US expert: Azerbaijan able to defend its territory more than ever before
Baku, Azerbaijan, April 5
By Elena Kosolapova - Trend:
Azerbaijan is much stronger militarily now as evidenced by the destruction of ten Armenian tanks in the fighting over the weekend, President of the Jamestown Foundation Glen Howard told Trend April 5.
"Azerbaijan is not the Azerbaijan of 1994 but has had more than a decade to build an army and is able to defend its territory more than ever before," said Howard.
"I think the recent fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh is attributed to two things. The first is the visit to Washington DC by President Aliyev and his meeting with Vice President Joe Biden," he said.
The fact that the US is trying to give high level attention to the conflict and the fact that both presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia visited Washington DC and had high level meetings with the vice president is a sign that Azerbaijan's neighbor to the north continues to want the frozen conflict to remain frozen, said the expert.
He added that it is also a sign that instead of a frozen conflict, Karabakh, like Eastern Ukraine, has fallen victim to becoming a "bleeding conflict" designed to remind Armenia and Azerbaijan that the conflict cannot involve the western powers like the US in a peaceful resolution.
"Russia cannot be an independent peace negotiator while it is arming both sides of the conflict - by this I mean selling arms to both Azerbaijan and Armenia; it is creating the conditions for conflict between the two countries which is not helping the peace process," added Howard.
The expert noted that this conflict cannot be resolved unless the US takes the hands-on approach to the conflict.
It is not helpful when the US's chief negotiator for Karabakh, James Warlick attends events sponsored by the so called independent government of Nagorno-Karabakh in Washington DC, something that never happened during the days of the Bush Administration, said Howard.
This reflects how far the US has gone from being a neutral negotiator in the conflict, he added.
It demonstrates the lack of attention by the US Secretary of State John Kerry to find a peaceful solution to the conflict, according to the expert.
"This, in my opinion, set the stage for the events last weekend in Karabakh," noted Howard.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts. The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts.
On the night of April 2, 2016, all the frontier positions of Azerbaijan were subjected to heavy fire from the Armenian side, which used large-caliber weapons, mortars and grenade launchers. Azerbaijan responded with a counter-attack, which led to liberation of several strategic heights and settlements.
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