Staunton, October 9 – Azerbaijan’s military advance into northern and southern parts of Armenian-occupied territory has sparked a patriotic upsurge in that country and will certainly give Baku some advantages in future negotiations. But a more immediate benefit for Azerbaijan will be the restoration of water flows into the republic that had been diverted to Stepanakert.
Water has always mattered in this region, with rivers rising in one country and flowing or not into another. Armenia’s advance into Azerbaijani territory not only forced enormous outmigration of ethnic Azerbaijanis but deprived regions adjoining the occupied territories of much-needed water.
Some analysts have even suggested that concerns about recovering those riverine flows explains both the timing and the pattern of Azerbaijan’s recent advance (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/10/water-may-explain-why-armenia-and.html and windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/10/baku-hopes-to-unite-azerbaijan-and.html).
But however that may be, the advance of Azerbaijani forces in the north has already had major consequences in that regard: Water from a reservoir there that had been going to Armenians in Stepanakert will now flow into three Azerbaijani districts and help boost local agricultural production (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/355116/).
The reservoir near the village of Madagiz, which Baku has now renamed Sugovushan, in recent years had provided water to Stepanakert and environs, even though the river that was dammed to create it, the Terter, had historically provided water for the people and agriculture of northwestern Azerbaijan.
The reservoir holds some 5.86 million cubic meters of water, and it will now release water to provide irrigation for 96,217 hectares in the Terter, Geranboy, and Yevlakh districts of Azerbaijan, as well as some adjoining areas as well. Local residents are thrilled because now they will not face the water shortages that had been typical of recent years.
But the water they will gain is water that the residents of Stepanakert and surroundings will lose. It is likely to be enough to put pressure on Armenians there to move to Armenia, helping to achieve yet another goal of the Azerbaijani authorities.