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Over the past week, the long-simmering conflict in the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh has devolved into tragedy. More than 70,000 ethnic Armenians have fled the region, raising fears that Azerbaijan’s government is carrying out a campaign of full-scale ethnic cleansing. Western leaders have a moral and strategic interest to respond to the disaster and prevent it from spreading, writes Bloomberg.

“While seemingly obscure, the crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh shouldn’t be ignored. It’s already destabilizing a region that’s a vital and growing source of global energy supplies. Worsening tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia could intensify border skirmishes and endanger the sovereignty of Armenia, a Western-oriented democracy on the doorstep of Europe and Russia. Although the West can’t intervene in every distant conflict, failing to push back against ethnic cleansing would send a message to countries like Russia and China that military aggression and violations of international norms will go unpunished.

(…) On Sept. 19, Azerbaijan’s army launched a successful military operation to reclaim the territory once and for all; its self-governing authority and institutions have been disbanded. Human-rights group warned that Azerbaijan might use the opportunity to force all Armenians out of Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory they count as a historical homeland. By most indications, that’s already taking place: At least half of the territory’s population of more than 120,000 has fled for Armenia and dozens more are believed to have died trying to get out.

In addition to this humanitarian disaster, the widening crisis complicates Europe’s reliance on natural gas from Azerbaijan, which has become a key alternative source of energy since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It could also increase tensions between the West and Turkey, a NATO ally that has supported Aliyev’s recent offensive and his broader territorial ambitions,” says the article.

Full article is available at Bloomberg’s website.

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