Azerbaijan’s ongoing counteroffensive in Nagorno-Karabakh is teaching the international community some very important lessons. They now realize that they’re at fault for having let the conflict remain frozen for nearly three decades without putting any meaningful pressure on Armenia to comply with the four UNSC Resolutions demanding its withdrawal from the occupied territories. This belated sense of responsibility might compel relevant parties to proactively seek political resolutions to other long-standing issues elsewhere in the world.
Armenia becomes a rogue state, who is responsible?
The international community’s failure to ensure Armenia’s compliance with international law directly contributed to the country becoming a rogue state. Yerevan wrongly felt that it’s invincible since it considered its illegal actions to have the tacit support of key stakeholders. This in turn explains why it launched missile strikes against residential areas in Azerbaijani cities far from the front lines. From Armenia’s perspective, if the world didn’t pressure it to comply with the UNSC Resolutions, it might not react to these war crimes either.
Armenia’s criminal actions also risk provoking a larger war
This brings the analysis around to discussing the consequences of Armenia becoming a rogue state. There’s no doubt that it’s wantonly committing war crimes, for which it must be held legally responsible after the conflict ends. It’s doing so with weapons that it received from some of the same countries that are members of the OSCE Minsk Group. Those states obviously did not intend for their military exports to be used for such ends, but they now have a responsibility to ensure that they put a stop to this war crime spree as soon as possible.
Armenia’s criminal actions also risk provoking a larger war. Its leadership hopes that Azerbaijan will respond to these crimes in kind, which could then prompt Russia into conventionally intervening, potentially even triggering Turkey’s reciprocal intervention as well. Those regional stakeholders don’t want that dark scenario to transpire, hence their close coordination in averting it, but it’s very disturbing that the Armenian diaspora in Moscow and their media supporters there are actively lobbying for the opposite.
An important lesson to be learned by this approach is that Azerbaijan supports the peaceful coexistence of all people whereas Armenia has a history of ethnically cleansing the non-Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh
This powerful influence network has thus far failed to achieve its goal, but that’s certainly not for lack of trying. The international community must become more aware of such warmongering efforts going forward in order to better defend against similar attempts elsewhere. On the topic of influence, it must also be said that Armenia’s information war against Azerbaijan has largely failed to achieve any success. The only “victory” that it can speak of is temporarily diverting international attempt from its war crimes, but that’s all.
On the military front, the Armenian forces and their separatist proxies are being soundly defeated. Instead of respecting the two ceasefires that were brokered by Moscow, they irresponsibly gambled from a position of desperation that their violation of them could be manipulated into accusing Azerbaijan of breaking the truce. Their scheme was to misrepresent Azerbaijan as the aggressor in the hopes of securing more support for their envisioned political goal of legitimizing the illegal status quo. That failed, and now they’re on the retreat again.
Azerbaijan wants peace
Despite its military superiority on the battlefield (aided to a great degree by its expertise in drone warfare which enormously reduced the collateral damage from these sorts of often devastating campaigns), Azerbaijan continually calls for Armenia to return to peace talks. Baku would prefer for the situation to be resolved politically and that regional stakeholders compel Yerevan into undertaking an orderly withdrawal for the sake of the remaining civilians in the area. It remains to be seen whether it’ll succeed, but it’s still a noble effort.
These regular peacemaking gestures speak to the political maturity and deep sense of responsibility that characterize the Azerbaijani leadership. They have the capabilities to obliterate the enemy forces, but that would make reconstruction efforts after the war all the more difficult. It could also lead to the unnecessary loss of civilian lives, which Baku wants to avoid at all costs since it regards the residents of the occupied territories as its citizens, as it rightly should, considering their international legal status.
An important lesson to be learned by this approach is that Azerbaijan supports the peaceful coexistence of all people whereas Armenia has a history of ethnically cleansing the non-Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh and the seven surrounding districts under occupation. Even worse, Prime Minister Pashinyan described the conflict as a “clash of civilizations” earlier this month, which is a euphemism for a seemingly inevitable war between religions despite this conflict having nothing to do with differences of faith at all.
Looking back upon the lessons that were learned over the past month, the international community should urgently realize its shortcomings and mistakes
Being the rogue state that it is, however, Armenia thought that blowing such an Islamophobic dog whistle would earn it more widespread support in the West, but it was terribly mistaken after no other government supported its dangerously false depiction of events. If anything, Pashinyan’s rhetoric came off as desperate and further reinforced the accurate perception that his forces are on the back foot. By contrast, Azerbaijan always exudes confidence and speaks of reconciliation.
Not only does Azerbaijan talk the talk, but it also has a very credible chance to walk the walk as well. Having avoided the oil curse that plagues so many other energy-rich countries by investing heavily in its people and infrastructure at home, Azerbaijan has both the financial means and established record of success to inspire optimism that it’ll carry through with its promise to prioritize the reconstruction of the occupied territories upon their liberation. This powerfully debunks Armenia’s ridiculous claims of a “second genocide” if it loses.
With an eye on the future, the international community can prevent other rogue states from emerging and thawing frozen conflicts like Armenia
In terms of the bigger picture, Azerbaijan is abiding by the principles of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) where it’s a dialogue partner. The SCO is resolutely against terrorism, separatism, and extremism in all of their forms, which have regrettably manifested themselves in Armenia’s occupation of its land and support of separatist-terrorist proxies there. Baku is also belatedly implementing the four UNSC Resolutions on the matter that the international community has thus far failed to do. Thus, its counteroffensive is both moral and legal.
Looking back upon the lessons that were learned over the past month, the international community should urgently realize its shortcomings and mistakes. They can still make up for them by launching a campaign of maximum pressure upon Armenia in order to rein in the rogue state and force it to return to peace talks, albeit ensuring that tangible goals are achieved within clear-cut timelines unlike the lack of action undertaken over nearly the last three decades.
With an eye on the future, the international community can prevent other rogue states from emerging and thawing frozen conflicts like Armenia did as long as they take heed of the lessons that were learned. In this sense, Azerbaijan’s ongoing counteroffensive could literally change the world for the better by inspiring a renewed sense of urgency for fulfilling the UN’s peacemaking role across the world. Had they acted sooner, then this war might never have happened, but now they might prevent others from occurring in the future.