The Western hypocrisy in Karabakh

The Western hypocrisy in Karabakh

The situation in Karabakh has starkly demonstrated that the Western nations fail to uphold their own norms, as they disregard resolutions passed by the U.N. and other global forums

Azerbaijan has successfully launched a large-scale military operation against the so-called self-declared Armenian state in Karabakh between September 19 and 20. Thus, it has completed the process of what it achieved after the Second Karabagh War in November 2020. After meeting with the representatives of the local Armenians, the Armenians declared the dissolution of their so-called state. Thus, Azerbaijan has resolved the Karabagh issue. From now on, the Karabagh issue is an internal problem of the Azerbaijani state. The two sides will meet on October 5 in Spain to negotiate the new conditions and possibly to sign a peace agreement.

This move was mainly a response to the violation of the cease-fire agreement signed in November 2020 by the Armenian side, who rejected the implementation of some articles of the agreement. First, Armenia hesitated to open the Zangazur Corridor, which was promised to the Azerbaijani side. Secondly, the local Armenian administration in the region, the so-called Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, has resorted to violence against the Azerbaijani security forces. Thirdly, the local Armenians have questioned the Azerbaijani sovereignty over the Lachin Corridor. Armenians did not want the Azerbaijani security forces to control the corridor.

Since Azerbaijan has clearly declared that it will not allow the transfer of weapons from Armenia to Karabakh, the local Armenians have begun to attack the Azerbaijani security forces. The answer of Azerbaijan was the blockade of the region and then the liberation of its internationally recognized territories from the Armenian occupation on September 20, 2023, after the anti-terror military operation. Simultaneously, Azerbaijan mobilized a large part of its military to restore the constitutional order in the Karabakh region. Ultimately, the so-called self-declared Armenian republic dissolved itself and accepted Azerbaijani sovereignty.

The determination of the Azerbaijani political leadership to control the region and integrate it totally with the rest of Azerbaijan has forced the local Armenians to come to the terms of Baku and accept de facto recognized Azerbaijani sovereignty over the Karabakh region. Under the new conditions, most Armenians have decided to leave the region. Although the Azerbaijani government has called for the local Armenians not to go, to remain at their homes, and to live under the Azerbaijani authority as Azerbaijani citizens, they have chosen to leave for Armenia, fearing execution.

This unexpected success of Baku was not welcomed by the Western countries, who have been providing unconditional support to the Armenian side for decades. Since then, the Western countries, media and general public opinion have been severely criticizing Azerbaijan for taking measures against the attacks of the heavily-armed local Armenians. The Western countries, who have accused Türkiye of its support to Azerbaijan, accuse these two states of ethnic cleansing. The concern of the West’s problem is not based on humanitarian reasons; on the contrary, it stems from the failure of its supporters.

Background of the Karabakh crisis

In order to understand the bias and hypocrisy of the West, we have to take the background of the Karabakh problem and the stance of the West toward the crisis into consideration. First of all, the West was not concerned about and did not take any measures against Armenian atrocities against the Muslim Azerbaijanis during the First Karabakh War in 1994. When the Muslim Azerbaijanis were subjected to ethnic cleansing, the West did not condemn or criticize Armenia, which was supported by almost all big powers, such as Russia, the United States, France, and other Western countries. Those who condemn the most recent Azerbaijani moves never criticized the inaction of the Western countries during the Armenian brutalities throughout the first half of the 1990s. They remained indifferent to the forced displacement of nearly one million Azerbaijanis.

It was the Muslim countries that considered the Karabakh issue as an international bleeding spot for the Muslim ummah and condemned the mass killings of Muslim Azerbaijanis and forced displacements. For instance, not only the Turkish state but also the Turkish people strongly condemned the Armenian brutalities and mass killings against innocent Azerbaijani civilians. Large-scale protests were organized in almost every small town of Türkiye. Also, most Muslim countries also condemned the Armenian war crimes committed in the 1990s.

Second, the Western countries, especially the leading Western powers that were part of the Minsk Group, did nothing important to solve the Karabakh problem. They took no significant and effective step to liberate the internationally recognized Azerbaijani territories. On the contrary, they stalled Azerbaijan for three decades. They were never serious about solving the problem since they knew that Azerbaijan was absolutely right. They neither implemented the related principles of international law nor the related resolutions of the United Nations.

Third, despite several resolutions adopted by the U.N. General Assembly reaffirming the absolute sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan over the Karabakh region and calling for the unconditional withdrawal of the Armenian forces from the region, the U.N. did not take any binding decision regarding this issue. Although the U.N. repeatedly called other states not to “render aid or assistance” to maintain the occupation of the Azerbaijani territories, almost all Western states continued supporting Armenia. Everybody knows Armenia could not and cannot occupy any part of Azerbaijan without the support of big, i.e., Western, powers.

The Karabakh case has clearly revealed that the West does not respect its own norms since they do not respect decisions made by the U.N. and other international platforms. As always, they are quite biased against non-Western states and peoples. All these hypocritical policies are counterproductive and damage the Western image. In the end, all these states that are mistreated by the West are moving away from the West, thus undermining the global dominance of the Western countries.

Muhittin Ataman is Director of Foreign Policy Studies at SETA Foundation. He is a professor in the Department of International Relations at Social Sciences University of Ankara. Ataman is also the Editor-in-Chief of Insight Turkey.