In the first hours of September 13, clashes broke out once again on the border of Azerbaijan and Armenia, two former Soviet republics in the South Caucasus, which had entered the war twice over Nagorno-Karabakh.
Both Baku and Yerevan governments accused each other of starting the conflict. Armenia 49; Azerbaijan announced the death of 50 soldiers.
Although this latest conflict seemed to have stopped on Tuesday morning when Russia announced that the parties had reached a ceasefire mediated by itself, in the following hours Baku accused Yerevan of violating the ceasefire on the border with artillery fire.
The Armenian Ministry of Defense announced that after the ceasefire, the fighting has subsided, but the situation on the border is still “extremely tense”.
So, how is the last conflict viewed from Azerbaijan?
‘The conflict broke out in an unusual place’
Expressing that the Armenian armed forces carried out “large-scale provocations” in the Taşkasan, Kelbajar, Lachin and Zangilan regions on the border, Azerbaijan argued that it carried out “limited and targeted” attacks aimed at destroying the positions that opened fire.
The people of Azerbaijan and Armenia are accustomed to conflicts in Nagorno-Karabakh. War broke out in the region twice, in 1988-1994 and 2020.
However, the clashes that took place on September 13 took place on the border of the two countries, although the parties did not agree on it.
Fuad Shahbazov, an Azerbaijan-based independent political analyst, BBC TurkishIn a statement to . He explained the reason for this as follows:
“Before the war in 2020, the Azerbaijani-Armenian sides usually opened fire on the contact line in the Karabakh region. But since the last war ended, there is currently no line of contact. Because Azerbaijan controls most of Nagorno-Karabakh.
‘Baku accused Yerevan of opening fire for days’
In a statement to BBC Turkish, Kamu.tv Editor-in-Chief Khadija Ismayilova interprets the latest clash as Baku’s response to Yerevan after accusing Armenia of opening fire on its border forces:
“The Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense has been reporting that tensions have been escalating for days, that the Armenian forces have piled ammunition on the border and opened fire on the border guards.
“It was also reported that Armenia laid mines on the roads leading to military positions in liberated areas in accordance with the agreement signed in November 2020. The Department of Defense warned of retaliation.”
Ismayilova said that because of the military zone in Azerbaijan, where mines were laid or fired upon, journalists could not enter and therefore could not independently verify the news.
During a meeting with military attachés in the country on Tuesday, Major General Hussein Mahmudov, Head of the International Military Cooperation Department of the Azerbaijan Ministry of Defense, accused Armenia of “trying to delay the peace agreement and work in Nagorno-Karabakh”.
‘It is not in Azerbaijan’s interest to start a conflict’
Azerbaijan wants to open a corridor that will provide direct access to the autonomous republic of Nakhchivan, which is connected to it, and passes through the territory of Armenia.
The conflict on September 13 took place near the area where this line, called the Zangezur Corridor, was supposed to be formed.
In accordance with the ceasefire agreement signed on November 10, 2020, Armenia agreed to provide Azerbaijan with a secure transport link to Nakhchivan through its territory.
Azerbaijan bases its corridor demand on this article.
Yerevan, on the other hand, says that the article in the text of the agreement is not as interpreted by Baku, and that it can consent to a transportation link that will pass through its territory, but this should be under its own control.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, in his speech to the Parliament on Tuesday after the conflict, said that Baku “distorted the agreement and talked about a corridor”.
“Our stance has been and continues to be this: We do not intend to give anyone a corridor through the territory of the Republic of Armenia.
“However, based on the idea that all countries in the region, including Armenia and Azerbaijan, should use this road, we accept the opening of roads through the territory of the Republic of Armenia and we are even interested in it.”
Shahbazov thinks the Zangezur Corridor target is not related to the recent conflict:
“Strategically, the Zangezur Corridor is not as important as it used to be. Because Iran and Azerbaijan signed a cooperation agreement that allowed Azerbaijan to access the outside territory of Nakhchivan through their territory. This makes the Zangezur Corridor less important.”
Ismayilova also agrees:
“Because Azerbaijan has launched many economic projects in liberated areas and is inviting international investors here. The sooner stability is achieved, the more money will flow into the region.”
Ismayilova is of the opinion that the opposite conflict “may have erupted to shelve the corridor”.
Ismayilova, who argued that Russia did not approach this project warmly and that Pashinyan could not implement this project even if she wanted to, because she controlled the railways in Armenia, “This corridor would not have been possible anyway. This escalation on the border is an excuse for Pashinyan to prevent him.”
Experts: Most of the public supports
After the war in 2020, Azerbaijan recaptured most of the territory in Nagorno-Karabakh controlled by pro-Armenian separatists.
Baku became militarily advantageous.
However, no final agreement was signed between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
According to Shahbazov, the latest conflict may be Azerbaijan’s attempt to force Armenia to a final agreement, as Baku sees the agreement as “an opportunity to achieve stability and peace” in the region:
“For Azerbaijan, Armenia did not need to implement the ceasefire agreement signed in November 2020. Borders are still closed, no peace deal. There are no visible results on the ground, except for some minor changes, such as the exchange of the bodies of soldiers lost during the war or the exchange of prisoners.”
Speaking to BBC Turkish, two experts say that the Azerbaijani people mostly support the government in military matters.
Shahbazov said, “There is no big public reaction. People are discussing this on social media, but there is no mass rally or major opposition. Few of the younger generation are kindly criticizing, saying that Azerbaijan’s actions could trigger full-scale war against Azerbaijan. But there is no general reaction,” he says.
Saying that opposition parties also support the government, Shahbazov explains the reason for this as follows:
“The image of Armenia in society is mostly negative. After 30 years of conflict, both opposition and government bodies see it as an occupying country. Therefore, any military action against Armenia is seen as a matter of national security.”
Ismayilova, who said that the government said that the conflict was over after 2020, but that there was also an angry part of the government because this was not true, is of the opinion that the general public supports military steps that can result in final peace, since the 30-year ceasefire “continues to take lives”:
“Azerbaijan society is tired of war. On the last one, we have more than 3,000 losses. This is a big wound. But there is also an understanding that peace in the region must be achieved by force, as it is not possible through negotiations.”