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The withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers from Artsakh: Are Iran and Azerbaijan preparing for war?

April 19 2024, 14:20

In our previous analyses, we had to say that the authorities of Artsakh did absolutely nothing after October 2023 to ensure that the Karabakh issue was not closed. Many people, including the people of Artsakh themselves, did not like this wording.

With the beginning of the blockade, official Stepanakert adhered to the position that “Artsakh should not be involved in the internal political process of Armenia”, although everyone understood perfectly well that the blockade of the Lachin corridor was a political issue and was conditioned by Nikol Pashinyan’s political position, according to which “Artsakh is Azerbaijan.” After ethnic cleansing, “the political elite” of Artsakh has decided to withdraw itself from the Armenian political community as much as possible.

For half a year following the ethnic cleansing, neither a full-fledged action with political demands to the Armenian authorities nor a protest in front of the Russian Embassy with a request to organize the return of Armenians to Artsakh took place. For some reason, someone in the “Artsakh elite” formed the point of view that the return of the Armenians could be achieved by the West, although it was on the Western negotiating platform under the patronage of Charles Michel and Emmanuel Macron that Artsakh was surrendered to Azerbaijan.
Apparently, an interview with Le Figaro was way more important…

Even the main interested party in this situation—the refugees from Artsakh—did not take any political steps to make it worthwhile for the peacekeepers to stay in Artsakh. In such a situation, external factors began to play a dominant role in deciding on the withdrawal of peacekeepers. Moreover, the factors are very contradictory.

1. On April 4, 2024, Vugar Suleymanov, the head of the Azerbaijani Mine Action Agency, announced that Russian peacekeepers would participate in the demining of the territory in Karabakh.

2. On April 14, Iran for the first time launched a direct attack on Israel from its territory, not with the help of “regional proxies”—the Yemeni rebels Ansar Allah (also known as the Houthis) and the Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah.

The US and British Air Forces provided military assistance to Israel in repelling the attack. According to the Israeli Defense Ministry, more than 100 Iranian drones were intercepted outside Israel. They were shot down over Jordan and Syria. Some of the drones were destroyed by American and British forces.

3. According to the Israeli press, official Tel Aviv was considering the possibility of launching a retaliatory strike against Iran on Monday evening, April 15, but decided to postpone the attack.

However, later, there were reports that Israel could strike both nuclear facilities inside Iran and Iranian bases, including in Syria.

4. On April 16, at the initiative of the Iranian side, Russian President Vladimir Putin had a phone conversation with President Ebrahim Raisi.

Vladimir Putin expressed hope that all sides would show reasonable restraint and prevent a new round of confrontation that could lead to catastrophic consequences for the entire region.

In turn, Ebrahim Raisi noted that Iran’s actions were forced and limited in nature. At the same time, he stressed that Tehran is not interested in further escalation.

5. On April 16, Russian peacekeepers were reportedly leaving Artsakh.

6. On April 17, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Iranian authorities began evacuating their personnel from facilities in Syria, including senior officers of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

At the same time, the IRGC commander said that Iran has determined where Israel’s nuclear facilities are located and is ready to launch a missile attack on them in case Tel Aviv responds to the night attack on April 13–14. The Iranian press openly declared that the Azerbaijani authorities had turned their country into a springboard for Israeli attacks on Iran.

Analyzing the course of the last-week events, we can conclude that the peacekeepers have been withdrawn from the area of a possible Iranian strike on Israeli facilities in Azerbaijan.

The region froze in anticipation of a new big war.
Apparently, this is what Nikol Pashinyan discussed with a number of officials at an urgent session of the Armenian Security Council last week.

Of course, the geopolitical situation in the region could have been different. But for this, we needed the unified security system of Armenia and Artsakh and the Artsakh Defense Army to function, which is impossible without Armenians in Artsakh.

There is no Artsakh, and there may come a war the region has never seen before.

Think about it…