Is enough not enough?
In peaceful times, it is easier for the victor to reconcile with the vanquished.
It’s ten days already, and I kept wondering why these two governments prefer to use force over dialogue. I regret that the Armenian political leadership failed to engage the Azeri in peace talks when they had the upper hand (after winning the 90’s war and occupying western Azerbaijan). If they had acted on that, maybe we would have some peace.
Nagorno-Karabakh is officially Azeri territory but settled by ethnic Armenians. Let’s look at a scenario where the Armenian Government used the occupation period to rally and hold a referendum for the breakaway state. Let’s assume further that they did attempt to make peace with Azerbaijan while rallying local and international support for a plebiscite. Azerbaijan would either say yes or no. If no, then something could be done to alleviate them. Give back some occupied territories (not Nagorno-Karabakh) or agree to grant the region a greater autonomy under Azerbaijan. If the Azeri accepted, then all this stress will be long forgotten. The two countries have legitimate claims but can only find a solution by consensus.
Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh and some Azeri areas, are under heavy shelling. Two neighbours are constantly exchanging fire as both record military and civilian casualties. News agencies play videos of destroyed homes, offices and farms. A few months ago, these people, now victims of war suffered from Covid-19 pandemic. Now that the impact is gradually reducing, a war greets them.
It’s in every human nature to want freedom from where they feel marginalised, threatened and subdued. Many places still seek self-governing status. Denying that leads to rebellion and conflict. This happened in Biafra – Nigeria’s bloody war and is still happening in Ambazonia – Southern Cameroons.
Role of External Influences
It’s evident that each side has a cheerleader and also has a national ‘pride’ to protect. So it hurts some pride to want to cease hostilities first. My anger is that innocent people bear the brunt of the war—what a waste of resources and lives in these challenging times.
Turkey has openly pledged support for Azeri forces, while the Russians are committed to Armenia where it has a military base. Greece (recall the territorial issues with Turkey) supports Armenia. It now seems like an unfolding ethno-religious war. Syrian mercenaries are fighting alongside Azeri forces. If care is not taken, this may escalate into a full-scale regional war. This time, Turkey, Greece, Iran and Russia will be drawn into a direct conflict with each other.
Since Nagorno-Karabakh is the bone of contention, why not administer a joint plebiscite on the territory with international agencies as observers? Excuse me, but you can’t force a cat to be a dog. Whoever anyone chose to be, well let them be!
Role of the United Nations
I have a couple of questions to ask the UN, the warring nations and humanity in general. The first is for the United Nations: should we continue to look away while people die in this meaningless war? To conflicting nations: Hasn’t the Coronavirus done enough harm to your people and economy already? And now to everyone: Does it occur to you that some countries are trying to use a regional or global conflict to revitalise its economy or influence? It may not make much sense until it does. Time will tell.
The United Nations needs to wake up before it’s too late. I don’t know how the protocols work, but the UN can mobilise a peacekeeping force to help broker a ceasefire, create a buffer zone and return all parties to the negotiation table. Why do we always wait for the last minute to act?