New Armenia-Azerbaijan War Explained

Raoul Lowery Contreras
6 min readOct 1, 2020
Armenian artillery is seen near Nagorno-Karabakh’s boundary, April 8, 2016. REUTERS/Staff/File Photo/File Photo

Eleven weeks after Armenian forces attacked Azerbaijan’s northwest Tovus District on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan killing soldiers and civilians alike, Armenian forces attacked Azerbaijan again on the 27th of September.

The Armenian attacks were directed at four Azerbaijani districts that adjoin the Azerbaijani territory (Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven adjacent districts) Armenia has illegally occupied for the last 27 years.

Within hours of the attacks, Armenia’s government declared martial law and full-total military mobilization.

As a result of these sudden and unprovoked attacks, during which Armenia deployed its artillery and large caliber weapons against both military and civilian structures, 15 Azerbaijani civilians, including children, have been killed and 50 injured. During the latest aggression, Armenia’s artillery did not even spare schools, kindergartens, hospitals and homes for disabled people.

Azerbaijani children killed by Armenian artillery fire on Sep. 27, 2020. Their parents were also killed during the same attack.

To counter the attacks and protect its civilian population, Azerbaijan undertook counteroffensive measures and liberated six different villages in the Fuzuli and Jabrayil districts that had been under Armenia’s military occupation since 1993.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked in a conflict since the early 1990s when Armenia invaded and occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan. The occupied areas were “ethnically cleansed” of their Azerbaijani population. 800,000 of them! They are still internally displaced in Azerbaijan, and the ongoing Armenian occupation does not allow them to return to their homes. Since 30 years. The UN Security Council passed four resolutions in 1993 condemning the Armenian occupation and demanding Armenian forces to leave the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, which Armenia ignored having a strong backing of Russia.

Russia and Armenia are allies. Unlike Azerbaijan, Armenia is a member of the Russian-led military block Collective Security Treaty Organization that positions itself against NATO. With 5,000 troops, the Russian military base in Armenia is one of the largest Russian bases in the world. They guard Armenia’s land borders and airspace. Azerbaijan on the other side got rid of Russian bases in 1993.

Russian-Armenian joint military drills

Following the occupation of Azerbaijan’s territories, Armenia installed a regime in the occupied areas calling it the “Nagorno-Karabakh Republic”. This “Republic” is not recognized by any country in the world. Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan.

Why did Armenia attack Azerbaijan? Why did Armenia attack Azerbaijan in July along the two countries’ international border in an area that is 300 kilometers north of the occupied Karabakh region?

The answer might lie in a vow Armenian Defense Minister David Tonoyan made in 2019: “New wars for new territories.”

He accompanied this assertion with an abandonment of the many-year-old Armenian “trench defense” strategy for a new policy led by serious upgrading of offensive military capabilities backed by Russian military weaponry — more than 500 tons of weapons and ammunition delivered by way of Iran after the July combat, for example.

Proof of this new aggressiveness is the July confrontations far from the occupied territories. 300 kilometers from those occupied territories is a long way; so why did Armenia attack the Tovuz district in July?

Observers of the Caucasus Region know why. Despite the 26-year-old cease fire between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Armenia and its U.S. lobby have continuously tried to impede Azerbaijan’s energy and foreign trade activities by protesting any U.S. financial involvement in rail, oil and natural gas projects that Azerbaijan has or is building to export products, oil and natural gas, activities that benefit the West beyond description.

Armenia, disputes these projects and efforts because, it says, Azerbaijan is building pipelines via Georgia bypassing Armenia; construction Armenia should participate in because pipeline miles would be shorter to Turkey and the Balkans from Azerbaijan than around Armenia. This avoidance of Armenia costs transit-fee cash it desperately needs.

Armenia is an economic basket case; it is losing population and it cannot afford the military adventures it has undertaken in Syria helping Bashar Assad’s regime and the continuing importation of Syrian and Lebanese Armenians and settling — colonization — of these foreigners in internationally-recognized territories of Azerbaijan. This colonization of Azerbaijani territory by imported Armenians reminds one of the historical ethnic colonizations the Russian Empire and Soviet Russia implemented in the Karabakh region, by relocating Armenians from Iran and Turkey there, at the expense of the region’s ancient Azerbaijani population.

The July attack on Azerbaijan was meant as a deflection of attention to the illegal Geneva Convention violations of settling Armenian foreign-born on Azerbaijani territory. It was intended to warn Azerbaijan of what might happen of Armenia’s new aggressiveness and illegal colonization in Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent districts.

Warning about what?

Answer: the vulnerability of Azerbaijan’s multi-billion dollar pipelines and systems that move Azerbaijani oil and natural gas west to Turkey, Israel and, soon, the Balkans, Italy and other European countries that presently depend on Russian oil and gas. Those existing and soon-to-open pipelines run through the very Tovus District Armenia attacked in July.

Gas pipelines from Azerbaijan to Europe bypassing Russia and Iran.

Armenia’s future is bleak; it has less than three million people and is losing population…Its budget is composed mostly of Russian cash , remittances from abroad — 30 percent of its GDP — and few natural resources.

Despite this apparent “third world” existence, Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan calls for Armenia’s population to grow to “5 million” by 2050, for the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to grow “15-fold,” and for Armenia to have an “army among the top-20 most combat-ready in the world and an intelligence service in the top 10.”

Armenia’s Prime Minister Pashinyan — who was installed by protesting mobs — staked out Armenia’s present “aggressive” stance on its occupation of Azerbaijani territory by demanding “reunification” of Armenia and Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh and, proclaimed in an August 5, 2019, speech that “Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) is Armenia, and that’s it.”

In that speech in Nagorno-Karabakh, Pashinyan led chants of “miatsum” — “unification” — with Armenia.

Countering that, is Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev’s declaration of “Karabakh is Azerbaijan and exclamation mark!”

Will Russian-provided Armenian big guns settle the three-decade-old conflict or will calm outsiders help real diplomats settle a dispute that festers in the Caucasus?

Several Western nations and their energy sources as well as a heretofore Russian oil and gas monopoly that strangles Eastern Europe are affected as well as peace among the Caucasus nations that have been involved in military confrontations for almost three decades.

Besides the civilized world, watching this situation with great interest are the the 800,000 displaced Azerbaijanis who were forced from their homes by Armenians who in turn now live in those homes and territories despite four separate United Nations Security Council resolutions demanding Armenia abandon Azerbaijan’s territory and return to its internationally-recognized borders.



Raoul Lowery Contreras

Raoul Lowery Contreras is the author of 15 books and over 1300 articles. He formerly wrote for the New American News Service of the New York Times Syndicate.