Karabakh war “may be moving towards potentially bloody battle for city of Shusha” says analyst

Karabakh war “may be moving towards potentially bloody battle for city of Shusha” says analyst
The war for Nagorno-Karabakh continues to rage following three failed ceasefires.
By bne IntelIiNews November 6, 2020

The Nagorno-Karabakh war “may be moving towards a potentially bloody battle for the city of Shusha (which Armenians call Shushi) deep inside the territory” with Azerbaijani forces reported to be no more than 3-4 kilometres away from the mountain fortress city, a Carnegie Europe analyst warned on November 5.

Thomas de Waal, a scholar and writer on the Caucasus at the think tank, added on Twitter: “A week ago the push was towards Lachin between Armenia and NK. A switch to Shusha may make less sense militarily but has political significance. To see their flag over the high citadel of Shusha appears to be the No. 1 objective of Pres. Aliyev [Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev] and the Azerbaijani public.”

And he noted: “Shusha has great meaning in Azerbaijan as the birthplace of poets and composers. It was their town in Karabakh before the [1988-1994] war, with an 85 percent Azerbaijani population.”

Video footage pointed to by de Waal which shows a Russian Anna News Agency reporter in Shusha/Shushi on November 5.

Baku's aim, said de Waal, might be to attempt the recapturing of Shusha soon, before winter weather comes. “However, Shusha is a cliff-top citadel, very hard to capture. In 1992 it fell to Armenians mainly because Az. units just abandoned it.”

Shusha sits above Stepanakert—the capital of the self-proclaimed republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, controlled by ethnic Armenians but internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan—and also has great strategic significance for the Armenians, the analyst said, adding: “What happens next? One can only say with some certainty that given the geography a new phase of the conflict deep inside Karabakh itself is likely to be messy and horrible.”

The failure of diplomacy to end the month and a half-long conflict that is sure to have claimed the lives of several thousands already—though verification of casualties is presently impossible to achieve—was also raised by de Waal, who said: “Diplomacy is still missing in action sadly. No predictions then, only to say that outsiders should pay close attention to events around Shusha/i, despite all else that’s going on in the world.”

RFE/RL wrote on November 5 that “A century-old Armenian expression says, ‘Whoever controls the city of Shushi controls the whole of Nagorno-Karabakh.’”