Police dispersed protesters who gathered in Baku during the evening of Tuesday, July 14, to demand that the government mobilize the army in response to cross-border clashes with Armenian forces occurring in the Tovuz region. Some 30,000 demonstrators gathered in Azadliq Square before marching towards the national assembly. A group of protesters then forcefully entered the building and smashed windows before being removed by security staff. Police subsequently used water cannon and tear gas to disperse the demonstrators during which a number of protesters were arrested.
Further protests are likely in the near term. Associated disruptions to transportation and business are to be expected around demonstration sites.
Azerbaijan and neighboring Armenia have a long-standing dispute over the possession of Nagorno-Karabakh, home to some 150,000 inhabitants (mostly ethnic Armenians) and located in the west of Azerbaijan. This issue has fueled tensions between the two countries since 1988; some 30,000 people were killed in fighting from 1990 to 1994. The two countries declared another ceasefire in April 2016 after the region experienced four days of violent clashes that left hundreds dead. Tensions between the two countries remain high and each side frequently accuses the other of violating the ceasefire agreement.
Renewed cross-border clashes between Armenian and Azeri forces broke out in the Tavush area on Sunday, July 12. At least 11 Azeri and four Armenian troops, in addition to an Azeri civilian, have been killed since fighting in the area began.
Individuals in Azerbaijan are advised to monitor developments, avoid all demonstrations and political gatherings as a precaution, and anticipate a heightened security presence and localized disruptions to transportation and business around protest sites.
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