The Scenarios of the Next War
The French ambassador in Armenia has announced that the status quo in the area of the Karabakh conflict can no longer be maintained. France has recently repeated this several times, including at the Hollande - Serzh Sargsyan meeting.
If the status quo cannot be maintained, there are two ways of changing it – negotiations and war. Currently, no negotiations are going on, Armenia has put forth preconditions for their continuation to which Azerbaijan does not agree – the status of Artsakh and the investigation mechanisms. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan have made their points which are absolute opposites.
So, the war is left and in this case, there are a lot of circumstances and questions relating to the domestic affairs of the sides and foreign affairs.
The domestic situation in Armenia does not suppose a war. At best, it is a threat which is usually needed at important havens of domestic developments. Currently, a similar haven is there where the issue of the government is being solved for a few months. Serzh Sargsyan brings a “security concept” for his upcoming plans.
There is a different problem in Azerbaijan where the economic and political situation is flammable which they still can handle. Many say the only way out of this situation for the ruling regime is the war, which is true.
On the other hand, however, solving problems through a war is too big a risk because it may produce a quite different effect depending on the outcome of the war. To avoid such risks the side that will start the war, in this case, Azerbaijan, must have fast and clear external guarantees, at least from one Minsk Group co-chair that the war can be stopped at the right time and in the right place.
Last April Azerbaijan obviously had such guarantees. In addition, Armenia’s behavior was one of those guarantees through Russia. By that time, the war had been matured through enough factors and most of them were eliminated in the result of the military actions in April but part of them still persists and some more new circumstances are there too.
The other issue is the interests of a great power. The Minsk Group remains the only platform where the United States, Europe, and Russia have a more or less agreed policy and positions. However, recently the relations between the United States and Europe, namely Germany and France on one side and Russia on the other side have become complicated. Is this the condition for the resumption of war?
Russia’s stance and behavior are essential in the Karabakh issue and the general situation in the area of the conflict, and the issue of resuming the military actions depends much on this.
Can Russia or the other co-chairs of the Minsk Group give Azerbaijan guarantees for the outcome of the war independently from each other?
Although, is it possible that new clashes are provoked at the border which will change the status quo on the one hand and enable the solution of a series of domestic and foreign issues on the other hand? In fact, is a fully controlled war possible when only one of the co-chairs is in the game.
The change of the status quo does not mean only change of the line of contact or territories. Moreover, the change of the status quo on the Armenian side is perceived in the form of territorial concessions by Azerbaijan. The international recognition of Artsakh is also a change of status quo.
For example, a scenario is possible when the Armenian side takes Azerbaijani territories under control, and then these territories are exchanged for some agreement with Azerbaijan.
Recently Azerbaijan has been trying to cause escalation at the border, as well as over the internet, the Armenian side announces that the situation at the border is calm, at the same time blocking the daily flow of information. This expresses the attitude of the sides, and at the same time the uncertainty of the situation and even expectations.
The war ends with an agreement between the sides, as the saying in the movie is. Armenia and Azerbaijan are far from this “level”.