The following report is a complimentary offering from the MEMRI Iran Threat Monitor Project (ITMP). For more information, write to [email protected] with "ITMP Subscription" in the subject line.
Azerbaijan's blockading of free passage from Iran to Armenia and its taxation of every Iranian truck making the trip north to Armenia via the roadblocks Azerbaijan set up has prompted a wave of furious protest in Iran. For weeks, Iranian media reflected the rage in the country over these moves by Azerbaijan, calling them an Israeli-American-Turkish-Azerbaijani scheme to bring about change in the borders in the Caucasus and to damage Iran's standing.
Many Iranian media outlets, from all camps, attacked Azerbaijan and threatened its president, Ilham Aliyev. The regime mouthpieces, and regime officials past and present, reminded Azerbaijan that it had once been part of the Persian Empire, and warned it not to give Israel a foothold on its soil and not to cooperate with it militarily or politically. Some warned about Iran's ability to attack Azerbaijan with thousands of missiles, and others pointed out that its cooperation with Israel would lead to Azerbaijan's destruction. Turkey too, and its president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, were warned by Iranian spokesmen.
Iran fears that Azerbaijan's move to unite with the Azeri enclave, the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, at the expense of the Iranian ally Armenia, via the Zangezur Corridor, and the creation of territorial contiguity with Turkey, Azerbaijan's patron, would lead to Turkish geopolitical supremacy in the region, by blocking Iran and restricting its military and economic/commercial strength (see MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis Iran's Defeat In The Second Nagorno-Karabakh War – Part I: Geopolitical And Economic Ramifications). The Iranian spokesmen noted that Tehran could play the ethnic card against Turkey and Azerbaijan, by inciting local ethnic populations against the regimes in both countries. Some even brought up territorial claims against Turkey.
This report, the second in a series, will review Iran's threats against Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Israel as expressed in recent weeks. The forthcoming third report in the series will focus on Iran's diplomatic efforts to improve its damaged geopolitical standing.
Tehran News: "It Is Natural Enough For Iran To Disagree On Various Issues With Azerbaijan, Which Was Part Of Iran Until Recent Years, And With The Turkish Government, Which It Saved From Being Deposed In A Coup In 2016" – But "Without Iran's Help, Neither The Aliyev Family Nor Recep Tayyip [Erdoğan]Would Be In Power Today"
An October 5, 2021 editorial by the Tehran News agency, titled "What Does The Israel-Turkey-Azerbaijan Triangle Want?" stressed that Iran would not allow these three to act against it militarily or economically. Iran, explained the editorial, would not let Israel operate from Azerbaijani soil against it, nor would it allow Iran's trade relations with Europe to be severed by the creation of territorial contiguity between Azerbaijan and Turkey. It also reminded Erdoğan and Aliyev that it was Iran that had come to the rescue of their regimes and that they owed the power they held today to it:
"Several days ago, in an interview with the Turkish Yeni Safak newspaper, Qudret Hesenquliyev, an Azeri MP, made vulgar comments about the territorial integrity of Iran, saying that 'Iran must disappear from the map!' Following this statement, the Azerbaijan president [Aliyev] perceived the [October 2, 2021] Iranian [military] exercises at the northwest border as a threat to his country, with false claims and condemnation of Iran's interference in the Caucasus region.
"It is natural enough for Iran to disagree on various issues with Azerbaijan, which was part of Iran until recent years, and with the Turkish government, which it saved from being deposed in a coup in 2016. But these disagreements are miniscule compared to what we have in common in the areas of economy, culture, and so on. The illegitimate behavior and defamatory statements about our country by elements in Baku reflect their [Azerbaijanis'] political immaturity and miscalculations regarding Iran. [These] are the calculations that are being carried out by the Zionist regime.
"Iran will not allow the countries that threaten its national security and territorial integrity to act militarily as we have seen with the recent [Iranian] bombing against terrorists in Iraqi Kurdistan. Iran does not interfere in Baku's foreign relations because it believes that that is a domestic affair and nothing to do with Iran. But [Baku's] relationship [with Israel] need not become a threat to Iran's national security and territorial integrity.
"Iran will in no way stand for the presence of the Zionist regime at its northern border, and will deal with whoever threatens its security. It does not matter whether the threat is from large countries like the U.S. or very small ones in the region [i.e. Israel]."
