In simply 40 days, Azerbaijan obtained what it had been combating for on the desolate, sun-parched hillsides and at diplomatic conferences for nearly 30 years.
A swiftly signed deal between the oil-rich Caspian nation and its impoverished, resource-poor neighbour and longtime enemy, Armenia, put an abrupt finish to a six-week-long battle over Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous enclave dominated by ethnic Armenians for the reason that early Nineties.
In line with the Russia-brokered truce, Armenian forces will withdraw from the territory they nonetheless management inside Azerbaijani districts round Nagorno-Karabakh.
Azerbaijan will hold all of the areas it recaptured for the reason that battle flared up on September 27, together with Shusha, the area’s second-largest metropolis, recognized to Armenians as Shushi.
Russian peacekeepers will guard a route linking Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.
Extra importantly – and humiliatingly for Armenia – Yerevan agreed to provide Baku a brand new transit hall by means of southern Armenia to Azerbaijan’s southwestern exclave of Nakhichevan, the birthplace of many key politicians, together with late President Heydar Aliyev, who was succeeded by his son Ilham.
As euphoric crowds all through Azerbaijan rejoice the “capitulation”, as described by the Azeri chief, and two dozen Russian planes ship the peacekeepers, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s authorities is plunged into the political abyss it could by no means climb out of.
Enraged protesters stormed into his residence, the parliament constructing and pillaged authorities places of work on Monday night time, demanding his resignation.
A high Armenian official warned the protesters in Yerevan to abstain from any “coup makes an attempt”.
“If vital, this authorities will go, a brand new authorities might be elected, however our workforce and I personally can’t enable any coup makes an attempt,” Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinian mentioned in televised remarks on Wednesday.
If West-leaning Pashinyan steps down, his successor might resume the battle, some observers warned.
“The person who takes his place will come to energy on the best way of anti-Azerbaijani sentiments, and can, due to this fact, attempt to break the offers which were reached,” Emil Mustafayev, an analyst primarily based within the Azerbaijani capital, Baku, informed Al Jazeera.
However regardless of whether or not Pashinyan stays or goes, many in Armenia take into account the brand new peace deal long-term and secure.
“Even when [Pashinyan] loses energy, the one who will change him will virtually follow the agreements,” Boris Navasardian, a Yerevan-based analyst, informed Al Jazeera.
The peace deal has boosted Russia’s clout within the South Caucasus area, decreasing Turkey’s function in its personal again yard as soon as dominated by the Ottoman Empire.
Russia arrived within the area two centuries in the past, progressively annexing a chessboard of Georgian, Azerbaijani and Armenian communities.
‘These troops gained’t depart’
After the Soviet collapse, Moscow sought to regain its affect within the South Caucasus.
It backed separatists in two separatist provinces in Georgia, recognising their independence after the 2008 battle with Georgia and put in sizeable army contingents there.
Moscow already has a army base in Armenia, and the arrival of Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh and southern Armenia will imply all three ex-Soviet nations of South Caucasus will host the Russian army.
“These troops gained’t depart in 5, 10 or 20 years,” researcher Nikolay Mitrokhin of Germany’s Bremen College informed Al Jazeera.
“Armenia won’t ever – within the foreseeable future – increase the difficulty of withdrawing Russian troops and the arrival of another protectors, on condition that nobody is dying to go there,” he mentioned.
This army presence places an finish to the pro-West aspirations of Armenia. The landlocked, resource-poor nation of three million has sporadically tried to hunt nearer financial and political ties with the European Union.
In 2013, Yerevan practically signed a free-trade deal and an affiliation settlement with the EU, broadly seen as step one in direction of political integration with the bloc.
However then-President Serzh Sargsyan pulled out of the offers saying Armenia would as a substitute be part of the Eurasian Financial Union, a Moscow-dominated bloc of ex-Soviet nations many take into account an try at reincarnating the Soviet Union.
The brand new deal let Armenia enhance exports to Russia and gave Armenian labour migrants working there an opportunity to keep away from bureaucratic hurdles.
The multimillion Armenian diaspora strongly supported Russia’s function in mediating the Nagorno-Karabakh battle, and its influential members brazenly name for Pashinyan’s elimination.
“Any Armenian that dares criticise Russia now, ought to go and reduce off his soiled tongue,” Margarita Simonyan, an ethnic Armenian and head of the Kremlin-funded RT tv community, tweeted on Tuesday.
“Armenian nationals ought to solely criticise themselves. For giving energy to a nationwide traitor who had a falling out with the one supporter of the Armenian individuals and created circumstances for this battle,” she wrote in one other tweet.
‘The Velvet Revolution’
Former publicist Pashinyan got here to energy after a sequence of peaceable protests in Yerevan in 2018 that have been dubbed “the Velvet Revolution”.
The protests topped the federal government of Sargsyan, a local of Nagorno-Karabakh and one of many leaders of the so-called Karabakh Motion of the late Nineteen Eighties that attempted to persuade final Soviet chief Mikhail Gorbachev to make the Armenian-dominated Azerbaijani enclave a part of Soviet Armenia.
Sargsyan, who later served because the breakaway area’s defence official and led insurgent forces, rose to grow to be Armenia’s president and prime minister.
He and different influential subject commanders from Nagorno-Karabakh grew to become Armenia’s political elite that was broadly accused of subservience to Moscow and corruption.
Ethnic Azeris shaped virtually a fourth of Nagorno-Karabakh’s inhabitants earlier than the primary open battle between two ex-Soviet republics broke out within the early Nineties. The rebels expelled them from the enclave and the seven adjoining districts, and plenty of refugees ended up in Russia.
Below the brand new truce, Baku plans to return among the refugees to the districts. Azerbaijani President Aliyev introduced the “liberation” of 71 villages, the city of Shusha and “eight strategic heights” that enable his forces to manage rebel-held areas.
Three earlier truces brokered by Russia, France and the USA, collapsed inside hours.