Adeel Mukhtar Mirza
In recent skirmishes, Azerbaijan looks determined to pursue military action against Armenian in the Nagorny Karabakh – broke away from Azerbaijan in the 1990s during the breakdown of the former Soviet Union – until a full Armenian withdrawal. The recent conflict led to the outbreak of violence and intense fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan. “We only have one condition: Armenian armed forces must unconditionally, fully, and immediately leave our lands,” Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said. If “the Armenian government fulfills the demand, fighting and bloodshed will end, and peace will be established in the region,” he added. As per Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry, Baku was “resolutely determined to continue the counter-offensive operation until its sovereignty and territorial integrity is fully restored […] (and) we clearly see the Armenian troops leaving the territory of Azerbaijan”.
H.E. Tahir Taghizade, Ambassador of Azerbaijan in the UK, categorically stated that Nagorno-Karabakh is not a “disputed” region. It is an internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan occupied and ethnically cleansed by Armenia together with seven adjacent regions of Azerbaijan in flagrant violation of international law. Four United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, adopted in 1993 (822, 853, 874, 884) and demanding immediate withdrawal of the Armenian occupying forces from all occupied regions of Azerbaijan, remain unfulfilled. To consolidate its occupation policy, Armenia established an illegal regime, the so-called “Nagorno-Karabakh Republic” (NKR), on the occupied lands of Azerbaijan. This puppet regime has not been recognized by the international community including Armenia itself. Thus, there is no such thing as “Nagorno-Karabakh military staff”.
According to the prosecutor general’s office of Azerbaijan, five members of a family were killed as a result of shelling by the Armenian armed forces against the civilian population of Azerbaijan on 27 September. Armenia bears full responsibility for the recent outbreak of hostilities, which it started and is a direct result of its decade-long policy of occupation and aggression. Armenia’s political-military leadership continues to carry out war crimes against Azerbaijan. Atrocities of Armenia against Azerbaijani civilians has become a tradition of Armenia.
TarTar city of Azerbaijan is being heavily bombarded by armed forces of Armenia, targeting Chess school, new settlement for IDPs, the local mayor office, and other housing buildings. In another instance, five people from the same family in the Azerbaijani district of Naftalan have been killed by an Armenian shell that hit while the family was preparing their evening meal. Moreover, Armenia launched a missile attack on residential areas in Ganja, Tartar, Fizuli regions of Azerbaijan, which proved that Armenia as a state as well as the irrational political-military leadership of Armenia remains a source of an imminent threat to regional peace/security. Furthermore, Before the escalation of the situation in the line of contact Armenia openly threatened Azerbaijan’s critical energy infrastructure/Mingachevir water reservoir with missile attacks. Recent missile attacks of Armenia reaffirmed such aggressive nature of Armenia’s military doctrine. Nevertheless, residents of Ganja city and the whole of Azerbaijan is more than strong now. Missile attacks with cluster munitions from Armenia together with war crimes against Azerbaijan can in no way intimidate them.
States do fight on the lingering disputes but the protection of civilians caught in the escalating conflict must be prioritized. Therefore, the use of cluster bombs by Armenia against civilians is highly irresponsible. “The use of cluster bombs in any circumstances is banned under international humanitarian law, so their use to attack civilian areas is particularly dangerous and will only lead to further deaths and injuries,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s acting Head of Eastern Europe and Central Asia. “Cluster bombs are inherently indiscriminate weapons, and their deployment in residential areas is absolutely appalling and unacceptable. As fighting continues to escalate, civilians must be protected, not deliberately targeted or recklessly endangered.”
In the immediate future, fighting should not escalate. In this regard, OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs’ representatives should engage in shuttle diplomacy to seize any opportunity that might arise to de-escalate the situation and bring the parties together. Efforts on other regional and international forums should continue to halt the fighting and avoid civilian causalities, respecting international humanitarian law.