The map accompanying the editorial showed the two disputed territories (striped). The one in the south is the Zangezur Corridor separating Iran (greenish brown) from Armenia (green) but connecting the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic (dark brown) with Azerbaijan (Source: Tehran News, October 5, 2021)
"In the recent Iran-Azerbaijan tension, Turkey has played an important and critical role. As part of its revival of the Ottoman Empire, the border line, known as the 'Zangezur area' which separated Nakhchivan and Azerbaijan constitutes a serious obstacle to the actualization of Erdoğan's years-long dream, and he is attempting to launch another war at the jonly border point shared by Iran and Armenia. This is in order to actualize his dream and so that Turkey, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgzstan will connect to each other, and will be part of Erdoğan's neo-Ottomanism by joining Nakhichevan to Azerbaijan.
"If Erdoğan's wish comes true, it is reasonable to assume that we will need to see some big changes in the Caucasus region's political geography, as can be seen on the following map:
Map showing neo-Ottomanism from Turkey through the southern Caucasus to Central Asia.
"Israel, which wants badly to isolate Iran, has announced its military and economic support for the joint Turkish-Azerbaijani plan [i.e. the Zangezur Corridor], while exploiting the false dream of Erdoğan [in Turkey] and the Aliyev family [in Azerbaijan]. This is in order to completely cut off our country's access to Europe and to place severe restrictions on Iran's trade with it. As part of the project of isolating it [Iran], Israel has formed a triangle with Ankara, Baku, and Pakistan.
"The evil project, and its goals that the Israel-Turkey-Azerbaijan triangle is working to advance, have so far been thwarted, thanks to the Iranian army land force's 'Conquerors of Khaybar' military exercise in the northwest of the country, because this triangle's elements did not think that the Iranian armed forces would respond in a serious manner. Iran's heaviest military equipment was deployed in this region, and in the event of a Satanic operation by the Zionists, Turkey, and Azerbaijan, we will be ready [to deliver] the most powerful of responses, and they understood this to some extent.
"Erdoğan and Aliyev should never forget how much Iran helped their governments. The survival of both these governments today is connected to [Iran's] historic assistance. Without Iran's help, neither the Aliyev family nor Recep Erdoğan would be in power today. Therefore, Iran expects both these countries not to be fooled by the promises and lies of the Zionist regime and not to allow the presence of Zionist advisors and diplomats in their country.
"Of course, both these countries must remember that Iran has destroyed the biggest terror organizations in the region, such as ISIS. And it certainly is not helpless in the matter of defending its national security and interests. [Iran] will respond harshly and seriously if a certain country threatens its national security and interests that its regime considers red lines."
Kayhan Editorial Board Member Saadollah Zarei, Affiliated With Iranian Regime Circles: "Iran Too Has Geopolitical Aspirations – For Example, Why Is Ararat In Turkish Hands?"
Saadollah Zarai, a member of the editorial board of the regime mouthpiece Kayhan daily, affiliated with Iranian regime circles, told the ISNA news agency in an October 4, 2021 interview that Iran considers itself to be harmed by the arrangements made by Azerbaijan and Armenia at the end of the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war. Stating that the Caucasus region was part of the Persian Empire and that Iran was sensitive about it, he warned Azerbaijan not to befriend Israel or give it access to Azerbaijani soil. In an attempt to deter Turkey's aspirations in the Caucasus, Zarai recalled that Iran too has territorial aspirations, in connection with the Ararat mountain range region, which under Turkish control today, and with the Zangezur Corridor connecting Turkey and Azerbaijan, and noted that Iran would weigh plans with security ramifications in order to assure its ongoing security:
"[Iran's good neighbor] policy is more deliberate towards countries whose civilization and history were at their height under Iran – that is, peoples who were once part of the Iranian nation and [then] isolated from Iran – [and in such cases] doubles its efforts to maintain emotional and cultural ties, and after the fall of the Soviet Union, we have always tried to tackle all issues that arose in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, and Tajikistan when Iran was concerned, and we have shown maximal restraint. But here we see that Iran's good neighbor [policy] has been met with conspiracy by America, Israel, and Turkey, together with Azerbaijan, and that they are trying to foment a regional conflict for Iran.
