Anti-Semitism as a cause of war
Iran and Azerbaijan by common culture and stories can be roughly compared with Russia and Ukraine. Tehran is playing the role of big brother here, and he is also not very happy with the specific foreign policy of Baku. At the same time, if Russia and Ukraine had a long period of friendship, then there was never a complete mutual understanding between the Shiite republics.
Firstly, Azerbaijan is still a secular state, and secondly, Baku actively contacted the United States and Israel, the sworn enemies of Tehran.
The relations between the countries were constantly balancing between neutrality and cold confrontation.
Characteristic attacks were not uncommon. In 2006, the official newspaper “Iran” published a cartoon in which a boy, seeing a cockroach, repeats the word “cockroach” in Farsi, and a vile creature answers him in Azerbaijani: “What?”. The caricature itself, published in the children's section, is completely inappropriate, and also very ill-considered - up to 35 million ethnic Azerbaijanis live in Iran.
As a result, Tehran received massive protests and pogroms with many injured and killed. In 2015, history repeated itself, only now a TV show on the state channel IRIB caused discontent among Azerbaijanis.
Before talking about the likelihood of a war between Iran and Azerbaijan, it is necessary to understand the level of influence of the Azerbaijani diaspora.
The north-west of the country is inhabited mainly by ethnic Azerbaijanis, and in the capital up to 60% of residents consider themselves to be of this nationality. There is also a large proportion of Azerbaijanis in the army and government, who previously refused to disperse the demonstrations of their fellow tribesmen.
Nevertheless, the geopolitical situation does not allow Iran to think too much about internal national specifics. The anti-Semitic republic is very sensitive to any activity of the Israelis near the borders. Azerbaijan, in turn, is committed to long and fruitful cooperation with Israel. Tehran, as they can, is trying to dissuade Baku from cooperating with the "big Satan" (USA) and "little Satan" (Israel), but this is not successful.
After the victory in Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijani leader Ilham Aliyev feels special inspiration in himself. Actually, the very victory over the Armenian army was largely due to the military-technical support of Tel Aviv.
Coupled with the growing dissatisfaction of Iran, sooner or later this should have resulted in a complication.
The unofficial reason was the restrictions imposed by the Azerbaijanis on Iranian trucks with oil products passing through the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. The border guards imposed a tribute of $ 100 on each truck following the Goris-Kapan road to Armenia from Iran.
"Conquerors of Khaybar"
Difficulties with border control on the Iranian-Azerbaijani border occurred at the end of August, but we see Iran's decisive response only now.
In early October, the Iranian army launched a large-scale exercise under the auspicious name "Conquerors of Khaybar". This is a direct reference to 629, when the troops of the Prophet Muhammad defeated the Jewish army at the Battle of Khaibar.
Near the Nakhichevan border, which is rather weakly defended, Iran is deploying a powerful grouping that looks very much like an invading army. The largest Iranian exercise in twenty years involves the elite 216th Armored Brigade and the 16th Armored Division. Social networks are filled with photo and video evidence of the transfer of cannon and rocket artillery, anti-aircraft systems and a mass of light armored vehicles to the Azerbaijani border.
Ilham Aliyev has already asked a question about the expediency of conducting exercises, which have not been near the borders of Azerbaijan for about 30 years. In particular, the president is surprised:
“The Azerbaijanis also ask why during the period of the Armenian occupation in this region no exercises were carried out? Why were no exercises held when Armenians were in Jabrayil, Zangilan, Fizuli? Why are they held when we liberated the land, put an end to 30 years of bondage and occupation? These are legitimate questions. "
And, without waiting for a response, Baku quickly negotiates with Ankara on holding the Brotherhood-2021 exercises, which started on October 5.
By the way, the goal of the exercise was chosen as a very vegetarian one - "activities for demining and training in the territories liberated from the Armenian occupation."
The tragedy during the Iranian exercises added nervousness to the situation, when its own helicopter shot its soldiers in the trenches, and the artillery destroyed the KrAZ truck. In total, nine servicemen of the Iranian army were killed by the "friendly fire".
Iranian KrAZ destroyed by "friendly fire". Source: zloy-odessit.livejournal.com
Azerbaijan's position in this history is more advantageous, but only from a political point of view. Militarily, Iran's army is much stronger. But Azerbaijanis are rich in allies. First of all, behind Baku is the power of the Turkish army, which, in addition, is also a NATO member.
Ilham Aliyev demonstrates a very calculating loyalty - he does not openly conflict with anyone. Except, of course, for the Armenian authorities. In addition, the Azerbaijani ethnos shows an example of mutually beneficial coexistence of Jews and Muslims.
In this regard, anti-Semitic Iran does not look its best in the eyes of the collective West and, in the event of a war, sympathy will definitely be on the side of Baku and Ankara.
Iran possesses much more powerful armed forces and, in a certain scenario, is able to cleanse the border territory of Azerbaijan from "foreign agents".
By "foreign agents" Iranians mean Jews. Tehran is very concerned about the presence of Israelis at its borders, even in the status of military-technical advisers. Indeed, up to 60% of imports weapons Baku receives from Israel, and it is impossible to do without the presence of specialists from supplying companies.
Only how many of them are really helping with the development of new weapons, and how many are conducting anti-Iranian intelligence?
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is quite radical in his wording:
“Those who suffer from illusions will soon be slapped in the face. The countries of the region should not allow foreign armies to interfere. "
In addition to the words, Tehran closed its airspace to the military on October 5. aviation Azerbaijan. Now the transportation of goods by air to the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic is impossible.
Who is the winner?
A hypothetical military conflict between Azerbaijan and Iran seems to be beneficial only to Armenia and, in part, Turkey.
For the former, any distraction of Baku's attention is already just a gift - Yerevan is now unable to effectively resist the modern army of its neighbor. It was not for nothing that Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan managed to visit Tehran before the start of the joint Turkish-Azerbaijani exercises.
Turkey is also drawing some bonuses out of a possible aggravation.
Threats from Iran are pushing Baku even more into the arms of Erdogan, and this is the loss of a certain share of sovereignty. Turkey will not limit itself to military bases in Azerbaijan, you can be sure. Now Turkish Drones are the eyes and ears of the Azerbaijani army. Heavy vehicles hang over the border around the clock, monitoring the situation tens of kilometers deep into Iran. However, even without a war with Iran, Ankara has enough hot spots around and inside its own territory - Erdogan surprisingly managed to quarrel with many neighbors.
For Tehran, the conflict in the long term also has little to do. The Iranian armed forces are undoubtedly superior to the army of Azerbaijan and are capable of delivering fatal blows to the enemy's infrastructure. For example, attack fleet Azerbaijani oil production in the Caspian. But Iran, in modern terms, has enough hot cases - Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, payment of allies in Yemen and Lebanon. Do not forget the numerous Azerbaijani diaspora inside Iran, which will behave unpredictably in the event of a war with a neighbor. The Iranian "Bolivar" can simply not bear all this.
At first glance, complicating the situation on the border between Iran and Azerbaijan may seem beneficial to Russia. Baku's status as a new sub-regional leader will be under threat, which cannot but rejoice Russia's allies in the CSTO. But the threat from Iran could unite Ankara and Baku even more. Quite likely, in a new "union state" with a very significant influence in the entire region.
Therefore, the existing status quo with the exchange of teachings will suit Moscow most of all.