Baku has dismissed as unfounded allegations that a third country’s forces are located near the Azerbaijani-Iranian border, the Foreign Ministry said on October 4.
Tehran is not happy about Azerbaijan’s victory over Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh in the fall of 2020. Tehran quietly backed Armenia against Azerbaijan, even though Azerbaijan is majority Shiite, just like Iran. The reason for Iran’s support for Christian Armenia was that while Armenia was occupying Nagorno-Karabakh, Iran was able to reach Russia and West Asia without paying any customs for its trucks. After their victory, the Azeris started charging the Iranian trucks, making life more difficult for the already economically stressed Ayatollah regime.
As Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev put it in a September 27 interview with the Turkish news agency Anadolu: “We have already had knowledge that Iranian trucks illegally entered the Karabakh region many times during and prior to the war.”
Add to that Baku’s detention of Iranian truck drivers on September 28, because they “entered Azerbaijan illegally from Armenia, and you’ve got yourself escalated tensions between the neighboring countries.
On Friday, Iranian troops and equipment were transferred to an impromptu maneuvers code-named Fatehan Khaybar in northwestern Iran, the commander of the Army’s northwestern regional told IRNA, noting that it took only 48 hours to get the forces to Iran’s border with Azerbaijan.
“According to the orders we receive from the command hierarchy, we will conduct exercises in different places, and for the Fatehan Khaybar exercise, equipment and forces were transferred to the area in less than 48 hours,” Commander Ali Hajiloo explained.
Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Leyla Abdullayeva was also responding to comment made by Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian in a recent interview on state television, that Israel had taken advantage of the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabakh region to establish a foothold there, thereby moving closer to Iran’s borders and establishing its grip on parts of Azerbaijan. “We are very concerned about the Zionist regime’s approach to Iran’s borders,” FM Abdollahian said.
“First of all, we would like to emphasize that, as Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdullahian said in an interview with a local television channel, relations between the two peoples are at the highest level,” the Azeri spokesperson said. “We do not accept the allegations about the presence of any third forces near the Azerbaijani-Iranian border, nor any provocative attempts made by these forces because these views have no grounds.”
On the sidelines of the military maneuvers in northwest Iran Friday morning, the commander of the Army Ground Forces Kioumars Heydari said that Iran will not tolerate the presence of foreigners in the northwest region of the country.
“The overt and covert presence of the Zionist regime’s proxies and the possibility of a significant number of ISIS terrorists in regional countries add to the importance of this exercise,” General Haydari said.
According to Tehran Times, ISIS militants were brought into the region at the height of the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
“Since we are not sure whether they have departed the area, the drill will convey a message to them. They and the Zionists must know they have no place in the region, and that the armed forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran are fairly sensitive to them and will deal with them wherever they see them,” the senior commander stressed.
The frightened Spokesperson Leyla Abdullayeva reiterated that relations between Azerbaijan and Iran are based on strong historical ties, friendship, and cooperation, and suggested that “in general, the existence of any forces in the territory of Azerbaijan, including terrorist elements, that could pose a threat to our state or neighboring countries, are not worth discussing. Unfortunately, during the 44-day war, some parties made such claims completely baselessly. We stated then, and we reiterate now, that such allegations are baseless and no evidence has been presented to the Azerbaijani side so far.”
For the record, Azerbaijan has every reason to be terrified of Iran’s designs against her. On Sunday, the leader of the Islamic Revolution and the commander in chief of its armed forces Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei warned that those who seek to buy security from outside “will pay a hefty price.”
Speaking via video to graduating cadets, Khamenei said: “Those who think that their security will be ensured by relying on foreigners should know that they will pay a hefty price.”
According to Tehran Times, Ayatollah Khamenei stressed the need not to allow foreign armies to enter the region and offered this piece of advice to regional governments: “We as well as regional governments should not allow foreign armies to travel thousands of miles—with the pretext of safeguarding their national interests while these issues have nothing to do with their nation—and to interfere in the affairs of our countries and our armies and to have a military presence. The armies of regional nations can run the region on their own and you should not allow others to enter.”
Referring to the incidents in the northwestern part of Iran, the Ayatollah stated: “The issues concerning Iran’s northwestern neighbors should be resolved wisely by relying on nations, through the cooperation of the armies of neighboring countries and by avoiding the presence of any foreign military forces.”
His holiness added generously, “Of course, our country and our armed forces are acting in a reasonable manner.”
On September 23, Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov met with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. After their meeting, Amir-Abdollahian referred to “third parties” coming between Iran and Azerbaijan, and everyone knew he meant Israel, which has a warm relationship with Azerbaijan. Nothing the Azeris will say at this point will change the paranoid Ayatollahs in Tehran’s conviction that Israel is lurking on their border. Why they are lurking on Israel’s border up on the Golan Heights, so it stands to reason that the crafty Zionists are doing the same.
They could also be right, you know, as paranoia goes, this one actually makes sense.
The tension between Iran and Azerbaijan has escalated even further following joint naval military exercises by Turkey and Azerbaijan in the Caspian Sea. Much like the Greeks, Iranians are conditioned to fear the Turks who once ruled over them. Iran’s foreign ministry said that the drills violated an international convention banning foreign military forces from the Caspian sea. The Azerbaijani press was only too happy to point out that Iran is the only country on the shores of the Caspian sea which hasn’t ratified the convention.
So now Iran is holding its own military exercises close to its border with Azerbaijan on the other side of the country – for all of the above reasons. The Zaeris should not worry their blessed little hearts, Iran won’t attack them, not with powerful allies such as Turkey, Russia, and, you know the folks from the Mediterranean basin.