The Azerbaijani diaspora, which numbers some 60 million people around the world has entered the virtual social media battle being waged between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
According to a post on Instagram by the UK broadsheet the Daily Telegraph the US based socialite and social media star Kim Kardashian “has turned her considerable publicity powers to Armenia’s war against Azerbaijan”. The Azerbaijani diaspora has accused her of donating funds for the purchase of arms to support the Armenian war effort. Frankly, the inflammatory use of social media to stoke nationalist passions does nothing to help international efforts to de-esculate the situation.
There have already been hundreds of casualties on both sides, as a result of ferocious fighting over the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabakh, with many civilians getting caught in the crossfire. The conflict in this region originated during the Soviet era, when Nagorno-Karabakh was inhabited both by Armenians and Azerbaijanis. Although the sparsely populated mountainous region has been part of Azerbaijan since its independence in 1991 according to international law, it is has been de facto occupied by Armenia following regional armed conflict in the early 1990s.
The efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chaired by U.S, France and Russia to find a peaceful solution have yielded no tangible results in 30 years. Azerbaijan claims that international law is on their side, and has accused the co-chairs of the Minsk Group of lacking objectivity, saying that they are unduly influenced by the Armenian diaspora living in the USA, France and Russia. They have called for the greater involvement of regional neighbours such as Turkey in the negotiation process to secure a peaceful solution.
In July of this year, fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces erupted in the Tovuz region, which is far away from Nagorno-Karabakh and holds a strategic location on energy and transportation routes between Azerbaijan and Europe. The conflict escalated further in September in Nagorno-Karabakh and spread to other regions.
A petition signed by more than 4 million Azerbaijani Facebook users has been sent to Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook requesting that out of fairness and professionalism Facebook should respect their community standards and should not allow the ethnic Armenian staff members of Facebook to misuse the power given by the company to them to ban, remove or suspend Azerbaijani profiles of Facebook subscribers who raise peaceful voices against the human tragedy of the ongoing war.
In the meanwhile, a fragile ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan brokered by Russia last Saturday has been broken, and Azerbaijan claims that Armenia has continued to bombard the Azerbaijani city of Ganja causing civilian casualties. Ganja is actually quite far from the main centre of conflict in Nagorno Karabakh, and has no military targets. It was selected as the European Youth Capital in 2016 and served as the European City of Sport in 2019.
Whilst the whole of the world is keen to see the fighting stop, there appears to be no immediate end in sight to the hostility and aggression being shown against civilians. There is a need for neutral peacekeeping forces to step in to protect civilians, stop transgression by militants and police a genuine ceasefire that both sides must respect, if we are to have any hope of finding a solution to this dispute.