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1/8 Thread on latest fighting between #Armenia and #Azerbaijan. I wrote this piece last October worrying that with no political movement in #Karabakh talks, the conflict could heat up. (writing this also as cannot respond to interview requests)…
2/8 Nothing accidental here. Ceasefire violations are a political decision. Violence went down to almost zero in 2018 after revolution in Armenia due to instructions from both leaders, and with now-ignored 2019 promise to "prepare populations for peace."…
3/8 This is not (yet) repeat of 4-day War of 2016. Fighting is on int. recognized border. This densely populated region was locus of ceasefire violations before 2018 Population is v vulnerable. See excellent @crisisgroup explainer (and read @Olesya_vArt)…
4/8 It is unclear who started it, though Az has greater interest in doing so, as it likes to remind the world that the situation on the ground is “not normal,” is frustrated with lack of political progress since 2018. Pres Aliev said this openly on July 7…
5/8 However, as soon as one side starts, the other responds, neither backs down. The conflict sits deep in both nations. We see a Rallying Round the Flag in both countries. That's useful to both govts, distracts people from economic woes and pandemic.…
6/8 Russia has strong relations with both sides, will now seek to agree new cf. But as in 2016, we already see anti-Russia sentiments which weaken its standing with both —Az anger that Moscow is Armenia's military patron, anger on Arm. side that Russia doesn't support its ally.
7/8 Turkey fully backs Az, has dropped ambitions to mediate. Iran is a bystander and seeks good rels with both sides. Don't believe anyone who says there's an Iran element here. US, though a Minsk Group co-chair, again notable by its lack of engagement.…
8/8 Finally: One day, Armenians and Azeris will have to make painful compromises, cross their current red lines, make peace and live together as neighbours again. More violence only spills blood, causes grief, reinforces myths, poisons politics, delays that day. #NKpeace
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