Azerbaijani President Raises Flag Over Karabakh Capital to Reaffirm Control
October 18, 2023 | by b1og.net
In a ceremony aimed at solidifying Azerbaijan’s control over the Karabakh region, President Ilham Aliyev proudly raised his nation’s flag over the capital city. Previously known as Nagorno-Karabakh, this disputed territory has been a source of conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia for many years. Following a war in 2020 and a recent military offensive by Azerbaijan, control of the region has now been largely returned to Baku. The President’s symbolic gesture not only serves as a reaffirmation of Azerbaijani sovereignty but also highlights the significant shifts in power dynamics in this long-standing conflict.
Former breakaway region
The Karabakh region, previously known as Nagorno-Karabakh and Artsakh to Armenians, was a former breakaway region that declared independence from Azerbaijan in 1991. It sought to unite with Armenia due to its predominantly ethnic Armenian population and historical ties.
Although the Karabakh region declared itself an independent state, it was not internationally recognized as such. The international community, including the United Nations, considers the region as part of Azerbaijan’s sovereign territory.
A protracted conflict ensued following the region’s declaration of independence, resulting in a six-year war between Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenian forces. The conflict left thousands dead and led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people.
Azerbaijani President’s Flag-raising Ceremony
Azerbaijani leader’s speech
During the flag-raising ceremony in the Karabakh capital, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev delivered a speech emphasizing Azerbaijan’s control over the region. He expressed the importance of territorial integrity and highlighted the return of the region to Azerbaijani control after years of conflict.
Flag raising over the city
As a symbolic gesture, President Aliyev personally raised the Azerbaijani flag over the city. The flag-raising ceremony aimed to cement Azerbaijan’s control and assert its authority over the disputed region.
Reasserting Azerbaijani Control
War in 2020
In 2020, a war broke out between Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenian forces in the Karabakh region. Azerbaijan launched a military offensive to retake control of the territories it considered its own.
Azerbaijan’s military conducted a lightning offensive, utilizing advanced weaponry and strategies to gain a decisive advantage. This offensive marked a significant turning point in the conflict, leading to Azerbaijan’s success in regaining control over much of the region.
Ethnic Armenian population fleeing
Following the Azerbaijani military offensive, the majority of the ethnic Armenian population in the Karabakh region fled due to concerns of reprisals and fears of losing their freedom to practice their religion and customs. This mass migration significantly changed the demographic landscape of the area.
Karabakh’s History and Ethnic Significance
Karabakh’s previous name
The Karabakh region, known as Artsakh by Armenians, has a long history influenced by both Azerbaijani and Armenian cultures. The region has been a site of contention due to its strategic location and historical significance to both ethnic groups.
For Armenians, the Karabakh region holds great ethnic and cultural significance. They consider it an integral part of their historical homeland and have fought to maintain control over the region for decades.
Ethnic Armenian population
The Armenian population in the Karabakh region has been the majority for centuries. Their presence and connection to the land have contributed to the deep-rooted ethnic tensions and territorial disputes between Armenians and Azerbaijanis.
Azerbaijani Territorial Claim
Internationally, the Karabakh region is recognized as part of Azerbaijani territory. This recognition is based on historical and legal grounds, as well as United Nations resolutions affirming Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity.
The territorial dispute over the Karabakh region arises from conflicting claims between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Azerbaijan maintains that the region is an integral part of its sovereign territory, while Armenia argues for the right to self-determination for the predominantly ethnic Armenian population.
From the Azerbaijani perspective, the Karabakh region is an essential part of the country, both historically and culturally. The Azerbaijani government seeks to reclaim control over the region to ensure its territorial integrity and protect the rights of Azerbaijani citizens.
Armenian Resistance and Breakaway
Control by ethnic Armenian forces
Following the initial conflict in the 1990s, ethnic Armenian forces took control of the Karabakh region and established a breakaway state. This breakaway state operated independently from Azerbaijan and sought recognition as a separate entity.
The breakaway state in the Karabakh region was not recognized by the international community but received political and military support from Armenia. It maintained its own governance structures and institutions, further solidifying its separation from Azerbaijan.
Conflicts and war
The breakaway state in the Karabakh region faced ongoing conflicts and sporadic escalations of violence with Azerbaijan. These conflicts, fueled by long-standing ethnic tensions, hindered efforts to reach a peaceful resolution and perpetuated the cycle of violence in the region.
Azerbaijani Army’s Offensive
Sept. 19, 2023 campaign
On September 19, 2023, the Azerbaijani army launched a major military campaign to regain control over the remaining territories held by ethnic Armenian forces in the Karabakh region. This campaign marked a critical phase in Azerbaijan’s efforts to reestablish sovereignty.
Routing ethnic Armenian forces
Azerbaijan’s military offensive proved successful, resulting in the swift routing of the undermanned and outgunned ethnic Armenian forces in the region. The Azerbaijani army’s strategic planning and superior firepower played key roles in ensuring their victory.
Capitulation of separatists
The overwhelming military force applied by Azerbaijan led to the capitulation of the separatist forces in the Karabakh region. The separatists were left with no choice but to surrender, effectively ending their control over the disputed territories.
Impact on Ethnic Armenian Population
Fears of reprisals
The recapturing of the Karabakh region by Azerbaijan raised concerns among the ethnic Armenian population living in the region. Fears of reprisals due to the long-standing insecurity and animosity between the two communities prompted many to flee their homes.
Freedom to practice religion and customs
The displacement of the ethnic Armenian population also stemmed from anxieties about potential restrictions on their religious practices and cultural customs. The change in control raised questions about the preservation of their identity and autonomy.
Mass migration from the region
In the aftermath of Azerbaijan’s military offensive, a mass migration of ethnic Armenians from the Karabakh region took place. The displacement of a significant portion of the population not only impacted the region but also raised concerns about the stability and sustainability of neighboring areas.
Recognition of Azerbaijani control
Several countries recognized Azerbaijan’s reassertion of control over the Karabakh region. These countries acknowledged Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and its right to establish administrative authority over the disputed territories.
Disputes and concerns
Despite the recognition of Azerbaijani control, there were disputes and concerns among certain international actors. Some expressed reservations about human rights violations and the potential challenges faced by the ethnic Armenian population in the region.
Challenges of reconciliation
While Azerbaijan’s military victory has led to the reestablishment of control over the Karabakh region, the process of reconciliation and healing for the ethnic communities will be a significant challenge. Rebuilding trust and fostering dialogue between Azerbaijanis and Armenians are crucial steps in ensuring long-term stability in the region.
The conflict and subsequent military operations have left the Karabakh region in ruins. Rebuilding efforts will be necessary to restore infrastructure, provide essential services, and create an environment that supports the return of displaced individuals.
The resolution of the conflict and the reestablishment of Azerbaijani control over the Karabakh region will have broader implications for regional stability. It has the potential to reshape political dynamics, impact relations between neighboring countries, and influence regional cooperation initiatives.