The Conflict Ignored By The Media

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Sadly, many of today’s high school students do not even know where Azerbaijan or Armenia are located on the globe.

Daniel Loncaric

The Coronavirus pandemic has certainly been covered by almost all news sources. It was the main world issue at the time. Unfortunately, the pandemic also hoarded media presence that other events should be given attention to, for example, the Armenia-Azerbaijan War.

Azerbaijan has an internationally recognized territory called Nagorno-Karabakh, but in a war almost 30 years ago, it was occupied by neighboring Armenia. Ever since, the militaries of both sides have gathered on the border, preparing for another war. Small fights broke out, but they usually died down fast. This time, this was not the case. Fighting would quickly erupt in 2020 on Sept 20th starting a full-scale war. Each side was accused of bombing civilian areas and thousands died. Suddenly, Armenia would surrender on Nov 9th as Azerbaijan celebrated the victory.

However, this ceasefire is not the end. Nagorno-Karabakh is mostly occupied by ethnic Armenians with a big Azeri minority. There have always been Armenian Orthodox churches in the area but in the 18th century, an extremely important Azeri town called Shusha was founded right smack in the middle of the smaller Armenian towns. The region is important both to Armenians and Azerbaijanis. Under Soviet Union rule, there was an Armenian SSR and an Azerbaijan SSR, but Nagorno-Karabakh was left as its own semi-autonomous region inside the Azerbaijan SSR. Ethnic Armenians there would frequently ask to join the Armenian SSR but were denied.

After a “glasnost” policy of democracy was enacted in 1986 by the Soviet Union, ethnic Armenians voted to leave the Azerbaijan SSR and enter the Armenian SSR, reviving a conflict. Violence would soon erupt in the region, and the Soviet Union collapsing soon after only fueled it into a war. 22,000 died and over a million fleed their homes. It would continue for 3 years until Armenia won in 1994, occupying the region. However, the world still recognized Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan.

Armenia would go on to deport ethnic Azeris, renaming their towns and repopulating them with Armenians. Meanwhile, Azerbaijan strengthened its relationship with neighboring Turkey, as part of the same Turkic ethnic group with an extremely similar language, it also spent tons on its military, over 6 times what Armenia spent in the same time period. With the help of Turkey, Azerbaijan launched its attack through the help of drones given by Turkey and it is here where we go back to the current conflict in 2020.

Armenia fought back, but Azerbaijani drones were difficult to defend against. Azerbaijan easily captured more than half of Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia quickly surrendered. Armenians in the captured territory fled as former Azeri residents could finally return to their homes. However, this has done nothing to solve the conflict long-term, with both Turkey and Russia, rivals, mediating and administrating the conflict.