The End of Nagorno-Karabakh

Welcome back to World Brief, where we’re looking at the end of Nagorno-Karabakh, a Russian meeting with the Wagner Group’s new leader, and elections in Eswatini.

Welcome back to World Brief, where we’re looking at the end of Nagorno-Karabakh, a Russian meeting with the Wagner Group’s new leader, and elections in Eswatini.

Following more than three decades of cross-border violence, the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region has ceased to exist. On Thursday, the government of the “Republic of Artsakh,” a breakaway government established during the post-Soviet struggle for control of the region, signed a decree dissolving its rule by Jan. 1. The decision marks a major win for Azerbaijan and furthers the mass exodus of ethnic Armenians from the area.

Around 78,300 Armenians (or more than half of Nagorno-Karabakh’s population) have fled the region in the last week, after Azerbaijan launched what it called an “anti-terrorist” offensive on Sept. 19 targeting the Armenian enclave. Within 24 hours, regional leaders had surrendered to Baku’s forces, and by Wednesday, top Artsakh officials such as Ruben Vardanyan had been arrested and brought to face court in Azerbaijan’s capital.

“Analysis of the situation shows that in the coming days there will be no Armenians left in Nagorno-Karabakh,” Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said. “This is an act of ethnic cleansing.”

Azerbaijan has denied these accusations, saying ethnic Armenians are not required to leave Nagorno-Karabakh, “separatists” who hand over their weapons will be granted amnesty, and residents’ rights will be protected under Baku’s constitution. But with tens of thousands of Armenians fleeing Azerbaijani control, the U.S. Agency for International Development has documented “very troubling reports of violence against civilians.”

Fighting for control of Nagorno-Karabakh began in 1988, with two wars breaking out following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Armenians in Azerbaijan and Azeris in Armenia were forcibly expelled, with dozens killed in ethnic pogroms. In 2020, the outbreak of a second war forced Russia to broker a fragile—and often ignored—cease-fire. Under the deal, Armenia controlled Nagorno-Karabakh’s largest city as well as surrounding area and Azerbaijan oversaw the rest of the territory.

Russian peacekeepers stated on Thursday that they will continue to monitor the situation. However, many Armenians do not trust the Kremlin’s promises. After Moscow invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Armenia warned the international community of a potential Azerbaijani offensive, arguing that Russia’s wartime focus on Ukraine had pulled its attention from the embroiled region.

Wagner’s new chief. Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Andrei Troshev, a former leader of the paramilitary Wagner Group, on Thursday to discuss overseeing “volunteer units” in Ukraine. These forces would assist in special military operations and increase public support for Moscow’s war campaign. Wagner already maintains a Russian military presence throughout Africa, and Putin’s meeting signals that Troshev may be the new chief.

The meeting, announced on Friday, highlights the Kremlin’s efforts to show it maintains control over Wagner despite former leader Yevgeny Prigozhin leading a failed coup against the Kremlin in June. Prigozhin has since perished in a plane crash suspected to be ordered by the Russian defense ministry.

Elections in Eswatini. Africa’s last absolute monarchy held elections on Friday to decide the makeup of its parliament—but the results are likely to be meaningless. King Mswati III has been in power since 1986, with his father serving as king for 82 years before that. In the southern African nation, political parties are banned, and elected officials simply advise the Crown.

These are Eswatini’s first elections since 2021, when the country was rocked by deadly pro-democracy protests. More than half a million residents are currently registered to vote for 59 members of the lower house, with the 55-year-old king set to select 10 more representatives. Critics have argued that the elections only act to further strengthen the monarchy’s power.

Mosque bombings rock Pakistan. At least 52 people were killed in a blast, likely a suicide bombing, near a mosque in Mastung, Pakistan, on Friday. Hundreds of Muslims had gathered in the area to celebrate the birthday of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, a holiday known as Mawlid al-Nabi. At least one senior police officer has been confirmed among the dead.

This was not Pakistan’s only mosque bombing on Friday. Hours later, another blast killed at least four people and injured 11 others at a mosque near Peshawar. Pakistani authorities were ordered to remain on high alert in anticipation of the holy day. No group has claimed responsibility for either attack.

Amazon announced on Monday that it is investing in Anthropic AI, an artificial intelligence start-up, and taking a minority stake in the company. Up to how much money does Amazon plan on investing?

A. $1 billion
B. $4 billion
C. $10 billion
D. $20 billion

The next time you’re in Paris, don’t look too closely at your sheets. You may just find a few red bloodsuckers tucked under the covers. Next week, France’s public transport operators will convene to discuss how to better prevent the spread of bedbugs, especially as Paris prepares to host the Olympic Games next year. That’s a big no for me.

B. $4 billion

As tech companies have begun pouring resources into AI, the U.S. government has struggled to keep up with regulating the technology. One solution, Matt Sheehan writes, could be to follow China’s approach to AI regulation.

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