WASHINGTON – Ever since the government of Azerbaijan allowed Azeri Iranians to demonstrate in Baku recently, advocating secession of an Azeri-Iranian area from Iran to Azerbaijan, Tehran’s hostility toward its neighbor has only increased, according to report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
Azerbaijan also has been quietly working with Israel to be used as a possible staging area should Tel Aviv make a decision to bomb Iran’s nuclear sites, which Israel contend are to produce nuclear weapons.
In response, Iranian lawmakers have drafted legislation to reattach the country of Azerbaijan to Iran by updating the terms of a 19th century treaty that ceded part of modern-day Azerbaijan and most of Armenia to Russian control.
That was the 1828 Turkmenchay Treaty that ended the last war between then-Persia and Russia. It also gave Russia control over the South Caucasus. In 1813, Persia had relinquished its claims to modern-day Georgia under the Treaty of Gulistan.
Now, Iranian lawmakers are making the point that the Turkmenchay Treaty was valid for only 100 years and they now want to re-annex Azerbaijan.
As one of the republics of the Soviet Union, it became a separate country at the end of the Cold War in 1991. It also is at the crossroads between Western Asia and Eastern Europe.
Baku now is responding with a demand that the Azeri populated area of northwest Iran should be given to Azerbaijan.
The ethnic Azeri population in the area constitutes about a quarter of Iran’s 75 million people.
Indeed, Azerbaijani school text books call Iran’s northern border area where the ethnic Azeris live “southern Azerbaijan.”
This is only the latest squabble that has broken out between Azerbaijan and Iran. For years, they have had disputes not only over each other’s territory and rival claims over Caspian Sea energy resources but disputes over Iran’s closeness with Armenia – an enemy of Azerbaijan – and Azerbaijan’s close ties with Israel which wants to bomb Iran.
The two countries have been at odds since Azerbaijan gained independence 20 years ago following the breakup of the former Soviet Union.
The dispute with Iran has prompted Azerbaijan to develop closer ties with Israel, and that has only had the effect of exacerbating tensions with Tehran. Last year, Iran detained a number of Iranian Azeris whom authorities suspected were cooperating with Israel to kill a number of its nuclear scientists.
Iran has been placing its own espionage agents inside Azerbaijan, according to the Azeri Defense Ministry, and an Israeli diplomat was killed in Baku. This led to a joint Israeli-Azerbaijani effort to hunt down Iranian operatives.
Iran is becoming increasingly worried over Azerbaijan’s close ties with Israel and its growing friendship with the United States. Israel last year announced a $1.5 billion arms sale to Azerbaijan, something which didn’t settle well in Tehran.
Not only is Azerbaijan conducting security exchanges and military training with Israel, but Tehran has begun to look at its northern neighbor as a haven from which Israel can conduct espionage and military operations.
The U.S. also looks to Azerbaijan as an integral link in the Northern Distribution Network, which has been supplying forces of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Afghanistan. It also will be an avenue for the return of equipment from the country once the troops leave by the end of 2014.
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