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What’s going on between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh ?

What’s going on between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict stands as a long-standing and deeply entrenched issue, afflicting both Armenia and Azerbaijan since the waning years of the Soviet Union. Characterized as a “protracted conflict,” it has defied lasting resolution, drawing international attention and posing significant geopolitical challenges. A roundtable hosted by the United States Institute of Peace in March 1998 brought together leading experts to dissect this complex issue, aiming to unearth the underlying factors and shared interests that might pave the way for a comprehensive settlement.

Historical Roots and Regional Dynamics

The roots of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict extend deep into history, but its modern manifestation can be traced to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. As newly independent successor states grappled with defining their borders, Nagorno-Karabakh, a predominantly Armenian enclave within Azerbaijan, became a flashpoint for territorial disputes. The enclave’s aspiration for self-determination culminated in a full-scale military conflict, culminating in a fragile ceasefire in 1994. While this ceasefire temporarily halted large-scale hostilities, it left behind a legacy of displacement and uncertainty, casting a long shadow over prospects for lasting peace.

Political Factors: Elections and Leadership

Distinct from many other post-Soviet conflicts, the Nagorno-Karabakh issue exerts a profound influence on the electoral politics of both Armenia and Azerbaijan. In Armenia, the 1998 presidential elections saw the ascent of Robert Kocharian, a staunch advocate for Nagorno-Karabakh, to power. Conversely, Azerbaijan’s electoral landscape, tarnished by allegations of corruption, has made the government increasingly reluctant to appear yielding to Armenian demands, fearing political repercussions.

International Involvement and Diplomacy

One striking feature of this conflict is the substantial level of international interest it has garnered. Traditional regional powers, Russia and Turkey, find themselves on opposing sides, further complicating diplomatic efforts. The United States, striving to appease its influential Armenian diaspora while also securing alternative oil routes through Azerbaijan, faces a challenging balancing act.

The OSCE’s Minsk Group: A Changing Diplomatic Approach

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has played an active role in mediating the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict through its Minsk Group. While earlier plans, like the one proposed in September 1997, generated mixed reactions and even political turmoil in Armenia, recent proposals introduced the idea of a “common state” for Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan swiftly rejected this concept, viewing it as a potential step towards independence for the disputed region. Nevertheless, these recent proposals signify evolving diplomatic dynamics, mirroring subtle shifts in the political landscape of the conflict.

Historical Context and Regional Tensions

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has deep historical roots within the geopolitics of the Soviet Union’s collapse. In 1923, Soviet authorities officially established the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast within the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic, despite the region’s predominantly Armenian population. This pivotal decision laid the foundation for ethnic tensions that eventually escalated to a climax in 1988 when the regional legislature of Nagorno-Karabakh voted in favor of becoming part of Armenia. Despite the implementation of the Bishkek Protocol in 1994, which aimed to secure a ceasefire, the situation has remained precarious ever since. It has been marked by sporadic clashes and significant casualties, notably during the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War in 2020.

Geostrategic Complexities and the Fragility of Ceasefires

The geopolitics of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict are far from straightforward. Russia, historically aligned with Armenia, openly supports its cause, while Turkey stands firmly behind Azerbaijan. The United States’ explicit endorsement of Armenia introduces a heightened level of convolution into the already intricate web of regional politics. This convolution further complicates Russia’s multifarious involvement in the region. As the Minsk Group’s endeavors encountered hurdles and as other global powerhouses confronted their distinctive challenges, the European Union, with resolve, embraced a more assertive role in the arduous task of mediating the persistent conflict. These intricate dynamics came to a head in September 2020 when hostilities escalated, ultimately culminating in a Russian-brokered agreement that reinstated a fragile peace.

Political Dynamism and Domestic Challenges

Internal political dynamics in both Armenia and Azerbaijan further complicate peace efforts. In Armenia, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan faced domestic upheaval following territorial losses in 2020. Conversely, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, driven by territorial advancements, has intensified his grip on Nagorno-Karabakh. This escalation has worsened an unfolding humanitarian catastrophe and stands as a looming threat to the painstakingly nurtured peace negotiations of recent months.

