Since the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea, Western policymakers have worked earnestly to prevent Russian President Vladimir Putin from instigating new military campaigns in Eastern Europe and the post-Soviet region.
Border tensions and occasional skirmishes have been regular occurrences in the disputed territory since the May 1994 ceasefire agreement, but the recent clashes were the worst outbreak of violence in two decades.
The fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh is like a chronic affliction that simmers down but never really stops. Escalations in the level of hostilities regularly arrive with melt-offs of the mountain snow. However, the eruption that began on April 2nd has flared up to levels unseen since the 1990s.
Violent conflict erupted in Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) on April 2, killing hundreds. Azerbaijan violated a cease-fire that had been in place since 1994. The situation remains extremely volatile, despite a temporary truce.
While Muslim-dominated countries like Iran harbor contempt for Israel -- the reason Netanyahu is speaking to Congress -- Azerbaijan could not be more different. As one publication recently pointed out, "What started as a marriage of convenience has netted Israel its closest Muslim ally."
Half a world away, the State Department said that it was "concerned", and called on Azerbaijan to conduct a "transparent" investigation in line with Baku's "international commitment to protecting media freedom." Human rights activists were not impressed.
The United States, the United Nations and other international organizations and governments should apply all available pressure on the Azeri government to honor its agreement with Hungary and return Safarov to where he belongs for the rest of his life -- a jail cell.
At this point, the ideal option for Obama would be to abandon Matthew Bryza's flawed candidacy for ambassador to Azerbaijan and name another less controversial nominee who could be confirmed by the Senate.