Shadow of Iran’s threat stretches out in wake of recent conflicts 

An Iranian regime military parade. 

Shadow of Iran’s threat stretches out in wake of recent conflicts 

By Rachel Brooks

News explainer 

May 21, 2021 

Conflict mediation between Israel and Gaza continues; political tensions maintain their serious threats in the Caucasus region. 

Meanwhile, Iran looms as an ever-present force of regional security instability of both regions as their recent conflict episodes leave them vulnerable. 

The Tehran Times wrote on Friday that Iran has refused to recognize any changes to the borders of nations in the Caucasus. Iran is the immediate neighbor of Azerbaijan and Armenia, the two nations engaged in the protracted Karabakh territory conflict. 

The Iranian regime lawmaker Mojtaba Zolnouri accused Israel of influencing instability in the region, as anti-Israel rhetoric continues at an all-time high worldwide. Zolnouri claimed that Takfiri militias were being organized at the border with Iran “with help from Israel” and “some countries in the region.” Iran stated that it saw this as a “sensitive issue” and that it “would not let it happen.” Zolnouri’s statements were not, however, corroborated by The Tehran Times. 

The Takfiri militias have been described by Tasnim News as “counter-revolutionary” meaning that they are opposed to the Iranian regime’s Islamist revolution of 1979. The Iranian regime has established a crackdown on these militias. At the end of April, Iran reportedly arrested 10 such counter-revolutionaries at its southeast border.

The Iranian regime deploys advanced propaganda to further its political agendas. A constant tactic of the Iranian regime is to use propaganda to pin the blame on negative political scenarios on Israel. 

While claiming support of both Armenia and Azerbaijan, Iran leans politically as a supporter of Armenia despite the national Christian religion of Armenia. This is due to the diplomatic relationship between Azerbaijan and Israel, a direct threat to the political interests of Iran. Azerbaijan and Israel have cooperated in terms of economics, arms sales, and have reportedly cooperated on Israeli international security surveillance interests. 

The Tehran Times quoted Zolnouri’s stance on political interventions in the Caucasus conflict. He made clear the Iranian regime’s support for the land claims of Armenia. Armenia recently claimed that Azerbaijan had tried to cross into a territory known to Armenia as Syunik and to violate its sovereignty. Sovereign land rights and border provocations have been a subject of heated political debate in the post-war process, as Armenians living in the legal territory of Azerbaijan have been relocated to Armenian territory, and as sporadic protests along the border have broken out.

In the wake of the recent conflict, Armenia is in a highly volatile political status. Likewise, Armenian leadership have not cooperated with the post-conflict procedures requested by Azerbaijan in issues such as landmine map transfer and the opening of economic corridors. Responses from Azerbaijan have been met with the fury of Armenia’s politicians and lobbyists abroad. This strained post-ceasefire scenario has increased the political tensions causing extreme concern in the international community. 

In the territorial war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, propaganda has been utilized extensively to fan the flames of political incitement. The territory known as Karabakh is the sovereign land of Azerbaijan, confirmed as per a U.N.documentation dating back to the First Karabakh War of 1988-1994 era. Disputes over Azerbaijan’s de jure repatriation of its lands, and the process of demarcation have been hyper-political since the close of the most recent episode of the Karabakh conflict. 

Zolnouri stated that the Iranian regime supports the land integrity of both states. Iran has sought to maintain the face of political neutrality between Armenia and Azerbaijan as its neighbor, while political issues such as the Israel diplomacy remain an “elephant in the room” of Iran’s relationship with the Azerbaijani republic. Other issues include the maltreatment by the Iranian regime of Southern Azerbaijanis, or ethnic Azerbaijanis living in the territory of Iran that was historically known as Souther Azerbaijan, see Gunaz.tv for more. Despite these glaring issues, Iran vocalizes neutral support of its neighbors. 

“We support the position of Azerbaijan in preserving the territorial integrity of this country and the position of Armenia in preserving the territorial integrity, territory, and neighborliness with Iran.

We are neighbors of both countries and based on the conditions we had in the past, both countries are viewed as our neighbors, and by maintaining this neighborliness without accepting any change in the region, we support the territorial integrity of both countries,” said Zolnouri, as he was quoted by The Tehran Times. 

Regarding the presence of foreign nationals in the region, Russia has maintained a heavy local presence since the close of the recent Karabakh conflict episode. 

In recent land disputes, Russia has sent peacekeepers to the region to support the ceasefire it had mitigated at the climax of the Second Karabakh War of 2020, which lasted for 44 Days. A ceasefire was reached in November.

Zolnouri was interviewed by Sputnik News out of Russia and sent a message directly from the regime warning that it would not tolerate a change to the surrounding region. 

“Therefore, if part of the territory of Armenia is to be taken and our border conditions change, that is, to have a new neighbor, it is not acceptable for us. The existing borders must be completely protected and the shared border of the Islamic Republic of Iran with Armenia must be maintained,” said Zolnouri, as he was quoted by the Tehran Times. 

Zolnouri indirectly cited the relationship between Azerbaijan and Israel in his statements regarding the continued territorial dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan. He claimed that Israel was politically meddling in the regional conflict to “create dispute among the region’s countries and muddy the waters to fish in the troubled waters.” 

Iran has been active as a funding and supportive force in the recent security breaches of the Middle East. Iran is the known backer of a massive proxy network in the region, which includes Lebanese Hezbollah, the al-Houthi movement in Yemen, and Hamas. As the war between Israel and Hamas is drawing to a proposed ceasefire, Iran continues to loom as a shadow in the background.

On Friday, The Jerusalem Post reported that Iran continued to prompt Muslim-majority states to support the Palestinians. 

Orders came down from the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that called on Muslims to help rebuild Gaza after Hamas’ 11-day conflict with Israel. The infrastructure of Hamas in Gaza was severely damaged during the 11-day conflict with Israel. 

During the conflict, Israel destroyed the “Metro” a series of tunnels used by Hamas to deploy terrorist incursions. While the destructions of these tunnels took a critical toll on Hamas, political support in favor of pro-Iranian negotiation is warmer than in recent years. The western world persists with a policy of engaging the Iranian regime despite warnings from defense analysts and geopolitical experts that rapprochement with the Islamic republic is not an adequate strategy. 

Ayatollah Khamenei sent a “call to action” out across regional networks. 

“Muslim states must sincerely support the Palestinian people, through military …or financial support …or in rebuilding Gaza’s infrastructure,” he said. 

The political processes in both regions draw the watchful eyes of Iran. Iran continues to mobilize its massive proxy network in an erosion of the regional integrity, in terms of funding and supporting the activity of militant groups.