A Conflict Analysis of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Dispute
Within the last 100 years, there has been a series dramatic outbursts of nationalist disturbances within the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). In the Transcaucasian republics (Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia) there has been some of the most bloodiest conflicts centred around a age-old territorial argument between the Armenians and Azerbaijanis over the political, socioeconomic, and cultural future of an area called Nagorno-Karabakha – “an autonomous oblast falling entirely within the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic and populated predominantly by ethnic Armenian”.
At around the turn of the century, Armenia and Azerbaijan temporarily held a truce but in 1905 there has a major clash in Baku, a town where many different ethnicities lived. The people here, mostly peasant Azerbaijanis, clashed with the more affluent, urbanized Armenians. The tsarist Russian administration exacerbated the cultural-religious differences between the two groups. The conflict spread beyond Baku.
“During the turmoil of World War 1, Armenia and Azerbaijan briefly achieved independence. However, the complex demography of Transcaucasia made it impossible to create ethnically homogeneous states, and the focus of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict shifted from Baku to the area known as Nagorno-Karabakhw here, at the time, Armenians formed the great majority (over 90%) of the population, although many of them had come to this area in the nineteenth century as immigrants from Turkey and Iran. This mountainous “island” of Armenians in an Azerbaijani “sea” was separated from the rest of eastern Armenia, and it was fiercely contested throughout the short period of independence of the Caucasian states”.
Armenia was the area most people here opted for and in 1920, Nagorno-Karabakh and Nakhichevan were placed under Armenia territory. In 1923, Nagorno- Karabakhb ecame the Nagorno-KarabakhA utonomous Oblast (NKAO) of the Azerbaijan SSR (Soviet Socialist Republic), while in 1924, Nakhichevan became the Nakhichevan Autonomous SSR of the Azerbaijan SSR.
Let us explore the conflict analysis of this dispute.
“The Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute over the NKAO poses a difficult problem for the central authorities in Moscow. As noted earlier, the Soviet Constitution provides no mechanism for handling conflicts when republics clash over territorial changes, and there is no mention in the constitution of settling conflicts by arbitration or by using third-party procedures. Minor concessions to the Armenian population of the NKAO have been ineffective in bringing peace to the area, and transferring the NKAO to the Armenian republic would provoke the Turkic population of Azerbaijan and possibly other republics. Placing the NKAO under federal jurisdiction, the option chosen in January 1989 was only a temporary solution to the problem and made little sense in constitutional terms. Likewise, the present solution of stationing a large contingent of Soviet military personnel in the region is at best a short-term solution”.
A conflict analysis of any dispute, whether in Central Asia or elsewhere in the world, is a useful tool as it allows us to focus on substantive struggles to deliberatations on the suitable dimension of a theoretical importance. Subsequently, the totality of conflict analysis methods tends to dishearten polemical interpretation, allowing us to discover unpredicted solutions to this and other conflicts in the future.
Fraser, Niall., Hipel, Keith w., Jaworsky, John & Zuljan, Ralph (1990) A Conflict Analysis of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Dispute, The Journal of Conflict Resolution, Sage Publications, Inc.