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Sat Oct 17, 2020, 11:30 AM

The Absence of US Diplomacy on the Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict Risks a Wider War

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Just Security
The war in #NagornoKarabakh is not limited to Azerbaijan and Armenia. Turkey, Russia, Iran and others are in deep, too.

The glaring absence of US diplomacy risks a wider war, writes @timurnersesov.

The Absence of US Diplomacy on the Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict Risks a Wider War
If the war were limited to Azerbaijan and Armenia, the world might be forgiven for sitting this out. But Turkey, Russia, Iran and others are in deep, too.


The grave importance of the 2020 U.S. presidential election is drowning out other critical stories from the news cycle, including the breakout of an actual war. After a tenuous 26-year ceasefire, the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan went hot on Sept. 27, when fighting broke out across the line of contact with the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh. Within a week, the war ground to a stalemate and degenerated into an artillery duel, often targeting civilians.

The United States holds unique sway in this part of the world, but the Trump administration has shown a reluctance to get involved thus far, despite pressure from Armenia and its diaspora. If unaddressed, at least diplomatically, this very dangerous war could cascade into being the biggest single reversal of the post-World War II international order and the most serious threat to global security since the end of the Cold War.

The war is a revival of a conflict that began with a movement for unification of majority-Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh with Soviet Armenia in 1988 and ended with a cease-fire in 1994 between ethnic Armenians and Azeris on the heels of the collapse of the Soviet Union. The war that began with the secession movement claimed more than 30,000 lives and left over 2 million refugees from both sides.

The escalation this time, with Turkish support for Azerbaijan, places the world in a dangerous situation. There are a few places on earth that have so many powerful interests involved with the potential to spiral out of control from a single miscalculation. Sandwiched between Iran, Turkey, Russia, and Georgia, the region lies at an intersection of political, ethnic, and religious borders. At stake in this one conflict is Russian, Turkish, and Iranian regional influence; an ethnic battle with memories of genocide; and a religious component (Christian Armenia, Shia Azerbaijan, Sunni Turkey).


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