Humanitarian Concerns and Shifting Diplomacy

The humanitarian toll of the conflict is mounting, with blockades leading to severe shortages and loss of life in Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan’s unwavering stance in maintaining its blockade, even in the face of mounting international pressure, leaves the region teetering on the verge of yet another looming humanitarian catastrophe. Simultaneously, the U.S. has signaled renewed commitment to Armenia through high-profile visits, such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s, while Russia’s credibility as a security guarantor in the region has faced increasing scrutiny due to its limited involvement in various flashpoints.

Outlook for the Future

Recent times have seen some momentum towards dialogue, with talks facilitated by the U.S., European Union, and Russia. However, sporadic border skirmishes serve as stark reminders of the fragility of these negotiations. Unresolved issues related to territorial demarcation and secure transport routes remain formidable obstacles to achieving a lasting peace. Given the tenuous security situation and the high stakes involved, particularly concerning energy supplies, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict looms as a persistent threat, not only to Armenia and Azerbaijan but also to the broader geopolitics of the region.

Conclusive Words

The Nagorno-Karabakh issue is a multifaceted puzzle entangled in a web of historical conflicts, geopolitical interests, and evolving identities. Achieving lasting peace requires courageous steps to address these challenges head-on, recognizing that the stakes extend beyond the borders of Armenia and Azerbaijan, impacting the broader geopolitics of the region. While the conflict persists without a resolution in sight, the imperative for revitalized diplomatic endeavors and global collaboration remains of utmost importance. The repercussions of inaction extend far beyond the confines of the South Caucasus and resonate across the global stage.

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Geo-Politics

Philippines, US Launch Mid Range Missile System in Balikatan

Philippines, US Launch Mid Range Missile System in Balikatan

Introduction

Against the backdrop of escalating tensions in the South China Sea, the US and the Philippines have initiated massive joint military exercises, Balikatan, involving thousands of military personnel over a three-week period. This exercise showcases the Philippines’ advanced military systems, including missile frigates, fighter jets, support aircraft, and Black Hawk helicopters. Notably, the naval segment extends beyond the 12-nautical-mile limit into the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, signaling a strategic expansion in operational scope. Concurrently, the deployment of the Mid-Range Capability (MRC) missile system by the US to the Indo-Pacific theater, specifically during the Balikatan drills, has elicited strong condemnation from China. The integration of offensive capabilities into joint military exercises highlight broader geopolitical dynamics in the Indo-Pacific region. Let us delve deep into the issue to analyze its broader implications.

Deployment Details

China has condemned the United States for what it perceives as an escalation of military tension by deploying a powerful missile launcher capable of firing missiles up to 1,600 kilometers in range to exercises in the Philippines. The US Army’s Mid-Range Capability (MRC) ground-based missile system, known as the Typhon system, arrives in the wake of heightened tensions following confrontations between Chinese and Philippine vessels in the South China Sea involving water cannons injuring Filipino sailors.

This deployment of the MRC missile system to the Indo-Pacific theater, marking its first-ever appearance in the region, coincides with a series of joint military exercises between the US and the Philippines, including the Balikatan drills. The duration of the Typhon system’s stay in the Philippines has not been disclosed by the US Army, but analysts view its involvement as a strategic signal that offensive weaponry is now positioned within striking distance of Chinese installations in the South China Sea and along the Taiwan Strait.

In response to the deployment, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian expressed concern over increased risks of “misjudgment and miscalculation,” accusing the US of pursuing a “unilateral military advantage” and undermining regional peace and stability. Lin urged the US to respect other countries’ security concerns and refrain from escalating confrontation.

