NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is in Ankara to convince Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to stop the war on Armenia. Azerbaijani President Ilhami Aliyev has responded to all calls for a ceasefire unless Armenia withdraws from the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
After the events of last July (last week’s article), crowds gathered in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, demanding the return of Nagorno Karabakh, and then the current clash took place, which attracted renewed attention from regional powers such as Russia and Turkey. The situation is now in an escalation state that carries a real risk of a wider geopolitical conflict.
Nagorno-Karabakh is a small mountainous region in the Caucasus located within the Azerbaijani lands. The Azeris are Turkish-speaking Shiite Muslims, while the Armenians are Orthodox Christians, yet both Armenia and Azerbaijan are two small states in the Caucasus sandwiched between three much stronger countries: To the southeast is Iran, and it has a large Azeri community, and maintains good relations with Baku due to the common Shiite faith. To the north, with the exception of Georgia, which has suffered from protracted ethnic conflicts, is Russia, which is certainly the country with the most military power. Moscow has stakes in Baku and Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. It is also economically involved in Azerbaijan, which is rich in hydrocarbons, but as an Orthodox country, it is friendly to Armenia and has a military base in Gyumri – Armenia. Indeed, Armenia is part of the “Collective Security Treaty Organization” sponsored by Russia, and its founding provisions reflect the mutual defense mechanism stipulated in Article 5 of the NATO Treaty. Article 4 of the Collective Security Treaty Organization states that if one of the member states is exposed to aggression, the member states will regard it as aggression against them all. However, this treaty does not cover Nagorno Karabakh, as it is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, which is not in the “Collective Security Treaty”. Finally, the two countries border Turkey, a NATO member and supporter of Azerbaijan, on the basis of a common Turkish heritage.
This scene sheds light on the geopolitical complexity of the Caucasus region – which is also an important transit area for pipelines – and explains the reactions of various forces to the recent outbreak of violence. Russia called for restraint and offered to mediate, and so did Iran, but the warring parties rejected both offers.
Both Moscow and Tehran are embroiled in other conflicts. The first is in Ukraine, Syria and Libya, and the second is in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon. They do not want another armed clash very close to their countries, which could harm their economic interests by disrupting the energy infrastructure in the Caucasus. In addition, both of them have reasons to avoid conflict: Iran does not want an escalation that could end up involving Iranian Azerbaijan, and if Russia is asked to intervene on the basis of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, it is concerned about any possible Turkish action to support Azerbaijan, because The prospect of a direct battle with Turkey risks putting NATO into the game.
Indeed, during the initial skirmishes last July between Armenian and Azeri forces, Ankara had already expressed its willingness to protect Azerbaijan, and now, shortly after the recent armed exchange, it repeated this commitment, which sparked a new diplomatic rift with a non-regional power, France.
The government of French President Emmanuel Macron quickly responded when the fighting began, and France hosts a large and effective Armenian community, but the reason for Macron’s move probably stems from the deterioration of France’s relationship with Turkey, which insists on imposing its influence on Libya and the eastern Mediterranean.
In the eastern Mediterranean, Turkey is pressing controversial maritime claims and with military force, as it activated a radar before a Turkish warship that targeted a French unit, and at a later time it sent a exploration ship accompanied by frigates to conduct surveys in the waters internationally recognized as being subject to Greece France sent two Rafale fighters and a warship to the region, and then it signed a new arms sale deal with Greece.
When the last clashes broke out in Karabakh, Paris called for a cessation of hostilities, but the issue quickly turned into another dispute with Ankara on September 30, as Armenia said that a Turkish F-16 plane shot down a Sukhoi-25 plane. Of course, Ankara denied the matter. And she said: Armenia should withdraw from the lands under its occupation instead of resorting to cheap propaganda tricks, then France announced that it was very concerned about Turkish war messages, which in its view would encourage the Azerbaijanis to seize Nagorno Karabakh, and Ankara responded with a challenge that it was fully prepared to do What is necessary to help Baku in the field and at the negotiating table so that it can regain its occupied territories.
It is clear that the issue has taken on a wider international dimension, and if the situation in the Caucasus continues to escalate, the consequences will reverberate far beyond the region.
Turkey’s insistence on supporting Azerbaijan raises concerns about an impending Turkish military operation against Armenia. As we mentioned, Armenia is part of the “Collective Security Treaty Organization”, which stipulates that an attack on one member will be considered an aggression on all. This means that if Armenia is attacked and Moscow does not intervene, the credibility of the “Collective Security Treaty” that sponsors it will collapse, So is Russia’s image as a great power, which is what President Vladimir Putin derives his political legitimacy from at home. However, a direct Russian attack on Turkish soil could prompt Ankara – despite recent tensions with many members of NATO – to activate the alliance’s collective security mechanism.
Invoking Article 5 in this way and in making the Turkish aggression, would lead to a diplomatic dilemma for NATO and its leading power, mainly the United States. Should it provide assistance to Turkey and risk a war with a nuclear-armed Russia, or abandon the Turks, whose mission has become to sow problems in many Countries – this is under the pressure of the powerful Armenian lobby in America – and it also seriously undermines NATO’s credibility. Turkey’s ambition to ignite a war in which NATO is implicated will make it feel that it has triumphed over it, including the member states.
What may mitigate the Turkish agitation is that there is no desire for anyone to go to war because of the Nagorno Karabakh region, because there is no great interest for any country in this issue, so the most likely end result is a negotiated settlement, perhaps mediated by relatively neutral parties, such as the European Union, and perhaps even Russia itself. Last Monday evening, the foreign ministers of Russia, the United States and France called for a de-escalation in the conflict.
In any case, if the clashes do not include the territories of Armenia or Turkey, there will be no legal basis for inviting any of the allies to intervene militarily, because these lands are outside the geographical scope of their treaties, and then and most importantly, Russia and Turkey can still fight by indirect means and other proxy conflicts. .
Conflict escalates locally. Azerbaijan feels the power of its arming from Israel and Turkey, and Armenia feels abandoned by the world. It will not transform into a broader conflict between major powers, yet it is clear that the fundamental importance of the ongoing clashes in Karabakh does not stem from local territorial gains, but rather from the ability of the conflict to ignite a broader war between opposing coalition regimes.
Now Canada has suspended arms sales to Turkey due to their use in Azerbaijan. Erdogan knows that it is not for his sake that a third world war will start, even if it flares up, the Sultanate will not return and will not be a ruler.
His grandmother’s child, while they are walking from Karabakh to Yerevan, asks why she is so scared of all this fear of Erdogan, who said in the Syria war that Turkey had not committed a civil massacre in history. The grandmother asks him to remember history: the Armenian genocide of 1914, the Assyrian genocide of 1914, the Mount Lebanon famine of 1915, the Greek genocide of 1913, the Hamidiye massacres of 1894, the Diyarbakir massacres of 1895, the Batak massacre of 1876, the massacre of Idlib in 1850, the massacre in Adana. 1909.
Erdogan loves to retrieve history, but not all history is clean, old or modern. Will Azerbaijan give cover to Turkey, under the pretext of trying to retrieve Karabakh, and the busy world is witnessing a new massacre or ethnic cleansing!
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