On February 2, 2021, U.S Army Cultural and Area Studies Office Command and General Staff College presented an event named “Geopolitics and Great Power Competition in the South Caucasus.” It was hosted virtually at the Lewis and Clark Center in Fort Leavenworth Kansas. This event was organized and mediated by former IWP student Dr. Mahir Ibrahimov, and IWP Professor Paul Goble participated in the panel. Prof. Goble is a former special advisor to the Secretary of State and specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia.
Three other experts spoke on the panel, which included two former United States Ambassadors and experts in this area. The speakers included Amb. Richard Kauzlarich, former ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Azerbaijan; Ambassador Carey Cavanaugh, Professor of Diplomacy at the University of Kentucky; and Mr. Matthew Stein, a Eurasian security analyst.
The panelists discussed peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and the OSCE Minsk Group, which encourages a peaceful, negotiated resolution to the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh. This conversation is critical, as this conflict has been going on for over thirty years. Ambassador Kauzlarich discussed the situation 25 years after the Dayton Agreement. Former Ambassador Carey Cavanaugh discussed diplomacy regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, including the solution of the Russian cease-fire and the challenge of finding a compromise solution to please all parties in the Minsk Group.
IWP Professor Paul Goble provided an insightful analysis based on his experience in the region. Mr. Goble addressed how in the short term, there will be a great amount of confusion on what can be done to resolve this conflict due to a “tectonic shift” in the population. Mr. Goble also addressed the importance of five countries in this conflict, including Azerbaijan, Armenia, Russia, Turkey, and Iran. Mr. Goble argued that Moscow is going to continue the Minsk group and that Moscow and the other countries are going to be seeking bilateral and multilateral means to keep this conflict from exploding again. Mr. Goble also argued that the expectations of the countries involved have changed.
Mr. Matthew Stein discussed the clashes of April 2016 and how the 2020 war marked a significant turning point in the conflict.
Before the answer and question section, Dr. Mahir Ibrahimov summarized important points made in the discussion. Dr. Ibrahimov emphasized how the November 2020 trilateral peace deal is not a “full-fledged legal document” and that the U.S. and the West need to send a clear message to Russia and Iran conveying that they do not unilaterally mandate the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Overall, this event was a highly informative discussion regarding a significant ongoing conflict.