Azerbaijan and Armenia have agreed to a Russian initiated peace deal to end the six-week-long conflict in the disputed Nagorno- Karabakh region. The Azerbaijani is celebrating the peace deal, but it has angered the Armenian as a national humiliation.
It is a critical situation for the entire region. This peace deal is going to change the political map of the South Caucasus region. The good side of the deal is, it has saved so many lives of both sides immediately. Refugees and displaced persons of the Azerbaijani side in the earlier conflicts of the late 1980s and early 1990s can now hope to go back to their home again. But the Armenian people who were displaced in the recent conflict are traumatized and fearful, and it is almost uncertain that they will be able to go back to their home as well.
Russia initiated the peace deal, and it was supported by Turkey, which are the two key players in the recent conflict. There was no Western power engagement in that deal as they were not involved much in that conflict for years. As a result, Russia and Turkey have successfully pursued their interest in the region without any hurdle. Russia is much more committed to the new peace deal as it is the big actor here. Therefore, Russian peacekeepers are already arriving to enforce the new peace deal.
The main conflict, which started in the early 1990s is one of the most adamant disputes in Europe. According to international law, the Nagorno-Karabakh region with the Armenian ethnic majority started the fight for full autonomy while it is still recognized as Azerbaijan’s territory.
It was impossible to solve the problem at the negotiation table. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a shattering war which resulted in a massive civilian casualty. Armenia made advanced in the war, and Azerbaijan almost lost it, and many Azerbaijani was forced to leave the territory. The dispute was unresolved then. Last September, Azerbaijan accused Armenia of provocation and took a military offensive to counter the old loss and gain their lost territories.
The peace deal came on the night of November 9 while Azerbaijan has already recaptured huge parts of lost territory. On the other hand, Armenia lost about 1200 soldiers so far and several parts of their occupied territories. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan was forced to sign the deal as Armenia was facing a military defeat on all fronts. So, there were no other options open for Armenia except for signing the deal to immediately end the war. Armenian prime minister is likely to fall apart from power as he is facing tremendous protest against the deal in Armenia but whoever comes next won’t have much space to do something.
Azerbaijan, Russia, and Turkey all are the winners here. According to the deal, Azerbaijan can keep all the territories it gained in the recent conflict. They have also got the 2nd largest Shusha city, an Azeri city back then in the 1990s. Armenia will also have to withdraw from some other strategic points where Russian peacekeepers will take the position. And for sure, it will give Azerbaijan a robust position in the disputed region.
Russia and Turkey will get their strategic presence in the region, helping them grow the influence there.
So, Armenia is the only devastated loser here as they have to leave parts of their occupied territories and they are the side which has had massive military casualties. The only retrieve from the deal is that they were to keep the main city of Stepanakert with the large part of the Nagorno-Karabakh region and to secure it through the Russian peacekeepers.
The sustainability of the deal depends on both Armenia and Azerbaijan. This deal has nine points with so many undeniable questions and latent ruses. After these circumstances, it is highly doubtful whether the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh will feel safe and protected under the whole new scenario. Other important issues that should have been put in the first place before the peace deal are, easing the return of displaced persons and refugees, reconstructing the infrastructure, ensuring human rights, opening the whole region for International agencies like UN and investigating war crimes last six weeks long conflict. Negotiating parties should have also given importance to the historical rivalry between the two ethnic communities in the disputed area for rehabilitating them together. If all of these facts are ignored during the peace process again, it will collapse. Similarly, it has been in the previous time and starts a new conflict in the upcoming future.
As the countries’ leaders dealing with this crisis have more interests in territorial and strategic gains than human welfare, this peace will certainly not sustain a long period.