Photo Credit: YouTube screenshot
Gunman entering the Azerbaijani embassy in Tehran, January 27, 2023.

Last Friday, a gunman attacked the Azerbaijani Embassy in Tehran, killing a member of the embassy’s security staff (Azerbaijan Security Chief Killed in Attack on Embassy in Iran). According to the Azerbaijani government, it was an act of terrorism. It was also a message from the Mullahs’ regime to Baku to slow down its involvement with Israel.

It should be noted that Iran has recently been greatly disturbed by the opening of a new Azerbaijani Embassy in Tel Aviv and the appointment of an ambassador to Tel Aviv, another sign of the strengthening of relations between Israel and Azerbaijan. For this reason, Iran has been trying to strengthen their ties with Armenia to counter the strong relationship between Israel, Azerbaijan, and Turkey. That is why they recently invited the Armenian First Lady to visit Tehran and why Tehran and Yerevan were recently declared to be sister cities.


Anastasia Lavrina, a prominent Christian Azerbaijani journalist, recently said in an interview it was obvious that the killing of the embassy’s security chief was an act of terror: “Iran is one of the countries supporting terrorism. The people in Azerbaijan are very dissatisfied with the reaction of the Iranian government, which ended with the killing of one of the staff members of Azerbaijan. They presented false information about what happened too. They blamed Armenians for what happened, which is false information. The guy came with a gun, not children as the Iranians claimed. This is very dissatisfactory. There is no protection for any embassy in Iran, which can be attacked by terrorists from this state. Azerbaijan expects an objective investigation, but we have little hope of that.”

According to her, “The fact that they provided false information shows that there will be no investigation of what happened. The man who waged the attack is believed to be tied to Iran’s Special Forces and he was supposed to kill everyone inside the embassy but did not, thanks to the bravery of the embassy security. We had one person who was killed, but the bravery of our staff prevented a greater tragedy. The police did not make any attempt to stop this incident. We really expect that the Iranian government will investigate this and this will have negative consequences for Iran. The international community should make sure that this incident is not repeated in the future. Azerbaijan highly appreciates the countries that support Azerbaijan and Israel is one such country. Israel knows a lot about Iran and its terrorist structure. We consider the cooperation between Israel and Azerbaijan as showing the reality of the close relationship between the two countries.”

Ahmet Obali, the founder of Gunaz TV, an Iranian Azerbaijani TV channel based in Chicago, concurred that the Iranian narrative about the embassy attack is false: “The fact that Iran has officially attacked many embassies in Tehran including the American Embassy, the British Embassy, the Saudi Embassy and burned down the Saudi Consulate in Mashhad, this has become the typical reaction of countries that Iran does not like. The Azerbaijani Embassy in London was first, with the Quds Force using Kuwaiti Arabs. And now they attacked the Azerbaijani Embassy in Tehran.”

According to him, “The attack occurred at 8:00 AM, but no Iranian website reported on it till 10 AM and this is not a coincidence. They wanted to know the angle the news should take. The chances are high that Iran is involved, so the news agencies wanted to wait to show what to write and what not to write. The first version was that the gunmen took two children and attacked the diplomats, and were arrested by Iranian police while trying to escape. According to the videos, this is a complete lie. No children came inside the embassy. The guy wanted to kill everyone, but he was neutralized by the Azerbaijani security staff, not the Iranian police.”

Obali added: “The second version of their story claimed he had a personal family problem, where his wife was inside the embassy. That is a lie. His wife has been missing since April 2022. His wife left him and does not want to live with him. It has nothing to do with the Azerbaijani Embassy. Let’s say what they say is correct. How did he get inside the embassy? Why did they not report on it right away? I am almost sure that Iran is involved in one way or another. Number two, the atmosphere created by Iran threatening Azerbaijan with terrorism, was going to be a reality one day and it has happened now. I am afraid that this will not be the last terror attack against Azerbaijan either. Iran cannot survive without acting like a terrorist state. I believe Iran is involved. Iran should be held responsible for what happened.”

He declared: “Iran has been angry about the opening of an Azerbaijani Embassy in Tel Aviv and that Israeli diplomats have gathered in Baku, and that Azerbaijan regained their occupied lands by Armenia. Iran has been threatening Azerbaijan, violating the Geneva Convention on diplomatic missions, and today is another addition to that. I hope that this will backfire even more and I hope that the international community will stand with Azerbaijan to obtain justice for this terrorist act.”

Prominent Middle East scholar Dr. Mordechai Kedar added: “I think that this is a hint from the Iranian regime. It was no doubt arranged by the Iranian intelligence. This is a message to the Azerbaijanis that they are vulnerable when it comes to Iran. Apparently, the Iranians are angry at Azerbaijan. It’s a kind of warning. I do combine it with Netanyahu’s declaration yesterday that in the background of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, some people are planning another Holocaust and we should never let them get nuclear weapons.”

According to Dr. Kedar, “The Iranians believe that the Israeli plans to attack Iran are connected to Azerbaijan. They suspect that the Israeli activity inside Iran is being performed with some kind of support from Azerbaijan. Of course, since they understand what Netanyahu said that Israel will make sure that Iran will never acquire nuclear weapons, they suspect that Netanyahu is basing this idea on Azeri support. So, this could be a message to the Azerbaijanis to be careful for we are here and stay away from the Israelis. This is what I suspect and believe stands behind this attack. It is no doubt arranged by the Iranian authorities. If I am right, this is a message for the Azerbaijanis not to cooperate with the Israelis.” However, the likelihood that Azerbaijan will succumb to the Iranian threat and stop cooperating with Israel is virtually non-existent, as Iran poses a threat to both countries and the strategic friendship between both countries is rock solid.

In that statement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared: “There are those who still call for our destruction, day in and day out. We will not cower in fear nor will we allow the threats of these tyrants to intimidate us. For this enemy knows that at the end of the day, if needed, we can and will defend ourselves and we will not allow our enemies to possess the ability to carry out its murderous agenda. We see them on their steady march towards obtaining the most lethal of weapons and I say to them here and now we will stop you from obtaining them. I vow to you as Prime Minister of the only Jewish state that we will remain vigilant, and strong and never allow the Holocaust to happen ever again.”


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Rachel Avraham is the CEO of the Dona Gracia Center for Diplomacy and an Israel-based journalist. She is the author of "Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media."