As Armenians commemorated the genocide centennial across the world last week, little attention was being paid to the alarming escalation of a smaller yet seemingly endless ethnic conflict Armenia has with a neighboring country: Azerbaijan. Yet experts say that the region is closer to open war than at any time since the 1990s. At the center of the conflict is Nagorno-Karabakh, a de facto autonomous region locked inside Azerbaijan that Armenians took over more than 20 years ago. A May 3rd parliamentary election there–considered illegal by Azerbaijan and most of the world–could increase tensions in the oil-rich region south of of Russia. But war was not the only story that Israeli photographer Tomer Ifrah wanted to tell when he started photographing Azerbaijan. Like much of the world, he initially knew very little about the small country of 9.4 million that is sandwiched between Russia and Iran and flanked by the Caspian Sea. But after six weeks of traveling and documenting daily life across the country, he’s convinced that the world should be paying more attention to Azerbaijan and its unique culture. He joined R&K from Rio de Janeiro.
Roads & Kingdoms: What are you doing in Brazil?
Tomer Ifrah: I am working on a project here about cityscapes. It’s a great city, a fun place to be. But I’m not staying here much longer, I will be in Azerbaijan again very soon for a new project.