New thread. I'm quoted here on the #Karabakh fighting. (There is a lot more nuance if you watch the whole interview) I’m aware that people like to quote me selectively so important for me to state a few core beliefs I have about this conflict…
1 No side has a monopoly of justice. Both sides have historical claims to Karabakh. It was the site of a medieval Armenian kingdom in the 12th century and an Azerbaijani (Persian Turkic Shia) khanate in the 18th c. Both peoples have lived together here, mostly peacefully.
2 There is a lot of propaganda out there. Both sides cannot be right, but both cannot be wrong – and frequently are in their assertions. Treat all official statements from both sides with a big pinch of salt!
3 Az., the losing side in the conflict of the 1990s, is the side with an incentive to use military aggression to reshape the facts on the ground. This is almost certainly what they did on Sunday. And yes they probably picked a moment when they thought the world was distracted.
4 But this does not mean the Arm. side is peace-loving. For a long time they have not agreed to substantial talks about the conflict. The way they call territory they occupied outside NK in the 1990s “liberated” makes them “passive aggressive,” a co-sponsor of violence.
5 The mountainous terrain here, the increasingly deadly heavy weaponry, close proximity of villages and towns to the Line of Contact means that it is very hard for one side to “win” any military contest. More fighting will just lead to mass bloodshed, misery and hatred.
6 NK differs crucially from other post-Soviet conflicts (Abkhazia, S Ossetia, Transdniestria, Ukraine) in that Russia has stakes on both sides and is much more at arm’s length. The Russians do not pull the strings here, even if they wanted to. Read here…
7 Ultimately, it will be up to Armenians and Azerbaijanis to make the strategic decision to deal with one another and follow a plan that involves concessions and leads to peace. That will happen one day—but bloodshed delays that day by creating more mutual insecurity and fear.
8 A lot of time has been wasted. The last time serious talks were 20 years ago. Instead there has been sporadic contact and what one mediator calls “Kabuki negotiations.” The last two special envoys who actually talked were Jirair Libaridian and Vafa Guluzade in the 1990s
9 Internationals can help shape a peace deal, offer financial assistance and (crucially) peacekeepers. But only Armenians and Azerbaijanis can solve this. Sorry if I am blunt—I do care! More tomorrow #NKpeace ENDS
Clarification here, I mean to say both sides CAN be wrong.

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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:…
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.…
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.…
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…
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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