Iran And Azerbaijan Tensions Rise Amidst Exercises At Their Borders

The outcome of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has resulted in border shifts and political changes in the Caucasus region. Although the Azeri forces won, they found themselves in a completely new situation with their neighbor, Iran, condemning the conflict and accusing Azerbaijan of cooperation with Israel.

Iran, as well as Armenia, is a partner of the Russian Federation in the region. The shift in the mutual relationship between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Azerbaijan was mainly caused by a number of reasons, including the creation of tight bonds between Tel Aviv and Baku due to the continuous arms sales by Israel to Azerbaijan. By mid-September, Azerbaijan concluded military drills with Pakistan and Turkey as a sort of show of force to Iran. In response, Iran hosted a military exercise at its border with Azerbaijan.

A tweet from the Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council

In September the implementation of new fees and taxes on Iranian exports to Armenia took place, up to this point, the trucks from Iran used the road freely.

A tweet from an Armenian social media account

In order to fend off the Iranian military posturing, Azerbaijan decided to host another series of military exercises with its ally, Turkey. As a result, this led to the brief escalation of the situation between the states. The peace in the Caucasus appears to be fragile at the moment although there is a peacekeeping mission implemented by the Russian Federation in Karabakh, their presence is not a guarantee against further conflict in the region.

The main issue lies in the region’s alliances, namely Turkey’s membership of NATO. In the case of any conflict sparking in the region, the involvement of Turkey, alongside her ally Azerbaijan, is likely. This could cause a further escalation in the region which could draw larger players into the geopolitical game leading to an unpredictable situation.

Cover photo by Hosein Velayati / CC-BY 4.0