A long-standing feud between Armenia and Azerbaijan is heading for a collision course as border tensions and public anger boil over.
Rabat – The likelihood of a new war between Armenia and Azerbaijan is increasing on the northern edges of the greater Middle East. In recent months, military forces of Armenia and Azerbaijan have seen repeated clashes in their disputed border territory. Thousands of Azeri citizens took to the streets in July demanding the government deploy its army on the border with Armenia, according to BBC reporting from Baku.
The two countries have experienced simmering tensions over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh since 1988. The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan escalated into a two-year war in the early 1990s and a four-day war in 2016. But tensions never fully subsided and July saw a series of violent clashes between troops that resulted in casualties on both sides.
Both countries have started to use heavy artillery, shelling targets across the border. The Azerbaijani defense ministry released aerial photography on July 13, showing artillery or aerial bombardments striking Armenian defensive positions. Both sides have claimed the other provoked each altercation, with fighting becoming increasingly deadly.
Recent clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan have produced the deadliest fighting since the “Four-Day War” that started on April 1, 2016. Both countries have attacked each other’s military positions as well as local villages in the region, according to the Nagorno Karabakh Observer. A variety of countries, as well as the European Union, have released statements condemning the increasing tensions, with little effect.
Russian military expert Mikhail Khodarenok wrote in an op-ed on RussiaToday that the inter-ethnic tensions between the two countries meant that “any attempt at reconciliation, any hint of a compromise, would immediately be rejected in both Yerevan and Baku” as both country’s populations are vehemently against any peaceful resolution.
Khodarenok further assessed that “should either of the leaders on both sides voice the possibility of peace, they could be swept away within a day by a wave of populist anger.” Diplomats from both sides have repeatedly cast blame on the other side. Meanwhile, drone footage of military strikes has appeased national audiences.
With the people of both Armenia and Azerbaijan unwilling to contemplate a peaceful resolution to the simmering tensions, war in the Caucasus could once again flare up and create another conflict zone in the greater Middle East region.