Armenia & Azerbaijan: Conflict And History

Armenia & Azerbaijan: Conflict And History

As the spat between Armenia and Azerbaijan continues, let us take a look at the former Soviet territories and their conflict, which dates long back.

Crux of the Matter

Recent Clash
Armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan erupted recently in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. Armenian separatists reported 31 military casualties on their side, while Azerbaijan reported 26 civilian casualties and claimed to have inflicted “heavy losses” on the other side.

Both countries have imposed martial law at particular places while mobilizing troops for further action. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has requested the international community to intervene as the region is on the verge of a “large-scale war”.

International Reaction
Turkey and Pakistan have declared open support of Azerbaijan in the conflict. However, Turkey denied Armenia’s claims that it had provided armed support to Azerbaijan. Russia, having a military base in Armenia and closer ties to it than Azerbaijan, has called for a ceasefire which has been supported by the US, Iran, France, and the UN.

Background And History Of The Conflict
Nagorno-Karabakh is the disputed territory between Armenia and Azerbaijan. While it is located officially inside Azerbaijan’s territory, it has a majority population of Armenian ethnicity.

  • 1922: The Soviet Union was formed, and both Armenia and Azerbaijan were annexed to it.
  • 1989: Conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia began over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory.
  • 1991: The Soviet Union was dissolved. In the same year, Nagorno-Karabakh voted to join Armenia.
  • War erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, which had ~30,000 casualties reported.
  • In the same year, Nagorno-Karabakh declared itself independent ‘Republic of Artsakh’, which is unrecognized by the UN members.
  • 1994: A ceasefire was declared with the aid of Russia. Nagorno-Karabakh was declared part of Azerbaijan but continues being administered by ethnic Armenians with backing from the Armenian Government.
  • Several clashes have occurred between the two, with the most recent major clash occurring in 2016 when ~110 casualties were reported.

Outside Support
Turkey backs Azerbaijan (a Muslim majority state) in the conflict. However, experts have claimed that Turkey’s support also comes due to the oil-richness of Azerbaijan, and that and that Turkey has allegedly advanced the animosity between the two neighbours in recent times. Turkey has no official relations with Armenia and had closed its border with Armenia in 1993 as it backed Azerbaijan in the war.

Russia has stronger ties with Armenia (a Christian majority state) as compared to Azerbaijan. Russia also has a military base in Armenia, while both the countries are part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) signed between former states of the Soviet.

Curiopedia
  • The Azerbaijan Democratic Republic proclaimed its independence in 1918 and became the first secular democratic Muslim-majority state. In 1920, the country was incorporated into the Soviet Union as the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. The modern Republic of Azerbaijan proclaimed its independence on 30 August 1991, shortly before the dissolution of the USSR in the same year.
  • Tigranes II, more commonly known as Tigranes the Great was King of Armenia under whom the country became, for a short time, the strongest state to Rome’s east. He was a member of the Artaxiad Royal House.
  • According to the histories of Moses of Chorene, Armenia derives from the name of Aram, a lineal descendant of Hayk. Hayk the Great, is the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenian nation.

PM Modi At UNGA: UN Reform Is ‘The Need Of The Hour’

PM Modi At UNGA: UN Reform Is 'The Need Of The Hour'

In the latest address to the UN General Assembly (UNGA) by PM Modi of India. the major highlight coming out was his questioning the relevancy of the board as well as the inadequate position provided to India, the largest democracy in the world.

Crux of the Matter

PM Modi Addresses The 75th UNGA
On 26 September 2020, Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, made an address to the 75th United Nations General Assembly. Recorded video messages of leaders were played in the virtually held meeting due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

PM Modi raised the issue of the functioning of the UN as well as India’s role in his recorded address.

Key Points Raised By PM Modi

  • Introspection” is required for the UN as the “world of 1945 was significantly different from today’s world”.
  • Questioned efficiency of the organization as the World has “successfully avoided a third world war, but [one] cannot deny that there have been several wars and many civil wars”.
  • Raised doubts over the role of the UN during the pandemic as he asked that “where is the United Nations in this joint fight against the pandemic? Where is its effective response?”

Role Of India In The UN
A country that laid the foundations of the UN, India has been elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council (UNSC) for 8th time. It would serve its 2-year term from 2021. However, calls for India to be elected as a Permanent Member of the UNSC have increased in recent years.

