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Analysis

Azerbaijan on The Anti-Iranian Israeli Front

Sunday 9 April 2023
Azerbaijan on The Anti-Iranian Israeli Front

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Alwaght- While the Islamic Republic of Iran is gently trying to persuade neighboring Azerbaijan to deescalate tensions with Tehran, Baku officials press ahead with their unfriendly policies towards the Islamic Republic. 

After an array of anti-Iranian allegations like planned attack on Azerbaijan embassy in Tehran and a plot to assassinate an Azerbaijani member of parliament, in the latest move, Baku expelled four Iranian embassy staffers. 

“Iranian ambassador was informed that 4 employees of the Iranian embassy were considered persona non grata by the government of Azerbaijan due to activities contrary to the diplomatic status and contrary to the 1961 Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations and they were asked to leave Azerbaijan within 48 hours,“ a statement was published by the Azerbaijani foreign ministry said. The Iranian diplomats left the territory of Azerbaijan on Friday. 

Indeed, Baku's anti-Iranian rhetoric has been increased following Azerbaijani Foreign Minister's visit to Israeli regime on March 29. 

“We consider this behavior of the government of the Republic of Azerbaijan to be in conflict with the principles of neighborliness and we have diplomatic reciprocation on agenda,” said Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Naser Kanani in reaction to the expulsion of diplomats. 

In addition to reducing diplomatic relations with Iran, Azerbaijan seeks to escalate tensions in other ways to label Tehran as a crisis-generating party in the region. As part of this approach, over the past few days, Baku arrested a number of its citizens on charges of collusion and communication with Iran. Under the pretext that Iran intends to incite chaos in this country, Azerbaijani government is trying to suppress the opposition and get them out of its way, and confrontation with Tehran is the codename of this agenda to prevent possible protests. 

Resorting to a desperate regime for help 

It is obvious to all that any plan and move taken by Azerbaijan against Iran over the past year was dictated by the Israeli regime. 

Baku moved closer to Tel Aviv when Arab normalization with the Israeli regime was a trend in 2020 and 2021, thinking that all Muslim countries will normalize ties with the Israelis in near future. In recent months, it put aside all of its three-decade reservations and officially opened embassy in Tel Aviv. In other words, these days, Azerbaijan has put all its eggs in the basket of the Israeli regime and destroyed all the bridges behind it in relations with Tehran. However, contrary to Baku’s imagination, normalization in the region did not go as Azerbaijan thought, and no country except the UAE and Bahrain was willing to normalize with the Israeli government. 

This was not the end for Azerbaijan frustration, and in recent weeks all Arab countries, even the compromising states, stood in a united front against Tel Aviv, condemning Israeli crimes in the West Bank in a drastic change to the regional atmosphere. However, Azerbaijan as the biggest Shiite country after Iran has not condemned the Israeli atrocities fearing damage to its relations with Tel Aviv. Even Western backers of Tel Aviv are fed up with the criminal actions of the Israeli regime in the occupied West Bank and reacted strongly, but Baku turned a blind eye. 

In the past three decades, Azerbaijan bolstered its security relations with Israel more than its political relations, and now it is the biggest arms purchaser of Tel Aviv, and in the first Karabakh war in 1992, the Israeli government provided funds and weapons to Azerbaijan so that it could resist Armenia. In the second Karabakh war in 2020, Tel Aviv was the largest supplier of weapons to Baku, including drones, and their relations are still expanding. 

Azerbaijan is clinging to Israeli worn rope for its security while Tel Aviv has had its worst political and security conditions over the past few months. Intensified protests, army commanders’ mutiny, and engaging in more than one front with the Axis of Resistance— a regional bloc led by Iran and consisting of Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, and Palestine— in recent months have been bewildering to the Israelis. Therefore, in such conditions, resorting to the Israelis will make no difference to Azerbaijani government. The government of Benjamin Netanyahu is so involved in internal developments that it cannot even cope with the Palestinian resistance groups, and for this reason, he has proposed to the resistance groups in Lebanon and Gaza that if they stop their missile fire, Tel Aviv will not take any action either. 

Iranian patience not unlimited 

Immediately after the independence of Baku from the Soviet Union, Iran took steps to establish relations and get close to Azerbaijan as a Shiite country. It, therefore, quickly recognized it, signing various agreements with this newly independent republic and engaging in many friendly initiatives with it. 

However, very soon, it became clear that new Azerbaijani government leaned to Turkey and interventionist and separatist rhetoric— like Greater Azerbaijan and autonomy of Azeris of Iran— began to gain momentum in official policy and also in public education. This pathway finally took Baku to embracing Tel Aviv. 

Although Baku officials have lined up against Iran with incitement from the Israelis, Iranian patience with Azerbaijan will not last long and end at some point not in Baku’s favor. 

The Azerbaijan officials claim that they are neutral in Iranian-Israeli tensions and will not allow the Israelis to attack Iran from their soil, but even if this is true, in the shadow of tensions between the two neighbors that are caused by the bolstering relations between Baku and Tel Aviv, neutrality is neither possible nor believable. Chief of the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Ali Bagheri recently in an implicit warning to Baku said that the Islamic Republic will strike countries whose territories are used to attack Iran, even despite the declaration of their neutrality or unawareness of use of their territory for attacks. Last year, in the midst of Arab countries’ efforts to form an alliance with the Israeli regime against Iran, Tehran officials warned that if the soil of these countries becomes a launching pad for anti-Iranian attacks, Tehran will respond decisively. 

Although Iran and Azerbaijan signed non-aggression pact in 2005 and Baku does not dare to allow Israeli direct anti-Iranian attacks from its territory, providing logistics for air refueling of Israeli fighter jets and establishing spying bases for Israelis are services to Tel Aviv and Tehran will not stay silent to them. Recent military exercises by the Iranian forces on the borders with Azerbaijan were a kind of warning to Baku that any escalatory action against Iran will get a resolute response. 

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Azerbaijan Iran Israeli Tensions Escalation

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