The picturesque region of Nagorno-Karabakh, steeped in rich history, witnessed a somber spectacle this Sunday. Ethnic Armenians, fearing persecution and ethnic cleansing, began a vast migration, with many heading towards neighboring Armenia.
This mass exodus has been instigated by Azerbaijan's victory over the breakaway region, reigniting a long-standing conflict rooted in the Soviet era. David Babayan, an adviser to the president of the self-styled Republic of Artsakh, conveyed the depth of despair and decision of the locals: "Ninety-nine point nine percent prefer to leave our historic lands." Babayan further lamented, "The fate of our poor people will go down in history as a disgrace and a shame for the Armenian people and for the whole civilised world."
Leadership in Crisis: Calls for Resignation
The tense situation has placed immense pressure on Armenian leadership.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan faces mounting demands for his resignation, accused of failing to protect the territorial integrity of Karabakh. Addressing the nation, Pashinyan confirmed the gravity of the predicament: "If proper conditions are not created for the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh to live in their homes and there are no effective protection mechanisms against ethnic cleansing, the likelihood is rising that the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh will see exile from their homeland as the only way to save their lives and identity." The Azerbaijani assurances of guaranteeing the rights of the Armenians as they integrate the region have been met with skepticism.
The hurried migration through the Lachin corridor, leading towards the Armenian border, is a testament to the palpable anxiety among the Armenian populace.
Beyond the immediate humanitarian crisis, the unfolding events in Nagorno-Karabakh could realign the delicate power dynamics of the South Caucasus.
This area, a melting pot of diverse ethnicities, is intricately laced with vital oil and gas pipelines, making it a focal point of global interest. With major powers such as Russia, the United States, Turkey, and Iran closely watching the situation, the geopolitical implications could be profound.
The human cost of this conflict is heart-wrenching. Armenia reports more than 200 fatalities and 400 injuries due to the Azerbaijani military operation.