Last Updated: September 19, 2023, 17:35 IST
Azerbaijan on Tuesday announced that it has launched an “anti-terrorist” operation against Armenia in its breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, which falls under the latter’s control.
According to media reports, Azerbaijan’s military forces have so far destroyed a post of Armenian forces on the Karkijahan-Khalfaly road in the Karabakh region and also restricted access to the video-sharing social media platform Tiktok within the region.
While tensions have been prevalent for years between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the most recent counterattack has been going on for months over the control and surrounding of the ethnic Armenian enclave in the Nagorno-Karabakh region recognised internationally as part of Azerbaijan.
Here’s a brief account of the long-standing Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict
What is the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?
Armenia and Azerbaijan have often locked horns for the control of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, known as Artsakh in Armenia. It is a landlocked mountainous area in the South Caucasus that both countries have been fighting for. It was claimed by both Azerbaijan and Armenia after the fall of the Russian Empire in 1917 and has remained a point of contention ever since.
While the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, its inhabitants and a major part of the population are dominated by ethnic Armenians who have their government, which enjoys close links with the Armenian government but is not officially recognised by it or other United Nations member states.
What are the main issues in the conflict?
Apart from the territorial and rebellion conflict, there is also an ethnic fight between the local ethnic Armenians, who are Christians and Azers, who identify as Muslims.
Armenians claim a long historical dominance in the Nagorno-Karabakh area, which dates back to several centuries before Christ.
On the other hand, Azerbaijan, whose population are mostly Muslim, links its historical identity to the territory, too. It accuses the Armenians of driving out Azeris who lived nearby in the 1990s by creating an exodus-like situation. Now, the country wants to gain full control over the enclave, suggesting ethnic Armenians take Azeri passports or leave the region if needed.
The two neighbours, Azerbaijan and Armenia, have gone to war for control over Nagorno-Karabakh twice, first in the early 1990s after the fall of the Soviet Union and again in 2020.
What is the current situation in Nagorno-Karabakh?
After its anti-terror offensive on Tuesday, Azerbaijan is demanding the “complete withdrawal” of Armenian forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh region as a condition for peace in the disputed territory.
“The only way to achieve peace and stability in the region is the unconditional and complete withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces from the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan and the dissolution of the so-called (Armenian separatist) regime,” Baku’s defence ministry said in a statement.