What role will Azerbaijan’s victory in the Karabakh war play in shifting the order of the South Caucasus and the Middle East?
Axar.az addressed this question to experts from around the world.
We present the survey:
Former Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, former US Ambassador to Azerbaijan Matthew Bryza:
The victory second Karabakh war and November 10th statement created some important geopolitical opportunities for Trans Atlantic community at least in South Caucasus and Middle East that I widely overlooked. First of all, I think that peace statement more or less settles the conflict with the exception of the status of the part of Nagorno-Karabakh itself is not under Azerbaijan’s control, but otherwise, settles the conflict in a way that is fair because it is essentially what the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia agreed back in January 2010 when they accepted the so-called Madrid principles. So, the first result for the South Caucasus is that there is no longer flash (clash) point over Nagorno Karabakh War in Azerbaijan. Second important thing is that there all sorts of new opportunities possibly opening for overtime Armenian’s participation together with Turkey and Azerbaijan in new infrastructure projects especially through the new corridor that will be established through Armenian’s Mehri which connects Nakhchivan of course to the rest of Azerbaijan. And that will create new economic dynamic the bigger that corridor is the worse it is for Iran which has been a major way to supply Nakhchivan from the rest of Azerbaijan. And the bigger and more develop the corridor is the worse it is for Russia as well. Because this will be a second major international corridor paralleling existing one runs to Tovuz and the other parts of Azerbaijan and Georgia. Then another important overlooked factor is the fact is Turkey is now on the ground with peacekeepers which means NATO is present on the ground in Azerbaijan. That’s providing a counterbalance to the Russian presence with these peacekeepers and I think Russian peacekeepers it may be because the there is so heavily armed in this situation maybe over the time Russia is trying to establish some sort of a long-lasting influence in physical presence which would be highly negative of course given the way Russian peacekeepers have behaved in Georgia and in Moldova but on the other hand as I said NATO can provide a counterbalance in Nagorno-Karabakh in the form of Turkish peacekeepers.
Andrea Marciliano, the senior researcher at Il Nodo di Gordie, Italy’s centre for geopolitical analysis and international research, said:
The long-running Nagorno-Karabakh conflict kept the entire Caucasus and surrounding areas in danger. Azerbaijan’s military success after long and fruitless international negotiations promises new prospects for the future. A peaceful Caucasus – a calmed Caucasus will be one of the main centres of the future Silk Road. This, along with the development of the extractive industry, can have the effect of creating a new area of regional prosperity, with a positive impact on all countries that ignore it. Although Armenia lost the war, today the nationalist motives seem clearly anachronistic. Of course, much will depend on the management of the transition and the relations between Baku and Moscow. Despite some contradictions today, these relations are clearly developing. This is also due to the fact that Putin sees Azerbaijan as an important partner in the establishment of the Gas Production Cartel, one of his political priorities. Moreover, good relations with Russia can make Baku an important mediator between Russia and Turkey. The future balance of the entire Middle East will depend on the agreements between Ankara and Moscow.
American political commentator Andrew Korybko:
Azerbaijan’s victory removed the greatest obstacle to trans-regional integration processes between the South Caucasus, Caspian, and Mideast regions, which was the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. This will result in new connectivity opportunities led by Russia, China, and Turkey, which will increase all the involved countries’ mutual interdependence with time and therefore stabilize these three geostrategic regions if the political will is present by all sides.
Turkish political expert Hasan Oktay:
I don’t think we should expect a big change. Iran is very worried about what is happening. Iran will either try to control the developments in the South Caucasus or try to influence them. Iran is closely following all that is happening. Therefore, it is necessary to pay attention to Iran-Russia relations.
