Iran’s media has begun to up the rhetoric against Azerbaijan, with a headline claiming that Baku has “denied the presence of the Zionist regime near the border with Iran,” a claim that appears to contrast with its insinuation that Israel’s close relationship with Azerbaijan is a threat to Tehran.
The larger context is that Iran has carried out military maneuvers near the border with Azerbaijan and Armenia and hosted an Armenian delegation, signaling its commitment to a robust policy that wants the status quo maintained on the border.
What’s really going on here? A year ago, Azerbaijan launched a war against Armenian forces in the disputed area of Nagorno-Karabakh. In Baku’s view, backed by Turkey, the Armenians had for too long dominated disputed areas that they captured in the 1990s. In Armenian’s view, these were historical lands where Armenians lived and which the Soviet Union had arbitrarily made an autonomous part of the Azeri Soviet republic in the 20th century.
Regardless of who is correct in this dispute, it shares similarities to many others such as in Northern Cyprus, the West Bank and other places. What matters is that a rising and increasingly powerful Azerbaijan is asserting itself militarily.
Israel and Iran’s northern neighbor enjoy close relations and Baku has acquired a large number of Israeli-made drones in recent decades, becoming a pioneering drone power. Azerbaijan frequently shows off Israeli-made drones and boasts of their effectiveness. Recent videos posted online even appeared to show IAI Harop drones in launch formation on the back of trucks being toured by Azeri leader Ilham Aliyev, according to videos on Twitter.
Iran’s media claims the “Zionists” may be on Iran’s doorstep by working with Baku. But it also prints Azerbaijan’s denials. “Azerbaijan pursues an independent foreign policy and on this basis establishes relations with its neighbors and does not allow anyone to interfere in its internal affairs,” Aliyev said, according to Iran’s Fars News.
Source: The Jerusalem Post