The Crisis In The Middle East

Azerbaijan launches crackdown against Armenia


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Azerbaijan-Armenia Conflict

Mains level: NA


Central Idea

  • Azerbaijan announced the continuation of military actions in Nagorno-Karabakh for the second consecutive day, describing it as “anti-terror” operations.
  • The government asserts that these operations will persist until ethnic-Armenian separatists’ surrender.

Azerbaijan-Armenia Conflict

  • Persistent Tensions: The South Caucasus region has experienced prolonged tensions over the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan.
  • Lachin Corridor Blockade: Over the past nine months, Azerbaijan has effectively imposed a blockade on the Lachin Corridor, the sole route from Armenia into Nagorno-Karabakh.

Nagorno-Karabakh: The Epicenter

  • Historical Conflict: Nagorno-Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan during the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
  • Ceasefire in 1994: A ceasefire was established in 1994 after significant casualties and displacement occurred.
  • Frequent Accusations: Azerbaijan and Armenia frequently accuse each other of attacks around Nagorno-Karabakh and along the separate Azeri-Armenian frontier.

Economic Implications of Conflict

  • Global Diplomacy: The clashes have spurred diplomatic efforts to prevent a new outbreak of a long-standing conflict between Christian-majority Armenia and mainly Muslim Azerbaijan.
  • Energy Pipelines: Pipelines transporting Caspian oil and natural gas from Azerbaijan to global markets pass near Nagorno-Karabakh.
  • Regional Instability: The conflict raises concerns about instability in the South Caucasus, a vital corridor for pipelines facilitating the transport of oil and gas to international markets.

India’s Role: Interests and Challenges

  • Asymmetric Relations: India maintains a friendship and cooperation treaty with Armenia (signed in 1995), which restricts India from providing military or any other assistance to Azerbaijan.
  • Investments in Azerbaijan: Indian companies, such as ONGC/OVL and GAIL, have made investments in oilfield projects and LNG exploration in Azerbaijan.
  • Connectivity Potential: Azerbaijan lies on the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), linking India to Russia via Central Asia. It also offers connectivity to Turkey through the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars rail link.
  • Kashmir Dynamics: While Armenia unequivocally supports India’s stance on the Kashmir issue, Azerbaijan opposes it and aligns with Pakistan’s narrative.
  • India’s South Caucasus Policy: India lacks a publicly articulated policy for the South Caucasus, and the region remains on the periphery of its foreign policy focus.

Balancing Act for India

  • Conflict of Principles: The conflict centers on two international principles: territorial integrity, advocated by Azerbaijan, and the right to self-determination, supported by Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia.
  • India’s Dilemma: India faces a dilemma as it cannot openly endorse Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, considering Azerbaijan’s disregard for India’s territorial integrity in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Avoiding Misuse: However, India must be cautious not to publicly support Nagorno-Karabakh’s right to self-determination, as it could have implications for India’s territorial integrity and be exploited by adversaries like Pakistan.

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