"It is obvious that the developments [at the Azerbaijan-Iran border] do not merely concern the resolution of disputes between Azerbaijan and Armenia, but create a regional plot [against] Iran. [In light of this, Iran] can no longer act according to the rules of good neighborly behavior. [Iran] must act to prevent the formation of a conspiracy [against it]. This matter is not outside the bounds of international law. Good neighborly relations mean that two countries cannot arrive at an agreement or a commitment while harming a third country, i.e. the Iranian nation.
Saadollah Zarai. Source: ISNA, June 2, 2021.
"Any country can act if it faces a growing threat. On the one hand, we have launched our diplomatic talks, particularly with Azerbaijan, in order to show the seriousness of our position. [On the other hand] we have held IRGC and army exercises in [the city of] Bilasuvar [on Azerbaijan's southwest border] and in [the city of] Khudaferin [in Jabrayil Province in northeast Azerbaijan] that sent a clear message that if these issues are not resolved Iran will enter the arena.
"In any event, Iran too has geopolitical aspirations. For example, why is Ararat in Turkish hands? Is this a temporary or permanent agreement? Everyone knows that Ararat was under Iranian ownership until the Reza Shah era , [and] that the strip linking Turkey and Azerbaijan was in Iranian hands, and Iran was patient with this. Now, it can undertake legitimate operations to regain these areas. We may not want to escalate things to this level, but Turkey must know that if it does anything to cause Iran geopolitical harm, Iran is free to defend its rights and interests.
"How is it that Israelis are talking about Azerbaijan as if it were the 'Lebanon of Israel' [i.e. like its backyard] – is this not shameful for Azerbaijan? [Doesn't] Baku know that this matter will lead to a vehement and serious Iranian response – and that [Azerbaijan] being described in such a way legitimizes Iran's launch of a military operation? Therefore, if Iran's opponents are planning to foment rebellion [against it], they must know that Iran is free to disrupt this conspiracy and that it can act in the framework of its own national interests."
On the subject of the October 2, 2021 "Conquerors of Khaybar" military exercise at the Azerbaijan border, Zarai said: "No one can protest against this... We must aspire to a viable peace, [but] this will not be achieved if the role of Iran's opponents in the region is not removed. If Turkey's current policy in the Caucasus continues, and if America and Israel continue to run around in the region, we will have no long-term security, and perhaps in order to create ongoing security we will have to welcome a plan with security ramifications – [but] this is up to the abovementioned countries."
Eghtesadsalem.com: "Turkey And Azerbaijan Seek To Achieve... Two Goals: One, To Cut Off Iran's Land Border With Armenia And Block Iran's Route To Europe, And Two, To Connect By Land The Countries Promoting The Pan-Turkism Ideology"
The Eghtesadsalem ("Healthy Economy") website, which is close to Iranian ideological circles, complained on October 1, 2021 about "the plan created by the joint think team of America and Israel and presented to Turkey and Azerbaijan, as well as to Pakistan." It said that "the Turkish dictator Erdoğan is implementing the project in the region, in light of his delusions and dreams of reviving the blood-drenched Ottoman Empire."
The website explained: "After Azerbaijan's invasion of Armenia last year, control of the road" linking Iran with Armenia "was handed over to the Azerbaijan army, and since then they have made many problems for Iranian drivers and truck drivers, including levying a ransom of $130 for each truck. Azerbaijan's actions against Iran's economic interests and national security have not stopped, and soon it will block the road completely and cut off Iran's land and access to the transport [of goods] to Europe. Thus, Iran will be excluded from microeconomy advantages and from the security of being on the Asia-Europe corridor."
Going on to state that the early 20th-century Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk had received, from the Iranian Pahlavi dynasty founder Reza Shah, the territory between Turkey and the Azeri Nakhchivan, which includes the Ararat mountain range (circled in red on the map below and marked "the region given to Turkey"), the website added: "Turkey's aim in occupying this Iranian territory [was as follows]: Ataturk sought to establish a belt of states settled by Turks in the region, and thus, by taking over Iranian land, linked Turkey by land to Nakhchivan as a region settled by Turks. This relationship has now led to the creation of an anti-Iran alliance among these countries that oppose our national interests."
