Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Azerbaijan vs Armenia: Here we go again - with a nasty twist in the tail


Looks like hostilities have erupted once again between Azerbaijan and Armenia, the former the aggressor (this time) and the latter the defender.  However, there are a number of factors that make this rather more threatening than earlier conflicts.

  • Russia had been the "peacekeeper" between the two states, basically stopping Azerbaijan from taking more disputed territory from Armenia after the former's battlefield successes.  That was before the Ukraine war.  Now, Russian forces are bogged down in Ukraine, and there are probably none to spare to keep the peace elsewhere.  Azerbaijan is probably going to take full advantage of that.
  • Iran has long regarded Azerbaijan with suspicion.  The Azeris are the biggest single non-Persian ethnic group in Iran, and Iran wants their loyalties firmly oriented towards Teheran.  If Azerbaijan grows big enough and gets successful enough to stoke the fires of ethnic loyalties, it threatens Iranian internal unity.  Furthermore, Azerbaijan's ties to Israel infuriate Iran, which has vowed to exterminate the Jewish state.  Recent military exercises by Iranian forces near the border with Azerbaijan have raised tensions.  What if Iran decides that it's time to stop Azerbaijan before it grows any more powerful or successful?
  • Armenia is majority Christian;  Azerbaijan is majority Muslim.  Will this new outbreak of fighting contribute to religious instability in the region?
  • Russia has been working on strengthening ties with Iran, and has been considered pro-Armenia by that country.  What if its focus on those nations forces its hand, making it do something to "keep the peace" by reining in Azerbaijan?  What will that mean for its ongoing war with Ukraine?  Could Ukraine take advantage of the distraction?
  • If all the above happen, there are several other ethnic tensions in the area of the former Soviet Union that could flare up, all taking advantage of the distraction to pursue their own interests.  Russia fought a brief war with Georgia in 2008, which Georgia lost.  The Muslim fundamentalist separatists in several former Soviet republics (particularly Chechnya, Dagestan and nearby areas) have been successfully suppressed by Russian military and security forces, sometimes very bloodily.  Would any or all of these nations and areas take advantage of a flare-up between Armenia and Azerbaijan to pursue their own interests - to Russia's disadvantage?
The geopolitical implications are potentially very serious.  Peter Zeihan explains.

As if we needed another hot spot in that part of the world . . .



Aesop said...

This is fallout from Ukraine.

Russia is hamstrung by that tar baby, and sooner, not later, multiple -stans, both dependent and independent, are going to get frisky, in similarly bad ways, because they know they can.

At the end of the day, current Russia is just former Yugoslavia - a cobbled-together polyglot conglomeration with little shared other than a common master - just bigger, and with nuclear weapons involved.

Putin's megalomania is starting to bear the fruit of unintended consequences, and will continue to do so until he extricates himself from his Ukrainian fool's errand, and concerns himself with actual Russia and states and -stans over which he has some legitimate sway.

Michael said...

Anybody want to lay odds some Combined Idiots Against everybody and such are involved. Nothing like little brushfires around Russia, eh?

Cheap little actions until they create blowback.

"Hans are we the Baddies"?

Sam Helm said...

Just to add another component of the potential danger here, we must also remember that the Turks also are at loggerheads with the Armenians, to the point that they sent "Volunteers" to aid the Azeri during the last dust up between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Why are the Azeris attacking THIS time? They won the last fight, and I thought they had pretty much consolidated their gains in Nogorno Karabach. I also seem to remember that it was the first major use of weaponized drones in a modern war.

Either way, I do not look forward to the news from the region.

Anonymous said...

Here is what real analysis on Ukraine looks like.

MNW said...

The Duran seems to be pretty good a breaking down things in the region

MNW said...

Zeihan has an anti-Russia, but does try to be fair.

That said he under sells the Azeri capablity. They have been buying a lot of western equiment and training (much from Isreal) and they have a lot more money to spend from oil exports.

Armenia has mostly leftovers from the USSR and, at the time of the last conflict, zero drone capablity. They also have far less in the way of income.

Anonymous said...

Who cares? Its not my back yard and the west has ABSOLUTELY no business getting involved in any of this. The post "medical condition" world has demonstrated that the vast majority of information follows someone's political "narrative". I repeat - why should I care?

A question occurred to me (and hopefully will be allowed and not get me forever-banned by our gracious host) is what is Israel doing in the middle of this satellite-state conflict? And siding with the majority muslim state no less? I had to look up where the warring countries are, and surprised to see how far they are from the Mediterranean. Something is putrid and rotten here, and we are not getting the full story. It very much appears that we are not the only country right in the thick of things.

JaimeInTexas said...

Peter, why did you put peacekeeper in quotes?

Peter said...

@JaimeInTexas: Because the Russian definition of "peacekeeper" can best be described as very, very loose . . .