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Alexander Clapp, National Interest: Prisoner of the Caucasus
Nagorno-Karabakh: a clash of civilizations?
TUCKED IN the borderland between Europe and Asia sits a nation-state recognized by seven American states, New South Wales, the Basque parliament, Abkhazia, Ossetia and Transnistria, but by no country—its chief financier and defender, Armenia, included. Six hours’ drive southeast of Yerevan, you reach it through a series of dry ochre canyons that give way to rolling green steppe. At the immense skyline of the Lesser Caucasus, you cross a passport control governing no official border and a time-zone change that goes unacknowledged. You drive up the most expensive strip of pavement in Transcaucasia, joining a winding trickle of minibuses and T-72 tanks chained to the beds of semitrucks. Between mountaintops stretch nets raised to ensnare attacking helicopters. Billboards claim that the crimes of 1915 may yet be avenged. A giant statue of a grandfather and grandmother hewn out of volcanic tufa is captioned with the motto of the republic: “We Are Our Mountains.” Descending into Stepanakert, the capital, you check in with authorities and observe the trappings of statehood—parliament, police force, postal system—developed over more than two decades of sitting within Grad rocket range of Azerbaijani forces, which make regular claims that they can capture Stepanakert in four days and threaten to shoot down any planes, commercial or military, that attempt to use its airport.
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WNU Editor: A good review. Hat tip to Jay for this link.