ANALYSIS: How Tensions on Azerbaijan-Iran Border Affect Israel

ANALYSIS: How Tensions on Azerbaijan-Iran Border Affect Israel


Israeli official urges President Biden to stop being “naive” and finally face down Iran, which threatens not only Israel, but the region.

By Rachel Avraham

According to various media reports, Iran launched massive drills along the Azerbaijani border, displaying artillery, drones and helicopters. “We do not tolerate the presence and activity against our national security of the Zionist regime, or Israel, next to our borders,” said Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian. “And we will carry out any necessary action in this regard.”

And now, according to Bloomberg News, Turkey and Azerbaijan plan on holding a joint military drill near the Iranian border in response. “The Steadfast Brotherhood-2021 drill will take place with the participation of Turkey and Azerbaijan in Nakhchivan, Azerbaijan between 5-8 October,” Major Pinar Kara, a spokeswoman of Turkey’s Ministry of National Defense, said in a televised announcement.

Both the Iranian military drill and the subsequent Turkish-Azerbaijani military drill come after Azerbaijan arrested a number of Iranian truck drivers who were sending supplies to Armenia. According to Azerbaijan’s Interior Ministry, the truck drivers were detained for “entering Azerbaijani territory illegally.” Apparently, the Iranian truck drivers were using a road that was previously under exclusive Armenian control but no longer is following the Second Karabakh War.

Armenia occupied 20% of Azerbaijani territory for several decades in defiance of four UN Security Council Resolutions following the First Karabakh War. The Second Karabakh War brought that occupation to an end, leading to a good chunk of the Nagorno-Karabakh region and the seven Azerbaijani districts being returned to Azerbaijan.

Although a cease-fire has been in place that ended the hostilities between both countries following the Second Karabakh War, an anonymous source inside Azerbaijan said that many there are still angry at Iran for supplying Armenia during the First Karabakh War and all of the years that “Karabakh was occupied,” and they are very committed to seeing that the Iranian shipments to Armenia come to an end. The source claimed that the average Azerbaijani does not like the Islamic Republic of Iran in the slightest.

Prominent Middle East scholar Dr. Mordechai Kedar stated in an exclusive interview: “Don’t forget that for many years the situation between Iran and Azerbaijan is not so great, as most of historic Azerbaijan is occupied by Iran. The ancient capital city of the Azerbaijanis is Tabriz, which is presently occupied by Iran. Of course, the Iranians consider the Azeris integrated enough that they accepted Khomeini, who was of Azeri descent, yet still there is a group of Azeris in Iran who dream of being liberated from Persian rule. The Iranians fear that the Azerbaijanis encourage these sentiments within the Azeri minority in Iran. This is the background for the tensions between Iran and Azerbaijan.”

The Iranian government’s fear that a section of Iran may secede and join up with Azerbaijan led to the Iranian government actively supporting the Armenians, as they viewed a strong Azerbaijan to be against their national interests. This led to the Iranians even propping up and assisting the Armenians in committing war crimes in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. When this author toured the Nagorno-Karabakh region last summer, Israel Today witnessed that at that time the Armenians had destroyed all of the mosques in Shusha but one, which was redesigned as an Iranian mosque, thus erasing the traditional Azerbaijani architecture that was originally part of the city’s mosque. For many Azerbaijanis, this war crime, where the Armenians transformed an Azerbaijani mosque into an Iranian mosque, was extremely painful.

Prominent Israeli-Azerbaijani political analyst and commentator Arye Gut added: “All these past 30 years, Iran, basing its policy on realpolitik, has always been interested in a weak Azerbaijan. A strong and independent Azerbaijan is a threat to the national security of Iran. In addition, I would like to ask how a noble Shia country not only tolerated but actually ignored Armenia’s occupation and vandalism for 30 years.”

According to Gut, “The Ayatollah’s regime, calling itself the defender of ‘oppressed Muslims’ in Palestine, simply did not notice the suffering of one million Azerbaijani Shia refugees, the destroyed Azerbaijani cities along their borders, etc. With the full connivance of Iran, not a single house, kindergarten, school, library, or museum remained in the liberated territory. The Armenian occupation army was engaged in looting and vandalism, wiping out cities such as Fizuli, Gubadli, Jabrayil and Zangilan from the face of the earth.”

“The Armenian occupiers destroyed and wiped out this beautiful region of Azerbaijan, committing environmental and cultural genocide,” Gut stressed. “Where was the Ayatollah’s regime all this time, when the Azerbaijani Shias suffered, were destroyed, insulted and humiliated in Khojaly? They sent missiles, drones, and artillery shells to Hamas and Hezbollah. They transported to Armenia oil and gas, and cheap building materials were transported to Iran from the remains of the plundered and destroyed homes, museums, schools, kindergartens and theaters in Karabakh. They sent nothing to Shia Azerbaijan.”

For the Iranian regime, the fact that the government in Baku is secular and allied with Israel makes them adversaries. This prompted them to overlook the fact that Azerbaijan is majority Shia and to side with Christian-majority Armenia instead.

According to an anonymous Azerbaijani source, these tensions along the Azerbaijan-Iran border will only make Israel and Azerbaijan closer. In fact, he argued that it could even lead to Israel having a rapprochement with Turkey, as the Turkish government will also side with Azerbaijan whenever it faces aggression from Iran or anyone else.

In an exclusive interview with Israel Today, Ayoob Kara, who served as Israel’s Communication, Satellite and Cyber Minister, stated: “Following meetings that I had with different countries in the Islamic world, esteemed leaders have asked me to convey an important message: Iran’s threats against Azerbaijan imply that Iran is not only Israel’s problem. On the contrary, Iran utilizes Israel to obtain power among terrorist organizations and the Islamic world, so that they can spread the Ayatollah’s revolution in more countries and conquer them, as they did in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. They will be happy to conquer Saudi Arabia before Israel due to the historic significance.”

“I am glad that the countries that signed the Abraham Accords understand Iran’s motives,” he concluded. “I call upon President Biden to stop being naive. It is enough that you failed the tests posed by the Arab Spring, Afghanistan and more. There is no point in signing agreements with them because they will not be respected. It is preferable to strengthen the opponents of the ayatollahs inside and outside of Iran and to support even more countries like Azerbaijan, the Persian Gulf emirates and more before more blood is shed and all-out war breaks lose.”

This article originally appeared in Israel Today

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