The attack on Azerbaijan’s embassy in Tehran should serve as a wakeup call, Luke Coffey, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, wrote in his article in Arab News, Report informs.
“While much of the international community’s attention on Iran is focused primarily in the Middle East, for centuries Tehran has also played a role, for better or for worse, in the South Caucasus. The tensions today between Iran and Azerbaijan cannot be overstated,” he writes.
“The root cause of these tensions is found in the 1828 Treaty of Turkmenchay between imperial Russia and Persia, which created the border between these two empires along the Aras River. This move divided ethnic Azerbaijanis between the two empires, and the consequences of this move are still being felt today. Millions of ethnic Azerbaijanis are living in Iran and there has been a constant, but low-level, drumbeat of calls for independence and self-determination. While Azerbaijan refrains from commenting publicly about the Azerbaijani minority in Iran, policymakers in Baku are acutely aware of the situation,” reads the article.
Azerbaijan is one of the few predominantly Shiite regions of the world that has never fallen under the control or influence of Iran, the author notes.
“Azerbaijan and Israel also enjoy close relations. The world’s largest all-Jewish settlement outside Israel is in Azerbaijan, and Baku supplies Israel with about 40 percent of its oil.”
“In recent years relations between Iran and Azerbaijan remained cordial on the surface, but below the surface they are tense,” reads the article.
In the light of the above events, the expert emphasized the close relationship between Tehran and Yerevan, adding that during the Second Karabakh War, Iran allowed Russia to use its territory to replenish Armenia’s military supplies.
“Iran has used Armenia to evade international economic sanctions in the past. There’s also a growing military relationship between the two countries. Iran has provided Armenia with drones and antitank weapons. According to the US State Department, in 2008 Armenia even provided Iran with missiles and automatic weapons that were used against American troops in Iraq,” he wrote.
The two countries have maritime disputes in the Caspian Sea that have even led to confrontations in the past. There have been cases of Iranian naval vessels and fighter jets entering Azerbaijani waters in the Caspian and harassing ships.
“Since 2020, Iran has been conducting large scale military maneuvers along its border with Azerbaijan in a way that has not been seen before. Last October, the Iranian military even rehearsed a military crossing of the Aras River. Unsurprisingly, Azerbaijan considered this to be a provocative move,” reads the article.
A recent report for the Arab News Research & Studies Unit, entitled “The South Caucasus and the Gulf: Overlapping interests and the benefits of enhanced cooperation,” best summed up the overlapping concerns about Iran between Azerbaijan and the countries of the Gulf. The report said: “Iran has repeatedly shown itself to be a meddling and troublesome neighbor for both the Gulf and South Caucasus regions,” and “enhanced consultation, and possibly even coordination, between certain Gulf states and countries in the South Caucasus would help to improve regional stability and push back the malign Iranian influence.” It would also be wise to add Israel to this discussion.
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