The occupation of the Nagorno-Karabakh region by Armenia, supported by forces outside of the region, is crucial to understanding the region. It has affected the psyche of both Azerbaijani and Armenian people. Those who have only started paying attention to the region with recent news might fail to see the implications. Still, an occupied Karabakh is a threat to Azerbaijan’s energy-based economy. Armenia carried out attacks against the Tovuz province of Azerbaijan in July.
Armenia’s attacks on Azerbaijan were not a surprise, but this time the region’s distance from the front line (Nagorno-Karabagh border) revealed a different dimension of the conflicts. Tovuz was home to two energy lines of Azerbaijan. This situation strikingly showed us that Armenia’s aggression is not ethnic reasons but for economic reasons. Armenia wanted to increase its economic power in the region by taking the important energy and transportation lines in Tovuz under its control. They wanted to control Azerbaijani gas. Tovuz serves as an important chokehold of Azerbaijan’s energy efforts as it is one of the passage points for TANAP and BTC Pipeline. Establishing large-scale economic partnerships in the region by excluding Armenia makes Russia and Armenia very uncomfortable. What disturbs Russia here is the potential of Azerbaijani gas to be an alternative to Russian gas. Russia, which was exposed to the European Union’s reaction, especially after the Crimea invasion, may not want any country in the region to be an alternative to her. If we connect the dots at this point, we can interpret the power behind the Armenian aggression. Russia can see as a danger that Azerbaijan shows itself to the European market, especially with the European Union and the United States of America’s support recently.
Russia might also feel threatened by Azerbaijan’s gas prospects and is inclined to use her influence over Armenia to stop an alternative gas supplier from reaching Europe. The Russian economy, already dependent on energy exports, has been hit by sanctions imposed due to the Russian annexation of Crimea. Therefore, one can interpret Russia’s intent in
supporting Armenia not for the sake of status-quo but the well-being of Russian energy exports.
Even though Russia didn’t intervene initially, they called for a ceasefire after successful Azerbaijan attacks. We can interpret this late intervention as the punishment of Russia. At the beginning of the conflict, Putin gave a very important message by saying that clashes are not going in Armenian territory. The reason behind this punishment can be Armenia’s efforts to establish close relations with the West in recent times. For such reasons, we should interpret Russia’s non-intervention as support for Azerbaijan.
Here, we should also examine the reasons behind France’s support for Armenia. Now France openly supports Armenia in the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, which is an interesting situation. The fact that the two NATO allies have such different interests at NATO’s borders raises many questions. France acts in contrast to Turkey for a long time. At first in Libya, France supported Haftar. Then in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, France actively took apart by the side of Greece. We can interpret this as France’s attempt to prevent the possibility of Turkey to emerge as an energy power since the reason for all these conflicts were about energy sources. We all know that Turkey, especially in recent times, shows the potential to become the hegemonic power in the region. The main driving force in the emergence of this potential is undoubtedly the discovery of the new energy field in Turkey. The discovery of Three hundred twenty billion cubic meters of natural gas fields in the Black Sea and the expected forecast of possible discoveries in the Mediterranean Sea have increased the expectations. Possible close ties with Azerbaijan could mean that the two will play a key role in Europe’s energy needs, and with it, they will have great power in the region.
If we mention Israel at this point, it can be beneficial to us for understanding the situation in the region. Israel actively supports Azerbaijan in this conflict. Of course, the reason why they support Azerbaijan is political. A powerful Azerbaijan can be a threat to Iran, and this situation pushes Israel to support Azerbaijan. However, the interesting point here is the partnership between Turkey and Israel. They both have mutual interests in the situation.
Turkish and Israeli drones play an important part in the clashes. Even one can say that they are determining the winner. Armenia gave important casualties due to the power of Turkish and Israeli drones. This circumstance raises questions about whether it can be turned into a partnership in the Eastern Mediterranean as well. We shouldn’t forget that some important names in the Eastern Mediterranean policy of Turkey think it is necessary to establish an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) agreement with Israel since it is beneficial for both countries.
Here it is necessary to refer to Turkey. Turkey, which shares a common language and common culture, and especially in energy, housing most of her economic partnership, there is nothing more natural than to support Azerbaijan. In addition, a strong partnership that may arise between Turkey and Azerbaijan can reveal economic opportunities for both countries and allow them to increase their power in the region. At the same time, there is no doubt that this partnership can be a powerful alternative to Russia’s energy hegemony over Europe.
As a result, we should interpret this situation considering that Armenia is the weakest country geopolitically in the region, has demographic difficulties, and does not have any important economic center, which shows their economic weakness. It seems that despite the last ceasefire decision, clashes will continue in the region. As everywhere in the world where there is conflict, energy and economic reasons play a big role here. I hope the unjust occupation of Armenia and the conflicts in the region come to an end.