By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
It’s a sputtering war that has been going on now for nearly three decades — ever since Armenian troops invaded the Azerbaijani territorial enclave of Nargorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding districts and forcefully expelled 800,000 Azeri farmers and their families from their homes in a vicious and unlawful landgrab of brute force in 1991.
The barbarous assault of Karabakh by the invading Armenians has since come to be recognized by the majority of the international community as an act of calculated ethnic cleansing of Azerbaijanis from the stolen 16,000-square-kilometer region.
Following the violent Armenian invasion of Karabakh, the United Nations Security Council adopted four separate resolutions condemning the slaughter and expulsion of the Azerbaijanis from their legal homeland and demanding the immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of its occupying forces from the region.
But Armenia refused to budge, and no one lifted a finger to try to enforce those resolutions.
In 1994, a Russian-brokered and extremely fragile ceasefire was implemented, with Armenia still occupying nearly 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s national territory.
Therein were hopes that international mediation would eventually help the two Caucasian nations to reach a mutually acceptable solution.
They did not.
Meanwhile, on-again-off-again skirmishes persisted along the disputed border region, in almost all cases provoked by Armenia.
For decades, Baku pleaded with Erevan to withdraw from Karabakh and to comply with international law, respecting Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity.
Baku has offered both a stick in the form of economic sanctions and the potential carrot of access to sorely-needed energy sources.
But Azerbaijan’s appeals for a peaceful settlement have consistently fallen on deaf ears.
Over the years, tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan have continued to flare, bursting into a full-fledged confrontation in 2016. That war lasted four days.
Again, the international community called on both sides to end the conflict and, once a porcelain ceasefire was reinstated, the outside world quickly moved on to “more pressing matters” as Armenia continued to defiantly occupy Azerbaijani territory.
Subsequent appeals by both Baku and the international community have rendered little if any response from Erevan.
Today, Armenia continues to occupy and illegally exploit Karabakh, sacking what remnants remain of the Azeri villages, burning once-fertile fields that fed large portions of the Azerbaijani population, and strip-mining gold and other mineral resources from the land.
In short, for Armenia, that old adage of “might is right” has paid off time and time again, with practically every foreign nation publicly condemning Erevan’s occupation of Karabakh illegal, but none of them bothering to lift a finger to enforce its withdrawal.
So it should come as no surprise that on Sunday, July 12, Armenia, thinking that the outside world, being too distracted by the ongoing covid-19 pandemic, would not notice — or at least, not respond to — yet another act of aggression by its military, again attacked Azerbaijani soil.
This time opting for a less scrutinized point of assault — and perhaps a chance to expand even further into new stolen strategic territory — Armenian forces launched heavy artillery shells into Azerbaijani district of Tovuz.
Within hours, Azerbaijan responded in kind.
As of Tuesday, July 14, at least 11 Azeri soldiers and four Armenian troops had died in the mounting conflict, and the situation is continuing to escalate.
No doubt, the growing tensions in the Caucasus region will soon attract the attention of a halfhearted global conscience, and another tepid ceasefire will be imposed.
But it will be just one more stopgap solution to the problem.
As long as there are no serious international efforts to cull Armenia’s agression against its neighbor, the Armenia-Azerbaijan territorial conflict will continue to simmer.
And as long as Armenia thinks that the world isn’t looking, or that the international community can’t be bothered to intervene, or that its military can keep getting away with breaking international law, it will continue to launch its aggressions against Azerbaijan.
It’s high time that the world show Armenia that its expansionist agressions will no longer be tolerated and that might is no longer right.
…July 15, 2020