Ararat mountain range region given to Ataturk, circled in red, situated between Turkey to the west, Iran to the south, Nakhchivan to the east, and Armenia to the north. Source: Eghtesadsalem.com, Iran, October 1, 2021.
It added: "Turkey and Nakhchivan are joined to Azerbaijan by the strip at the Iranian-Armenia border, and the two countries of Turkey and Azerbaijan seek to obtain this region, through military attack and conquest, with two aims: One, to cut off Iran's land border with Armenia and block Iran's route to Europe, and two, to connect by land the countries promoting the pan-Turkism ideology, directly and with no need for Iran."
Map in the article: "They want to establish a direct land route between Turkey-Nakhchivanj-Azerbaijan by occupying the Iran-Armenia border [i.e. the Zangezur Corridor, yellow line]. Source: Eghtesadsalem.com, October 1, 2021.
IRGC-Affiliated Journalist Hossein Dalirian: If War Breaks Out, Iran Can Strike 1,000 Points In Azerbaijan With An Accuracy Of Meters Using 1,000 Ballistic Missiles In A Single Day
Hossein Dalirian, an IRGC-affiliated journalist for security affairs, tweeted warnings on September 29, 2021 to Azerbaijan that Iran could strike 1,000 key points in it if it continued to clash with it. The following is the translation of his tweets:
"This Is Only Speculation!
"Assume that the flame of war is ignited and that we engage in conflict with Azerbaijan. Iran can, in a single day, strike 1,000 key points with an accuracy of meters, with 1,000 ballistic missiles – and this means a one-day war!
"In effect, there will never be a chance to use other implements [of war].
"Don't pay too much attention to statements that are mere nonsense."
Twitter.com/HosseinDalirian/status/1443225884207587330, September 29, 2021.
The tweet was criticized, and Dalirian subsequently explained that he had merely been speculating, and that Iran's capabilities were planned for comprehensive war with the U.S.:
"Some criticized this tweet!
"First of all, these 1,000 ballistic missiles a day are our capability, and I was merely pointing that out. Second, Iran's capability is based on all-out war with America. Therefore, in light of such a superpower [the U.S.], don't make meaningless statements, even if your friend (a NATO member) [i.e. Turkey] enters into the battle [against Iran]."
Regime Mouthpiece Kayhan: Iran Will Not Stand For Border Changes
On September 27, 2021, the Kayhan daily, the regime mouthpiece, accused Israel and the U.S. of plotting against Iran at its northwest border, on the pretext of establishing "an invisible alliance among the U.S., Turkey, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and the Zionist regime" aimed at bringing about geopolitical change with strategic ramifications against Iran and Russia." The following are the statements:
"The developments at Iran's northwest border are likely to greatly impact Iran's and Russia's political weight in the Caucasus region, and even beyond. What is happening now at Iran's northwestern border is the formation of an invisible alliance among America, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and the Zionist regime, aimed at bringing about geopolitical change with strategic ramifications against Iran and Russia.
"Azerbaijan's military forces are blocking the Goris-Kapan road [the main traffic artery] in Armenia, and are not allowing free passage of heavy Iranian vehicles to Armenia, constituting harm to Iran's and Armenia's sovereignty. If this continues, it will ultimately restrict Iran's role in the region. The creation of tension at [Iran's] northern border can expand to the Caspian Sea.
"At the same time as all these interactions are taking place, the language of the [Azerbaijani] media and ostensible unofficial media – that are actually Azerbaijan's official statements – now include hostile, childish [anti-Iran] terms. This is while we cannot, without intent to humiliate, compare the size of this republic [i.e. Azerbaijan] to the size of Iran, since the power relations between them are not comparable. We thereby deduce that there is someone else behind these events – a stream bringing evil – allowing certain people in Azerbaijan to boast.
"The eradication of the 21-kilometer border between Iran and the Armenian region, like the eradication of the Armenian border in this region, which apparently resulted from the surrender of Armenia's Syunik Province to Azerbaijan [in the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war] complicates the geopolitical situation of Iran in the Caucasus.
