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What does Iran want to achieve with Azerbaijan? Comment from Baku

Tensions between Azerbaijan and its southern neighbor are not subsiding. After mutual notes from the foreign ministries of the two countries, Azerbaijan decided to expel four Iranian diplomats from the country.

Recently not a day has passed without the tension between Azerbaijan and Iran escalating.

At the beginning of this week, neighboring countries exchanged diplomatic notes. The Iranian Foreign Ministry accused the Azerbaijani media of disseminating materials offensive to this country. A little later, the Iranian ambassador in Baku was summoned to the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry, where he was given a response note with a list of materials in the Iranian media publishing insults and threats against Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan expels four Iranian diplomats

On April 6, law enforcement agencies of Azerbaijan reported the detention of eighteen citizens of the country collaborating with radical religious circles in Iran. A few hours later, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry disseminated information about the announcement of four employees of the Iranian embassy in Azerbaijan as “persona non grata”.

“Iran’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Azerbaijan Seyid Abbas Mousavi was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan.

During the meeting, the ambassador expressed strong dissatisfaction with the provocative activities recently carried out by Iran against Azerbaijan.

It was brought to the attention of Seyid Abbas Mousavi that four employees of the Iranian embassy were declared personae non gratae by the Azerbaijani government for activities that do not correspond to diplomatic status and are contrary to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. These persons must leave the territory of Azerbaijan within 48 hours,” the Foreign Ministry said.

What does Iran want to achieve with Azerbaijan?

According to experts at the South Caucasus Analytical Center (CSSC), unlike Russia and Turkey, over the 30 years of independence of the Caucasian countries Iran has not managed to build a strategic partnership with any of them:

“On the contrary, by helping Armenia Tehran spoiled relations with Azerbaijan. During the years of occupation of Azerbaijani territories, Iran repeatedly offered its mediation services, but did not take a step to force the occupier to peace.”

Experts note that nine months after the end of the second Karabakh war, as a result of which Azerbaijan managed to restore its territorial integrity, a new government was formed in Iran. Unlike its predecessor, during the years of Ibrahim Raisi’s presidency, relations between Iran and Azerbaijan took a step back:

“Despite this, Baku took into account the interests of Tehran and approved the format of the 3+3 negotiations with the participation of Iran. President Ilham Aliyev called the Khudaferin Bridge, which connects the two countries across the Araz River, a “bridge of friendship.” And in March 2022, the parties signed a memorandum on the construction of a new transport corridor through the territory of Iran, which was supposed to connect Azerbaijan with its exclave, Nakhchivan.”

What is Iran worried about?

CSSC experts stressed that Iran’s concern in the region is caused by the following issues:

Change of boundaries. “Iran will not tolerate a chance of borders in the region. But the two countries that are trying to change the borders in the region with the use of force are regional (Armenia) and global (Russia) allies. Armenia is trying to take Karabakh from Azerbaijan, referring to the principle of “separation for the sake of salvation”, and Russia is trying to take Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia on the pretext of “deep integration”. I wonder if Iran recognizes Abkhazia and South Ossetia as the territory of Georgia?

Despite the fact that Azerbaijan won the war, it was Baku that offered peace to Yerevan on the basis of recognition of territorial integrity, and Armenia announced the acceptance of the proposed five principles. Has Iran announced its official position on the signing of a peace treaty between Azerbaijan and Armenia?

During the Munich security conference, Azerbaijan proposed to Armenia the establishment of checkpoints on the border in Lachin and Zangezur, which was an open message about the recognition of the territorial integrity of Armenia. These two facts confirm the lack intent to change the borders in the region.”

Zangezur corridor. “According to the trilateral agreement of November 10, 2020, Armenia must ensure the security of transport communications between the main part of Azerbaijan and Nakhchivan, and Russia must control the corridor. The extraterritoriality of the corridor, which worries Iran so much, is currently demanded not by Baku but by Moscow. It turns out that Iran’s concern about the Zangezur corridor is connected to Russia’s proposals.

Since 1992, the border between Armenia and Iran has been guarded by Russian border guards. And how Azerbaijan is going to occupy the Zangezur corridor, which will be under the control of Russia, how communication between Iran and Armenia will be blocked, how the “Great Turan” will be created – these are rhetorical questions.”

Military cooperation between Azerbaijan and Israel. “These claims are unfounded for several reasons:

  • Azerbaijani officials have repeatedly stated that the country’s territory will not be used against other states;
  • The military doctrine of Azerbaijan prohibits the deployment of foreign military bases in the country;
  • According to the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea, member countries cannot transfer their territory to other states for aggression or other types of military measures against other members of the convention. By the way, unlike Iran, Azerbaijan ratified this convention back in 2019;
  • Azerbaijan supports all international initiatives for the defense of Palestine;
  • If Israel occupied Palestine, then Armenia also occupied the territories of Azerbaijan. If Iran explained normal relations with Armenia by the need to maintain mediation potential, now Azerbaijan is in normal relations with Israel, and can explain this by the need to maintain the potential for mediation between this country and Iran.”

Experts of the South Caucasus Analytical Center noted that Iran’s expectations from Azerbaijan should be justified and rely on realities:

“Iran, adhering to the principle of non-interference in internal affairs, must take constructive steps in relations with Azerbaijan. With regard to Iran, Azerbaijan has always acted reactively, and the state of relations between these two countries has always depended on the behavior of Tehran.”

Source: Jam News