War Will Cast Doubt On Future Of Azerbaijani Elite


February 13, 2015 12:14

Thomas de Waal


Yerevan /Mediamax/. In his article “The Karabakh Truce under Threat”,
British analyst, Senior Associate at Carnegie Endowment Thomas de
Waal considers the current situation quite worrying.

“Will there be war this year in Nagorny Karabakh? Every year since the
1994 ceasefire that halted the fighting, the answer to that question
has been “No.” This year, the signals are much more worrying”,
he notes.

“At the Munich Security Conference, the OSCE issued its third alarmed
statement in two weeks. January is usually a quiet month on the
ceasefire line but this time 12 dead and 18 wounded were recorded.

The basic arguments for avoiding war remain the same. It would do
catastrophic damage to everyone. The Armenian side got most of what
it wanted in 1994. Azerbaijan, the defeated side in the war of the
1990s, has a greater incentive to back to war to try to re-conquer
lands that constitute almost 14 per cent of its de jure territory,
but it would be a very risky enterprise. Given the mountainous
terrain and the Armenian defenses, an operation could easily fail,
costing potentially not just the lives of thousands of young men in
the minefields around Karabakh, but the survival of the ruling elite
itself. Far safer for Baku to rattle sabers than to fire real guns.

The logic is still good, but the fear is growing of war by
miscalculation on the Line of Contact. What was once a muddy zone of
trenches and poorly-armed soldiers is now bristling with heavy weapons
and aircraft. The journalist and analyst Emil Sanamyan estimates that
in 2014 72 men–39 Azerbaijanis and 33 Armenians, died–making it by
far the worst year since the ceasefire.

Furthermore, the violence has spread from the area outside Karabakh to
the Armenian-Azerbaijani frontier both in the north and next to the
exclave of Nakhichevan. If a conflict does ever break out again, it
will be a full-scale war between the states of Armenia and Azerbaijan”,
the analyst writes.

Thomas de Waal recalls the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs’ statement made
on January 27 which urged Azerbaijan to observe its commitments to
a peaceful resolution of the conflict. The analyst also touches upon
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s statement in Munich as well as
Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan’s warning that the Armenian side
reserves the right to carry out preventative strikes.

“All of this makes the situation around Karabakh more menacing. Urgent
attention needs to be paid to dampen down the situation before spring
arrives and a potentially long hot and dangerous summer”, concluded
Thomas de Waal.