The fall of Karabakh - Geopolitical resret in the South Caucasus?

A study by our Senior Fellow, Csaba Barnabás Horváth

 In an operation taking less than 24 hours from the 19th to the 20th of September 2023, Azerbaijan took over the de facto independent ethnic Armenian polity of Artsakh a.k.a. Nagorno-Karabakh, and within two weeks, the entire ethnic Armenian civilian population of the polity fled to Armenia proper. This marks the swift but brutal end to a conflict that has been going on for 35 five years, and likely represents a reset in the geopolitics of the South Caucasus. Azerbaijan, released from the 35-year-long conflict on its de jure soil may take a more influential position in the region than it previously exercised. Armenia, abandoned by its ally Russia, seeks alternate protectors, with the United States and Iran being the most obvious applicants. The prospect of another war by Azerbaijan possibly attempting to open a corridor to its Nakhichevan exclave across the southern Zangezur panhandle of Armenia remains a strategic objective. In this fluid power vacuum, a scramble among great powers may soon start for the region, in which apart from Iran and Turkey, the United States may have more opportunities for influence than might first appear, offering for it the opportunity for the simultaneous NATO accession of Armenia and Azerbaijan on a silver plate.

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