MINNEAPOLIS — The most recent gut-punch to the Armenian psyche happened this past week, with the double-whammy of the blocking of the Lachin Corridor, the only road connecting Armenia and Karabakh (Artsakh) and the cutting off of gas to the latter by Azerbaijan.
As of this writing, gas has been restored to Artsakh, but the road remains blocked by hundreds of Azerbaijani civilians who claim they want to make sure that mining operations in Artsakh do not harm the environment. According to social media, however, many have ties to the Azerbaijani government or military. Incidentally, the gas for Karabakh comes from Armenia but passes through the territory of Azerbaijan.
In a recent interview, Dr. Artyom Tonoyan, the editor of the book Black Garden Aflame: The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict in the Soviet and Russian Press, and a professor at Hamline University, offered some reasons for the increased Azerbaijani aggression against Karabakh.
“There are several reasons. Number one, because they can — and they can do it any time they want. There is a fancy term in political science, escalation dominance. Azerbaijan has the ability to escalate matters anytime it wants. This could have happened a month ago or a month from today but for some reason they chose this juncture,” Tonoyan said. “Number two is because of the conventional wisdom, which is somewhat iffy, Russia is distracted because it has bigger fish to fry or it is the biggest fish that is being fried. One way to look at it is that Russia has given a tacit agreement to [the blockade] because Russia for one reason or another is not happy with the Armenian authorities. It looks to them that Armenian authorities and Pashinyan’s government are stonewalling the opening of the borders — communications as they call it — the Zangezur [corridor]. The other way of looking at it is Turkey is pushing for it. Turkey has entered election season and it has thrown its complete lot in with Azerbaijan. A victory for Azerbaijan is a victory for the Erdogan government.”
Tonoyan concluded, “The truth is a mix of all these factors.”