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Thursday, June 20, 2024

Iran and Azerbaijan on the verge of war?

Iran's recent military drill at its border with Azerbaijan is an alarming development since the deteriorating ties between the two countries. The drills invoked criticism from Azerbaijan, who questioned the timings as Iran hasn't held military drills near the border in almost 30 years.

As tensions peak between Iran and Azerbaijan, an Iranian convoy comprising the 216th Armored Brigade of Zanjan and the 16th Armored Division of the Qazvin arrived at the border city of Poldasht, along the Iran-Azerbaijan border.

A video of the Iranian military convoy surfaced late Wednesday on social media. The video shows a long line of trucks carrying advanced military equipment.

As per reports, the equipment includes M109 self-propelled howitzers, M577 command posts, M113 Armored Personnel Carriers, ZSU-23-4 anti-aircraft guns, and BMPs.

Iran deploying such vast military equipment, that too at its border with Azerbaijan, is an alarming development, considering the two countries deteriorating relations.

Read more: Iran disperses pro-Azerbaijan protest after ‘ethnocentric’ slogans

Deteriorating relations between the two neighbors

In the past year, Iran’s usually cordial relations with Azerbaijan faced turbulence, especially after the latter’s war with Armenia. Furthermore, Azerbaijan receiving military aid from Israel irked Iran as it considers Israel its enemy.

Moreover, recently, tensions flared between Iran and Azerbaijan when Azerbaijan began charging fees to Iranian trucks on a road through southern Armenia. The road passes through some parts of Azerbaijani territory.

As per reports, the trucks were transporting cement to the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as Azerbaijani. Due to this, Azerbaijan considers any border crossing from Armenia into Nagorno-Karabakh as “illegal.”

Therefore, it arrested the Iranian truck drivers for “illegally entering Azerbaijan.”

Since then, the two countries are facing a rift in their diplomatic relations. Additionally, with Iran’s extensive military drill, it appears as if Iran is getting ready for a war!

Read more: Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict: There’s more to it than meets the eye

Azerbaijan concerned over Iran’s military drills

The recent military drills also invoked criticism and surprise from Azerbaijan, who questioned the timings.

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev said he’s “very surprised” by Iran’s decision to hold military drills close to their border, amid tensions between the two neighbors.

Interesting to note, Iran hasn’t held military drills near the border in almost 30 years.

However, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh dismissed the concerns, stating Iran is invoking its “sovereignty.”

Tehran “will take all measures it judges necessary for its national security”, he said.

“Iran will not tolerate the presence of the Zionist regime near our borders,” the spokesman further added while alluding to Azerbaijan’s relations with Israel.

Read more: Israel under diplomatic fire over arms to Azerbaijan