"War and Peace in the South Caucasus"
    Farhad Mammadov's deliberation

    POLITICS  01 December 2023 - 11:07

    Political scientist, and head of the Centre for South Caucasus Studies Farhad Mammadov commented on the processes taking place in the South Caucasus in his Telegram channel.

    "The processes in the South Caucasus are rapidly accelerating. Since November 2020, major changes in the geopolitical landscape of the region have been taking place.

    The outcome of the 44-day war should have resulted in a peace treaty between Azerbaijan and Armenia, normalisation of relations between Armenia and Türkiye, and the opening of communication lines. However, these three critical elements of regional geopolitics could not be achieved within three years. It's worth noting that Armenia is central to all three dimensions and is the main location of the ongoing confrontation.

    Initially, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Russia, and Türkiye were the major players expected to bring changes to the region.

    However, over the past three years, other countries have joined them and outlined their claims, interests, and expectations, thus increasing the number of players. This has, in turn, led to the emergence of contradictions, tensions, and even crises. All parties are gathering resources to establish a new configuration, which will be signalled by the signing of a peace treaty. Here are some of the visible contradictions and participants that have emerged:

    ⁃ Russia vs. US, EU


    ⁃ Iran vs. US, Israel


    ⁃ Iran vs. EU


    ⁃ Türkiye vs. Russia


    ⁃ Iran vs. Türkiye


    ⁃ France vs. Azerbaijan, Türkiye


    ⁃ France vs. Great Britain


    ⁃ USA vs. China in the background


    ⁃ India vs. China in the background

    The contradictions revolve around various topics, strategic projects, and levels of confrontation. The primary point of contention is Armenia. As Yerevan has allowed almost all players to build up their resources in the country, there is a strong feeling that everyone is preparing for Armenia's potential shift away from Russia and towards Türkiye. Iran, the EU, the US, France, and the UK are all aware that the opening of the Armenian-Turkish border will create significant opportunities for Türkiye on the ground. Therefore, they are attempting to occupy more space in Armenia before the emergence of Türkiye.

    The government of Georgia is currently in a difficult position as it tries to balance its relationships with the West and Russia while also utilizing the resources provided by China and taking part in the trilateral regional format with Azerbaijan and Türkiye. This has led to concerns that Georgia may become the next site of conflict. Azerbaijan is actively working to minimize the potential risks associated with being caught amid a geopolitical struggle.

    It is a well-known fact that larger nations often create proxies within smaller countries to influence foreign policy. Azerbaijan has made a concerted effort to minimize the impact of external forces on domestic politics in order to pursue an independent foreign policy since gaining independence. This path has come with its own set of challenges, including limiting the activities of soft power institutions of larger states within its borders.

    The West is eager to finalize a peace treaty in order to gain a foothold in Armenia and participate in regional processes in all three countries.

    The US and EU have attempted to pressure Azerbaijan in their haste, but they have received an appropriate response.

    Baku must understand the situation, as the peace treaty process has grown such a geopolitical trail that any activity in this direction may have consequences.  It's necessary to evaluate how prepared Armenia is for a U-turn and how it will respond to the consequences, which have already been seen at the Upper Lars checkpoint. In late December, the CIS summit and the EAEU supreme council will test Pashinyan's ability to make a U-turn.

    For Baku, the pause may seem to have negative consequences; however, it's important to understand that if someone is in a hurry to do something, one should understand the reason for the hurry and use the situation to their advantage," Farhad Mammadov wrote in his analysis.

    Caliber.Az

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