Preventing between Armenia and Azerbaijan intensified in early October over Nagorno-Karabakh, the disputed area within the South Caucasus on the centre of a battle that has lasted for greater than three many years.
The South Caucasus is sandwiched between Russia to the north, Iran to the south and Turkey to the west. Out of those three regional powers, Turkey’s vocal and navy help for Azerbaijan has bolstered Baku’s confidence to refuse mediation within the battle. In the meantime, Moscow – which has traditionally been an essential mediator on this battle – can also be dedicated to guard Armenia underneath the Collective Safety Treaty Organisation, a regional safety alliance.
Iran, nevertheless, has adopted an official impartial stance and has repeatedly provided to mediate over the previous three many years. It’s doing the identical right now, with Iranian officers stating they’re engaged on a peace plan.
Nagorno-Karabakh: are Armenia and Azerbaijan sliding in direction of all-out conflict?
The primary conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh broke out within the late 1980s, leading to Azerbaijan shedding 20% of its territory to Armenia.
Tehran made an intensive effort to dealer a ceasefire in 1992, solely to see it violated by the Armenian militia inside hours, discrediting Iran’s function as a mediator.
Though one other ceasefire was finally brokered in 1994, quite a few rounds of negotiations, in addition to regional and worldwide mediation, most notably by the OSCE Minsk group, haven’t led to peace – or perhaps a partial decision of the dispute. Whereas battle has repeatedly flared up alongside the entrance line since then, for instance in 2016, the present escalation, which started on September 27, is by far probably the most severe.
Iran is in no actual place to mediate now, notably given its personal turbulent relationship with Baku, in addition to worldwide sensitivity over Iran’s elevated regional affect. The one cause Iran repeats its supply of mediation is to substantiate to Armenia and Azerbaijan – and their respective ethnic minorities and supporters inside Iran – that Tehran stays impartial. Such neutrality is essential for Iran’s personal home stability.
Till the early 19th century, Georgia, Armenia and the territories of the present-day Republic of Azerbaijan (recognized then as Arran) had been underneath Persian management. Iran then misplaced these territories to Russia following its defeats in two wars.
The 1918 collapse of Russia’s Tsarist empire and the weakening of Moscow’s maintain on Arran offered the chance for nationalist events. Supported by the Ottoman Empire, they created the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, which was built-in into the Soviet Union in 1920.
Whereas, previous to 1918, there had been no political entity on the north of the Aras river with the title Azerbaijan, the individuals of Arran shared Turkic ethnicity and language with these within the north-western provinces of Iran, traditionally referred to as Japanese and Western Azarbaijan.
This makes right now’s 9 million inhabitants of Azerbaijan brethren of 16% of Iran’s inhabitants – one other 20 million individuals. Iran can also be dwelling to greater than 100,000 extremely revered and well-integrated Armenians. They’ve robust and at instances helpful connections to the worldwide Armenian diaspora, which has influential lobbies in western nations, particularly the US.
With such an ethnic combine, any official help by Tehran for both Armenia or Azerbaijan within the Nagorno-Karabach battle may deepen the social faultlines to the purpose of battle. It could additionally add to the assorted social dilemmas that the Iranian state is already dealing with, arising from financial hardship attributable to US sanctions, rampant corruption and mismanagement, in addition to public dissatisfaction with the state’s repressive insurance policies.
At a time when social cohesion is in tatters, taking sides may simply end in widening ethnic divisions that might put Iran’s political and territorial integrity in danger.
Cautious of Baku
As I’ve defined in my very own analysis, with a shared Shia faith and civilisational background, Iran may have been Azerbaijan’s pure ally – particularly as Armenia is a non-Muslim nation. However Azerbaijan’s fixed expansionist strategy in direction of Iranian territories since its independence makes such an alliance extremely unlikely, irrespective of who guidelines Iran.
Azerbaijan has made vital investments
in selling separatist concepts amongst Turkic Iranians and maintained an urge for food for integrating the Iranian provinces of Japanese and Western Azarbaijan into the republic. This has been one of many foremost the reason why Iran’s ruling Shia theocracy is reluctant to take Azerbaijan’s aspect, even though the vast majority of Azerbaijan’s inhabitants can also be Shia.
Baku’s partnerships with the US and Israel, in addition to its secular authorities with an adamant resistance to any affect from Iran, additionally enhance the Islamic Republic’s hesitance to help Azerbaijan.
Armenia, alternatively, has not demonstrated any expansionist insurance policies in direction of Iranian territories. Nor has it developed relations with Iran’s nemeses – the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia – to a level that undermines its cordial relations with Tehran. Nonetheless, it could be counter-intuitive for Iran’s Shia theocracy to overtly ally with a Christian republic towards one other Shia majority nation.
For this reason the best choice for shielding Iran’s safety and stability is for Tehran to take care of its impartial stance whereas supporting worldwide initiatives to resolve the battle.
Marzieh Kouhi-Esfahani doesn’t work for, seek the advice of, personal shares in or obtain funding from any firm or organisation that might profit from this text, and has disclosed no related affiliations past their educational appointment.