ICG Warns of New Karabakh War Risk

TBILISI (Reuters)–Escalating violence, a spiraling arms race and a slowdown in peace talks have increased the risk of a new Karabakh war, a leading think tank said on Tuesday.

The International Crisis Group (ICG) said in a report, released Tuesday, that skirmishes along the Nagorno-Karabakh line-of-contact could easily spiral out of control, causing “devastating regional consequences”.

“Escalating frontline clashes, a spiraling arms race, vitriolic rhetoric and a virtual breakdown in peace talks increase the chance Armenia and Azerbaijan will go back to war over Nagorno-Karabakh,” it said.

The unresolved conflict, which has killed 3,000 people since 1994, mainly soldiers, is a constant threat to stability in the South Caucasus, a region bordering Russia, Iran and Turkey, and crisscrossed by pipelines carrying oil and gas to Europe.

ICG said 25 people were killed in 2010 despite an uneasy truce between the two countries, which lie at the heart of key natural gas and oil routes. Three soldiers were killed in 2011.

The two countries fought a war over Nagorno-Karabakh, which broke away from Muslim Azerbaijan with the help of Christian Armenia during the collapse of the Soviet Union.

A 1994 ceasefire ended the war, and mediators from Russia, the United States and France have led negotiations between the two ex-Soviet countries.

However, little progress has been made and Azeri President Ilham Aliyev, who has ramped up his country’s military power with recent arms deals, has said Azerbaijan is willing to go to war with Armenia to reclaim Nagorno Karabakh.

“Lack of progress in the peace talks is increasing the likelihood of an accidental war at any time or an all-out offensive within the next few years”, said Sabine Freizer, the ICG Europe Program Director.

Azerbaijan, which hosts oil majors including BP, ExxonMobil and Chevron, is given to sabre rattling over the emotionally charged issue.

Armenia has not recognized the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic’s independence, but has threatened recognition in the event of war. The enclave runs its own affairs with economic and defense support from Armenia.

Tension has increased since Armenia and Turkey, which has close ties to Azerbaijan, reached an historic rapprochement in 2009. The accord crumbled last year when Armenia suspended ratification after Turkish demands that it resolve the Karabakh conflict on Azerbaijan’s terms, a condition set by Ankara to appease Baku.

An overview of the report is available at the ICG website here. The complete report can be downloaded in PDF format here.


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  1. Hye-phenated said:

    International Crisis Group – “making crisis work for us wherever OIL&Gas is found” – among the Nabuccoidal participants:

    * Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs – to transport oil and gas from Azerbaijan around Armenia while maintaining an illegal blockade.

    International Advisory Council – sell oil&gas stolen from Azerbaijani and Central Asia people:

    * Chevron
    * Shell
    * Statoil

    Governments and Intergovernmental Institutions
    (supporting Crisis Group in 2010-11) – to benefit from oil and pipelines going around Armenia:

    * Austrian Development Agency
    * Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
    * Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs
    * Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
    * Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs
    * European Commission
    * Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs
    * French Ministry of Foreign Affairs
    * German Foreign Office
    * Irish Aid
    * Luxembourg Ministry of Foreign Affairs
    * Principality of Liechtenstein
    * Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
    * Swedish International Development Agency
    * Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs
    * Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs
    * United Kingdom Department for International Development
    * UK Economic and Social Research Council

  2. Onnik K. said:

    In case of another war with Azeri mongols, this time Armenian forces should occupy Baku and burn their oil fields.

  3. truth said:

    People working for ICG and origination the like should be banned entering Armenia and NK

    Baku is using one again all kind of tricks and by applying sociologically war, trying to create an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty. Who are ICG and were they receive money?

    Organizations like PACE and ICG are the same as Islamic Organization …
    Corrupt organizations like ICG are part of the problem! The wording of so called ICG report shows that the report being written either in Ankara or in Baku.. the repot ignores the simple fact that Azerbaijan has agreed that NK is party to conflict by signed a cease fire with NK still in 1990s!

  4. zohrab said:

    next war get aliev capture him let everyone see him humiliated put him on trial in yerevan dont give another chance get him to sign surrender

  5. Pilaf said:

    The ICG is essentially a bunch of pro-Turkish, pro-Azeris. For example, the ICG report singles out Azeri refugees for sympathy while not saying anything about Armenian refugees.

    The ICG man who writes these reports is Turkophile Hugh Pope, who resides in Turkey and his wife is a writer in the Turkish press.

  6. Sevan said:

    I’m tired of our people who say “next time we should occupy Baku”, “our borders will reach Kur river”, “our army is small but combat ready”. We have to stop talking like childeren and help our army to keep the military balance. While we are talking overconfidently they have begun producing of rockets and ammunition. We should think realistic and work hard not to talk