Armenian News Network / Groong

Review & Outlook - 04/11/2016

Artsakh: Analysis of the Four Day War

Armenian News Network / Groong
April 11, 2016

By Grigor Hakobyan


On the night of April 1 and morning of April 2, Azerbaijani forces
attempted to break through Armenian defenses and occupy new positions on
the border with Artsakh. The blitzkrieg involved heavy use of infantry,
special forces, air forces, armored units, artillery and multiple launch
rocket systems which were indiscriminately used against Armenian towns
and villages in the border areas. Despite small gains made by invading
forces in the Mardakert region, the counter-offensive launched by the
Armenian forces drove Azerbaijani troops back to their original
positions which allowed the Armenian side to regain its previously lost
positions in the Mardakert region.


The four day war revealed a number of strengths and weaknesses among
both sides of the conflict. The strength of Azerbaijani forces was
composed of newly acquired weapon systems from Russia, Turkey and Israel
which presented itself a formidable force. Another strength perhaps
arguably could be attributed to numeric superiority of Azerbaijani
forces both in personnel and military equipment along the line of
contact where in some places it was reaching a ratio of 1:5 or more. The
first time ever use of Israeli kamikaze drones, which had no equal in
Armenian armaments, during this war may have been a surprise to regional
and international geopolitical observers. Additionally, an element of
surprise was yet another strength of the Azerbaijani side which
fortunately, didn't last long.

On the other hand, a number of weakness among Azerbaijani forces were
also revealed. Specifically, a number of Azerbaijani units began to
quickly retreat as soon as the Armenian side launched a counteroffensive
against them. Many Azerbaijani soldiers were being executed by their own
punishing battalions for retreating from their positions without orders
to do so. According to some eyewitnesses, Azerbaijani commandos that
broke into the Armenian village of Talish in the Mardakert Region were
observed to be drunk or under influence of narcotic substances. As in
previous war of 1988-1994, Azerbaijani forces didn't shy away from
committing war crimes against the Armenian civilians in the war
zone. Lastly, despite their numerical superiority in personnel and
equipment, Azerbaijani armed forces were quickly defeated and thrown
back to their original positions by the Armenian armed forces.

The Armenian side also had many strengths, one of them being better
military preparedness of every soldier and the situational awareness
which allowed its armed forces to quickly regroup and go on a successful
counter offensive. Previously lost positions were quickly recaptured in
less than twenty four hours. High combat morale of Armenian soldiers
allowed them to fight off their enemy which was numerically greater and
better equipped. Furthermore, rapid self-mobilization of volunteer
fighters in the Republics of Armenia and Artsakh followed by an influx
of volunteers from diaspora in less than seventy two hours boosted
soldiers' morale on the frontline and put fear in the hearts of their
enemies. Disorganized and rapid retreat of Azerbaijani armed formations
in less than forty eight hours of the war was a testament to combat
readiness of Armenian forces to fight off the enemy.

There were a few weaknesses revealed on the Armenian side
also. Specifically, lack of sufficient transportation routes between the
Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh which is limited to only
Yerevan-Stepanakert highway via Berdzor might have delayed the arrival
of reinforcements from the Republic of Armenia. Considering that the
second transportation route, Vardenis-Karvachar is not completed yet and
requires more time to be finished must be given more attention and
considered to be a priority by both diaspora and relevant Armenian
authorities. Another weakness has been the insecurity of air corridors
between the two Armenian republics due to a danger stemming from the
presence of Azerbaijani air defense units located very close to the line
of contact. Inability to use air corridors between the two republics may
have prevented the Armenian mainland from quickly airdropping necessary
supplies, military aid and volunteer fighters in Artsakh.


There are many theories of what may have prompted the Azerbaijani side
to launch military aggression against Armenian positions, towns and
villages of Artsakh. The role of regional and extra-regional powers in
this conflict is certainly not excluded. In light of the events that
have transpired perhaps a different approach to the conflict is
needed. Specifically, the fact that the Republic of Artsakh didn't
receive any international recognition by any country as a nation state,
similar to Kosovo, despite its de-facto status of an independent state
and a history of democratic elections for the past twenty five years
should be taken into consideration. Perhaps one nation, two states
solution similar to Greece and Cyprus should be given a closer look.
Providing international recognition to the Republic of Artsakh within
its present borders may be the right solution that is desperately
missing from the resolution of this conflict.

Grigor Hakobyan is an independent political analyst in Los Angeles,
and the founder of Ararat Institute for Near Eastern Studies. He was a
freelance writer for the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute of John
Hopkins University and has also interned at the US House of
Representatives where he was engaged in research of ethnic conflicts
and terrorism in Russia, Caucasus and Central Asia; and at the
International Center for Terrorism Studies at the Potomac Institute
for Policy Studies where he researched international terrorist
networks operating in the Caucasus and Central Asia regions. Grigor
has prepared congressional briefings for the Director of ICTS on WMDs.
He holds a B.A. degree in Political Science from Arizona State
University and a Master's degree in Special Education from California
State University Dominguez Hills.

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