The repercussions of the tension between Azerbaijan and Armenia are being monitored carefully at the U.S. capital. Acting U.S. Assistant Secretary at the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, Ambassador Philip Reeker, conducted a three-day visit to Turkey. One of the main items on his list during these visits was the tension that has been going on in the Caucuses.
The White House and the U.S. Department of State have called on both sides with the message, “We do not want any tension; a cease-fire should be established,” and they showed the resolution of the problems under the framework of the Minsk Group, set up by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) as a reference. Additionally, the Pentagon said, “We have carefully structured all our assistance to both Azerbaijan and Armenia.” The U.S. is explicitly and definitely against any armed conflicts and any resulting casualties.
The U.S., France and Russia, which are the co-chairs of the Minsk Group, established in 1992 to act as a mediator for the solution of the disputes between Azerbaijan and Armenia, have made a joint statement and called upon both parties to end the clashes and to sit at the negotiation table without any conditions. Although they have called for a cease-fire, whether Russia and France can be impartial remains to be seen. Why should anyone go back to the start, if this group, which was established approximately 30 years ago, had already solved the problem?
Former U.S. representative to the OSCE Minsk Group, former U.S. Ambassador Matthew Bryza, whom I know personally, explicitly states that France has lost its impartiality as it openly supports Armenia even though it is one of the founders of the Minsk Group.
The funny thing is that the statement came from the U.S. Congress. Almost all of the statements coming from the U.S. Congress state that Azerbaijan should stop attacking Armenia. In fact, they demand that Azerbaijan leave Nagorno-Karabakh (i.e., Azerbaijan's own territories) immediately and ask Congress to impose sanctions on Turkey.
Naturally, the common propaganda campaigns currently being carried out by some Armenian diaspora members and all anti-Turkey groups influence the country's stance. 12 Democrat senators wrote a two-page letter to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Oct. 1, asking for the suspension of arms sales to Turkey.
When we ask some of these senators the reasons behind such actions, they do not offer clear answers. In fact, this targeting of Azerbaijan is quite mind-boggling as even the United Nations Security Council supports Armenia's withdrawal from Nagorno-Karabakh. It is even more interesting to see Iran, Russia and France openly supporting Armenia.
Russia has positioned approximately 3,000 soldiers, a SU-27 fighter aircraft fleet, air defense forces and S-300 rockets at the Russian 102nd military base that is located in Armenia. Iran should be watched carefully since it creates a lot of problems in the region. Armenia is trying to corner Azerbaijan by establishing close relations with Iran. However, it seems that 30 million Azerbaijanis in Iran are unhappy with Iran’s policy toward their country.
It is seen that Turkey, Israel, Ukraine and Georgia stand by Azerbaijan. Moreover, Israel’s close military relations with Azerbaijan are even more meaningful.
Armenia started attacking civilian settlements that are located far away from the site of the clashes, including the Azerbaijani city of Ganja. The U.N., the European Union and, most importantly, the U.S. have to play more serious roles. They must find out why the OSCE Minsk Group is failing to end the Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani territories and then find some alternative solutions in order to establish peace in the South Caucasus.
Ankara’s unconditional support of Baku has been another source of motivation for Azerbaijan reclaiming its territories under occupation.
There are thousands of Armenians living in Turkey. I used to have an Armenian neighbor and I still know many Armenians in the U.S. Nobody wants war and tension, and all parties should act logically so that solution-oriented diplomacy wins.
*Senior foreign policy expert, a 2019 Ellis Island Medal of Honor recipient