Farid Shafiyev: Iran’s statements about ‘foreign’ forces stationed in Azerbaijan mainly aimed at Israel, Turkey
Iran’s statements about ‘third-country’ or ‘foreign’ forces stationed in Azerbaijan are mainly aimed at Israel and Turkey, Farid Shafiyev, chairman of the Baku-based Center of Analysis of International Relations (AIR Center), told Arab News.
“Only Iran will suffer from these statements. Tehran, first of all, should see the Caucasus as a region of potential cooperation. Iran’s statements about ‘third-country’ or ‘foreign’ forces stationed in Azerbaijan are mainly aimed at Israel and Turkey, but they must understand that we are not hiding,” he said.
Shafiyev stressed that Azerbaijan has military-political cooperation with Israel and with Turkey, as well as strong economic ties.
“It is designed, first of all, to ensure the security of Azerbaijan and not against Iran,” he said.
Shafiyev believes there are two key reasons why Iran fears Azerbaijan’s growing regional clout. “The first is the Zangezur Corridor — an overland corridor Baku plans to establish across southern Armenia to link up with the Nakhchivan enclave bordering Turkey.”
According to Shafiyev, Iran fears the plan, which was agreed under the terms of the ceasefire deal, will leave it cut off from the wider region.
“The second factor at play is Azerbaijan’s longstanding relationship with Israel, which has angered Iran at a time when its nuclear program has been set back by a string of suspected Israeli covert operations,” he added.
Shafiyev emphasized that Azerbaijan is unlikely to back down in the face of Iranian saber-rattling.
“This is our sovereign right,” he said. “Our cooperation with Israel is more about security. Israeli weapons have shown their effectiveness during the Patriotic (Karabakh) War.
“As a former diplomat, I would like the issues to be resolved diplomatically and Iran should (instead) consider this region as a potential region of cooperation,” he concluded.