After two years of a devastating war, Azerbaijan’s unrelenting pressure, in terms of border incursions, false negotiations and constant demands for concessions, recently, a turn of events offered a respite, some breathing room to recover and maybe even return to normalcy.
In addition, nature’s fury could lead to changes in regional politics.
The powerful earthquake in Turkey, which also devastated Syria, shook fundamentally the architecture of that country’s foreign policy, which will become more apparent in the coming months. The Turkish-Russian quasi-alliance will be changing its vector, as Turkey more and more depends on the West, and particularly on Washington, for its recovery. The regional nations, which have been living under Ankara’s bullying and aggression, will enjoy a window of opportunity to concentrate on their own priorities rather than worry about Turkey.
Turkey’s predicament will also restrain Ankara in its unconditional support for Azerbaijan’s maximalist policies vis a vis Armenia and Karabakh (Artsakh).
Azerbaijan’s blockade of the Lachin Corridor, which began on December 12, 2022, could have lasted forever, had the situation not changed in the Caucasus. The intent of the blockade was to strangulate the 120,000-strong Armenian population in Karabakh, who are not yet out of the woods, despite the verdict of the International Court of Justice last week, ordering Azerbaijan to cease its action.
For a number of reasons, Armenia had hesitated to move its case to the international plane, concerned that the courts are influenced by politics and favor the mighty. Yerevan finally mustered its courage and entrusted its case to a team of international lawyers headed by the firm Foley Hoag, and Yeghishe Kirakosyan of Armenia. The effort was also assisted by prominent Armenian lawyers in the diaspora. Azerbaijan, which allocates tremendous resources toward think tanks, lobbying firms and legal professionals, was finally defeated because its case failed to convince the judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Indeed, on February 22, 2023, the ICJ, the main judicial organ of the UN, ordered provisional measures to ensure that Azerbaijan unblocks the Lachin Corridor.