When they overran Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijani forces displaced over 100,000 ethnic Armenians, or around 85 percent of the population, from their homes, reported ABC News.
“The ethnic Armenian population of the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave in Azerbaijan, a largely Christian community in a predominantly Muslim nation, is experiencing ethnic cleansing at warp speed,” wrote David Scheffer, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “The rout that has driven most ethnic Armenians onto Armenian territory demands some sort of dialogue. Otherwise, resentments and insecurities will govern the future relationship between Azerbaijan and Armenia.”
Meanwhile, Azeris whom the Armenians kicked out of Nagorno-Karabakh in the early 1990s, after the fall of the Soviet Union, are looking forward to returning home, added Radio Free Europe.
With that history in mind, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has made his intentions for the region’s future clear. He recently raised his country’s flag in the former capital of Nagorno-Karabakh, a city that Azeris call Khankendi and Armenians call Stepanakert.
Meanwhile, French officials appear to agree with Maghakyan’s fears about an imminent resumption of fighting between the two former Soviet republics in the Caucasus mountains straddling Asia and Europe.
Officials in Paris have authorized the sending of weapons to Armenia in expectation of an escalation of hostilities between the countries, reported Politico.
The French aid will counterbalance the loss of Armenia’s traditional protector, Russia, at a time when the Russian military is preoccupied in Ukraine. Azerbaijan, meanwhile, enjoys the help of Israel, as the Associated Press explained, and the staunch support of Turkey. Turks share ethnic links with Azeris. Iran supports Armenia because it opposes Turkish influence in its backyard.
This external meddling in Armenia and Azerbaijan has undoubtedly worsened tensions, argued New York University Abu Dhabi sociologist Georgi Derluguian in the New York Times. Tracing the history of the region, he made clear that the two countries’ neighbors have repeatedly set them up for conflict over the years. Iran, he noted, stridently opposes Turkish influence in countries on its border, namely Armenia and Azerbaijan.
In September, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the Azeri exclave of Nakhchivan, a territory that borders Armenia, Turkey, and Iran, but not Azerbaijan proper, wrote Reuters. It’s this enclave many believe will be the focus of any new fight between the two countries.
President Aliyev has said he wants to create a corridor through Armenia to Nakhchivan that would link his country and Turkey – an idea Armenia opposes.
One side sees disorder. The other sees a new order.