"Taking into account the ethnic tendencies of Turkey and its casting of covetous eyes towards the coasts of the Caspian Sea from east to west, and taking into account [as well] that the influence of the Zionist regime in the past three decades in Azerbaijan and Armenia – influence that has military dimensions as well, [since] this notorious regime has become one of the main parties selling weapons to both these republics [Azerbaijan and Turkey], and even selling American weapons to both these governments, which was conditional upon military acquisitions from this regime [Israel] – and [also] taking into account America's serious efforts to create a crisis at Iran's borders, Iran's closing its eyes to the geopolitical developments north of its borders will cause damage and risk.
"Therefore, Azerbaijan should in no way be allowed to interpret these exceptional and conspiratorial developments in terms of an agreement between two countries [Azerbaijan and Armenia] and to claim sovereignty in this matter. This is because a third party's [Iran's] good neighborly relations and interests – an accepted international rule that is stressed in all conventions – are thus absolutely violated.
"For a long time, America has been making efforts to bring about geopolitical change in one part of the region... Therefore, if change takes place here, the entire region will be subjected to geopolitical threats.
"In the meantime, the Armenian government [and Prime Minister Nikol] Pashinyan, who is considered a pro-West figure relative to the previous government, have joined the America-Turkey project in the delusional hope of obtaining political and economic favors, while this is [actually] a betrayal of Armenia. The Pashinyan government consoles itself with American and Turkish promises that if it hands Syunik Province [to Azerbaijan] it will be able to enjoy normalized and worry-free relations with Azerbaijan and Turkey, and to establish its rule.
"On the other hand, Armenia has joined the subversive [anti-Iran] plan with the promise that northern Karabakh, instead of Syunik, will remain in the Republic of Armenia. While it is not possible to resolve century-old problems between the Armenians and the Turks with a political agreement, in this scenario Armenia is giving away two geopolitical points and [receiving] a promise of stability for the geographic status it already has. In this deal, Armenia loses its neighbor Iran whom it can use in the event of a threat from Turkey or Azerbaijan or Georgia, and also relinquishes to its enemy a sensitive province with an aspect of commercial traffic – when it is impossible to compensate for this geopolitical and geostrategic damage with economic or political promises. At the same time, Armenia receives [merely] a promise of northern Nagorno-Karabakh – which comprises a third of [the province of] Nagorno-Karabakh, whereas after determining Syunik as a province of Azerbaijan, Armenia could definitely face attack from Baku over northern Karabakh, and will easily lose this Armenian segment and be surrounded by the territory of its rivals. In effect, Pashinyan is planning an historic betrayal and permanent crisis against Armenia.
"Many analysts say that Erdoğan and his party are gradually showing their true faces, after an Islamist pivot and then a pivot towards Russia, and their faces have no connection to Islamism or Orientalism. In this arena, Turkey, as a NATO member, is in effect performing the traditional role of expanding the influence of the Europe-America alliance to Russia's sphere of influence, and to Iran's sphere of influence – that is, Central Asia. The Americans, meanwhile, rely on Erdoğan's racist ideas and are actually using him to try to achieve a strategic position in the western Caspian Sea, and, in effect, in the southern Caucasus region.
"America seeks to weaken the status of its two enemies – Iran and Russia – in the south Caucasus, and at the western end of the Caspian Sea, by expanding its covert relations with the Azerbaijan and Armenian republics and temporarily resolving the enmity between them. [It aims to do this] by temporarily restraining Azerbaijan and luring Armenia [with false promises].
"In this scenario, instead of a direct and overt presence, America is using the Zionist regime's three decades of security relations with the two republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia. Though exact statistics are unavailable, many reports indicate a growing Israeli regime security presence, particularly in Azerbaijan, its center being the Kabala [sic] airbase. The number of Israeli security forces is between 500 and 1,000, while this criminal regime has gained significant influence in the past decade in the backbone of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the family of Ilham Aliyev, in a such a way that Zionist leaders call Azerbaijan the 'Lebanon of Israel' and have said that this is how they can engage Iran in a long-term security border challenge and reduce its influence in the region...
"The Turkish and Azerbaijani governments are taking big risks that are likely to bring them to an existential crisis before they cause a crisis to someone else [Iran]. The Aliyev government is dealing with a population of six million Shi'ites who are no doubt close to the Shi'ite center [Iran], and the Erdogan government in Turkey is dealing with some 23 million Alawite Shi'ites.
