During the meeting Raisi called the borders between Iran and Armenia historical borders and said that “protecting these important, strategic borders is important for political and economic cooperation”. A day earlier, Major General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Iran, had thundered with metal in his voice that the Islamic Republic would not tolerate any changes to the regional borders. Many Iranian MPs, religious figures, etc. make similar statements.
We shall leave aside the question of what “historical borders” Raisi is talking about, if Armenia was created on historical Azerbaijani lands, it got Western Zangezur only in the 1920s, no longer being an independent state, and the state border between Iran and Armenia emerged only in 1991.
Of course, they in Tehran may say things like that with metal in their voices. But if they at least follow the news, they must have seen a long time ago that Azerbaijan is not a country to be spoken to in a language of ultimatums and threats. Iran has its own experience here, with Iranian heavy trucks and attempts to conduct threatening “exercises” near the Azerbaijani border. Moreover, if the authors of these statements know nothing about Azerbaijan, they are supposed to be aware of their own country’s policies. Therefore, they know very well that Iran today can afford “tough talk” only with tiny oil emirates of the Persian Gulf. And even then, with caution. This is partly because they understand in Tehran that their country has too many, shall we say, ill-wishers. And if Iran crosses the line, there will be plenty of those who want to take advantage of that. Whether or not this is fair to the Iranian people can be debated at length, but Iran knows that it is not worth the risk.
All the more curious: did Iran also “not tolerate” Armenia’s attempts to redraw the regional borders by force? For 30 years? And how did that manifest practically? In Iranian trucks delivering goods and supplies to Armenia? In transport planes flying into Armenia across Iranian territory and airspace, delivering weapons for the war with Azerbaijan? Or in Iranian experts allowing themselves to accept the Armenian occupiers’ invitation and engage in the falsification, i.e., “restoration” of mosques in Shusha? So why are they suddenly banging their turbans on the rugs now? Is it not because the 42 kilometers of the Iran-Armenia border are actively used to circumvent the sanctions?
This, of course, is only a conjecture. But the gentle friendship between Iran and Armenia is a well-established fact. And those “pious mullahs” do not care that the Armenian occupiers have destroyed and desecrated 65 out of 67 mosques in the occupied Azerbaijani lands. Yet they dare lecture Azerbaijan and question whether the Azerbaijani soldiers killed in the recent clashes on the border with Armenia should be considered martyrs, i.e., shahids. To go so far as to speculate on the shahid status for the sake of friendship with Armenia is not even the rock bottom. It is simply beyond comprehension.
And most importantly, Iranian leaders today should not be moralizing to Azerbaijan, but reflecting on what is happening in their own country. The murder of a 22-year-old young girl by the Iranian vice police for “improperly” wearing a hijab blew up the country. Rallies and demonstrations are raging in Iran’s major cities, protesters—not just women now—are burning police stations, and experts are asking: Is this just another street riot or is this a revolution already?
What is beyond doubt, however, is that there is a mounting weariness in Iran today with the “mullahcracy” and the order it imposes. And that too many citizens of this country are ready to support the demand to “return the mullahs to the mosques” and strip them of their power outside the temple. Simply because people have no intention of tolerating the clerics’ arbitrary rule any longer.
And how, I wonder, should a thinking and responsible government act in such a case? Start reforms, try to at least “blow off some steam”? Or multiply external enemies? Maybe they in Iran think this strategy is very cunning, and they seriously expect to distract the public’s attention from domestic problems with aggressive foreign rhetoric. But, as history shows, this strategy does not work in practice. As for this “war of words”, there may be payback. And it will not be just words.
Translated from Minval.Az