UN Security Council has 5 permanent members – China, Russia, France, the UK, and the US. Controversies have continued since long as India was reportedly offered a permanent member seat by the US and the Soviet Union to replace China. However, PM Nehru rejected the reports, claiming that he didn’t want India to get embroiled in the Cold War between the two nations and didn’t want enmity with China.

In his address, Modi claimed that “the faith and respect that the United Nations enjoys in India are unparalleled”. However, he also added that “the people of India have been waiting for a long time for the completion of the reforms of the United Nations. For how long will India be kept out of the decision-making structures of the United Nations?

Why Should India Be Added?
At the UNGA, Modi then highlighted facts about India in favour of adding it to the “decision-making structures”:

  • India, currently the largest democracy in the world containing 18% of the world’s population, has prevailed as the “leading global economy for centuries”.
  • India has a tradition of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” (whole world is a family) which is also the ideal of the UN.
  • India has sent soldiers to over 50 UN peacekeeping missions. In the process, it has lost 163 peacekeepers since the UN’s inception – more than any country in the world.
  • ‘International Day of Non-Violence’ (2 October) and ‘International Day of Yoga’ (21 June) were initiated by India. It also played a key role in founding the ‘International Solar Alliance’ and the ‘Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure’.
  • Modi claimed that “when India strengthens its development partnership, it is not with any malafide intent of making the partner country dependent or hapless”, taking an indirect hint at China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  • India supplied “essential medicines to more than 150 countries” even during the Covid-19 pandemic. Modi also provided assurance that as “the largest vaccine producing country of the world…India’s vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used to help all humanity in fighting this crisis”.

To read about what leaders of other nations said at the 75th UN General Assembly meeting, read this story: 75th UN General Assembly Session Held

Curiopedia
  • Ahimsa is an ancient Indian principle of nonviolence which applies to all living beings. It is a key virtue in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.
  • The League of Nations was the first worldwide intergovernmental organisation whose principal mission was to maintain world peace. It was founded on 10 January 1920 following the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War.
  • The Group of 77 (G77) at the UN is a loose coalition of developing nations, designed to promote its members’ collective economic interests and create an enhanced joint negotiating capacity in the UN. Seventy-seven nations founded the organization, but by November 2013 the organization had since expanded to 133 member countries.

A Short History Of Tibet

A Short History Of Tibet

As China recently stepped up its plan to shift the rural population of Tibet into industrial labour, another thread of strain was added to the relations between the two which have been in an alternating relationship with differing ideologies. Let us have a look at the history of Tibet and its relations with China.

Crux of the Matter

Recent Push Into Labour By China
China has reportedly increased the number of Tibetan rural labourers forced in military training camps, where they are trained to become factory workers. Recently, China claimed that ~500,000 people from Tibet (15% of its population) were trained from Jan to July 2020 in such camps. 50,000 of the total were sent to jobs inside Tibet while thousands were sent into labour in China.

Critics have claimed that the motive of such training camps is to eliminate the cultural influence of Tibet while indoctrinating Tibetans with Chinese ideology. These camps are compared to the detention camps in Xinjiang, where Uighur Muslims are sent to forced labour.

History Of Tibet

  • 620s AD: Songtsen Gampo became the ruler of Central Tibet. He married Princess Wencheng of the Tang dynasty (China) and founded major Buddhist temples like Jokhang and Ramoche in Tibet.
  • 820s: Peace treaty between China and Tibet was signed after a period of conflict.
  • 1042: Indian scholar Atisha travelled to Tibet and revived Buddhist teachings by inspiring the locals.
  • 1240-44: Mongol prince Godan Khan invaded Tibet, who later converted to Buddhism in 1247. Peaceful relations between Mongols and Tibetans were established, with the latter retaining significant autonomy in the Mongolian empire.
  • 1598: The title of ‘Dalai Lama’ was first given to High Lama Sonam Gyatso by Mongol King Altan Khan.
  • 1720s: Mongols invaded Tibet. In return, the Manchu (Qing) dynasty of China defeated the Mongols but then appointed its officers to administer Tibet and annexed its Kham and Amdo regions.
  • 1904: British forces from India invaded Tibet and forced to sign an agreement to prevent any Russian interference in the region. However, Britain acknowledged suzerainty of China over Tibet.
  • 1913: Tibet reaffirmed its independence from both China and Britain.
  • 1949: People’s Republic of China (PRC) was established by Communist leader Mao Zedong, who claimed Tibet as part of China.
  • 1951: Tibet was forced to sign the “Seventeen Point Agreement” by China, which granted autonomy to the former but established Chinese military quarters in the capital Lhasa.
  • 1959: The Dalai Lama was forced to take exile in India along with 80,000 followers as a revolt against Chinese rule broke out in Tibet, which was suppressed violently.
  • Refuge for Dalai Lama has been cited as one of the reasons for the 1962 Indo-China war.
  • 1963: Foreign visitors were banned in Tibet – opened back in 1971.
  • 1965: Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) was established by China.
  • 1966: The Cultural Revolution of China impacted Tibet, as Buddhist monasteries and entities were damaged.