"Iran has never wanted to use these capabilities [i.e. inciting these Shi'ite populations against their governments] in order to warn Erdogan or Aliyev. In contrast, and based on our moral principles, we have maintained good neighborly relations, to the point where on two occasions we saved the governments of these two families [Erdogan and Aliyev] from destruction.
"Ilham Aliyev definitely remembers that the Iran-Russia security cooperation thwarted the American Velvet Revolution led by George Soros against the Azerbaijan government, and he in effect firmly thwarted the American project for governmental changes in Central Asia and the region. Erdoğan also recalls that it was Iran and the martyred general [IRGC Qods Force commander Qassem] Soleimani who prevented the revolution supported by America against him and against his Justice and Development party from succeeding. To date, not only have we never taken steps against the governments of Turkey and Azerbaijan, but we have always supported them.
"Both Erdogan and Aliyev know that Iran is not powerless to thwart this plot. Iran can disrupt this regrettable scheme that is planned against it.
"The events at the northern border of Iran smell like American-Israeli plots that 'played' Erdogan in one way and Aliyev in another. But this is not a game that Iran and Russia can ignore. Erdogan and Aliyev must know that 'mutual respect' is not a blank check for them [alone]."
Azerbaijan President Aliyev And The Israeli Drone – Video
On October 3, 2021, the "Azarihal" Telegram account, which belongs to an Azerbaijani news analysis website that focuses on Azerbaijan and Iran, posted a video showing Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev with a drone and titled: "Look here – Ilham Aliyev flirts with an Israeli Harop drone at the Iranian border, to mock Iran."
To view this clip, click here or below.
Hassan Hanizadeh, International Affairs Expert Close To IRGC: "Turkish President Erdogan... Seeks To Rebuild The Ottoman Empire, With The Recent Operations That He Carried Out, And To Take Revenge On Iran By Cooperating With Ilham Aliyev And Dragging Israel Into The Region"
In an October 7, 2021 interview with the ISNA news agency, Hassan Hanizadeh, an international affairs expert close to the IRGC, reviewed the interests Iran's rivals had in acting against it in an attempt to change the power relations in the region, and warned that Iran could play the ethnic card against Azerbaijan and Turkey. The following are the main points of his statements:
"The triangle of the Zionist regime-Turkey-Azerbaijan has for a long time sought to change the geopolitics of the southern Caucasus, and each of them is trying to hobble Iran in the geographic region by means of greater dominance in this region.
"The Zionist regime is trying to take over Erbil, the southern Caucasus, the Caspian Sea, and the Persian Gulf, and to pressure Iran by creating a physical belt. On the other hand, Turkey, Israel, and Azerbaijan are trying to keep Iran besieged within northwestern border in order to prevent it from infiltrating Armenia and Central Asia, by creating cooperation and a security and military apparatus.
"The Azerbaijan-Armenia war that brought relative victory to Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev, who took over Nagorno-Karabakh, made him even more determined [in his attempt] to take over Nakhchivan and other parts of Nagorno-Karabakh, and to prevent Iran from infiltrating Armenia. This brought the Azerbaijani president pride, and we have seen that he is sending hostile declarations [against Iran].
"On the other hand, the Zionist regime wants to have several bases near the Iran border, and the [September 2021 military] maneuvers held jointly with Turkey and Pakistan took place in this framework. Israel is trying to challenge Iran with its presence in the region.
"Turkish President Erdogan also seeks to rebuild the Ottoman Empire, with the recent operations that he carried out, and to take revenge on Iran by cooperating with Ilham Aliyev and dragging Israel into the region. In effect, these three regimes want to change the geographical chess[board] in order to sever Iran's ties with the southern Caucasus and Central Asia...
"Iran can use its tools in those countries to break this evil triangle, in order to oppose Israel and Aliyev. Seventy percent of Azerbaijan's citizens have religious faith in Iran; 20 million Turkish citizens are Kurds and oppose Erdogan's regime, and are likely to create problems [for him] in the future. Let us not forget that Iran has helped Azerbaijan in the past 30 years. It also supported Erdogan's regime in the 2016 coup, and the continuation of his regime stems from Iran's assistance – but he has proven [his ingratitude and has] not gone through the door of friendship. The recent 'Conquerors of Khaybar' maneuvers held in the northwest of the country were a crushing response to Israel's illegitimate presence in the region."
