Skip to main content

Pompeo hopes Armenia can 'defend' itself from Azerbaijan

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also said that Turkey was increasing the risk of more bloodshed.
Armenian-Americans hold signs and flags as they protest against the conflict between Azerbaijan and the Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh and Turkey's support for Azerbaijan in front of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on October 15, 2020. - US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo voiced hope Thursday that Armenia would "defend" itself against Azerbaijan, appearing to show sympathy to one side over the fierce clashes. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday that he hoped Armenia could "defend" itself against Azerbaijan in the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, adding that Turkey’s role had increased the risk of further violence. 

The fighting between the two former Soviet republics over the contested territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but run by ethnic Armenians, has left more than 500 dead since late September. 

The United States has sought to remain neutral in the intensifying conflict, but Pompeo seemed to endorse Armenia during an interview with Atlanta TV station WSB. 

“We’re hopeful that the Armenians will be able to defend against what the Azerbaijanis are doing,” Pompeo said, adding that he hopes both sides can reach a cease-fire. 

NATO ally Turkey enjoys close ties with the Muslim-majority Azerbaijan, with whom it shares ethnic ties. Ankara has reportedly sent hundreds of Syrian recruits to the breakaway enclave to fight alongside Azeri troops. It denies the reports. 

“We now have the Turks, who have stepped in and provided resources to Azerbaijan, increasing the risk, increasing the firepower that’s taking place in this historic fight,” Pompeo said. 

The Turkish government has also dismissed calls for an immediate cease-fire from the Minsk Group, which is co-chaired by Russia, France and the United States. Turkey has instead urged the Armenians to withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh.

A Russian-brokered humanitarian cease-fire was supposed to take effect over the weekend, but within hours, the two former Soviet republics had accused each other of launching new attacks. Baku has accused Armenian forces of attempting to seize its gas and oil pipelines, a charge Yerevan denies. 

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has called on Azerbaijan to de-escalate, and this week, also took aim at Turkey’s participation in the conflict. 

“Turkey’s provision of arms to Azerbaijan and bellicose rhetoric encouraging a military solution are irresponsible,” Biden said in a statement.

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial