Dr Muhammad Khan
THE outbreak of war in the Caucasus between Azerbaijan and Armenia has multiple dimensions; bilateral, regional and global. Yet another dimension generally talked less is the humanitarian dimension. The most significant factor of this war is international callousness and discrimination towards Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan was deprived of its sovereignty over its integral part of its territory after it got independence from former Soviet Union. Had United Nations and rest of international community acted impartially, immediately after independence of these two states, the root cause of this war (Nagorno-Karabakh dispute) could have been resolved for ever. Since, the colonialism always leaves its foot-prints for locals to remain involved in infighting, the dispute of Nagorno-Karabakh was left unresolved like a bleeding wound. The current phase of war between Azerbaijan is continuation of the war, started immediately after disintegration of former Soviet Union.
The all Azerbaijan is demanding its sovereignty and territorial integrity over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which has been historically its part. United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has passed four resolutions over the dispute in 1993 during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Unfortunately, these resolutions have not invoked Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. UNSC resolution-822, called for the cessation of hostilities and the withdrawal of all occupying forces from the Kelbajar district and other recently occupied areas of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The subsequent UNSC resolutions 853, 874 and 884 all demand cessation of all hostilities and withdrawal of the occupying forces. Regrettably, Russian Federation has been supporting the Armenian Government soon after the conflict erupted between Azerbaijan and Armenia in 1990s. In fact, former Soviet ruler continued overpowering the Azerbaijan people and playing with its geopolitics during the Soviet era. Origin of this conflict can be traced to the 1980s once Armenians in Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO) began organizing to take the territory out of Azerbaijan. It was before disintegration of the Soviet Union. Indeed, Moscow was biased towards Armenia while exploiting Azerbaijan.
Out of all annexed states of former Soviet Union, Azeri has always protested against Soviet Rule. They never accepted the Soviet rule over their territory. 1988 was a turning year once National Movement for Liberty started its move against USSR. This was a massive protest against colonial Soviet Rule and for independence of Azerbaijan. Thousands of people protesting against the policy of the USSR in Central square (now Azadliq or Freedom Square) and on the streets of Baku. 18 January 1990: Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR issued a decree It reads; On the realization of the extraordinary situation in the city of Baku since 20 January Orders for Massacre; neither co-coordinated with the parliament of Azerbaijan nor the 1st Secretary Aim was to choke the people’s voice, to stop the demonstrations and the freedom movement. On night 19/20 Jan, 1990 there was very heavy Soviet Military presence in the streets of Baku. Soviet troops committed a horrible crime against the Azerbaijani people to crush the freedom movement. Indeed, the Azeri masses still remember the use of chemical weapons, attacks on ambulances and the wounded and mutilation of dead bodies by Soviets. Thousands of people lost their lives and many more were injured. Soviet forces imprisoned thousands of Azeri people. This aggressive act was against the principles of international law, democracy and human values. Courageous sons of the Azerbaijan stood up for the motherland’s dignity, honour and freedom. Since the people of Azerbaijan snatched their freedom form the former Soviet Union, therefore, this former super power is still targeting them while backing Armenian forces against the Azerbaijan.
On night Feb 25, 1992, Armenian armed forces assaulted on Khojalywith Soviet troops support. Town remained surrounded on three sides and scores of Armenian forces poured in. Earlier, in October 1991; amidst NagornoKarabakh War, Armenian army seized control of the southern roads and effectively isolated Khojaly from greater Azerbaijan. The blockade was so complete that, as documented by American journalist Thomas Goltz, to reach the town safely a helicopter was required. Two days after massacre the group of the foreign and local journalists could reach that place and witnessed the horrible scene. The dead bodies were scalped, their ears and other organs were cut off, the eyes were put out, their extremities were chopped off, they have numerous of gun wounds, many of them were smashed by tanks Pregnant women abdomen was cut and the babies taken out and both mother and a baby finished off afterwards. The dead bodies were mutilated. Many of them had the bullet wounds to head and that shows that the wounded people were finished off.
As per Foreign Policy Article, published on October 9, 2020, “Without Russian Aid to Armenia, Azerbaijan has the Upper Hand in Nagorno-Karabakh”. Azeri forces have fought bravely in 1990s and even today, since the new phase of war. In 1992, it was Armenian forces which seized control of the “Lachin corridor,” a winding mountain road since improved with funds from the Armenian Diaspora, connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia. Turning northward, they then seized and held the Kelbajar district of Azerbaijan. They continued, until early last month, to hold not only the former NKAO but seven additional Azerbaijani districts outside the former NKAO, forming a bloc having a long common border with Armenia. With these blatant violations of Azerbaijan territories, the Azeri forces had to respond. Owing to Armenia aggression and occupation of Azerbaijan territory, The Government of Azerbaijan has been supporting a huge population of refugees and internally displaced people for over twenty five years now. United Nations and world at large must support the Azerbaijan’s principled stance over its own territory. Besides, it is the ultimate responsibility of OIC to support the Azerbaijan in its just cause for maintaining its sovereignty and territorial integrity. As per Prime Minister of Pakistan, We pay tribute to Azeri forces courageously defending their territorial integrity. Indeed, Pakistan has always stood behind the righteous stance of Azerbaijan Government over the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh.
— The writer is Professor of Politics and IR at International Islamic University, Islamabad.
Dr Muhammad Khan