Arsen Sivitsky, head of the Belarusian Center for Strategic and Foreign Policy Studies:
Azerbaijan’s victory in the Second Karabakh War made it possible to almost completely restore its territorial integrity and sovereignty over the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region and the city of Shusha. At the same time, this victory was possible not only due to the effective military operations of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces, but also due to the favourable geopolitical situation. On the one hand, Russia’s non-interference in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict forced Armenia, an official ally, to sign a tripartite statement and return the occupied territories to Azerbaijani jurisdiction. On the other hand, Turkey, which provides diplomatic and military-technical support to its partner Azerbaijan, was able to reach an agreement with Russia on resolving the conflict based on a model previously used to separate spheres of influence in northwestern Syria in the Idlib de-escalation zone. Thus, Turkey and Russia have become the guarantors of peace and security in the South Caucasus, including the Joint Center for Ceasefire and All Military Operations Control in the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict Zone.
Sayed Shah, a Pakistani expert and director of the Center for Human Rights at Ziyauddin University:
Azerbaijan’s victory in the S. Caucasus changes the dynamic that has been at play for the past 30 years since the fall of USSR. As we know this region traditionally has been of Russian dominance and influence since the 1800s eating into the areas of traditional Turkish and Persian influence. This new victory of Azerbaijan proves that the domination of Russia is changed into a more cooperative framework engaging traditional influences of Turkey for more comprehensive solutions that reflect the sentiment of the people of the region. I dare say this could be a new sign for Turkish and Russian cooperation and I think Azerbaijan will play a key role in bringing these 2 key players together for a new political atmosphere. We see signs of deterioration of Turkish traditional allies in post-WWII with NATO and Europe. I think this is a major new turning point in geo-politics and Azerbaijan’s role has become more significant as a result.
As for the Middle East, it does bring Iran into question whose tacit support of Armenia earlier has changed in this recent encounter not only because of sentiments of Azeri people in Iran but also because Iran too can use this opportunity to work closely with Turkey since both countries currently are facing sanctions by the US. If anything Azerbaijan can become a centre point of a new geopolitical alliance to the benefit of Iran, Turkey and Russia and I hope they will live up to this task amongst these sizable players in global politics.
Issam Laaroussi, Professor of International Relations from Morocco:
Azerbaijan’s victory symbolizes a tremendous shift in the struggle’s map in the Balkan region. In the military and strategic dimensions, we have to learn very remarkable changes based on the respect of international law avoiding any kind of assault and violation committed by Armenia. The Azerbaijani military and political approach have been successful ones referring to its legal sovereignty on the Nagorno Karabakh. In other words, Azerbaijani officials made a good decision to deal with the crisis by accepting the Turkish government’s assistance and undermining Russia’s role, the principal support of Armenia. This victory characterizes, by the way, the comeback of EU and NATO who stand up with Azerbaijan’s rights to save the geostrategic balance in the south of Balkans.
Dr Sitakanta Mishra, Associate Professor, School of Liberal Studies, Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University, Gujarat, India:
Even if Armenia has surrendered, for now, the conflict is yet to be resolved amicably. Azerbaijan may capitalize on the newfound confidence and bonhomie with its big brother neighbour, but the involvement of external players like Turkey and USA might complicate the regional environment further. However, the unfolding of events with the involvement of Russia has reinforced Moscow’s influence in the South Caucasus (in other words, Russia proves itself a dominant power in the South Caucasus), and it also conveys the international community that Russia is still a global player which can provide conflict-time leadership in the world. Moreover, It would be prudent for Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Russia to ensure a regionally negotiated settlement of the dispute at the earliest, instead of muscle-flexing and trumpeting.
Rinat Kovbasyuk Ukranian expert:
Azerbaijan’s victory in the Karabakh conflict finally consolidated the growing regional influence, Baku, the international community was able to once again make sure that now it is important to focus not only on the opinion of Russia or the United States on regional security in the South Caucasus, but also it is very important to take into account the position of Azerbaijan as the main player in South Caucasian region. After all, de facto, both in terms of military power, human and territorial resources, Azerbaijan was previously considered an advanced state in the South Caucasus, but now, having won the Karabakh conflict and imposing its conditions on official Yerevan, Azerbaijan put an end to this issue. It is also important to note that not only specifically for Azerbaijan but also for President Aliyev, the victory in the Karabakh conflict brought unthinkable political dividends; in fact, Aliyev received absolute support for his power from the Azerbaijanis, although his positions were quite strong before.