It was recently reported that Azerbaijani dissident journalist Ahmad Obali, who heads Gunaz TV and serves as the chairman of the International Relations Committee at the South Azerbaijan National Freedom Front, was targeted in a terror attack in the United States and was critically injured. He is presently hospitalized and fighting for his life. The Iranian regime stands behind this brutal terror attack, which targeted one of the bravest advocates for South Azerbaijani freedom.
Iran has a history of sponsoring terror attacks across the globe since the Islamic Republic rose to power in 1979. As former EU Parliamentarian Paulo Casaca noted, “Following the revolution, the mullahs’ regime immediately commenced a wave of global assassinations, starting with the killing of the 34-year-old nephew of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Shahriar Shafiq in December 1979 in Paris. As he was visiting his mother, Princess Ahsraf Pahlavi, a masked gunman shot him point-blank in the head.
“Ayatollah Khalkhali, who had sentenced every member of the Pahlavi family to death in absentia, claimed that the attack was carried out by a death squad belonging to Fadaiyan e-Islam, the Islamist Iranian group that he headed then, and said: “If we cannot arrest them, we will assassinate them.”
Indeed, from that moment onwards, Iran systematically worked to assassinate its political opponents overseas and did not stop merely at targeting supporters of the Shah, but all kinds of opponents of the mullah’s reign of terror. Between 1989 and 1996, the Iranian regime assassinated more than 160 Iranian dissidents across the globe.
The attack upon Obali occurred at a time when Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev recently declared that the relationship between Azerbaijan and Iran is at its “lowest point ever.” He noted that in Iran, “terror is organized at the governmental level.” Indeed, although Iran’s attack upon the Azerbaijani Embassy on International Holocaust Memorial Day which killed a security guard and Iran’s attempted assassination of Azerbaijani MP Fazil Mustafa happened this year, Iran’s hostility towards Azerbaijan and their reign of terror against the residents of Azerbaijan, both South and North, has a long history.
Starting from the day Azerbaijan declared independence from the Soviet Union, Iran has always been hostile towards Azerbaijan because they fear that a strong and prosperous Azerbaijan will serve as an inspiration for ethnic Azerbaijanis in Iran, who comprise 40% of the population in the country. For this reason, Iran has always supported Armenia in its conflict with Azerbaijan. Last year, I had the privilege of traveling to Aghdam, which is a city that Iran helped to destroy. Everything that was there, whether refrigerators, construction material or family heirlooms, was confiscated in the First Karabakh War and then sold to the Iranians.
Indeed, were it not for Iran propping up Armenia, the conflict over Karabakh would have been solved ages ago, as it is Iran that prevents a resolution to the conflict. After all, a land-locked country like Armenia would not survive under blockade this long if the Iranians were not propping them up, militarily, economically and politically.
Additionally, aside from supporting Azerbaijan’s main enemy, Iran posed a threat to the peace and security of Azerbaijan, as demonstrated by Iran backing the Huseynyun Brigades, which aims to overthrow the present Azerbaijani government and the 2012 Iranian plot to kill the US Ambassador to Azerbaijan and attack the Jewish school and other Jewish communal institutions in Baku.
Following the Second Karabakh War and the opening of the Azerbaijani Embassy in Tel Aviv earlier this year, Iranian-Azerbaijani relations deteriorated even further, as Tehran saw that Azerbaijan was growing even stronger in the wake of recent regional developments, which led to Tehran having an even more aggressive attitude towards Baku. And that brought us to the point where Tehran attacked Azerbaijan directly now three times this year.
The only question that remains is, how will Iran strike Azerbaijan again? After all, another Iranian terror attack against Azerbaijan is only a matter of time.