Iranian Escalation against Azerbaijan

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Political Observation - Iranian Escalation against Azerbaijan

Iran has kept her anger in check over the geopolitical changes resulting from Turkey’s intervention in the latest war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which led to Azerbaijan recovering most of her lands and threatening the route connecting Iran to Armenia and compelled the latter to move towards bettering her relations with Turkey who subsequently gained the upper hand over Iran who failed to lure Azerbaijan to her side despite the sectarian commonality between the two countries. The secularist trait dominating Azerbaijan’s masses, who share the same language with the Turks, and the nationalistic rift between Iran and Azerbaijan helped tilt the scales in favour of Turkey, especially amidst the international and regional pressure being exerted on the functional role of Iran who has been worryingly driven to adopt a host of approaches to preserve her gains, bulwark her borders and domestic frontline, and fill the gaps that may ignite nationalistic emotions threatening to fragment her societal fabric and regional influence which has started to be eroded in Iraq, especially in the aftermath of the recent parliamentary elections, in Syria following the American green light and the Russian collusion to rehabilitate the Syrian regime via its rapprochement with several Arab states, which is viewed as an alternative to Iranian support whose role has been exhausted, and in Lebanon through the constant pressures exerted on Hezbollah such as the targeting of the recent protests staged by Hezbollah which is designed to lure it into using its weapons and thus placing the file of its weapons on the table. All this flows in favour of Turkey’s regional weight and the Zionist influence through the gates of the anticipated Arab official normalisation and political and economic integration with the usurping entity within the framework of generating the regional solution and turning the people of the region’s compass of animosity towards Iran.

In this context, Iran staged on 1 October military drills on her borders with Azerbaijan under the theme of Conquerors of Khaybar, which reflects Iranian security fears of "Israeli" presence on Iranian-Azerbaijani borders and coincided with the second anniversary of the Karabakh battle in which Azerbaijan regained most of her occupied lands. The Iranian military drills acted as a warning to Azerbaijan, who has had parts of her lands occupied by Iran since 1945, especially after the misgivings raised by Turkish President Erdoğan who on 1 December 2020, and during an Azerbaijani military parade, read a poem reminding the Azerbaijanis of their unity with their brethren in neighbouring Iran which evoked the wrath of the Iranians who deemed it a call for fragmentation and an incitement.

In response to the timing of the Iranian military manoeuvres, Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev said “every country is entitled to stage military drills on its land. It is a sovereign right, but with regard to the timing, we do not see it as ordinary. Why now, and specifically on our borders?”

He also seized the opportunity to curb the activities of the Europeans who have been attempting to contain the American and "Israeli" escalations against Iran, by accusing Iran of sponsoring drug smuggling into Europe via Armenia. He said “Armenia colluded with Iran for about 30 years to use occupied Azerbaijani lands as a route for smuggling drugs into Europe.”

Amid these military developments, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev announced on 2 October that he would “involve international and regional forces if Iran persisted with the military drills near Azerbaijan’s borders”. Meanwhile, the Turkish defence ministry announced on 4 October that it would hold joint military drills with Azerbaijan between 5-8 October under the theme of “The Unwavering Brotherhood 2021” in the Nakhchivan province near the borders with Iran in order to send a clear message on protecting geographic interaction between Turkey and Azerbaijan via the Zangezur corridor in southern Armenia, which would cut the route between Iran and Armenia.

Iran for her part hastened to strengthen her relationship with Armenia by concluding several military agreements allowing Iranian drones to fly over Armenian airspace and the Iranian army to establish military bases in the province of Syunik in an attempt to influence the Armenian standpoints and impede Turkish expansion and geographic interaction between Turkey and Azerbaijan and from there, towards southern Caucasus and Central Asia.

Based on the aforementioned, we perceive that the focal issue of the Iranian regime lies in security fears and the exchanged "Israeli" -Iranian attacks within the context of regional rivalry, and to a greater extent, it lies in the geopolitical changes that resulted from the Azerbaijan-Armenia war, as well as the caveats of Turkey’s expansion in the southern Caucasus region and her intention to revive the notion of the Turkish World, and the impact of all this on the geographic unity of Iran and her interaction with Armenia, and its fallouts on her economic resources and societal fabric of which Azeris constitute 25%, and remind Iran of “Greater Azerbaijan”, in addition to the unwarranted prospect of Azerbaijan – with Russian collusion – reseizing control of the commercial route between Iran and Armenia and imposing taxes on Iranian trucks. Meanwhile, Armenia has been endeavouring to unconditionally normalise ties with Turkey due to the significant economic interests this may yield on her masses who have been enduring a stifling economic crisis. This normalisation between Turkey and Armenia, which is currently being devised, will impact positively on Azerbaijan-Armenia relations and in favour of Turkey, a situation which Iran finds worrisome as it undermines her interests and heralds its besiegement, especially after the joint military drills carried out between Turkey, Pakistan and Azerbaijan in Baku on 12 September under the theme of Three Brothers 2021.

It is well known that although Russia and America have been jostling for dominating the region, Turkey’s geopolitical importance, as far as they are concerned, outweighs Iran’s in that region which means the Russo-American collusion comes in favour of Turkey at the expense of Iran. America does have an interest in Turkey’s incursion into the Russian lebensraum and in keeping it as a hotbed of tension between Russia and Turkey and a pretext to intervene and expand NATO towards Russian borders, whereas Russia finds the clash of interests between Iran and Turkey expedient as she would be able to manipulate their interests, conduct their crises and lure and contain them, especially Turkey who represents a bridgehead for NATO towards her borders. Hence, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov pointed during his meeting with his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, to the escalating crisis between Iran and Azerbaijan in southern Caucasus saying that it was the focus of a detailed study. He also revealed a mechanism proposed by Russia to defuse the tension based on initiating a dialogue according to a 3+3 formula, i.e., the countries of southern Caucasus: Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, and the three neighbouring countries: Russia, Turkey and Iran. Iranian foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, for his part announced during the press conference with Lavrov that his country “will not accept any changes in the borders in southern Caucasus”. Hence, what is occurring falls under Iran’s attempts to withstand the challenges and pressures surrounding her with the aim of restraining and compelling her to return to her original functional role, a situation upon which Russia, America, Turkey and "Israel" agree.

It is regrettable that the aggravation of the crisis will only lead to haemorrhaging Muslim blood and all the proposed solutions, in the absence of the State of Islam, proceed only according to the narrow interests of the rulers and on nationalistic and divisive grounds that lead to achieving the interests of the colonial powers that are belligerent towards the Ummah.

15 Rabi’ al-Awwal 1443h
21 October 2021