The role of ideology in mass atrocities: The case of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan

This article attempts to explore the ideological aspects of the Armenia–Azerbaijan conflict by focusing on mainstream Armenian concepts. Its main argument is that the nationalist Armenian ideology provides a substantial answer to the exercised brutality. It draws on theoretical concepts including the role of ideology in perpetrating violence and looks into the main concepts of Armenian nationalism; these include the construction of “the enemy” and its image. The particular focus is on Garegin Nzhdeh’s ideas, which have constituted the bedrock of Armenian ideology since independence in 1991. The peculiarity of Nzhdeh’s vision is that some of his pertinent ideas were “successfully” tested in Zangezur in 1920. Against this ideological background, the article then presents two case studies from the military phase of the conflict which show that the brutality exercised went beyond military necessities and targeted the civilian population. The article concludes that Armenia’s exclusionary ideology, with its indiscriminate “enemy” concept, played a key role in producing brutality on a massive scale against those deemed “guilty

Authors: Vugar Gurbanov