In a recent phone call, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev conveyed concerns to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, underlining that American support for Armenia has jeopardized U.S.-Azerbaijani relations. These strained ties have emerged amidst the conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, a territory primarily populated by ethnic Armenians. Following a swift military campaign in September, Azerbaijan regained control over Nagorno-Karabakh. The subsequent diplomatic support from the United States for Armenia has fueled tensions with Azerbaijan.
Historical Roots and Modern Implications of the Conflict
The conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh has deep historical roots, with Azerbaijan and Armenia engaged in a protracted struggle for the region. The recent military campaign by Azerbaijan, aiming to recapture Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenian separatists, has significantly heightened tensions. Amidst this, the United States, along with other global powers like Russia and the European Union, has been engaged in diplomatic efforts to mediate and normalize relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia. A comprehensive peace deal, however, has remained elusive as the U.S. faces criticism from Azerbaijan for its perceived bias towards Armenia.
The Diplomatic Tightrope
The call between President Aliyev and Secretary Blinken underscored the complexities of diplomatic relationships and challenges posed by the U.S. stance on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. President Aliyev expressed his apprehensions about the U.S.'s support for Armenia, stating it had critically damaged relations between the two countries. This conversation also touched upon the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James O'Brien's remarks, which Azerbaijan deemed biased. Despite the strained relations, both sides agreed to a December visit by James O'Brien to Azerbaijan, anticipating that the U.S. would lift the ban on senior Azerbaijani officials visiting the United States.
Humanitarian Consequences and Geopolitical Dynamics
The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh has led to significant humanitarian consequences, including the mass exodus of ethnic Armenians following Azerbaijan's military victory. The United States and other Western countries have pledged aid for Armenia, further complicating the geopolitical dynamics in the region. The ongoing efforts to initiate talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan, coupled with James O'Brien's proposed visit, indicate a sustained commitment to diplomatic engagement despite these challenges.
The phone call between Aliyev and Blinken also touched upon border delimitation commissions and the potential for a meeting at the provisional border between Azerbaijan and Armenia. This reflects efforts to address territorial aspects of the conflict, underscoring the multifaceted nature of the peace process.
The U.S. actions have impacted not only its relations with Azerbaijan but also the wider geopolitical landscape in the South Caucasus region. The intricate balance of power, historical grievances, and the involvement of global actors like the United States and Russia complicate the path to a durable peace agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia. As the diplomatic efforts continue, the geopolitical stakes remain high, and the outcomes of the peace process will have far-reaching implications for regional stability and the broader international order.