Iran and Azerbaijan found a shared point to begin with following weeks of rhetorical war and military stand-offs. Israel seems to be playing a crucial role en route.
Baku has decided to lead the recent diplomatic disputes with Tehran into a resolution. The two countries’ relations deteriorated amid Iran’s claims concerning the Israeli direct military engagement in Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan’s officials stated today that the progress occurred during phone conversations between local Foreign Minister and his Iranian counterpart. Jeyhun Bayramov and Amir-Abdollahian were involved in a series of verbal attacks against one another in recent weeks.
“The sides noted the harmful rhetoric observed recently, which does not correspond to the level of friendly relations between our countries, and the need to resolve all differences through dialogue,” Azerbaijani foreign ministry office announced in a statement. The two also emphasized on reinforcing the territorial integrity and power structures in the two nations.
The Iranian office of foreign issues also stated that the two countries agreed to settle their differences through negotiations. Tehran openly and sharply denounced the appearance of Israeli troops in Azerbaijan in September. Iranian officials consider it a border threat and promised to take whatever steps necessary.
Baku kept on denying allegations regarding Israeli presence. In response, Iran held military drills along its border with Azerbaijan early this month. The move sparked condemnation from Baku authorities.
Baku has arms ties with Tel Aviv and secures parts of its artillery from it. The two nations’ military relationship has grown in recent years. In 2020, Azerbaijan used Israeli drones to beat Armenia in a 44-day battle over the contentious Nagorno-Karabakh.
Azerbaijan is playing a middle role in a strategic region with a middle status between Tehran and Tel Aviv. Its ling-time ties with Israel may have concerned Tehran from a long time ago.
Azerbaijan and Iran; From Ideological Rifts to Practical Divisions
Azerbaijan and Iran have faced discrepancies over a series of issues ranging from ideological ones to practical conducts. Tehran’s support for Armenia in the decades-old conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh has been one source of the tensions. The region is globally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but is inhabited and ruled by Armenians since long time ago.
2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war concluded with a truce under the supervision of Russia. According to the ceasefire, Yerevan hand over large areas of land, including its 430-mile border with Iran to Baku.
The truce was harshly denounced by Armenian public as a treason to the nation. It, nevertheless, opened the way for less casualties and de-escalation of tensions.
Conflicts between the two sides intensified further by Baku’s recent ruling to levy a road charge on Iranian lorries driving through reclaimed territories. The ceasefire’s calls for Yerevan to get hands off lands including its borderline with Iran opened a new regional challenge.
According to the statement released by Baku, the two countries agreed that direct engagement on transit concerns was “essential.” The tone of the statement certifies Baku’s perception of Tehran’s concerns and its attempt to resolve them.
On the other side, a long-time ideological rift between Azerbaijan and Iran turned into a regional dispute in recent months. Tehran denies Israel‘s existence as a legal state and calls it an occupier. Baku, however, has had close ties with Tel Aviv for decades in multiple sectors including economic and military partnership.
Iran’s claims regarding Israeli presence near its borders in Azerbaijan turned it from an ideological issue to a regional practical challenge. Azerbaijan, for now, found it to its benefit to resolve the misunderstandings. Iran’s decisive conduct on Israel may have changed Baku’s mind over a controversial regional issue.