Victory in the Karabakh war can play a cruel joke with Azerbaijan and its regime. Turkey and Israel have noticeably strengthened, helping Azerbaijan to deal with the Armenians. But Iran does not intend to put up with this. Iran is considering the Turks as its competitors and the Israelis as mortal enemies. Iran also does not want Azerbaijan, which it congratulated through clenched teeth on the victory, cut off Armenia, its important trade and strategic partner, from it. A sharp change in the geopolitical situation in the region, in which Russia has also strengthened its position, puts on the agenda interaction between Russians and Iranians in the Transcaucasus. They are all interested that the Turkish fleet does not appear one day in the Caspian Sea.
Half of historical Azerbaijan – both in area and in population – is part of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI). At the same time, the two countries were on the verge of war. Baku and Tehran do not want to cross it. The war would be unprofitable for both of them. The enemies of both Baku and Tehran will push them to aggravate in every possible way. With the consent and sanction of the United States and Britain, of course.
The situation is especially aggravated by Israel. They definitely expect to divert Iran to the north and push it against Turkey. It is a great idea that the two enemies of the Jewish state and at the same time regional rivals weaken each other. And the conflict between the Sunnis and Shiites continues to flare up.
Israeli media, referring to anonymous sources, report that the Azerbaijani security forces have launched a large-scale operation against “pro-Iranian elements” in their country. According to Israel Hayom, there are arrests of activists acting on behalf of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei. The same newspaper writes that Azerbaijan is considering the possibility of acquiring the Israeli Arrow 3 long-range missile defense system. Moreover, it is reported that President Ilham Aliyev has decided to close the mission of the representative of the spiritual leader of the Islamic Republic in Azerbaijan.
The Jerusalem Post announces the arrival of a delegation of Israeli security officials in Azerbaijan. They are “to advise and express support to the Azerbaijani government against the backdrop of the continuing rise in tensions with Iran.” The source of the newspaper claims: “Israel has assured Azerbaijan that the Jewish state will support it and provide all possible assistance! Including technical assistance and air support in repelling any Iranian attack on its northern neighbor.”
Iran has officially protested in connection with the “attack” in the past few days on the building of its embassy in Azerbaijan, the Tasnim agency reported. This episode shows how intense the passions are.
Willingness number one
There are quite objective facts indicating a sharp aggravation of Iranian-Azerbaijani relations. The formal reason for this was the decision of Baku to make it difficult for Iranian trucks with goods to enter the Armenian part of Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijanis began to demand a “road tax” of $ 260 from drivers. Two Iranians were detained on charges of delivering “illegal cargo” to Nagorno-Karabakh.
Iran also takes seriously Azerbaijan’s threats to lay a corridor to Nakhichevan by force. This would mean cutting off from Iran Armenia. Armenia is Iran’s important partner in the Caucasus.
Iran has entered a free trade zone with the Eurasian Economic Union. Armenia is the only EAEU country that has a land border with it. Therefore this direction is extremely important for Tehran. Under the pretext of military maneuvers, Iran transferred additional units of its armed forces to the border with Azerbaijan. There have not been such large-scale maneuvers in this area for at least 30 years. Armored units, artillery, helicopters and drones are involved.
The official goal of the maneuvers that started on October 1 is called checking and increasing the level of combat readiness of the Iranian armed forces and testing military equipment as close as possible to combat conditions. Quite symptomatic is their name – “Conquerors of Khaybar”. T refers to the victory of Muslims over the Jews in 629. That subsequently led to their expulsion from this and other oases north of Medina to Syria. It easily deciphers Iran’s indignation over the growing ties of Baku with Israel.
Israel is interested in forming bases in Azerbaijan
The Jewish state is quite capable of making the regions liberated from the Armenians in the south of Azerbaijan its base for conducting subversive activities against Iran from there. Turkey transferred Sunni militants from Syria there last year. Before the start of the maneuvers, according to the IRNA agency, Brigadier General Heydari, the commander of the ground forces of the IRI Armed Forces, called the Israeli presence in Azerbaijan “an undermining of security” in the region, but assured that it was “fully under our supervision.” Is there a hint of Iranian drones in Armenia as well?
Baku and Ankara promptly reciprocated Tehran. From October 5 to 8, large-scale joint Azerbaijani-Turkish exercises of ground forces and armored vehicles Sarsılmaz Kardeslik – 2021 (“Unwavering Brotherhood – 2021”) are being held in Nakhichevan, bordering Iran.
Iran on October 5 closed its airspace for the delivery of military supplies from Azerbaijan to Nakhichevan. In Baku, it was called a betrayal. And on the eve, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian held talks in Tehran with his Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan . It is not hard to guess what they discussed, especially against the backdrop of a tough diplomatic skirmish between Tehran and Baku with mutual accusations “surprising” and “regrettable.”
Speaking the other day in Jebrail, which had been recaptured from the Armenians, Aliyev openly threatened Iran:
When recently a mullah of some Iranian province fabricated slander against Azerbaijan, we did not pay attention to it. But then, unfortunately, the officials began to put forward unfounded accusations against us – allegedly Azerbaijan brought Israel to these regions … Is there evidence? No.
On the same day, Leyla Abdullayeva , head of the press service of the republic’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said: “We do not accept statements about the presence of any third forces near the Azerbaijani-Iranian border, provocative attempts by these forces, because these statements have no basis.” These claims, she said, cannot even be a subject of discussion. So Abdullayeva commented on the words of the Iranian Foreign Minister that “during the liberation of Karabakh, a number of terrorist movements entered the region, and Israel is also trying to take advantage of this tension.” Iran will not tolerate the presence of Israeli forces near its borders, Abdollahian said.
The spiritual leader and leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, spoke in the same spirit . “The recent situation in the north-west of the country must be resolved without the intervention and military presence of foreign forces in the region.”
If the situation develops in this direction, and some external players, especially Israel and Turkey, push Baku and Tehran to do just that, a real war may become a fact. The biggest victim of this war, if it starts, will be the Azerbaijani regime. Moreover, in both cases – and if Turkey and Azerbaijan, which Israel will definitely help, will emerge victorious from it, and even more so if Iran gains the upper hand. In the latter case, not only the regime will suffer, but also the people.
The fact is that the state built by Aliyev is too secular not only for the clerical Tehran, but also for Ankara, the moderate Islamist Erdogan . Therefore, this regime will become the main victim of the conflict in both cases – even if Aliyev wins.
Russia in this conflict will clearly observe its interests. They appear to be quiet at the moment but there is a lots of talking happening behind the scene.
At the end of the day, Russia will probably support Iran. That only after doing everything possible to prevent the conflict. Russia certainly does not want to see Turkey coming to the Caspian Sea via their alliance with Azerbaijan. Russia also does not want to see “North – South” corridor threatened.
The emergence of new players in Transcaucasia (Israel) and its inevitable destabilization is not to be to Russian liking. . But in Washington, they will only be glad about it. And you can be sure that London would love to see that too.
In this situation, a lot depends on the Azerbaijani president. He has no space to make a mistake. There are no guarantees that he will not make it. The best way for Baku is to distance itself as much as possible from Turkey and Israel. Only in this case will the conflict with Iran be extinguished. Only in this case Russia will stay almost neutral player between Azerbaijan and Armenia.