What the Azerbaijan-Armenia Conflict Might Mean for Israel, Iran, and the Middle East

The fighting that recently erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan has its origins in the former’s occupation of a segment of the latter’s territory in a war that followed the breakup of the Soviet Union. Behind these military engagements are ethnic tensions between these two Transcaucasian peoples that stretch back at least to the 19th century—as well as complex geopolitical forces. Harold Rhode tries to make sense of the muddle of larger and smaller powers who have an interest in the current war’s outcome:

Azerbaijan, located along Iran’s northwestern border, has always been a problem for Iran. Three-quarters of the total Azeri population in the world live in northwest Iran. . . . That is why Iran [historically] feared that if an independent Azeri state were created, it might attract Iran’s Azeris to join them, and thereby dismember Iran.

The Armenian-Azeri conflict spells trouble for Israel. Israel wants no part of a conflict with Christian Armenia. But Azerbaijan is a close ally of Israel’s, because of the Iranian threat to both. Israel also supplies Azerbaijan with weapons that it hopes won’t be used against Armenia. Shiite Iran supports Armenia, largely . . . because Iran sees [Shiite] Azerbaijan as an existential threat to its own territorial integrity. Turkey and Israel oddly find themselves on the same side in this conflict, with both supporting Azerbaijan.

Some observers have asked whether Iran might have provoked the Armenians to attack the Azeris. If so, did Iran do so to distract/preoccupy America and its allies from turning up the heat against Iran even more severely? [And] will Iranian Azeris—so passionately Iranian, yet still Azeri—remain silent as Armenians kill their fellow Azeris across the border?

Read more at JNS

More about: Armenians, Azerbaijan, Iran, Israeli Security, Turkey

 

The ICJ’s Vice-President Explains What’s Wrong with Its Recent Ruling against Israel

It should be obvious to anyone with even rudimentary knowledge of the Gaza war that Israel is not committing genocide there, or anything even remotely akin to it. In response to such spurious accusations, it’s often best to focus on the mockery they make of international law itself, or on how Israel can most effectively combat them. Still, it is also worth stopping to consider the legal case on its own terms. No one has done this quite so effectively, to my knowledge, as the Ugandan jurist Julia Sebutinde, who is the vice-president of the ICJ and the only one of its judges to rule unequivocally in Israel’s favor both in this case and in the previous one where it found accusations of genocide “plausible.”

Sebutinde begins by questioning the appropriateness of the court ruling on this issue at all:

Once again, South Africa has invited the Court to micromanage the conduct of hostilities between Israel and Hamas. Such hostilities are exclusively governed by the laws of war (international humanitarian law) and international human-rights law, areas where the Court lacks jurisdiction in this case.

The Court should also avoid trying to enforce its own orders. . . . Is the Court going to reaffirm its earlier provisional measures every time a party runs to it with allegations of a breach of its provisional measures? I should think not.

Sebutinde also emphasizes the absurdity of hearing this case after Israel has taken “multiple concrete actions” to alleviate the suffering of Gazan civilians since the ICJ’s last ruling. In fact, she points out, “the evidence actually shows a gradual improvement in the humanitarian situation in Gaza since the Court’s order.” She brings much evidence in support of these points.

She concludes her dissent by highlighting the procedural irregularities of the case, including a complete failure to respect the basic rights of the accused:

I find it necessary to note my serious concerns regarding the manner in which South Africa’s request and incidental oral hearings were managed by the Court, resulting in Israel not having sufficient time to file its written observations on the request. In my view, the Court should have consented to Israel’s request to postpone the oral hearings to the following week to allow for Israel to have sufficient time to fully respond to South Africa’s request and engage counsel. Regrettably, as a result of the exceptionally abbreviated timeframe for the hearings, Israel could not be represented by its chosen counsel, who were unavailable on the dates scheduled by the Court.

It is also regrettable that Israel was required to respond to a question posed by a member of the Court over the Jewish Sabbath. The Court’s decisions in this respect bear upon the procedural equality between the parties and the good administration of justice by the Court.

Read more at International Court of Justice

More about: Gaza War 2023, ICC, International Law