The Standard Missile 6 (SM-6) is an advanced missile system developed by the United States, primarily intended for deployment on US Navy ships. This versatile system is designed for dual-use, capable of engaging both air and surface targets effectively. It holds an extended range compared to its predecessors and utilizes an active radar seeker to track and intercept targets with precision. The SM-6 is equipped to intercept incoming enemy aircraft, including drones and cruise missiles. Furthermore, it can engage surface vessels. Benefitting from networked guidance information, the SM-6 delivers enhanced accuracy, making it a vital asset for naval forces seeking versatile and reliable defense capabilities. The Typhon system is equipped to launch the Standard Missile 6 (SM-6), a ballistic missile defense munition with a range of 370 kilometers (230 miles), and the Tomahawk Land Attack Missile, a cruise missile capable of reaching targets up to 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) away, as per the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

On the other hand, the Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM) is a long-range cruise missile employed by the US Navy and allied forces for land-based target strikes. Operating at subsonic speeds, the TLAM maintains a low radar cross-section, enhancing its survivability and stealth capabilities. It employs GPS guidance for precise navigation, enabling it to hit specific targets with high accuracy. The TLAM is available in various variants, including nuclear and conventional versions, catering to different operational requirements. Renowned for its effectiveness in long-range strikes, the TLAM has played a pivotal role in various conflicts.

The deployment of the Mid-Range Capability (MRC) missile system to the Indo-Pacific theater represents a historic development, marking the first deployment of this advanced system in the region.

From China’s perspective, the deployment of the MRC system represents a direct challenge to its military capabilities and territorial claims. The presence of land-attack missiles capable of reaching Chinese installations raises Chinese concerns. China has expressed displeasure and accused the US of exacerbating military confrontation in the region through such actions.

Operationally, the system provides a versatile and potent capability for both defensive operations, such as intercepting incoming threats, and offensive operations, including precision strikes against designated targets.

Diplomatically, the deployment of the MRC system has triggered reactions from various regional players. China’s vocal opposition reflects broader concerns about escalating military tensions, while other countries in the region are closely monitoring developments and assessing the potential implications for regional stability.

Increased Risks

China’s response to the deployment of the Mid-Range Capability (MRC) missile system by the United States has been characterized by accusations of “stoking military confrontation.” Beijing has voiced strong opposition to the presence of advanced missile systems in the Indo-Pacific region, viewing them as a provocative move that escalates tensions and undermines regional stability. China perceives such deployments as a direct challenge to its security interests and strategic posture in the South China Sea and surrounding areas.

Firstly, the deployment of offensive weapons capable of reaching Chinese installations raises the stakes and intensifies military competition in the region. This creates a scenario where any perceived provocation or misunderstanding could lead to unintended escalation and conflict. Additionally, the use of advanced missile systems introduces complexities in decision-making during crises, potentially leading to rapid and unforeseen developments that can spiral out of control.

Recent incidents involving dangerous encounters between Chinese and Philippine vessels, including the targeting of Philippine ships with water cannons, pinpoints the volatile nature of maritime disputes in the region. The presence of advanced military capabilities like the MRC system further exacerbates these tensions.

Strategic Significance

The deployment of the Mid-Range Capability (MRC) missile system by the United States to the Philippines holds significant strategic implications, particularly due to the presence of offensive weaponry within striking distance of Chinese installations in the South China Sea and surrounding areas. This deployment signifies a tangible shift in the balance of power and military posture in the region, as it enables the US to project offensive capabilities closer to Chinese territories and maritime claims.

The presence of land-attack missiles such as the Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM) within striking distance of Chinese installations raises concerns as these missiles have the capability to strike targets on land with precision and effectiveness, posing a direct threat to Chinese military assets and facilities in the South China Sea and beyond.

In the context of joint US-Philippine military exercises, such as the Balikatan drills, the deployment of the MRC missile system assumes added significance. These exercises demonstrate a deepening of defense cooperation between the US and the Philippines, aimed at enhancing their combined military capabilities and interoperability. The Balikatan exercises serve as a platform for joint training and readiness activities, reinforcing the defense posture of both countries and sending a clear signal of deterrence to potential adversaries, including China.

