The long, fierce fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia,now in its fourth week, turns from bad to worse with each passing day. While the whole world is aghast, fearing this ongoing battle could lead to a global conflagration involving major powers like Russia, France and other European nations, Turkey's continuing support of Azerbaijan, along with Pakistan and Israel, is also a cause of grave concern for the peace and security of not only the Trans Caucasian region, but the whole world. Unfortunately, causing further deterioration of the situation, Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists have sided with the army of (Azerbaijan) Baku, as have many other terrorists from Syria, Lebanon and Pakistan.
All of this will inevitably sharpen the instinct for war between Azerbaijan as an Islamic country – even though (Azerbaijan) Baku is the most secular country in the Muslim world – and Armenia as a Christian country. Further, the involvement of ISIS will obviously motivate many other Islamist militants and terror networks to collude with ISIS and jump into this Baku-Yerevan battle solely in the cause of protecting Islam from kafirs, ie Christians, since they have their own agenda of restoring the Caliphate and establishing the Ummah – a global communion of all Islamic faithful.
It looks as if the open support given by Turkey, Israel and Pakistan to Azerbaijan has added fuel to the fire and has incited both armies, as well as sparking terrorist killing sprees against Armenia. With offensives and counter-offensives increasing, there looks to be almost nil chance of respite in the coming days, especially since the US and the major powers of Europe are making no effort to defuse the ongoing tensions between these two warring nations.
Rather, they watch the ghastly scenario of continuing war through the eyes of their vested interests, particularly in terms of the sale of arms and ammunition and the consequent huge profits, because the arms trade is a very lucrative business worldwide. And the memory of the profits earned by these arms trading powers during the long tumultuous years of the Iran-Iraq war throughout the 1970s, followed by the Saur Revolution and the following decade-long war between Mujahideens and the Soviet Union-backed communist government of Barbarak Karmal, must be still fresh in their minds. The Bosnia-Herzegovina war during the 1990s provided another opportunity for these arms traders to earn profits.
The ongoing conflict between the two neighbouring states is an ethnic conflict as well as a territorial one over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabhak to which Armenia asserts a claim, as it is inhabited mostly by ethnic Armenians.While the ongoing conflict has its roots in the early 20th century, the present conflict began in 1988 during the collapse of the former USSR, when Karabakh Armenians demanded that Karabakh be transferred from Soviet Azerbaijan to Soviet Armenia. Obviously, that was vehemently opposed by Baku. The earlier Nagorno-Karabakh conflict escalated into a full-fledged war in the early 1990s, to be followed by recurrences of tension and skirmishes until this present major war began.
Global peace and security is under serious threat in this Trans Caucasia region because both belligerents mount their offensives against each other with scant respect for the laws of war. These laws clearly forbid attacks over civilian populations, including schools, hospitals and other places of worship and social congregation. With the crisis mounting, we witness massive destruction of property and precious human lives. More powers with differing interests will come to align to one or other of the two warring nations. The ongoing conflict may acquire yet another threatening form: as a war between the Muslims and Christians or, more accurately, between two civilisations, which may ultimately turn into the Third World War.
Obviously all the major powers including the US, UK, France, Russia, China and also India must take the initiative at the earliest opportunity to extend their good offices, best done under the aegis of the United Nations, by bringing both Armenia and Azerbaijan together to sit across the table for constructive talks and discussions. Talks will give the two parties an opportunity to sort out their mutual differences and may pave the way towards establishing an enduring peace and security between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and also the entire region. Indeed, both warring neighbours must earnestly endeavour to overcome their long-standing differences and stamp out the mounting menace of terrorism due to the involvement of ISIS in the conflict, in the larger interest of the peace and security in the Trans Caucasia region and beyond.
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