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Misfiring the Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire

It sounds somehow deficient. But that is exactly what life is on the ground. African indigenous knowledge observes:“Gourd keepers are the very breakers.”  Thus now peacekeepers from Russia and Turkey, strategic countries behind warring parties in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, have been deployed to guard a cease-fire agreement.

Indeed, the Armenians and Azerbaijanis have so long a history of ethnic mutual distrust that if there is anything perennially lacking between them, it is peace. All along, they have trusted the bullet – only to learn until the present day, with untold bitterness, that peace is not secured that way. It is not an affair of the warfare.

Today, the whole world has been made to believe and understand that the Armenians and Azerbaijanis have signed a cease-fire agreement. But, to borrow from the language of automobile engineers, the same world has yet to know (belief and understanding let alone) the firing order of the pact for it to deliver the goods.

 This is not the first such agreement; so the preceding ones must have flopped. And, again as we say in Africa, “the lightning hits where it has struck before.” Guaranteed peace in the area is yet to come. Since 1992, efforts to resolve the conflict by have not brought any results.

What is immediately available for us on the book shelves (sorry for the analog concept) refers to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)’s Minsk Group. This is a specified joint U.S., Russian and French framework within which to provide solutions to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

So the basic point is what has been the OSCE contribution to the current pact? For practical purposes, there is none. With due respect, it was all an affair of Russia or better put, Vladimir Putin. One could even call it unilateral. Why?

First Scenario: The United States and France have no presence even on the outside of the agreement perimeter walls.

Scenario Two: Facts behind the agreement first appeared from the Kremlin and Azerbaijani president’s official website. So, one crucial party, Armenia is missing out. What sort of agreement worth the name partitions interested parties?

Scenario Three: Azerbaijan sources claim Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan signed the agreement “in a closed place, in a locked-up room, far from the cameras, in a cowardly and treacherous manner. He is not signing it of his own free will. He is signing it under pressure from the iron fist.” Enmity aside, what message dies this send across? And there is no denial from Armenia.


Scenario Four: In his own words, the Armenian PM announced his decision was based on “an in-depth analysis of the military situation” and that it was “unspeakably painful for me personally and for our people.”

Scenario Five: How could the deal be made behind the back of Armenian President Armen Sarkissian? He distanced himself from it saying he had learned about the negotiations from the media. This is serious by any standards of running affairs of any country. The PM sidelining the President?    

Scenario Six: Russia and Turkey sign an agreement to set up a monitoring centre with a mission from the former visiting the latter to thrash out the details. This shows who is at the controls.

Scenario Seven: As United Nations’ Secretary General feels “relieved”, a spokesman says the UN is “grateful” to Russian authorities and was now in contact with Moscow to see how it can be involved. What an arrangement.

Scenario Eight: The U.N. High Commission for Human Rights is dragged in, expressing “deep concern” about crimes committed against humanity worth the action of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Isn’t it correct to visualize the Human rights High Commission position in the Roma Locuta Causa Finita dimension? If the UN Secretary General’s Office speaks out what remains of the opinion for the Commission?

Scenario Nine: What steps can the ICC take in the Nagorno-Karabakh crimes against humanity aspect when Armenia and Azerbaijan — are not party to the Rome Statute? Russia, the peace broker, withdrew its signature after its annexation of Crimea was classified as occupation and Turkey is not a State Party but simply attends annual meetings to save its face?

Scenario Ten: There is a classical mis/dis information case. Some quarters talk of Azerbaijan and Armenia signing the agreement to end military clashes. Technically this is bilateral. Other quarters add Russia in the list, making it a tri-partite. How many agreements were signed? Who are the architects?

All said, Russia and Turkey must be brooding over a new phase of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and with a tongue in cheek. The whole world knows Russia supports Armenia while Turkey is on the side of Azerbaijan in the conflict.

The world knows Russia sells arms to both parties in the conflict while Turkey is all out for Azerbaijan, selling arms and providing war logistics, including recruitment of mercenaries. Who can rule out the extent of Azerbaijan success in the recent engagement largely being a product of Turkey?

Russia and Turkey seem to have a global war/peace agreement which is not open to the rest of the world. In Syria they fought on opposite sides. They have done this in Libya and are doing the same in Armenia and Azerbaijan where both pretend to work for the common and world good!

What could be good at Russia humiliating ally Armenia? The brokered pact is hated by every Armenian, including those presumed to sign it and the common man on the street. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has been branded a traitor by his people and called upon to resign

The Armenian-Azerbaijani problem is yet to find a solution. BBC filmed one Armenian family burning their house so that it may not be occupied by a returning-home Azerbaijan family! This is an unfortunate level of hatred whose answer cannot be found in the Russia-Turkey tricks being played in the conflict area.

Russian troops have a five-year span, while the Turkish Parliament has given Erdogan one year’s mandate to decide on the number of peacekeeping troops and even who these would be. What a blanket offer equivalent to the African indigenous knowledge concept of crowning a mad man with dry banana leaves!

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Felix Kaiza is a Tanzanian journalist with more than 50 years of experience currently working as an independent media consultant. Learned in agriculture, journalism, political science and international relations, his main fields of consultancy, besides the media, are good governance, nature conservation, tourism and investment. He was the first Tanzanian Chief Sub-Editor of an English daily newspaper in 1970, he has been behind the establishment and growth of the national independent media since the early 1990s. He is UNFAO Fellow Journalist since 1975 and has wide experience on regional integration. He worked on the Information Directorate of the original East African Community on whose ashes survive the current one. His ambition is to brand Tanzania in the inbound market with made-in-Tanzania brands, including information, almost all of which is currently foreign brewed.

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