Staunton, January 13 – The promise of the reopening of a land corridor between Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhichevan was one of the biggest victories for Baku and Ankara in the recent Qarabagh fighting; but there are many problems ahead before any such corridor will become operational, Moscow commentator Stanislav Tarasov says.
Because this link is so important to both Azerbaijan and Turkey, he argues, Armenia has decided to link its realization to issues of primary concern to itself, the return of prisoners and the bodies of victims in the recent fighting and the future status of Qarabagh, its Armenian population and Armenian officials (regnum.ru/news/polit/3161760.html).
That is likely to slow any movement on the opening of the land corridor, but there are other factors at work as well, the Moscow analyst says. First of all, there are differences between Yerevan and Baku on the route with the former preferring a northerly path that will give it advantages and the latter favoring a more southern path along the Iranian border.
The choice of path is something that Russia and Western powers may also weigh in on given that Russia owns the Armenian railways and wants to see them integrated into a north-south route Moscow can use and that the West doesn’t want to see Iran have any leverage on such a route.
But more than that, Tarasov says, the fact that the building of rail lines and roads to make the corridor a reality will take anywhere from two to four years, the various participants in this process will be able to find ways to delay things if they believe things are going in the wrong direction.
As a result, the Russian analyst says, there is every chance that Zengezur, the Armenian territory between the two parts of Azerbaijan, will become “an apple of discord” soon however much all say they want this corridor established as part of the unblocking of transportation routes Vladimir Putin has made the centerpiece of his policies in the region.
There is already growing evidence that Zengezur is contributing to growing tensions between Moscow and Ankara and that Turkey is increasingly adamant that Russian peacekeepers must ultimately leave Qarabagh, thus challenging the other Putin policy initiative (t.me/generalsvr/198 and rusmonitor.com/el-myurid-kriterij-pobedy-turczii-na-kavkaze-karabah-dolzhen-stat-azerbajdzhanskim-rossijskij-kontingent-dolzhen-byt-vyveden.html).
As a result, what has come to be known as the Qarabagh conflict is likely to continue, not just in the area about Stepanakert but more broadly as far as transportation routes crossing international borders and geopolitical relations between Russia, Turkey and the West are concerned, a very different outcome than the one many were talking about only a few weeks ago.