What Is Going On In Armenia And Azerbaijan?

By Lianna Avanessian

Edited by Nikita Shetty & Mihika Chechi


Looking back in time to the Soviet Era, Armenia and Azerbaijan had tension over the lands they fought for. Nagorno-Karabakh was the land between the two countries that escalated the fights. In the present day, Armenia and Azerbaijan are going into shambles over the property. While Armenia is searching for help, Turkey has sided with Azerbaijan, which makes the situation all the more dangerous due to Armenia and Turkey’s century long feud. The situation the Central Asian countries are facing is impacted by history, feuds, and politics that seem nearly impossible to be resolved.


On the 16th of July, 2020, Azerbaijan declared a threat to launch a drone strike on Armenia's only atomic power plant. The hit would have caused alarming power outages across Armenia, and the power plant to be destroyed. The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, has been accused of targeting Armenia since 2013, since siding with Turkey during a war fought over conquering more of Armenia’s land. At the beginning of July, 2020, Turkey and the Azerbaijani have formed a closer bond and together have attacked the present-day “Republic of Artsakh” (Nagorno-Karabakh). The situation got worse when the unit of Nagorno-Karabakh voted to side with Armenia, while Azerbaijan boycotted. Armenia and Azerbaijan are now both struggling to protect the land.



It is important to note that Armenia is a small country begging for help every day, under every circumstance - war or no war. About 23.5% of the population lived below the poverty line in 2018. While Azeri citizens live better lives in comparison (about 5.1% of Azerbaijan's total population lived under the poverty line in 2018), their government and military still do not hold nearly enough strength to survive a war, causing Ilham Aliyev to depend heavily on help from Turkey. The Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, is also relying on Vladimir Putin for better resources. Armenia has used Israeli military in the past, with Russian drones protecting the border from both sides. Armenia gets the most aid from its Russian allies, including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and the Kurdistan Region. Turkey has sent in the most powerful South Asian countries such as Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Libya, to aid Azerbaijan. Iran, which lies below both countries, has remained neutral and assisted both sides. Meanwhile, The United States of America has paid little attention to this dispute; Michael Pompeo, The U.S. Secretary of State has said little to nothing on the matter.


So how does this war affect the ordinary citizens who identify as Armenian and Azerbaijani? Azerbaijanis have been protesting with pro-war sentiment, which has resulted in Azeris receiving more hate. Due to the intense emotions struck upon the two communities as a result of this turmoil, many Azerbaijani and Armenian communities around the world have been protesting in front of the opposing Embassies to their country.


Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian recently announced to the general public, “...in several cities, there have been counter-protests by Azeri nationalists, and instances of racism, hate crimes and violence directed at Armenians and Armenian institutions.” On July 24th, an Armenian-owned store was attacked by a group of Azerbaijanis in Moscow. In Philadelphia, an Armenian mother and her 5-year old son were attacked by another group of Azerbaijanis. Such hate crimes are also affecting Azerbaijanis. Azerbaijanis in Armenian-populated cities have received overwhelming amounts of xenophobic threats and attacks over the last month. Azeris are experiencing more Islamophobia than ever before, in the form of verbal attacks targeting Azerbaijan Muslims. The former Minister of Justice in Armenia, Arpine Hovhannisyan was promoting horrific Islamophobic and Anti-Azerbaijani sentiment by frequently belittling the people of Azerbaijan in interviews and repeatedly attacking Azeris online. Both communities have been furthering these aggressive attacks.


The historical tension between Armenia and Azerbaijan has caused South-West Asia to nearly split, allyship towards the two feuding countries. While Azerbaijan has historically been a more of a union than a country, both Armenia and Azerbaijan have extremely rich histories, cultures, and languages that are quite similar, derived from nearby Asian countries. While it is unfortunate the two governments are feuding, the innocent citizens of both countries are unfortunately caught in the middle. It is now up to the countries and their people to determine the fate of Nagorno-Karabakh.



Sources Cited:

https://carnegieendowment.org/2020/07/22/behind-flare-up-along-armenia-azerbaijan-border-pub-82345

https://en.armradio.am/2020/07/30/la-police-warned-of-potential-surge-in-hate-crimes-against-armenians/

https://armenianweekly.com/2020/07/30/the-geopolitical-and-energy-security-dimensions-of-the-latest-armenian-azerbaijani-clashes/

https://www.adb.org/countries/armenia/poverty

https://www.adb.org/countries/azerbaijan/poverty#:~:text=Poverty%20Data%3A%20Azerbaijan,force%20in%202019%20is%20unemployed.

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