Lessons Learned from the 2020 Armenia-Azerbaijan War over Nagorno-Karabakh

By: LTC Maciej Zaborowski, POL AF, CSAG CCJ5
05 Nov 2021


The war between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the autumn of 2020 gained the attention of the international community. The conflict has long been considered, albeit wrongly, a frozen one by a majority of Western experts. However, the outcomes of the war were misguided by many analysts and observers, mostly due to typical Western biases and approaches focused on specific aspects of the conflict. These aspects are seemingly relevant from military, operational, and strategic perspectives, whereas some of the accompanying gains of the victors went unnoticed and were not addressed properly. The debates continue on about the winners, the losers, and the visible and practical lessons learned such as: the successful use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS); a battlefield dominated by sensors limiting freedom of movement; alleged obsolescence of armored vehicles; and the need to redesign air defense systems. The analysis and debates continuously talk about the previously mentioned aspects yet rarely talk about the Russian gains. The war provided plenty of food for thought, especially to smaller and regional powers, while seemingly neglected by global powers. Nevertheless, a thorough look at the Kremlin’s behavior, its alleged lack of engagement, and the less obvious gains should draw attention for more analysis.

Key Points:

  • The Iraqi elections come amid positive signs of Middle East de-escalation and new geopolitical conditions.
  • Political stability could open doors for Iraq to play a mediator role in the region, especially after Baghdad’s actions as a neutral mediator in the region.
  • Although contrary to the goal of protestors, militias will likely have success in the elections.
  • Since the likely winners of the early elections in Iraq are the same political players, it is unlikely that the upcoming elections will result in significant changes to the political map or cause major alterations to the ruling parties.
  • Muqtada Al-Sadr is working to promote his movement as a moderate and effective alternative on the Iraqi Shia political scene. He is also seeking to reassure the West.
  • The Tishreen is a spontaneous social movement that is not ideologized nor supported by external countries. Although it lacks a unified strategy, it will mature over time, and thus, Tishreen options and programmatic agendas will crystallize.


Read the complete paper here.


The opinions and conclusions expressed herein are those of a number of international officers within the Combined Strategic Analysis Group (CSAG) and do not necessarily reflect the views of United States Central Command, not of the nations represented within the CSAG or any other governmental agency.