Rabat – Morocco’s Foreign Ministry has sent a message of support to Azerbaijan following military clashes with Armenia. Azerbaijan is engaged in fierce fighting with forces of Armenia in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. Morocco has called for restraint and expressed hope that international law and the UN can provide a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
“Morocco fully supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan,” Azebaijani news sources quoted the Moroccan message to Azerbaijan on Friday.
The Azerbaijani state news agency also reported that Moroccan Ambassador Adil Embarch met with Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov in the capital Baku on Friday.
The two diplomats praised the improved political ties between the two countries and highlighted several fields for renewed cooperation. Ambassador Embarch and Bayramov stressed opportunities in “economic, humanitarian, tourism, alternative and renewable energy fields.”
During the meeting, Azerbaijan’s foreign minister briefed Morocco’s ambassador on the devolving situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Bayramov blamed “Armenia`s continuing policy of aggression” for the escalating fighting in the autonomous Azeri region.
Azerbaijan’s top diplomat told Morocco’s ambassador that its armed forces are acting “in exercise of its legal right to self-defense” and aim to protect local civilians.
In response, Ambassador Embarch stated that Morocco supports Azerbaijan’s “just position” in the conflict, according to the Azeri state press agency. Bayramov praised Morocco for its “fair position” in the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Morocco’s ambassador has made a name for himself in Azerbaijan, having received the “best ambassador award” in February for his work in developing relations between the two countries.
The Nagorno-Karabakh region is a de-facto independent state within Azerbaijan. It is governed as the Republic of Artsakh and Azerbaijan does not exercise political authority over the region. The region is internationally recognized as Azeri territory but the region’s Armenian majority has allowed Armenia to claim the region since the two countries were Soviet republics.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have repeatedly clashed over the region and fighting again flared up after tensions boiled over in August. Both nations fiercely resent each other and popular movements have repeatedly called for military action over the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute.
Over the past weeks, Azerbaijan and Armenia have seen military action in the region rapidly escalate. Heavy artillery is being used by both sides and drones and military aircraft have been deployed.
Turkey has supported Azerbaijan militarily in an apparent effort to dislodge traditional ally Russia as Baku’s favored international partner. The conflict risks becoming a much entangled international affair as regional powers seek to grab the opportunity to assert their influence. There are reports of Turkey deploying Syrian mercenaries to support Azerbaijan. But Baku denies the presence of Syrian mercenaries in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
The United Nations, Russia, the US and France have called for a cease-fire. For days, both conflicting parties resisted calls for ceasefire but it appears Armenia signaled it could be prepared for talks on Friday. Despite this, fighting raged on Saturday. Armenian sources claim that regional capital Stepanakert was bombed by Azerbaijan. Meanwhile, locals are increasingly speaking of a “last battle” to settle the regional dispute once and for all.
Morocco’s support for a peaceful resolution adds to international calls for peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan. With dozens killed and hundreds of injuries within seven days, the conflict risks spiraling out of control and becoming another regional war involving a variety of international actors.