The recent speech of the Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei revealed that Iran’s problem with Azerbaijan, which lead to Iran holding military drills at the border, was over Israel. Ali Khamenei, referring to Azerbaijan relations with Israel said: “Some countries think that they can ensure their own security under the delusion of relying on others. They should know that they will be slapped soon. One of the most catastrophic disasters for a country is that outsiders interfere in their security issues and plan and intervene in their war and peace.”
The spokesperson for Azerbaijan’s ministry of foreign affairs however denied Iran’s accusations regarding Azerbaijan’s reliance on Israel and called them baseless.
The question is, why should Khamenei, who claims to be the leader of all Shia Muslims in the world, have such quarrels with one of the few Shia majority countries over Israel? Is Israel truly the enemy of the Iranian people, and who is the real oppressor of the Iranian people? Israel or Iran’s own Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)?
Enmity with Israel and the U.S. is a part of the Islamic Republic’s identity. Iranian leaders have consistently spoken against these countries and threatened to wipe them off the face of the earth.
Although the Islamic Republic wishes to remove these countries from existence, evidence and truth suggest otherwise. The Islamic Republic, not only has had relations with Israel, but Israel has in fact come to the regime’s rescue during its most troubling times.
Israel, despite having no interest in Iran’s victory during the Iran-Iraq war, knew an Iraqi victory would transition the country into an even more powerful foe that could hardly be dealt with.
It was under this pretext, that Israel rushed to Iran’s help at the start of the war, and the mullahs despite chanting against the Israeli regime, decided to maintain secretive relations with the Jewish country.
Iran’s deputy supreme leader during the Iran-Iraq war, Hussein-Ali Montazeri, furious about the Islamic Republic’s secret dealings with the U.S. and Israel, complained to Khomeini the founder and first supreme leader of Iran. When he realized even Khomeini was aware of the dealings, he tasked his son-in-law to leak this information to the media in order to put an end to it, which ended with his son-in-law being sentenced to death and himself being sidelined after the war. Montazeri thought purchasing weapons from Israel to kill other Muslims and holding backdoor meetings with countries that are considered the enemy is inherently wrong and should not be happening.
Nevertheless, the mullahs continued to purchase weapons from Israel under Khomeini’s orders and some records estimate that Iran bought up to $2.5b worth of weapons only from the Jewish country during the Iran-Iraq war. Others estimate that Iran bought up to 80% of its weapons and equipment from Israel and the U.S.
Iran’s secret relations with Israel did not end with the purchase of weapons and equipment. Israel supported Iran and actively participated in several missions with Iran in the war against Iraq.
Operation Opera was a surprise airstrike conducted by the Israeli Air Force on 7 June 1981, which destroyed an unfinished Iraqi nuclear reactor near Baghdad, Iraq. The Israeli operation came after Iran’s partially successful Operation Scorch Sword had caused minor damage to the same nuclear facility a year prior. Iran and Israel shared information and planned carefully with each other in order to delay Iraq’s access to a nuclear weapon by attacking its nuclear reactor together.
Going back to the original question of Iran and Israel rivalry, and who has committed more crimes against the Iranian people:
Factually during all the 42 years of the Islamic Republic’s rule, Israel has never acted against the best interest of the Iranian people; it has never killed any civilians nor has it done operations in urban areas. During its recent attacks on Iran’s nuclear sites or theft of top-secret information, Israel has made sure there are no civilian casualties.
It is the Islamic Republic that executes its citizens on a daily basis under Khamenei’s command and violently suppresses any discontent or demonstrations by killing unarmed civilians. One of the recent examples is Iran’s recent fuel protests during which the Islamic Republic massacred more than 1500 unarmed civilians who showed discontent regarding the tripling prices of fuel in the country.