Azerbaijan yesterday declared a state of war in some of its cities and regions following attacks by Armenian forces on military and civilian sites over the weekend.
The decision was made in a meeting of Azerbaijan’s National Assembly yesterday, in which it enforced partial measures in its border regions which could temporarily restrict some rights and freedoms of Azeri citizens and foreigners due to the conflict.
It came after Armenian forces reportedly targeted Azerbaijan’s military positions and civilian areas around the Armenia-occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region, igniting border clashes that have left dozens dead on both sides.
Azeri forces have reportedly captured seven villages in the region since the clashes, but Armenia has denied that claim.
The conflict between the two sides also prompted clashes on social media, in which Armenia’s official Twitter account – handled by its Foreign Ministry – posted a picture of an Armenian priest wielding an assault rifle and holding a crucifix, with the caption “Faith & Power!”
— Armenia 🇦🇲 (@armenia) September 27, 2020
Many have viewed that tweet as an effort to provoke and add a religious element to Christian-majority Armenia’s historic enmity against Muslim-majority Azerbaijan.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry also weighed in on the renewed border clashes, pledging and assuring its support for Azerbaijan while condemning Armenia’s alleged aggression. In a statement, the ministry’s spokesman Hami Aksoy said yesterday that Armenia’s attack “is a clear violation of international law and causing civilian casualties. With these attacks, Armenia has once again shown that it’s the biggest obstacle before regional peace and stability.”
He added that “Azerbaijan will definitely use its right to self-defense in order to protect its people and territorial integrity.”
It is not only Turkey’s government that has declared its support, but also the owner of its renowned Bayraktar drone manufacturer, Selcuk Bayraktar. In a tweet today, he shared a video of Azeri forces’ drone strikes against Armenian forces, expressing his support for Azerbaijan only months after his company sold its Bayraktar TB2 drones to the South Caucasian nation.
— Selçuk Bayraktar (@Selcuk) September 27, 2020
Various actors in the international community have urged for an end to the conflict between the two countries, with the European Union calling for an “immediate ceasefire”, French President Emmanuel Macron expressing his “deep concern” and calling for “an immediate end to hostilities”, and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres saying he is “extremely concerned”.
Relations between the two former Soviet nations have been particularly strained since 1991, when Armenia occupied the Upper Karabakh region, known as Nagorno Karabakh, despite it being an internationally-recognised territory belonging to Azerbaijan.
The region has remained occupied by Armenia ever since, even though the occupation has been constantly urged to withdraw following four UN Security Council and two UN General Assembly resolutions.