Armenia and Azerbaijan conflict intensifies

By Ryan Codkind
November 2, 2020

The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan has been in the news frequently over the past several weeks. Here is some background on the conflict. 

“Creative Commons September 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh Clashes” by VartanM is licensed under CC0 1.0.

Tensions continue to be rising between Armenia and Azerbaijan over who has claim to the Nagorno-Karabakh region. This conflict dates back to the 1920s when the Soviet government established the Nagorno-Karabakh region where a majority of the population identified as Armenian even though it was located within Azerbaijan.

“The enclave between Armenia and Azerbaijan is Nagorno-Karabakh, which is within Azerbaijani territory, but is populated and governed by majority ethnical Armenians,” Dr. Nune Grigoryan, assistant professor of communications, said. 

This resulted in a conflict between the two groups. While both wanted to claim the area, they each had different reasons for wanting to do so.

“The conflict is territorial for Azerbaijan and ethnical for Armenia,” Grigoryan said.

At the beginning, the conflict between these two countries was more controlled for approximately 60 years. However, after the Soviet Union began to collapse and lost its hold on this area, tensions began to rise.

Legislation was then passed in 1988 indicating that Nagorno-Karabakh would join Armenia even though they were physically located in Azerbaijan.

During this time, the Soviet Union was being dismantled and this region became known as an independent region. This caused Armenia and Azerbaijan to go to war over the designation of the area and resulted in thousands of deaths.

In 1994, Armenia won the war, but the war left many people dead, injured and displaced. While many countries have stepped in over time and have calmed tensions between the two at different periods, this conflict has continued for decades. 

Recently, the tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan have heated up once again over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

In late September 2020, Azerbaijan started to escalate the conflict once again by taking over more territory in Nagorno-Karabakh, which caused Armenia to fight back.

This caused Russia to get involved in early October in order to try and negotiate a ceasefire between the two. They were able to accomplish this ceasefire, however, this did not last long. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan immediately began accusing the other of violating various parts of the agreement.

“Azerbaijan has violated already two ceasefires brokered by Russia and the United States,” Grigoryan said.

The fighting has now expanded to include Turkey in this discussion, which is now backing Azerbaijan. In this way, the conflict has continued to expand outward and no longer just impacts the two areas.

All of this conflict has caused massive death and destruction to the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Recently, 36 civilians were killed on Oct. 16 from a missile attack launched by Armenia. The issues have continued to grow as other countries have tried to get involved to help over the past few weeks.   

This is a very complex issue that cannot be easily simplified. Girgoryan cautions that one must fully understand the context of the situation, as well as the series of events that have transpired over a long period of time in order to recognize what each side believes that they have at stake in this conflict.  Therefore, the world needs to continue its monitoring of the situation in an attempt to figure out what is the best way to intervene and help both sides find a peaceful resolution.

Ryan Codkind

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