Has the ice between Azerbaijan and Iran melted?

In an unprecedented move that may signal a thaw in relations, Azerbaijan and Iran have agreed to hold simultaneous tactical military exercises. Units of the Azerbaijani Army stationed in the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic will conduct these exercises on June 12. According to the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry, Iranian forces will also be conducting parallel exercises on their side of the border. The drills aim to coordinate efforts in protecting strategic facilities and communication lines from potential sabotage.

Political commentator Ilham Ismail discussed the significance of this development on the program "Difficult Question," hosted by Kamran Mahmudov. Ismail offered a nuanced view, noting that while the exercises may represent a form of cooperation, deeper geopolitical frictions remain unresolved.

Ismail highlighted the historical tensions between the two countries, which have been particularly pronounced since the Second Karabakh War. He recalled that during and after the 44-day conflict, Iran conducted military exercises near the Azerbaijani border, actions perceived as threats by Azerbaijan. In response, Azerbaijan, in collaboration with Turkey, held joint military drills adjacent to Iran. Relations were further strained by an attack on the Azerbaijani embassy in Tehran on January 27, 2023, resulting in one death and two injuries.

Despite these tensions, a joint Azerbaijani-Iranian commission in the field of defense was established on April 21, 2015. This commission serves as a platform for discussing defense and security proposals, providing a formal basis for the current tactical exercises.

Ismail suggested that Iran’s decision to participate in joint exercises is a tactical maneuver, driven by recent regional developments. He noted that Iran may be recalibrating its stance in light of Armenia's growing ties with Western nations, particularly the United States, which Iran views as a significant adversary. This shift in Yerevan's alliances has prompted Tehran to reassess its relationships with neighboring countries, including Azerbaijan.

"The joint exercises can be seen as Tehran's tactical move and a signal to Yerevan," Ismail remarked. He argued that Iran might be recognizing that Azerbaijan poses no direct threat to its sovereignty and that cooperation could be mutually beneficial in the context of broader regional dynamics.

As the exercises proceed, observers will be closely watching for any signs that this military cooperation could lead to a deeper rapprochement between Azerbaijan and Iran. While the immediate impact may be limited to tactical coordination, the exercises could mark a step toward stabilizing a historically volatile relationship, influenced by the ever-evolving  situation of the South Caucasus and beyond.

1 comment

Leave a review

Difficult question

Follow us on social networks

News Line