Emad Abshenas, International Affairs Expert: "Israel Is Behind The Scenes Of The Developments In Azerbaijan... Azerbaijan Is Taking A Big Gamble That Could Lead To Its Destruction"
In an October 6 interview with the ISNA news agency, Iranian international affairs expert Emad Abshenas said that Israel was behind the scenes of the recent Iran-Azerbaijan tensions, and warned Azerbaijan that it was taking a "big gamble" that could lead to its destruction. The following are the main points of his statements:
"Those who deal with regional issues know that Azerbaijan is not big enough to bother Iran. Actually, for a number of reasons, [Israel] is inciting Azerbaijan to involve Iran in the conflict, and they [Israel] will want to enter the arena in support of Azerbaijan. This is because Azerbaijan does not have the capability [to fight Iran on its own]. This move is a big gamble on Azerbaijan's part and could lead to its destruction. We have seen what Turkey and Israel did in Syria. But Azerbaijan does not have the strength to stand against such an event [alone].
"In the case of Nagorno-Karabakh, they thought that they could act against Iran. Israel and Turkey are behind these events, and perhaps the Azerbaijan army did not enter [the arena] very often. But Iran supported Azerbaijan and stood up for their [the Azerbaijanis'] rights and as a result their [Israel's and Turkey's] plan was thwarted.
"Following these events, we were witness to other moves in this region. One of them was the appropriation of Iranian trucks. Another issue was Turkey's attempts to occupy part of Armenia, with the cooperation of Azerbaijan, and to completely sever Iran's connection to Europe. As is well known, they [Turkey and Azerbaijan] have been trying for a long time to redirect the Silk Road away from Iran and to stretch it to Europe via Turkey.
"After these developments, it seems that Azerbaijan is collaborating with Turkey on such issues, and perhaps it is carrying out Turkey's orders. We see that Israel has established a series of bases in the region, in order to endanger Iran's security. Some of the terror operations that took place were even guided by Israeli bases. One example of this is [the November 27, 2020 assassination of Iranian nuclear program director Mohsen] Fakhrizadeh. The investigation showed that the drones that were prepared for [his] assassination were brought into Iran via Azerbaijan by Israel, and, in fact, the Israeli spy base in Azerbaijan guided them.
"Iran has tried to solve this issue via diplomacy, but Baku does not seem to realize that it is playing with fire. [Azerbaijan] invited Turkey and Pakistan to conduct military exercises in the Caspian Sea; however, according to the protocol, it is forbidden for Caspian Sea countries to invite other countries to hold such exercises in the region. So Azerbaijan violated this agreement. Therefore, the ['Conquerors of Khaybar'] exercise that Iran carried out can be considered the beginning of Iran's response."
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh: The "Conquerors Of Khaybar" Exercise "Is Being Carried Out For The Sake Of Peace And Stability In The Entire Region"
In a September 27, 2021 interview with the Turkish state-run Anadolu news agency, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh discussed the accusations leveled by Azerbaijan President Aliyev that "Iranian trucks had entered the Nagorno-Karabakh region illegally and regularly before the region was liberated from the Armenian occupation last year."
Khatibzadeh said: "Because of the good and dignified relations between the two countries [Iran and Azerbaijan], and since the regular means of communication between the two sides are on the highest level, it is surprising to [hear Aliyev] make such statements... Iran has always warned that it opposes any occupation of territory, and stressed the need for respect for the territorial integrity of the countries and for the internationally recognized borders. Preserving [the rules] of good neighborliness is one of the most important issues that the neighboring [countries] must consider."
He added that the "Conquerors of Khaybar" exercise was "a governmental matter, and is being carried out for the sake of the peace and stability of the entire region. Indeed, it is clear that Iran will not tolerate the presence of the Zionist regime, [which is for] show, near its borders, and in this context it will undertake any operation that seems necessary for its national security."
