Ganja
Geopolitics Iran Security/maritime security

How Iran backs Armenia

By | Rachel Brooks

Editor | Staff Reporter | Republic Underground 

October 4, 2020

Featured above, Ganja as it looked in 2018. CC By SA 4.0.

As escalations have surmounted in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, Azerbaijan and Armenia are posed for full-blown war once more. In the last 24 hours, the fighting has persisted to the point where Armenian forces have targeted Ganja, Azerbaijan’s second largest city, citing the Associated Press.

The escalations have drawn the attention of the international community. The international community likewise pauses to reflect on the position that neighboring states will take in the regional dispute. In terms of backing and financing the conflict, and spreading a wider outreach into chain-reactive issues, Iran ranks highly on the list of concerns. 

The international community is seen to fear degraded relations between Russia, Syria, and Turkey over each nation’s respective position on this conflict, see the Council of Foreign Relations. Themselves concerned over escalations, Russia and the United States continue to maintain forceful language in demanding a de-escalation before the full eruption of open warfare. 

Iran has given its support to Armenia and its illegal occupation of the Nagorno-Karabakh region in the form of finance. This is despite the fact that the Azerbaijani diaspora makes up approximately one-third of the minority population of Iran.

While speaking of neutrality through its diplomats, Iran has allegedly physically engaged in the conflict on the Armenian side. Footage has been claimed, citing Newsweek, showing Iranian aircraft firing upon Azerbaijani aircraft in the region.

This would make Iran, despite its populace of Azerbaijani diaspora living within Iran, a backer of the Armenian interests in the conflict. Newsweek reported the diplomatic ties of Iran and Armenia as “notably closer” as of late. Newsweek notes that, while Iran and Azerbaijan themselves have a high population of Shiite Muslims, Azerbaijan has warmed its relationship with Israel as of recent years. Azerbaijani do not profess to belong to an Islamic state, but rather consider their nation a crossroads of the cultures. In this recent interview with Nurlan Mammadov, a social worker with the

Leadership Development Program out of Worms, Germany, Mammadov notes that “the religious war is not going here (Azerbaijan.)” 

Iran has been a background player of the renewed conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region since at least July 24. Iran’s proximity to the conflict makes it a first responder to all interests of the region. Iran has always taken the appearance of promoting an end of the conflict, and that of being neutral to both sides. Iran has interests in having an influence between both states, whose conflict has trickled down to the “societal level” as stated by the pro-Iranian Responsible Statecraft magazine. 

Yet, Responsible Statecraft also noted that Iran has an “unclear policy” toward the Nagorno-Karabakh region because of the complexity of foreign policy. Likewise, Iran has an incredibly complex internal political strain in the region that it tries to alleviate for its interests through a placating public position. The Iranian regime, under the power of the corrupt extremist mullahs, blocks the will and purpose of the multitude of Iranian Azerbaijani.

Iran has stated, through its diplomats, citing Responsible Statecraft, that the nation will “not accept interference” from any national power outside of the immediate region.  The diplomat also inferred that Iran has a desire towards dialogue that will act in Azerbaijan’s favor. Iran, however, has claimed to be opposed to the war, wishing instead to keep the status quo in the region. 

Despite this public rhetoric, Iran has domestic political reasons for conflict with the Azerbajiani territory. Namely, the healthy economic relationship that Azerbaijan has to Israel. Israel, being the sworn enemy of Iran and the center focus of all internal extremist regime rhetoric, presents an issue for Iran’s potential support of the Azerbaijani in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. 

Iran is adamant to deny its relationship with Armenia. Al Jazeera has stated that Iran has “slammed” the “rumors” that it has backed Armenia in favor of Azerbaijan. Iran has been swift to reassure its neighbor Azerbaijan that it has not taken the position of Armenia in the conflict. Iran continued to infer its confidence that the conflict escalations would resolve peacefully.  Iranian President Rouhani has also maintained this public position by calling the prime minister of Armenia and demanding conflict resolution through diplomatic talks, citing Al Jazeera. 

Yet, what Iran has stated publicly and in the mainstream press, and what has been observed in the record, tells two different stories. The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies has noted a trend of Iranian direct backing of Armenia’s interests in the region. FDD traces the cooperation with Armenia to the fall of the Soviet Union. Iran took an immediate dance of defensiveness in the region at the Union’s fall as five states cropped up around its sovereign borders, when up until then it has been one foreign border. In the beginning of this conflict, Iran adopted a pro-Yerevan policy that alienated its own heavy-ethnic presence of Azerbaijani. Iran took the tilt toward Armenia in the outset of the war for security reasons. Reasons that are now influenced by the anti-Israeli rhetoric of the mullahs in present day Iran.