Horrible news. This AM a military offensive by Azerbaijan on #Karabakh frontline. Already a small war. Heavy weapons used, Internet down in Az, Arm. side announced mobilization. Follows rise in bellicose rhetoric from both sides—Karabakh Arm. leader declared today...
2/ that, if Az. "declares war, it will get war." Early indications suggest Baku wants to remake facts on the ground in regions it lost in 1990s. Perhaps tries to seize a moment when int. community is disengaged, US in election season, OSCE leaderless, before winter comes.
3/ Can't overstate how dangerous this is. Two sides are now heavily militarized, able to strike civilian areas and strategic assets as never before. In 2016 they had a “limited” but tragic short war in which 200 people died. Pressure on both to "achieve" more than back then.
4/ New factor this year is that Turkey’s support for Az. is much more explicit than ever before. Russia, despite military alliance with Armenia, more equivocal, because of its strong relationship with Az. (Russian FM Lavrov has already phoned Turkish FM Cavusoglu).
5/ But imperative that internationals express more than “concern,” act now to halt escalation and conflict broadening, that France, US and Russia bury differences over other issues to threaten war has a cost.
6/ For good commentary and objective readouts of situation read (in no particular order) Olesya Vartanyan @Olesya_vArt, Emil Sanamyan @emil_sanamyan, Cavid Aga @cavidaga, Arzu Geybulla @arzugeybulla, Onnik @onewmphoto, @LaurenceBroers Jam News in Russian jam-news.net/ru/
7/ For background. Read my piece from July carnegieeurope.eu/2020/07/17/new…
Context is here ceps.eu/ceps-publicati…
And my last long report from 2016 carnegieeurope.eu/2016/06/16/pri…
Also chathamhouse.org/expert/laurenc…;
and ever-great ICG analysis in
crisisgroup.org/europe-central…
8/ Note to journalists: It’s still Sunday so I will be with my family, won’t be giving interviews today, sorry (May make small exception for good friends) ENDS

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More from @Tom_deWaal

18 Nov
1 President Putin gave some interesting answers to questions about Russia’s new role in the #Karabakh conflict. Suggests he was much more strongly involved than was visible during the conflict. Some takeaways: en.kremlin.ru/events/preside…
2 Putin’s personal engagement. He says that he was engaged in intense telephone diplomacy with his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts. Like it or not, the Russians (he, Lavrov, Medvedev) know the Karabakh brief in all its details. No Western leader would even come close.
3 He says that a truce was close on Oct 19-20 but Pashinyan rejected it as it entailed the return of Azerbaijanis to Shusha/i—presumably inside Armenian-controlled NK. Such a deal would have saved many lives, also been much better for Armenian side than the one of Nov. 10
Read 9 tweets
15 Nov
1 A THREAD about Kelbajar. Today was billed as a momentous day for Kelbajar region with Armenian forces scheduled to withdraw from lands they have held since April 1993 + control restored to Azerbaijan. However the timetable has been extended, perhaps to ease potential trouble
2 Personally I think of my friend photographer Khalid Asgarov from Kelbajar. I used several of his pictures in my book (where I spelled his name Halid Askerov.) He had come to rescue his father and was there as Armenians moved in. Here is a picture by Khalid of the mass flight.
3 In 2017 @bbcwitness interviewed Khalid. He tells the story of how the only escape route for thousands was by foot across the Murov Mountains. Livestock perished and people froze. Listen to the story of how he walked with his father for two days. bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p0…
Read 14 tweets
9 Nov
1 Conflict continues deep inside #Karabakh. It seemed today that Shusha/i had fallen. Picture not fully clear.
Let me focus on the humanitarian situation in Karabakh. Yesterday I spoke to Artak Beglaryan, local human rights ombudsman. He said I could share the information.
2 Beglaryan told me the following: Bombardment continues. Thousands of civilians left Karabakh over the weekend for Armenia mainly women and children. They mainly left on the northern route, as the road through Lachin was too dangerous.
3 He estimates that 100,000 Karabakh Armenians have been displaced by the conflict, mainly to Armenia, but also within Karabakh itself. (That is probably more than two thirds of the local population.)
Read 9 tweets
8 Nov
6 Yet hard to predict a pause. Fighting continues on multiple fronts. Armenians say they cannot afford to lose Shusha/i. With more civilians removed from Stepanakert, Azerbaijani forces could attack the town even more intensely.
7 Also today, a leaked report of a purported Russian-Turkish peace plan offering a mixed PK operation (Russians on Arm. side, Turks on Az. side), Armenian withdrawal from occupied territories around NK, two corridors across Lachin and Meghri.
middleeasteye.net/news/nagorno-k…
8 Plan reported here has a Turkish spin, was rumoured in mid-October. Nothing here on the big issue, the status of NK itself. But one more sign that the “Basic Principles” framework is crumbling. Instead an "enforced peace" plan by latter-day authoritarian Sultan and Tsar.
Read 4 tweets
8 Nov
1 A fateful day in the #Karabakh conflict. Pres. Aliyev announced to his nation that the hilltop city of Shusha, the former main Azerbaijani town in the heart of Karabakh, had fallen. No visual evidence given. Armenians (who call the town Shushi) said fighting continued.
2 Still, Pres. Aliyev's speech sparked scenes of jubilation in Azerbaijan. Shusha has a huge meaning for Azerbaijanis and its loss in May 1992 to the Armenians was felt as a moment of national humiliation.
3 Also, reports today of columns of cars evacuating thousands of Armenian women and children from Karabakh, amidst new bombardment of Stepanakert and fears that the battle for Shusha/i could spread next to this town, down in the valley. Read here eurasianet.org/fears-of-civil…
Read 5 tweets
5 Nov
1 For those distracted by news elsewhere: the war in #Karabakh may be moving towards a potentially bloody battle for the city of Shusha (which Armenians call Shushi) deep inside the territory. Azerbaijani forces are reported to be no more than 3-4 km away.
2 A week ago the push was towards Lachin between Armenia and NK. A switch to Shusha may make less sense militarily but has political significance. To see their flag over the high citadel of Shusha appears to be the No. 1 objective of Pres. Aliyev and the Azerbaijani public.
3 Shusha has great meaning in Azerbaijan as the birthplace of poets and composers. It was their town in Karabakh before the war, with an 85 percent Azerbaijani population. See this patriotic video released today.
Read 7 tweets

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