Photo Credit: Official web-site of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan
Turkish Special Forces, December 10, 2020.

Israel threatened Lebanon last week that it would strike the Beirut International Airport in response to Iran using civilian flights to transfer weapons to Hezbollah. Meanwhile, the war of words between Azerbaijan and Iran has also escalated following joint military exercises of the Turkish and Azerbaijani Armed Forces.

The joint exercises of Turkey and Azerbaijan took place around the same period the United States was conducting joint military exercises with Israel. This was not a coincidence. In the June 2021 Shusha Declaration, Turkey and Azerbaijan agreed to support each other politically, militarily, economically, culturally, educationally, security-wise and in every other arena not only in words but also in action. These coordinated military exercises send a powerful message to Iran and its proxies.


Iranian spokesperson Afifieh Abedi proclaimed that “the Zionist regime probably played a major role in organizing Turkish-Azerbaijani exercises.”

Iranian state media claimed that Baku “has turned into an enemy of Tehran, having been corrupted by influence from Israel, Turkey, and NATO.” They called Azerbaijan “a puppet of the Zionist sphere of influence,” proclaiming that NATO supports the creation of the Turan corridor, linking Turkey, Azerbaijan, and the other Central Asian Turkic republics.

It’s one more reason why Tehran is strengthening its relationship with Armenia, Azerbaijan’s sworn enemy.

Iran has been ravaged by violent protests and clashes following the murder of Mahsa Amini, the young Kurdish woman who dared wear her hijab improperly. Iranian Azerbaijani journalist Ahmad Obali, who founded Gunaz TV, an Azerbaijani-language television channel based in Chicago, said: “The Iran protests are creating a new reality in which the Iranian government is getting weaker, it is more isolated internationally, and all the other ethnic groups other than Persians are asking for ethnic rights, and self-governance. And the large Azerbaijani minority is seeking outright independence.”

According to Obali, “After Russia invaded Ukraine, Iran tried to take advantage of the situation to get a nuclear deal with the West so it would no longer be isolated internationally. But once Russia received Iranian drones and other weapons to attack Ukraine, the Europeans understood that Iran endangers peace in Europe. Iran’s actions reunited Europe with the US against Iran. Iran, in effect, became even more isolated.”

Israeli diplomat Dr. Yitzhak Ben Gad added: “This is the first time since 1979 that we can see resistance to this regime from the inside and involving so many people. Some commentators suggest this opposition and resistance will bring about the fall of the regime. It’s no secret that this regime is cruel, corrupt, and fanatical, and the Iranian people don’t like the way of life the regime is imposing on them. If the military joins them, they can put an end to this regime. Even Khamenei’s sister is saying what he is doing is not good for Iran. It’s hard to maintain the regime against so much opposition.”

This reality then put Iran into panic mode and prompted them to direct their population against external enemies, namely the State of Israel and Azerbaijan. In recent days, Iran has arrested at least five members of the Persian Jewish community. Four Jews remain inside Iranian prisons and are accused of associating with the protest movement. Iran has already executed four men over suspicions that they were connected with the Mossad. According to MEMRI, IRGC Commander-in-Chief General Hossein Salami recently announced that Iran is determined to confront Israel and America: “We will undoubtedly turn this new battlefield, this great front of great strife, this world war, into a graveyard for the policies of America, Israel, and their allies.”

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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."