People who deal with the South Caucasus region or simply interested in this region are aware of the problems and disagreements between Iran and Azerbaijan. From time to time you can hear the harsh statements against Azerbaijan from the representatives of the Iranian authorities. We can say that it has become the norm in the bilateral relations.
In November, the protests of the Azerbaijani population in Southern Azerbaijan shook Iran, which is caused by a racist attack (by the way, neither the first nor the last time probably) against Azerbaijanis on the Iranian state television. But official Baku preferred to remain silent and not to interfere with the processes in Iran.
In late November, Azerbaijani police and internal forces troops conducted a special operation in the village of Nardaran (located 30 kilometers north of Baku); as a result of the operation several police officers and religious extremists were killed. Arrests and weapon seizures took place. And to this day the village is under tight police control. In this village for many years there was observed the active work and the considerable influence of the pro-Iranian Shiite preachers. The official authorities did not actually function in the village. And, the decision of the government to put an end to this, resulted in bloodshed. Some experts considered Nardaran as an “Iranian stronghold” in Azerbaijan. Official Tehran is dissatisfied with Azerbaijan’s close ties with Israel and Turkey, with the secular character of the Azerbaijani state, with independent policy of Ilham Aliyev and most likely the mullahs are dissatisfied by the fact of the existence of Azerbaijani state on its borders (considering that Iran is home to over 30 million Azerbaijanis). After the events in Nardaran, realizing that they were deprived of their potential support in a strategically important country, the Iranians pounced on Azerbaijan with angry speeches in a threatening tone. The Iranian media wrote (and is writing) almost about the “genocide of Shiites” in Azerbaijan. Various representatives of the Iranian leadership began to make threats and give moral lessons addressing Baku. This hysterical reaction of the Iranian side once again proved that exactly Tehran stood behind the project of “Shiite Nardaran”, obviously with the time they were planning to turn this stronghold into some kind of the Lebanese Hezbollah and, being deprived of this possibility, could not hold back their emotions.
Building its relationship with Israel, Azerbaijan proceeded from its national interests, but also, for a variety of reasons, taken into account the Iranian reaction. That is why, in spite of the close cooperation between the two countries, Israel does not have Azerbaijani embassy. But now, when Iranian mullahs have completely ripped off their masks, I think, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan should think about opening of another Embassy, or at least of a diplomatic mission. Contrary to expectations, the anti-Azerbaijani hysteria in the Iranian mass media does not abate. Moreover, the diplomatic representation of Azerbaijan is being targeted in this country. For example, a few days ago the Iranian authorities organized a wrathful rally in front of Azerbaijani Consulate General in Tabriz. I believe the Iranian government has not accidentally chose Tabriz, the ancient capital of South Azerbaijan, the center of Azerbaijani culture and history; mullahcrats wanted to show “who is the head of this house”.
As we can see, despite the position of the Azerbaijani authorities not to interfere in the internal affairs of its neighbors, the Iranian side demonstrates a diametrically opposite approach.
In conclusion I would like to refer to the words of the famous English writer of the XIX century Robert Louis Stevenson – “Those that live in glass houses should not throw stones.”
Ali Hajizade, a political analyst, head of the project “The Great Middle East“