Baku – APA. Four days of the escalation over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict passed. These developments, which can call a “four-day war,” have plenty of political, military, and psychological consequences. The main result is that Azerbaijan has regained control of a part of the occupied territories. The status quo has been partly changed, and the military, political, and psychological balance is now against Armenia in many terms. The reason behind this imbalance is the military and psychological advantage Azerbaijan has gained following the “four-day war”.
Military advantages. For the first time since 22 years ago when the ceasefire deal was signed, Azerbaijan has regained control of a part of the occupied territories. Azerbaijani armed forces have retaken control of three strategic heights and complete liberated two villages from occupation. Furthermore, there are unofficial claims that the scale of the retaken areas is far larger than estimated. Armenia claimed to have taken back control of the areas whose liberation had been officially announced, but has so far been unable to release any footage proving such a claim. On the other hand, the fact that Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan acknowledged the Azerbaijani Army has advanced into separatist-held parts of the front line in two directions can be considered another psychological advantage for Azerbaijan.
One more military advantage is that the areas liberated are of strategic importance. This situation should be left to military experts to comment on, but basic knowledge about the geography of this occupied region and simple logic tells us that the enemy, having lost strategic heights, has to retreat further. From this point of view, a “+” can be added before the graph of Azerbaijan’s success in analyses on the consequences of the “four-day war”.
Psychological advantages. One of our psychological advantages is that confidence in the army’s combat capability is now proven. The hardened stereotype that it was going to take years to liberate the occupied lands tore down completely. Now everyone (including the Armenian people) believes the truth that the “Azerbaijani army is capable of liberating the occupied territories”. This factor has also boosted people’s morale. The public now understand the necessity of harmony between military and political attempts in resolving the conflict.
Social manifestation. Behavioral analysis of the Azerbaijani people over the last four days has revealed a very important factor: Regardless of their political, religious and racial affiliation, the people can unite around a goal in national matters. Compared to the operations of August, we shouldn’t lose sight of people’s understanding their civil responsibility more clearly. Activity on social networks, support for information warfare on different platforms, creating special hashtags, sharing materials in the public interest, active propaganda on the Armenian forums were conducted at the level of society not individuals. This should be considered one of the reasons behind the failure of “Armenia’s social subversive groups’ on Facebook and Twitter. The exponential increase in the number of volunteers appealing to the State Service on Mobilization, expansion of other social initiatives, crowd in military funerals, hanging of Azerbaijani flags on balconies, rooftops and cars are only part of the results of the military successes that have influenced on the society.
The changing of the status-quo. As for the effect of the process that is call a “Four-day war” on the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, this will be positive in terms of Azerbaijan’s interests.
I – Azerbaijan will sit at the negotiating table with military advantage added to its legal and political advantages that have been on “its luggage” until now.
II – The international community openly supports Azerbaijan’s position in the ongoing processes. We should not lose sight of the international institutions calling on Armenia to withdraw its troops from the occupied territories. Even the countries which covertly support Armenia’s interests in the conflict tried to maintain the balance while assessing the “four-day war”. This is an indirect support to the “surprise attack” and this support will further strengthen the advantage of Baku in the negotiations.
III - The results of the military operations will help change the dogmatic ideas that the conflict can be solved only by peaceful means. While assessing the problem, either forces interested in the region or the co-chair countries will have to accept the reality of the fact that processes can always get out control. In other words, option of military solution is automatically added in a scenario of conflict settlement. From now on, this fact will be taken into account during the negotiations.
IV – The recent developments for all disproved the scenario of maintaining the status quo. At present, all regional and international actors understand that the maintenance of the status quo is the most optimal way to escalate the conflict. If no significant changes happen in the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Azerbaijan preserves the right to change the status quo, which was proved in the court of the “four-day” war.
V – Local societies give authorities a mandate for the resolution of the conflict. Results of the “four-day” war showed in what form the people of Azerbaijan and Armenia support their governments in the Karabakh problem. Comparing only the military funerals in both countries makes it possible to see the difference.
VI – The “four-day war" further reduced the possibility of Armenia’s government to manipulate the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in domestic politics. A large number of casualties and loss of control over part of the occupied territories will definitely weaken both internal and external (on the lobby level) support for the ‘Sargsyan regime’. On the other hand, the weakening of political support for Sargsyan can be considered an opportunity for the Armenian opposition. If this opportunity is taken properly, the country is more likely to destabilize.
Vugar Huseynov, Head of APA Analytic Center.
© APA 2018