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The student news site of Liberty High School in Frisco, Texas


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International Insight: Nagorno-Karabakh

Sindhuja Pannuri
From Europe to Asia, South America to Africa, and all the way to Australia, Wingspan staff reporter Sindhuja Pannuri provides her insight on international events in this weekly blog.

For decades, Nagorno-Karabakh was the most fought over piece of land in the Caucasus region. Although Nagorno-Karabakh is within Azerbaijani borders, its native people are Armenian, leading to violence between Armenia and Azerbaijan over control over the region. Years of vicious fighting came to a head earlier in 2024, when Nagorno-Karabakh was formally dissolved and integrated into Azerbaijan. But how did this happen, and what does this mean for the Armenian people of the region?

The fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 directly led to the creation of this conflict. A product of Soviet-era territorial divide, Nagorno-Karabakh erupted into full-blown conflict in the post-Soviet era. Armenia briefly seized control after the collapse of the Soviet Union, only to lose it in the 2020 war. Despite Russian mediation efforts, Azerbaijan’s military success last year led to a mass exodus of Karabakh’s Armenian population, overwhelming Armenia’s capacity to absorb and support the refugees. Once home to over 100,000 people, this region now lies in desolation, its populace scattered and its cultural heritage under threat.

This map displays the geographic location of the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Although it exists within the territorial boundaries of Azerbaijan, its ethnic Armenian population has been calling for self determination since the creation of the republic. (en:User:Aivazovsky, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

The history of Armenia is marred by a narrative of tragedy, where the phrase “Nation into Dust” resonates deeply. From the horrors of the Armenian genocide in 1915 to the ongoing struggles for self-determination in Nagorno-Karabakh, the Armenian people have endured a cycle of exile and suffering, exacerbated by geopolitical tensions and power struggles.

Today, the plight of the displaced and marginalized Karabakh residents has largely gone unnoticed amidst the world’s focus on other conflicts. Yet it presents a stark example of what Armenians call ethnic cleansing in a region that was historically Armenian, despite being legally under Azerbaijani control.

Armenia’s attempts to integrate over 100,000 displaced individuals due to the Azerbaijani offensive in Sep. 2023 have been hindered by financial constraints and a lack of a comprehensive long-term plan. The international community’s response has been muted, with the focus primarily on brokering a peace agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia rather than addressing the urgent humanitarian crisis unfolding in Karabakh.

Azerbaijan’s insistence on its “Great Return program”, which aims to foster economic development in the region, is met with skepticism and condemnation from Armenian advocates. The fate of Karabakh’s cultural heritage, including its numerous churches and religious sites, hangs in the balance as displaced Armenians struggle to reclaim their homeland.

The international community, especially the United Nations, have long made diplomatic efforts to resolve this issue. The Biden administration attempted to navigate the delicate balance between supporting the Armenian cause and maintaining strategic relationships with Turkey and Azerbaijan. However, for the displaced residents of Nagorno-Karabakh, trapped in a limbo of uncertainty and despair, geopolitical calculations offer little solace.

As the world grapples with ongoing conflicts and humanitarian crises, Nagorno-Karabakh stands as a poignant reminder of the human cost of territorial disputes and geopolitical maneuvering. In the modern political landscape, where larger wars overshadow decades long conflicts, it’s important to remember that Nagorno-Karabakh’s story is far from over. History, it seems, perpetrates a cycle of violence, leaving shattered lives and deserted landscapes in its wake.

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About the Contributor
Sindhuja Pannuri
Sindhuja Pannuri, Staff Reporter
Sindhuja (Sindhu) Pannuri is a senior entering her second year of Wingspan staff. At school, she is captain of the varsity debate team and President of Youth and Government. In her free time, she reads books to escape reality and enjoys boxing in the ring. She’s so excited for what this year will hold!

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