The guns ceased to roar and the drones disappeared with the signing of the peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the two republics of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).
Brokered by Russia and Turkey, the peace deal marked the end of fierce fighting that erupted in the last week of September over Nagorno-Karabakh, the region internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but inhabited by ethnic Armenians.
However, the peace agreement, in addition to ending the fighting, means more than meets the eye.
By accepting the peace agreement to end the bloody conflict, Armenia and Azerbaijan have indicated their strength to end the conflicts through negotiations in the broader interest of peace.
And while Armenia has shown political acumen and pragmatism to prevent its territory from falling into the hands of Azerbaijan, the latter has also shown political maturity to consolidate its territorial gains that it had made during the fighting and that the peace agreement placed in his control.
More importantly, this historic agreement gave peace a chance to prevail and prevented further losses of men and material on both sides of the conflict.
Moreover, the peace agreement in question has highlighted the positive role that diplomacy can play in ending intense conflicts. At the same time, the agreement has changed the status quo and the balance of power in the region: the territory that controlled Armenia is now controlled by Azerbaijan, which, through its military power, has conquered certain strategic parts of the territory, held by the Armenians. , in the more than month-long war with Armenia.
While the territorial gains are likely to boost Azeris morale and give them a psychological advantage over the Armenians, the latter’s anger over the peace deal is also seen as their psychological defeat.
A mob of Armenians ransacked the parliament and demanded that their prime minister resign after the agreement was signed. To vent their anger, the Armenians who were required by the agreement to leave the territory (now under the control of Azerbaijan) set everything on fire before leaving.
Russia, on the other hand, has every reason to celebrate: brokering the peace accord between the two warring nations; Moscow has shown its political muscle in the region and beyond. He took advantage of the window of opportunity – with the United States engaged in the presidential elections and France in its internal problems – to use its influence and also score some points. Since Russia is an arms supplier to both Azerbaijan and Armenia, it could do anything but enrage any of these countries.
Also with Armenia, Russia has a defense pact. Siding with Yerevan risked alienating Azeris and putting Moscow in direct conflict with Turkey, the regional power that fully backs Azerbaijan. Faced with this situation, Russia has decided to show its ability to act as a peacemaker aiming to put an end to the conflict, even if it means sacrificing its close ally, Armenia in this case, for Moscow when things get complicated. About 2,000 Russian peacekeepers are to patrol the line of contact in Nagorno-Karabakh and along the Lachin Corridor that connects the region to Armenia for five years under the peace deal.
Meanwhile, Turkey has emerged as the power whose say matters in regional conflicts. Ankara, from the first day of fighting, supported Azerbaijan politically, diplomatically and morally in an effort to keep Russia at bay. Russia and Turkey have opposing interests in Syria and any miscalculation risks plunging them into a military confrontation. This conflict of interests was also visible in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. However, unhindered by Moscow’s military might and nuclear arsenal, Ankara has proactively stood behind Baku to balance the equation and secure its own geopolitical interests – it can gain direct access to the Caspian Sea via the Nakhchivan-Azerbaijan corridor and also directly. influences Central Asia. But for Turkey’s support, Azerbaijan was likely to suffer losses as well as humiliation in the conflict with Armenia.
On the other hand, the other regional power, Iran, seems to have ended up losing. With Azerbaijan now controlling the entire border with Iran, Tehran is justified in viewing it with apprehension. Given this situation, Israel (Iran’s great rival) will be in a better position to make Tehran think. Azerbaijan and Israel are said to have close intelligence, energy and military ties. This situation will not only change Tehran’s policy towards Azerbaijan and Syria, but will also influence the public perception in Iran of its image as a regional leader. Overshadowed by the role of Turkey and Russia, Iran has been relegated to the background. This showed the Iranians that their country has no strength to influence the region. Moreover, in the event of a war between Israel and Iran, the former can use Azerbaijan as a launching pad or as a refueling station.
For Tehran, the other subject of concern is the transit corridor which will pass near the border between Armenia and Iran. The corridor will be guarded by Russian troops and will likely prevent Iran’s access to Armenia and Europe via Georgia. In such a situation, Iran’s economy and influence will decline further.