The international community can only watch the developments surrounding the Karabakh conflict with alarm as it threatens to spill over and become a regional conflict. The most dangerous move towards this end was the reported rocket attacks on Iran from within the Armenian border. Our western neighbour however, displayed extraordinary calm and self-control by not only choosing to ignore this incident, but also pledge neutrality in the fight between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

But while Iran has exercised the inclination to not get involved, continuous violence and its spillover effects are likely to threaten international stability at large. Countries such as the US and other international powers have weighed in, but even when states pledge neutrality, this might not truly be the case. This is not a slight on Iran; that is one country that has already exemplified its ability to not engage itself in the conflict even when directly provoked. Others might choose to take a different route however, when economic and other political interests in the region are affected in this fight.

Remember, that this is also a region where non-state actors are fiercely contesting against one another for supremacy. The conflicts in Syria and Yemen have not ended as of yet. And even though Armenia and Azerbaijan have Iran as a buffer between them and the worst sort of non-state actors, it does not take long for extremists to target any region with even a little strife, as a means to consolidate power and position.

This is why Armenia and Azerbaijan need to cease hostilities. There is little evidence that the conflict has caught the eyes of non-state actors, but it is only a matter of time before the direct fighting is replaced by the more subtle and damaging types of conflict, such as subversive activities on each other’s soil and trying to foment unrest. It is time to end the fighting and find a means to come to the negotiating table, before the flare-up gets any worse than it already is.