Our Analytics 1 october — 17:24

Where does Tehran see for itself threat from Baku? (Hot topic)

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BY JEMAL BUSTANI, AZERI DAILY AUTHOR

Military exercises of the Iranian Armed Forces began near the border of Azerbaijan. According to the Commander of the Iranian Ground Forces, General Qiyumars Heidari, they will be held with the participation of armoured units, artillery, drones and radar equipment with fire support from helicopter formations.

There was no doubt that the current Iranian military exercises near the Azerbaijani borders are a threatening signal that Iran is trying to convey to Azerbaijan. Because they have never been accompanied by such informational anti-Azerbaijani hysteria in the Iranian media.

Iran conducts military exercises near the border of Azerbaijan

But here's what's interesting: what exactly Tehran sees as a threat from Baku -- none of the Iranian 'hawks' can really explain. The primary reason was the restrictions that Azerbaijan introduced for Iranian trucks that entered the territory of Karabakh.

Then accusations were made of cooperation between Baku and Israel. Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said: 'Iran will not tolerate any presence of Israel near its borders and in this direction it will take any necessary actions to ensure its national security.' Which, as a reason for large-scale manoeuvres, causes frank bewilderment, because the cooperation between Israel and Azerbaijan did not start yesterday, but until now did not cause such an acute reaction.

Then, literally during the day, it got hotter, that is, closer to the truth. The Commander of the Ground Forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps stated bluntly: 'We view geopolitical changes in the countries neighbouring us as something that is detrimental to our security, and this is a red line for us. Our neighbours know very well the reasons for the military exercises.'

Iranian Foreign Ministry said that 'Iran will not tolerate any presence of Israel near its borders'

And finally, the moment of truth came when an editorial appeared on the front page of the pro-government Iranian newspaper Farhikhtegan with the loud headline 'Sultans of illusion. What are the fantasies of Erdogan and Aliyev?' Where it was said in plain text: 'The crossing of the red line by Turkey and access to the Caucasus can provoke Tehran and Moscow to give Ankara an exhaustive answer in Idlib... The Aliyev government is the most unstable link in the region. It must either abandon its [pro-Turkish - JB] policy now, or it will have to face growing pressure from Iran and Russia.'

All points are placed. The 'hawks' in Tehran demand from Azerbaijan 'less Turkey' and Baku's refusal of large-scale changes in the region, damaging traditional Iranian interests -- that is, more 'respect' for itself. For that all this muscle play and demonstration of a grin has been started.

True, if they had known in advance that Vladimir Putin and Recep Erdogan would perfectly agree between themselves both on Idlib and on border changes in the South Caucasus, then, I suspect, they would have behaved somewhat more modestly. And now, after the Sochi sobering shower, their rhetoric has subsided. But no one is to blame for this, it is necessary to assess international and regional developments more soberly.

As always in Iran, the anti-Azerbaijani hysteria and muscle flexing have not been without an internal political factor. In a touching desire to 'make Baku respect Tehran,' liberals and 'hawks' of the IRGC have intertwined in one another's arms. The former want to show the Iranian public that they are 'also patriots,' guarding Iran's geopolitical interests like a mountain ridge. In addition, one should not forget that their financial and commercial interests are closely and deeply intertwined with the Armenian diaspora, and not only in Iran.

'Hawks' in Tehran demand from Azerbaijan 'less Turkey'

With the second group, the 'hawks,' everything is also not so easy. Ebrahim Raisi and his administration absolutely do not need aggravation with Azerbaijan. By the way, this is precisely why the new Minister of Internal Affairs, General Ahmed Vahidi, made a statement, the essence of which is that 'Azerbaijan is our friend. And all misunderstandings will be resolved through diplomatic means.' And he did it not just anywhere, but in Ardabil, the capital of the province of the same name (ostan) of Iran, the majority of the population of which are ethnic Azerbaijanis. The very ones who during the days of the Liberation War with flowers took to the streets, welcoming the victories of Baku.

Ebrahim Raisi and his administration absolutely do not need aggravation with Azerbaijan

But the 'hawks' desperately need to show the new president 'who is the boss' and who determines the policy in Iran, to make him hostage to their course. So, not immediately after the exercises, but in three or four months, Raisi will begin personnel reshuffles in the power bloc, replacing the 'hawks' with his moderate supporters. Otherwise, the anti-Azerbaijani circles in Iran will continue their adventures in the style of 'acting sinfully, and it’s ridiculous to look at the results.' Exactly the same as happened with the intimidation of Azerbaijan this time.

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