Conclusion

Amidst tensions in the South China Sea, US-Philippines joint exercises, Balikatan, have begun, showcasing advanced military systems and extending naval operations into the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines. Simultaneously, US deployment of the MRC missile system, with SM-6 and TLAM, has drawn China’s ire, escalating regional tensions.

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Asia

In a significant move, India delivered BrahMos missiles to the Philippines

In a significant move, India delivered BrahMos missiles to the Philippines

Background

The BrahMos missile system, a collaborative endeavor between India and Russia, stands as a testament to the ingenuity and strategic foresight of both nations. Conceived in the late 1990s, the project aimed to develop a supersonic cruise missile capable of delivering precision strikes at incredible speeds. Named after the Brahmaputra and Moskva rivers, it symbolizes the convergence of Indian and Russian expertise in defense technology. Over the years, the BrahMos missile has evolved into one of the world’s fastest and most versatile cruise missiles, showcasing the capabilities of Indo-Russian cooperation in the realm of defense.

Development of BrahMos missile system

The development journey of the BrahMos missile system has been characterized by innovation, collaboration, and strategic vision. Beginning with the conceptualization of a joint venture between India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Russia’s NPO Mashinostroyeniya, the project aimed to harness the technological prowess of both nations to create a formidable weapon system. Through years of research, testing, and refinement, the BrahMos missile system emerged as a flagship project, demonstrating India’s indigenous technological capabilities and its ability to collaborate on complex defense projects with international partners.

The Genesis of BrahMos: From Concept to Reality

The genesis of the BrahMos project can be traced back to the late 1990s when India and Russia embarked on a journey to develop a supersonic cruise missile. Driven by the need to enhance India’s defense capabilities and bolster strategic deterrence, the project brought together the expertise of Indian and Russian scientists and engineers. The collaboration aimed to leverage the strengths of both nations in propulsion, guidance systems, and materials technology to create a missile system unlike any other. Named after two iconic rivers, the BrahMos missile symbolizes the synergy between India and Russia in pursuit of technological excellence and national security.

Strengthening Bilateral Ties: The India-Philippines Defense Deal

In January 2022, India and the Philippines signed a landmark defense deal worth US$ 375 million, laying the foundation for enhanced cooperation in defense technology and strategic partnership. Central to this agreement was the provision for the export of BrahMos missiles to the Philippines, marking a significant step in India’s defense diplomacy. The deal underscored India’s commitment to bolstering the defense capabilities of its allies in the Indo-Pacific region, particularly in light of growing security challenges posed by regional adversaries. For the Philippines, the acquisition of BrahMos missiles represented a strategic investment in national security, providing the country with a potent deterrent against potential threats.

The Delivery: Bridging Distances, Strengthening Alliances

On a bright Friday morning, the skies above Manila witnessed a historic moment as an Indian Air Force C-17 Globe master jet descended, carrying the first batch of BrahMos missiles destined for the Philippines. The delivery, meticulously planned and executed, marked the culmination of years of negotiations, technical cooperation, and diplomatic efforts between India and the Philippines. Symbolizing the strength of bilateral ties and the shared commitment to regional security, the arrival of the BrahMos missiles in the Philippines sent a powerful message to allies and adversaries alike. With each missile launcher, radar unit, and command-and-control center, the Philippines bolstered its defense capabilities, ensuring a swift and decisive response to emerging threats in the region.

Unleashing BrahMos: A Game-Changer in Modern Warfare

The BrahMos missile system represents a paradigm shift in modern warfare, combining speed, precision, and versatility to deliver devastating blows to enemy targets. With a top speed of Mach 2.8, the BrahMos missile outpaces conventional cruise missiles, making it virtually impossible for adversaries to intercept or evade. Its ability to be launched from multiple platforms, including submarines, ships, aircraft, and land-based launchers, gives it unparalleled flexibility on the battlefield. For the Philippines, the acquisition of BrahMos missiles heralds a new era of defense capabilities, providing the country with a strategic edge in safeguarding its territorial integrity and national interests.

