Iran has moved infantry divisions and rocket artillery to Azerbaijan’s northwestern border amid anger in Tehran over Iran’s self-styled “Three Brothers”—Azerbaijan, Turkey and Pakistan—and Baku’s efforts to disrupt Iranian trade flows. are important to the ethnic Armenians of the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave.
A representative of Iran’s supreme leader warned Azerbaijan not to “play with the lion’s tail”.
Meanwhile, social media lit up as Iranian hardliners posted comments on war games organized by Baku, Ankara and Islamabad, which forced Tehran to send troops and weapons, including armed drones, to the border with Azerbaijan. . Azerbaijan’s special forces commander, General Hikmat Mirzayev, said at the start of military exercises that cooperation between the “brothers” was at a “high level”, drawing support from Iran. Another troubling issue is Turkey’s participation with Azerbaijani forces in exercises of submarines and armed forces of the defense group in the Caspian Sea last week – the Iranian Foreign Ministry cited the “illegality” of Turkey’s presence in the context of the agreement signed by the states along the Caspian coast. .
An unverified video circulated on the Iranian Telegram social media channel, filmed on the Azerbaijani side of the Aras River that separates Iran and Azerbaijan, shows dozens of Iranian infantry divisions and rocket units moving towards the Parsabad region of Ardabil province, which borders Azerbaijan.
Another video, posted by the Telegram channel of Miran Press, which is closely aligned with Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), shows dozens of Iranian military trucks heading towards the border.
Road ‘tax’ applicable
Iran has recently been angered by a new Azerbaijani tactic of imposing a $130 road “tax” on Iranian truckers transporting much-needed goods, including oil and gasoline, to the ethnic Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh, who lost territory to Azerbaijan in a war last fall. A small part of the road used by Iranian trucks to reach the region Nagorno-Karabakh passes through Azerbaijani territory, and Baku has seized on this fact to demand taxes. The case escalated on September 15 when Baku confirmed the detention of two Iranian truck drivers. Tehran has tried to show prudent neutrality in the dispute between Baku and Armenians over Nagorno-Karabakh, but the action against the trucks has tested its patience.
It was the arrest of the truck drivers that prompted a representative of Iran’s supreme leader in Ardabil, which is largely populated by Iranian Azerbaijanis (who make up around a fifth of Iran’s population nationwide), to warn Azerbaijan not to “play with the lion’s tail”. The representative, Seyed Hassan Ameli, added that the IRGC should demonstrate Iran’s strength to both Azerbaijan and Turkey.
‘A phenomenon that cannot be ignored’
“Any country has the right to invite another country to conduct military exercises. But there was an incident that could not be ignored,” Amelie said. “On the eve of the start of the exercises, Turkish newspaper Yeni SafakWhich expresses the personal view of the government and the President of Turkey, the following title was chosen for an interview with a member of the Azerbaijani parliament: ‘Iran will disappear from the map.’
“We ask the Supreme National Security Council to allow the IRGC to demonstrate half of Iran’s power on this side of the border and tell them not to ‘play with the lion’s tail,'” Amelie said.
As part of the military deployment, Iran tested a Mohjar-6 armed drone of the IRGC’s Aerospace Division on September 20.
Vardan Voskayan, an Iranian political expert, made some provocative comments on his social media channel on September 20, to many Azerbaijanis. As reported by News.am, he said: “The extent of Iranian military exercises on the border with the artificial creation called Azerbaijan is quite remarkable in itself. “
He added: “Based on material made extensive by Iranian sources, it covers almost the entire length of Iran’s border with Azerbaijan’s Talish regions.”
The Talish of Azerbaijan are a non-Turkic, predominantly rural people who speak an Indo-European language close to Persian. “Given that the Talish problem has recently escalated somewhat in Azerbaijan, one of the most moderate Talish organizations is deeply dissatisfied, then there are clearly many open messages in the selection of zones for Iranian military exercises. Immediately,” Voskanyan added.