Former Majlis Speaker Ali Motahari: "It Would Be Wise" For Azerbaijan "To Return To The Fold Of Its Mother" – Iran – "Instead Of Betraying" It – "Lest It Learn The Same Lesson As [Iraq's] Saddam [Hussein]"
On October 1, 2021, Ali Motahari, former Majlis speaker, called, on Twitter, for Iran to oppose the "treasonous" plan of Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Israel, and called on Azerbaijan to "return to the fold of its mother, Iran" instead of betraying it. He tweeted:
"Iran must oppose, at any cost, the treasonous plan of Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Israel to create the Zangezur Corridor that destroys the Armenian border with Iran and blocks one of Iran's routes to Europe. Instead of betraying its mother – Iran – it would be wise for it to return to the fold of its mother lest it learn the same lesson as [Iraq's] Saddam [Hussein]."
Deputy Majlis Speaker Ali Nikzad: "Know That We, The Army Of Azeris, Obey The Orders Of The Leader Of The Islamic Revolution"
On September 24, 2021, Deputy Majlis speaker Ali Nikzad responded to Azerbaijan MP Alman Muhamadov's statement that "the Iranians tell us not to play with the lion's [i.e. Iran's] tail! We will cut off their tail if they have one." In a tweet, Nikzad warned Azerbaijan not to look for adventures against Iran:
"I will tell you to read some history in order to know what happened to the leaders who relied on America and on Zionism. Don't let your greed for adventure overcome you, because we dearly love history and our identity. Know that we, the army of the Azeris, obey the orders of the leader of the Islamic Revolution [Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who is himself of Azeri origin]."
Ali Nikzad's tweet
Tasnim News Agency Cartoon: "Playing With The [Iranian] Lion's Tail"
The Iranian Tasnim news agency, which is close to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRCG), also responded to Azerbaijani MP Muhamadov's statements, publishing on September 29, 2021 a cartoon depicting Muhamadov as a blind mosquito with a cane and pruning shears, saying "Your Majesty the King, with your permission, I have come to cut off your tail." He is approaching an enraged recumbent lion, representing Iran, who is about to swat him with a heavy history book held in his tail. Below the illustration, it says: "Read some history to know what happened to the leaders who relied on America and Israel."
MEMRI TV Clip – Iranian International Affairs Expert Hamid-Reza Gholamzadeh: Israel Is Azerbaijan's Plan For Its Border With Iran; If Necessary, Iran Will Punish Azerbaijan And Turkey
In an October 3, 2021 interview on Iran's Ofogh TV, Iranian international affairs expert Hamid-Reza Gholamzadeh said that "Israel is behind" plans by Turkey and Azerbaijan "to take control of our border with Armenia and to create a road between Azerbaijan and Nakhchivan, so that Azerbaijan can use this road. This would erase our border with Armenia, such that we would [effectively] share a border with Azerbaijan. Such a change would be dangerous for us and it conflicts with our interests. It would effectively change our border."
To view this clip on MEMRI TV, click here or below:
MEMRI TV Clip – Former Iranian Diplomat Amir Mousavi: Azerbaijan Should Not "Play With Fire," Iran Is Running Out Of Patience; The Zionists And ISIS Are Using Azerbaijan Territory Against Iran
Former Iranian diplomat Amir Mousavi said in a television interview on October 1, 2021 that Azerbaijan should not "play with fire" regarding Iran, and added that Iran is running out of patience and that it has proof of "dangerous" anti-Iran activity by the "Zionists" and ISIS, from within Azerbaijan.
To view this clip on MEMRI TV, click here or below:
 Tehran News (Iran), October 5, 2021.
 ISNA (Iran), October 4, 2021.
 ISNA (Iran), October 4, 2021.
 Eghtesadsalem.com, October 1, 2021.
 Twitter.com/HosseinDalirian/status/1443225884207587330, September 29, 2021.
 Twitter.com/HosseinDalirian, September 29, 2021.
 Kayhan (Iran), September 28, 2021.
 ISNA (Iran), October 10, 2021.
 ISNA (Iran), October 6, 2021.
 ISNA (Iran) September 27, 2021.
 ISNA (Iran), September 28, 2021.
 Twitter.com/ali_motahari_ir, October 1, 2021.
 Twitter.com/DrAliNikzad, September 24, 2021.
 Tasnim (Iran), September 28, 2021.