Global Interest: The BrahMos Phenomenon Goes International

The delivery of BrahMos missiles to the Philippines has sparked interest from other nations seeking to enhance their defense capabilities in the face of evolving security challenges. Countries like Argentina have expressed interest in acquiring BrahMos missiles from India, recognizing their unparalleled speed, range, and precision. The growing international interest in BrahMos missiles underscores their status as a game-changer in modern warfare and a symbol of technological prowess and strategic deterrence. As India expands its defense partnerships and strengthens its position as a net security provider in the Indo-Pacific region, the BrahMos missile system emerges as a key instrument of peace, stability, and deterrence.

End Note

The delivery of BrahMos missiles to the Philippines marks a significant milestone in India’s defense diplomacy and strategic outreach in the Indo-Pacific region. It underscores India’s commitment to strengthening bilateral ties, fostering regional security, and promoting peace and stability in the face of evolving security challenges. As the BrahMos missile system finds new homes across the globe, it serves as a testament to the ingenuity, innovation, and collaborative spirit of nations working together to safeguard shared interests and uphold the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity. In an era defined by uncertainty and complexity, the BrahMos missile system stands as a beacon of hope, deterrence, and resilience, embodying the collective aspirations of nations to build a safer, more secure world for future generations.

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Analysis

Iran’s unprecedented attack on Israel shocked entire world

Iran's unprecedented attack on Israel shocked entire world

In a bold and unprecedented move, Iran has unleashed a massive barrage of over 200 drones and missiles targeting Israel, pushing regional tensions to perilous heights. This retaliatory strike, dubbed “Operation True Promise” by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), is in direct response to a deadly airstrike on its Damascus consular annexe earlier this month, which resulted in casualties, including senior Iranian military personnel.

Background of the Conflict

The recent escalation traces back to an April 1 airstrike in Damascus, widely attributed to Israel, claiming the lives of seven Iranian personnel. In the aftermath of this attack, Iran issued repeated warnings of retaliation, setting the stage for the unprecedented assault witnessed late on Saturday.

Details of the Attack

Iran’s retaliatory operation comprised an extensive array of drones and missiles aimed at specific targets inside Israel. The Israeli military confirmed intercepting the majority of incoming threats but acknowledged minor damage to one of its air bases. Sirens blared across various Israeli cities as residents sought shelter amidst the airstrikes.

Eyewitnesses describe a chaotic scene as explosions illuminated the night sky over Jerusalem and other urban centers. The scale and intensity of the attack left communities on edge, with many taking cover and stocking essentials amid escalating tensions.

Global Response and Implications

The international community reacted swiftly to the escalating conflict. The United States reaffirmed its “ironclad” support for Israel, pledging to work closely with regional partners to counter the Iranian attacks. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom and France reiterated their commitments to Israel’s security amidst the escalating tensions.

Political analysts warn that this unprecedented attack signals a dangerous escalation in the already volatile Middle East. The involvement of Iran’s proxies, including Yemen’s Houthi rebels and Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, underscores the complex web of regional dynamics at play.

Potential Ramifications and Current Situation

As the situation continues to unfold, there are growing fears of wider ramifications and the potential for a broader conflict. Israel, with strong backing from the United States and allies, remains on high alert. Iranian officials suggest that the matter concerning the Damascus strike is now concluded, but the aftermath of this retaliatory strike poses a critical challenge for regional stability.

Experts caution that the conflict between Iran and Israel could have far-reaching consequences, impacting not only the immediate region but also global security dynamics. The urgent meeting of the UN Security Council underscores the gravity of the situation, with calls for de-escalation and diplomatic intervention.

Conclusion

Iran’s unprecedented attack on Israel marks a significant escalation in an already tense region. The conflict underscores the complex geopolitical dynamics and the potential for broader implications beyond immediate military engagements.

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