A United Nations mission lastly arrived in Nagorno-Karabakh on October 1 to search out its cities and villages virtually fully abandoned. Two weeks after Azerbaijan launched an all-out navy assault on the disputed territory within the south Caucasus, the Armenian authorities has stated there at the moment are virtually no ethnic Armenians left in an space they’ve lived in for greater than two millennia.
The solely folks left are reportedly both too previous, too poor, too distant or too infirm to flee to security alongside the Lachin hall to Armenia.
Before the navy assault, Armenians dwelling within the enclave had been trapped and dwelling underneath siege since December 12, 2022. Azerbaijan established an unlawful blockade of the slender land bridge connecting Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia, blocking provides, together with meals and medication.
After greater than 9 months, having lowered the inhabitants of 120,000 to close hunger, Azerbaijan launched a navy assault on September 19. The assault killed an estimated 200 Armenian troops and seized management of strategic excessive floor across the enclave.
Under the phrases of the ceasefire that adopted, each Armenian troops and the two,000 Russian peacekeepers have been required to disarm and disband. Armenians got the “alternative” of “reintegration” into Azerbaijan.
These sanitised phrases masks a violence and dispossession that the images within the media final week can solely trace at. The queues of determined Armenians fleeing have been so lengthy that they may very well be considered from area.
Dehumanisation of Armenians
It was at all times extremely unlikely that any Armenians would “select” to remain underneath Azeri management of Nagorno-Karabakh. The regime of President Ilham Aliyev doesn’t tolerate criticism or plurality of voice amongst its personal residents.
So Azerbaijan’s pledge “to guard the rights and security of ethnic Armenians” has a hole ring. Azerbaijan is rated as a “consolidated authoritarian regime” by US-based democracy suppose tank Freedom House, which charges it at a paltry 9 out of a potential freedom rating of 100 and judges it as “not free”.
For a long time, the Aliyev regime has promoted ethnic hatred of Armenians. Azerbaijan has actively labored for the eradication and appropriation of its Armenian spiritual and cultural heritage. This was referred to in a current report as “the worst cultural genocide of the twenty first century”.
Meanwhile, atrocities dedicated by Azeri troops throughout the earlier Nagorno-Karabakh warfare in 2020 have been effectively documented. The so-called “Military Trophies Park” within the Azeri capital of Baku, constructed as a memorial of the warfare, is stuffed with grotesque mannequins representing Armenians.
Ethnic hatred of Armenians is normalised by the federal government. A postage stamp issued in 2021 depicted the fumigation of Nagorno-Karabakh, implying that ethnic Armenians have been a virus that wanted to be eradicated (the stamp was not registered by the Universal Postal Union).
While Nagorno-Karabakh was being emptied, Azerbaijan reissued a map of Stepanakert, the capital metropolis, with Azeri road names. One road has been renamed Enver Pasha, after one of many three Turkish architects of the Armenian genocide of 1915.
Caviar and vitality diplomacy
Reporting of the battle has largely neglected the advanced historical past and forces concerned – in addition to wider regional energy struggles.
Instead, the worldwide media has been lending credence to Azerbaijan’s script, referring to “anti-terrorist operations” in opposition to “separatists” and “ethnic Armenian rebels” to explain the Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians. This language obfuscates the expulsion of 120,000 Armenians from their ancestral homeland by a transparent aggressor.
But Azerbaijan wields vital worldwide affect because of its immense oil and fuel wealth and the unqualified help of its “large brother” Turkey.
In addition, Azerbaijan makes use of all of the propaganda weapons at its disposal. The Aliyev regime has grow to be adept at courting political affect within the west by way of what has been dubbed “caviar diplomacy”. Events such because the Formula 1 Grand Prix additionally perform as high-profile projections of sentimental energy, successfully “sportwashing” Azerbajan’s corruption and human rights report.
An announcement of solidarity with Nagorno Karabakh signed by greater than 100 UK lecturers on September 26 singled out the UK’s shut relationship with Azerbaijan and the Aliyev regime as offering “a helpful veneer of ‘respectability’ to the laundering of funds and historical past”.
Experts in worldwide legislation have described the compelled exodus of Armenians from their houses as a “warfare crime”. And former UN unbiased skilled Alfred de Zayas has referred to as for current occasions to be investigated by the International Criminal Court.
But since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Azerbaijan has grow to be a necessary supply for western vitality. The nation now appears to have a protected standing as what EU fee president, Ursula von der Leyen, calls a “essential vitality associate”.
The query of sanctions in opposition to Azerbaijan has been raised within the EU parliament and expressions of concern have been made by the Council of Europe and the US authorities. But any concrete motion from the west is believed unlikely.
While Armenians have been fleeing their houses, an commercial from the UK’s Department for Business and Trade in The Telegraph of September 29 enthused in regards to the 450 UK corporations already doing enterprise in Azerbaijan. It famous that the UK is the nation’s largest overseas investor. On the identical day, the federal government introduced it could give a million kilos to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) as a response to “occasions” in Nagorno Karabakh.
The worldwide highlight now has understandably shifted to the plight of 120,000 refugees. But the concentrate on the humanitarian disaster dangers overlooking the ethnic cleaning carried out by Azerbaijan and the online of complicity that enabled it.
The destiny of Nagorno-Karabakh presents us a glimpse into the casualties of the so-called “rules-based order”, the place financial and geopolitical pursuits and whitewashing campaigns converge to a degree the place ethnic cleaning is of little notice and apparently no consequence.
Sossie Kasbarian doesn’t work for, seek the advice of, personal shares in or obtain funding from any firm or group that might profit from this text, and has disclosed no related affiliations past their educational appointment.