A new war for the small territory of Nagorno-Karabakh has broken out on 27 September 2020. The armed clashes and bombings on Nagorno-Karabakh and its capital have not stopped. Hundreds of soldiers and civilians have already died in the fighting. And it may lead to a global war between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Both sides accuse each other of starting the conflict.
This conflict is very complex and has a long history of territorial disputes in the South Caucasus region. The population of Nagorno-Karabakh (about 150,000) is mostly of Armenian origin and in 1991 it was proclaimed the independent republic of Artsaj, with military support from Armenia and Russia. Since then, the conflict has been present and unresolved.
It should be borne in mind that the conflict between Armenia (2,900,000 inhabitants, Armenian-Christian majority) and Azerbaijan (10,000,000 inhabitants, Muslim majority) over Nagorno-Karabakh is not limited to Nagorno-Karabakh, but includes other large portions of Azerbaijani territory that were taken by Armenia during the war that ended in 1994.
Nagorno-Karabakh was not a border with Armenia, but was an Armenian enclave surrounded by regions of Azerbaijan. Armenia launched a military action that razed Azerbaijani territory surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh. It separated the Azerbaijani Nakhchivan region from Azerbaijan and caused massacres, ethnic cleansing and the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Azeris (some 600,000 currently live in Azerbaijan), emptying these territories of their population and transferring the Armenian population.
There’s a flip side to this and is the capitalist regime of Azerbaijan, which has always refused to recognise the right of Nagorno-Karabakh people to decide their own destiny.
We reject this war that will only bring more death, destruction and poverty to its peoples. Meanwhile, the imperialist powers, members of NATO, and the aggressive expansionism of the capitalist regimes of Russia and Turkey use this conflict to advance their projects of domination of the peoples and their wealth for capitalist exploitation.
Where does the conflict come from?
The conflict has its roots in centuries of ethnic rivalries and massacres, which had to do with the formation and dispute of the old capitalist empires (English, French, Ottoman, Russian).
The small region of Nagorno-Karabakh has been populated for centuries, mainly by a population of Armenian language and Christian culture.
When the Soviet Union was formed by the socialist revolution of 1917, expropriated landowners and capitalists, there was over a decade of peaceful coexistence between different historical nationalities in the Caucasus. After Lenin’s death and with the emergence of the counter-revolutionary bureaucratic caste led by Stalin, wounds were opened again. Stalin, in the 1930s, ceded this small territory to Azerbaijan, to divide and control the peoples for the benefit of the Kremlin bureaucracy.
When the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991 and capitalism was restored, the old division of the peoples, which is now directly subordinated to the interests of the different capitalist and imperialist sectors for the control of territories and wealth, was strongly revived. Thus, both Armenia and Azerbaijan became capitalist countries.
In 1991, Nagorno-Karabakh declared its independence. And a war between Azerbaijan and Armenia, supported by Russia, started. In 1994, the war ended with a ceasefire, but without an agreement. Nagorno-Karabakh becomes precariously independent; no country in the world recognises this independence. Since then, there have been repeated incidents and armed clashes.
The new armed conflict and the danger of a new fratricidal war
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has always been used by the Azerbaijani and Armenian regimes to divert the attention of their peoples from the political and social crisis in their countries. Raising the flag of “national” unity. Amid the new acute capitalist crisis, the regimes of Azerbaijan and Armenia are being questioned by their peoples.
Azerbaijan regime, led by the Islamic Ilham Aliyev, his father’s successor, has been ruling for almost 20 years. It is being questioned for its repression and social crisis. The fall in oil prices affected it. The country is an exporter of oil and gas. It has special agreements with Turkey, which buys its hydrocarbons. Among the main investors are British, Russian and Turkish companies. Aliyev has declared that he will not stop until he recovers Nagorno-Karabakh. He counts on the clear political and military support of the Turkish regime of Erdogan, who openly declared that “the struggle will continue until Karabakh is liberated from the occupation” (Clarin, Argentina, 3 October 2020). The USA’s underhanded intervention in the conflict may be behind Israel’s role that has been selling modern weapons to Azerbaijan for a long time. Aliyev bought a lot of modern weapons from Israel.
The current Armenian government came to power after the popular insurrection of 2018 that ended up removing the previous government and forcing new elections. Armenia is a big producer and exporter of copper and privatised all its former state enterprises.
Although Armenia has always had the support of Putin and Russia, the new government has sought closer relations with the European Union and NATO. Therefore, Russia is giving lukewarm support to Armenia and does not want to break its ties completely with Azerbaijan. And France and the EU are seeking to support Armenia in a new negotiation. The French imperialism, where there is a big Armenian community, with its capitalist sector, has special economic and political links with Armenia.
Not to the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan
With this war, the working class and the peoples of the region can gain nothing but only be more submitted to the multinationals.
The UN talks about “peace” but lets the confrontations or the tricky “peace” with the military occupation of territories go by, in order to leave the field free for the imperialist multinationals to exploit the workers, falsely divided by national hatreds.
There will only be real peace and fair coexistence between the peoples if they end with the capitalist-imperialist system and its capitalist governments, and the multinationals that impose their interests today are expelled. Only true socialism, not the false socialism that governed the former USSR, would allow the overcoming of national borders and the peoples to live together in harmony, respecting their nationalities and cultures, planning their economies for the benefit of the working class and the popular sectors of the Caucasus region.
In this background perspective, it is urgent today to stop this war between peoples used as pawns of capitalist-imperialist interests and Turkey and Russia regimes.
From the IWU-FI, we call upon all political, trade union and student organisations that claim to be democratic and anti-imperialist in the world to speak out against the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Out with the political and military interference of the imperialist countries (EU and USA) in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Out with the aggressive expansionism of Russia and Turkey capitalist regimes in the region.
Stop the massacres of the civil population.
For the self-determination of Nagorno-Karabakh people. End of occupation by Armenia of the Azerbaijani territories and the full right of the population to return to its territory.
Not to the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan!
International Workers’ Unity-Fourth International (IWU-FI)
8 October 2020