In a recent article on the AEIdeas portal, senior fellow Michael Rubin highlights the pressing need for the United States to support Armenia in rejecting the creation of a ‘corridor’ through the region, a development that threatens the security and sovereignty of Armenia and the people of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Rubin underscores the precarious situation following the ceasefire agreement signed on November 9, 2020, which aimed to end the 44-day war waged by Azerbaijan and Turkey against Artsakh, an autonomous region founded by the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh after the Soviet Union's dissolution.
“That agreement called for a corridor secured by Russian peacekeepers to ensure unimpeded access between Armenia and Artsakh through Lachin, as well as “transport connections” through Armenia between Azerbaijan proper and Nakhchivan through Armenia’s Zangezur region separating the two.
Azerbaijan never lived up to any of its agreements. First, for 10 months, it blockaded the Lachin corridor, starving Artsakh’s 120,000 Christians in what former International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo labeled a genocide. Then last week, it launched a subsequent attack to conquer the rest of the territory, again unilaterally violating a ceasefire. While Acting Assistant Secretary of State Yuri Kim declared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “We will not tolerate any attack on the people of Nagorno-Karabakh,” the Biden administration did just that. Azerbaijani telegram channels now incite murder and sexual assault against Armenian children and women in online activity reminiscent of the Islamic State during the Yezidi genocide,” he wrote.
“Azerbaijan’s dictator Ilham Aliyev is triumphant. So too is his chief mentor Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The two leaders will celebrate today in Nakhchivan. While the 2020 ceasefire never called for a “corridor” across Zangezur, Azerbaijani officials increasingly demand just that. Russia, Azerbaijan’s chief backer as Armenia flips to the West, also favors a corridor across southern Armenia that they might protect in order to justify a continued presence of Russian troops in the region,” he added.
Rubin argues that the US should stand with Armenia in rejecting any corridor, asserting that Azerbaijan's conquest of Nagorno-Karabakh invalidates the November 2020 ceasefire agreement. Agreeing to a corridor through Zangezur would be detrimental to Armenia, as it would further isolate the country and undermine its main export route to the south.
“The United States should back Armenia in saying no to any corridor. Azerbaijan’s conquest of Nagorno-Karabakh voids the November 2020 ceasefire. To acquiesce to any corridor across Zangezur would be national suicide: With Azerbaijan and Turkey continuing to blockade Armenia proper and Georgia increasingly under Russia’s sway, Armenia’s chief avenue to export goods is to the south. In effect, the corridor becomes a noose to allow Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Russia to do to Armenia proper what they did to Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijani President Ilham Alivev, meanwhile, has openly declared his desire to conquer Armenia,” Rubin wrote.
Rubin suggests that the US consider deploying its own forces temporarily in southern Armenia to deter further aggression, if “the White House is serious about protecting Armenia.” He highlights the urgency of the situation and the need for decisive action to prevent the Azerbaijan-Turkey-Russia alliance from endangering the world's oldest Christian nation.