Iran is in the midst of threatening Azerbaijan and amassing troops on the border, while Ankara and Baku conduct one military drill after another against a likely attack. Well, what do all these developments signify?
What does Iran fear? Is it trying to start a war in the Caucasus? Will it attack Azerbaijan? Let us take a closer look at this “deep concern.”
Turkey’s ‘touch’ spoils plan of centuries
The 44-day Karabakh War changed the geopolitical map of the South Caucasus. What appeared to be Karabakh’s liberation from Armenian occupation was in reality the first time that the Anatolia-Central Asian gate had been opened to such an extent.
This intervention was the “Turkey effect” shattering the centuries-long great Russian-Iranian strategy aimed at “sealing off the Caucasus, and segregating the Turkish and Sunni world.”
The intervention was so critical that it was clear its results would lead to geopolitical tremors – which is exactly what happened. Iran was completely bypassed in this war. That’s when it started to perceive its outcomes as a great threat.
Iran was the real loser in Karabakh
Though a vast portion of Iran’s population consists of Turks and Azerbaijanis, it cooperated with Armenia in the first Karabakh War. This time, it did not hesitate to lend open support to Armenia once again.
However, things didn’t go as it planned— at all. Azerbaijan recovered a vast majority of its occupied territory with great support from Turkey. Armenia was defeated. In this case, Iran also faced a grave defeat in the Caucasus. In fact, it was almost excluded from the region.
As the conditions of the cease-fire deal were not yet set, Tehran started to threaten Baku. Military deterrence was Iran’s priority as always. It established a military buildup on the border, and started conducting drills on the zero point of the border.
Iran’s ‘hidden’ agenda, ‘open’ propaganda
Top-level administrators in Iran, including the country’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei, were slurring threats to Baku. Iranian media was wreaking havoc, and crying out for a war.
Tehran’s justification was the same as always: “Azerbaijan brought Israel to our north.” Iran’s overt propaganda and hidden agenda became clear once again.
Yes, Israeli drones helped Azerbaijan. But Pakistan also supported Azerbaijan. Additionally, Turkey was the backbone of the intervention.
Iran’s fear of Israel is not the case; its efforts to stop Turkey is
However, Iran’s secret fear is not really Israel. Israel is the ideological key to promote the war it is likely to wage. This time it isn’t very convincing either.
The matter of concern is that post-Karabakh, the connection between Turkey and Central Asia had been opened. The road between Nakhchivan and Azerbaijan had been restored.
Iran’s efforts to divide Azerbaijan through Armenia, and plans to separate the Turkish and Sunni world received a heavy blow.
The economic dimension is something else entirely. The geopolitical map alterations threatened Iran as Tehran’s South Caucasus/Central Asia strategy was on the verge of a collapse.
Turkey’s overpowering effect was concerning Tehran and making it restless. It started to build its entire plan over shattering this. How to stop Turkey became its main concern.
A ‘map change’ could prove disastrous for Iran
Its eastern neighbor Pakistan’s move to the Caucasus, Taliban’s arrival in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan gaining military and political strength, and Turkey being the pioneer in all these smart touches could have proved fatal for Tehran’s official identity.
The actors of the Karabakh War discerned this. Turkey, Azerbaijan and Pakistan started to make preparations and conduct drills one after the other. Simultaneously, Iran made statements that it would never accept a “map change.”
Iran’s military activity last week on the border’s zero point further highlighted the gravity of it all. Looking at it from Tehran’s perspective, this is understandable.
The strategy that could not be stretched for centuries was now collapsing. The regimes in Iran and Russia could change, but this plan could not. The Turkish and Sunni world, Central Asia and Anatolia could never unite.
This could be destructive for Iran.
Is there a ‘secret deal’ in the making? What will happen if Iran the crosses border?
In his article published in the Middle East Eye, Tehran University’s Fardin Eftekhari says, Iran may “cross the border” through Armenia.
In reference to an article in the Keyhan daily, he says, “Syunik province [which lies on Iran’s border] will be given to Azerbaijan, and the pro-West administration in Yerevan made a secret deal in this direction.”
We cannot know for sure if there is a secret deal or not, but Turkey is certainly driven to pave its path to Central Asia, and Azerbaijan to join with Nakhchivan.
That map will change. Turkey is extremely determined. Iran’s concern is serious
In this case, all of Iran’s relations with Armenia will end. In fact, its relations with the Caucasus will end. In fact, the map is changing both economically and geopolitically.
The Tehran administration had crossed the border in the previous Karabakh War as well, and formed a buffer zone on the other side of the border to protect its ties with Armenia.
This is the main reason underlying Tehran’s “map” warnings. Its claims that “Israel made room for itself in the Caucasus” and “The jihadis have descended upon the region” are classical tools of propaganda Tehran uses to promote this discourse to the region.
Stopping Turkey: Cornering it from both the West and East. This time it’s serious
This matter transcends the classic Turkey-Iran tensions. The Turkey-Iran war scenarios to date were all ideological.
They were the West’s regional theories. They were set to stop Iran. This time the two countries’ geopolitical theories are clashing.
This time the West is trying to stop Turkey. Iran wasting no time to undertake the West’s theory “to stop Turkey,” and taking position accordingly is very intriguing indeed. In this respect, it is in sync with the strong waves from the West to Turkey.
The policy to “corner Turkey from the East while it is clashing with the West” has remained the same for centuries. Iran has always played this role well and continues to do so. As Turkey is being cornered from the West, Iran is building a front in the East.