BY RAZMIG SHIRNIAN, PH.D.
To uncover the dynamics of war and peace in the South Caucasus the importance of history, cultural variation and the role of beliefs and nationalism are emphasized along with the role of single factors, like power, or structural explanations.
This war in Artsakh is a regional invention and it forms part of the behavior derived from the historical and cultural inheritance on both sides. It perpetuates the idea that war is the only way certain situations in the region are to be handled.
Conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan is pervasive and inevitable because of the protracted border and territorial disagreements and periodic clashes with significant fatalities. It is not easy to assume that there will ever be a permanent harmony of interests between the two countries. Despite such reality we can also assert that not all conflicts in the region have ended in war. Indeed, war has remained a relatively occasional event in the history of these two countries. Conflict has not always been synonymous with war.
If we agree with the statement that war is organized violence, then it is an ordered activity within the traditionally established contour of certain rules and customs. However, the practice of this war has many deviations. Azerbaijan has often practiced the deviation from the traditional phenomenon of war. Deviations of such sort are seen as immoral and illegal. They involve things like civilian bombing and terrorist attacks in attempt to win the war. If these deviations are successful, then they are elected out and the state accommodates itself to them.
This war should not be seen as random violence but focused and directed. In this case it also reflects on the irrational overall impact or the chaos of immediate results of civilian bombings. It is the absence of some rational purpose for which we might think it was initiated. In this sense, it is not just collective and political, but also interpersonal as Aliev ‘s announcements often indicate.
The power or economic structure of the South Caucasus notwithstanding, war in Artsakh is neither the product of any given economic system, although economic concerns and greed have motivated the war, nor the result of a particular distribution of regional power, although relative capabilities have also determined how war in the region came about. Although I cannot easily test these claims, but it is important to make such assumptions explicit. To place emphasis on the political, economic or power structure of the regional system clearly directs our attention and the explanation of the war into its real core.
It is important to note that the international institutions and conventions have weakened and have become less effective in their role of intervention. Thanks to the increased self-centered and nationalist-populist interests in the last decade or so. This is why diplomacy, in the form of mediation, has failed to achieve ceasefire in the first place. War has thus become an increasingly acceptable norm in the absence of politics and diplomacy.
No doubt, the president of Azerbaijan has initiated this war as an organized violence, not necessarily for political aims, but in order to satisfy aggressive feelings stemming from hostility, frustration, crowded economic pressure or some other psychological condition. Such emotional outbursts have provided reasons in and of themselves for violent actions.
It is unfortunate that for many years to come war will remain as a mental state for both countries and will generate extreme insecurity in the region.