Several talks of reconciliation have failed between the 2 groups since.

Curiopedia
  • Lhasa is a prefecture-level city, one of the main administrative divisions of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. The population is well-served by primary schools and basic medical facilities, although more advanced facilities are lacking. Tibetan Buddhism and monastic life have been dominant aspects of the local culture since the 7th century.  
  • The Uyghurs are a Turkic-speaking minority ethnic group in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in Northwest China. The Chinese government rejects the notion of the Uyghurs being an indigenous group. 
  • The Militia is the militia part of the armed forces of China, other two parts being the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the People’s Armed Police (PAP). It is one of the largest militias in the world.

75th UN General Assembly Session Held

75th UN General Assembly Session Held

As the 75th UN General Assembly meet was held virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic, let us take a look at what the leaders said in context of the worldwide situations as well as their interpersonal relations.

Crux of the Matter

Virtual Meet
The 75th anniversary of the United Nations was marked this year, which was formed when World War II ended in 1945. The UN General Assembly meeting was held online this year from 22 September, with pre-recorded messages from World Leaders being played.

Donald Trump (US President)
Trump continued blaming China for Covid-19 damage while describing the achievements of his tenure. Some of his statements are given here:

We have waged a fierce battle against the invisible enemy, the China virus, which has claimed countless lives in 188 countries.

Even as [China] canceled domestic flights and locked citizens in their homes, the Chinese government and the World Health Organization, which is virtually controlled by China, falsely declared that there was no evidence of human to human transmission.

Our military has increased substantially in size. We spent $2.5 trillion over the last four years on our military. We have the most powerful military anywhere in the world, and it’s not even close.

Xi Jinping (Chinese President)
Jinping downplayed China’s expansionism, took covert jibe at the US and made grand promises.

We will never seek hegemony, expansion, or sphere of influence. We have no intention to fight either a Cold War or a hot war with any country.

We aim to have CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.

In particular, major countries should act like major countries. They should provide more global public goods, take up their due responsibilities and live up to people’s expectations

Vladimir Putin (Russian President)
Putin offered aid to the UN members while pushing for more open trading across the world.

Russia is ready to provide the UN with all the necessary qualified assistance; in particular, we are offering to provide our vaccine, free of charge, for the voluntary vaccination of the staff of the UN and its offices.

I would like to draw attention once again to Russia’s proposal to create so-called ”green corridors“ free from trade wars and sanctions.

In general, freeing the world trade from barriers, bans, restrictions and illegitimate sanctions would be of great help in revitalizing global growth and reducing unemployment.

Emmanuel Macron (French President)
Macron discussed a multipolar world besides the US and China while highlighting unlawful actions being taken across the world.

The world as it is today cannot come down to simple rivalry between China and the United States, no matter the global weight of these two great powers.

I repeat once more to Russia the need for full light to be shed on the murder attempt on a political opposition figure using a nerve agent, Novichok.

We will not compromise on the activation of a mechanism that the United States is not in a position to activate on its own after leaving the agreement (reactivated sanctions on Iran by the US).

Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Turkish President)
Erdogan raised the issue of Kashmir, again.

The Kashmir conflict, which is also key to the stability and peace in South Asia, is still a burning issue. Steps taken following the abolition of the special status of Jammu & Kashmir further complicated the problem.

