Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire is not the end of the conflict - analyst

The ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh is the beginning of a new chapter in their conflict, Michael Rubin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, said in the National Interest on Tuesday.

Rubin criticised U.S. foreign policy makers for allowing Russia and Turkey to bypass American influence to negotiate a ceasefire which expands Turkish and Russian influence in the South Caucasus.

The U.S. embassy in Azerbaijan “was asleep at the switch” and was not aware what President Ilham Aliyev was planning when Deputy Secretary of State Stephen E. Biegun ignored a clause in the United States’ Freedom Support Act to lift an arms embargo on the country seven months ago, he said.

Rubin said that the U.S. has appeared to “acquiesce to the agreement which empowers Russia and undermines a nascent democracy underscores the State Department’s humiliation and strategic confusion”.

He also said that clauses in the truce which call for a transportation corridor for Azerbaijan to its exclave of Nakhchivan and for Turkish troops to be present in Armenian territory in Nagorno-Karabakh would cause conflict in the future.

“To allow Turkish troops into Armenia or Armenian-populated districts of Nagorno-Karabakh is worse because the Turkish government continues to deny Armenia’s genocide and because (President Recep Tayyip) Erdoğan and many elements within his government continue to speak in terms of religious warfare,” Rubin said.

It seems likely that there will be future attempts to change the outcome of the Karabakh conflict, which has left both Russia and Turkey in stronger positions of military influence in the region at Armenia’s expense, with the incoming Biden administration’s possible efforts to reclaim the United States’ role as a diplomatic broker in international politics.

“This is not the end of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict; it is just the beginning of a new chapter,” Rubin said.