Fears grow of Azerbaijan's territorial ambitions beyond Karabakh
Fresh fears are growing that Azerbaijan may seek to grab more territory from Armenia after its decisive victory over Armenian forces in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, according to an article published Saturday in The Guardian.
Locals living near the Armenian-Azerbaijani border told The Guardian they worry Baku has become emboldened by its military success in Karabakh and may attempt to annex more land. Geram, a beekeeper from the Armenian village of Tegh, said he was shot at in April when trying to access his family's fields near the frontier. Another farmer, Samvel Hyusunts, lost 70 hectares of wheat land his family had cultivated for decades.
Analysts concur Azerbaijan could be tempted to encroach further into Armenia after subduing Karabakh, with its ambitions potentially including creating a corridor to Turkey or annexing Armenia's Syunik province. "Since they have Karabakh under control, they don't need any agreement with the Armenian government. They might move forward and say: 'OK, we have some territory, and we take some more,'" said Stefan Meister of the German Council on Foreign Relations.
According to The Guardian's Andrew Roth, every local understands they are endangered. However, some experts say the flight of Karabakh's population to Armenia could counterintuitively pave the way for a formal peace treaty between the two nations after decades of conflict. But analyst Benyamin Poghosyan expects the destruction of Karabakh will allow Baku to focus its forces on extracting further concessions from Yerevan.
Locals told The Guardian that Azerbaijan has already secured strategic hilltop positions overlooking Armenian towns like Jermuk and Kapan. From Tegh, looking toward Karabakh, shepherd Samvel said he hopes for peace but expects more war: "Before it was Karabakh. But now all of Karabakh has come here. I fear they might not be far behind."