In order for the Kashmiri people to look at a safe future together with their Pakistani and Indian neighbours, it is imperative to solve the problem through dialogue and on the basis of justice and equity, but not through collision.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey in 2019 UN General Assembly

Narendra Modi
Modi called for structural reforms while declaring a need for “multilateralism”.

The declaration acknowledges the need for reform in the United Nation itself. You cannot fight today’s challenges with outdated structures.

Without comprehensive reforms, the UN faces a crisis of confidence. For today’s interconnected world, we need a reformed multilateralism that reflects today’s realities.

T S Tirumurti, India’s permanent representative to the UN, tweeted that “Turkey should learn to respect sovereignty of other nations and reflect on its own policies more deeply”.

Curiopedia
  • The Charter of the United Nations is the foundational treaty of the United Nations. It establishes the purposes, governing structure, and overall framework of the UN system, including its six principal organs.
  • The secretary-general of the United Nations is the chief administrative officer of the United Nations and head of the United Nations Secretariat. As of 2020, the secretary-general is former prime minister of Portugal António Guterres.
  • Trygve Halvdan Lie was a Norwegian politician, labour leader, government official and author. From 1946 to 1952 he was the first Secretary-General of the United Nations.

New Beginning And A Brave Ending For Indian Armed Forces

New Beginning And A Brave Ending For Indian Armed Forces

While the iconic aircraft carrier INS Viraat sailed the last time before its dismantling, news of jubilation came from the Indian Navy as it appointed its first female airborne tacticians from warship decks. Let’s have a look at the recent events surrounding Indian Armed Forces.

Crux of the Matter

INS Viraat To Be Dismantled
INS (Indian Naval Ship) Viraat, an Aircraft Carrier ship, arrived on the Alang coast in Bhavnagar district (Gujarat) on 22 September 2020. It would be dismantled “during high tide at 1 PM on September 28” after being decommissioned in 2017 by the Indian Navy, and would be sold as scrap.

INS Viraat belonged to the ‘Centaur-Class aircraft carrier’ category, while having Sea Harriers jet fighters and ‘Anti Submarine aircraft Sea King Mk 42B, Sea King Mk 42 C and Chetak’ helicopters operate from it.

History Of INS Viraat

  • The ship was integrated into the Royal Navy of the UK in 1959 by the name ‘HMS (Her Majesty’s Ship) Hermes‘.
  • It played a vital role in the 1982 Falklands war between the UK and Argentina.
  • It was decommissioned by the UK in 1985, after which India purchased it in 1985-86.
  • The ship was integrated into the Indian Navy in May 1987 as INS Viraat.
  • It played an important role in Operation Jupiter (1989) during the Peacekeeping operation in Sri Lanka.
  • It was deployed in Operation Parakram (2001-02) after terrorist attacks on the Parliament of India.

Indian Armed Forces – Women Make History
Sub Lieutenant (SLt) Kumudini Tyagi and SLt Riti Singh were recently selected as ‘Observers’ (Airborne Tacticians) in the “helicopter stream” of the Indian Navy, becoming the first women airborne tacticians in India to operate from warships’ decks. Earlier, women were restricted to ‘fixed-wing aircraft’ that both ascended from and landed on the shore.

Rear Admiral Antony George claimed that women trained for the first time in “helicopter operations” would eventually lead to women being deployed in “frontline warships of Indian Navy”.

Rafale
Indian Air Force (IAF) would be inducting a female pilot (name withheld currently) in the ‘Rafale’ squadron, with the pilot currently operating MiG-21 Bison jets. IAF has been integrating women fighter pilots since 2016.

Curiopedia
  • The motto of INS Vikrant is, Jayema Sam Yudhi Sprdhah, which is taken from Rigveda and can be translated as “I defeat those who fight against me”. The Rigveda is an ancient Indian collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns.
  • The motto of INS Viraat is, Jalameva Yasya, Balameva Tasya. It translates as, “He who rules over the seas is all powerful”.
  • INS Viraat was originally commissioned by the British Royal Navy as HMS Hermes on 18 November 1959, 15 years after she was laid down in June 1944. In April 1986, Hermes was towed from Portsmouth Dockyard to Devonport Dockyard to be refitted, re-activated and sold to India.