Mikhail, what are your thoughts on the recent incident at the Embassy of Azerbaijan in Iran? Our diplomats have been evacuated. Note that the terrorist attack was preceded by a meeting of the foreign ministers of the two countries in Tashkent, and then the attack came out of the blue. Can you predict how the situation will develop further? We know that Tehran still has not conducted an investigation after shooting down the Ukrainian jetliner. Should Baku expect Iran to answer its questions?
The attack on the Embassy of Azerbaijan in Iran was an appalling act of terrorism. Of course, this is a tragedy and, from the point of view of international law, it is virtually tantamount to a declaration of war, because an attack on an embassy is an attack on the country. I hardly believe that this was a lone gunman action and that Iran’s intelligence services had no hand in it. This attack was not criminal negligence, because embassy security at the external level is the responsibility of the country that hosts the ambassadors. And the internal security is up to the embassy itself. The external security of the embassy was not up to par, so we see Azerbaijani diplomats being evacuated today, and that is for good reason. I do not anticipate any good dynamics here. I can anticipate the severing of diplomatic relations between Azerbaijan and Iran.
You said it was a planned act of terrorism. But there are different versions being voiced. Most tend to think so, but some say the attack was poorly planned: if it had been the authorities, the organizers would have planned the attack on the embassy staff carefully, and that perhaps it was the handiwork of certain forces hostile to Azerbaijan. On the other hand, such an attack alone was enough to trigger a social upheaval and affect the mood both inside Azerbaijan and inside Iran. But what is obvious and what remains a fact is, as you said, that the guards did not even respond or take any action to prevent the crime. That is, the terrorist acted freely, without any obstruction from the Iranian law enforcement agencies.
Very true. It is no coincidence that this attack took place on the Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is also no coincidence that Iran has repeatedly expressed its revulsion at Azerbaijan’s decision to open an embassy in Israel. We also know the history of Iran as a terrorist state, and it is considered as such by most civilized countries of the world.
You will recall that Iran blew up a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in the summer of 1994. Nearly a hundred people were killed and hundreds were injured. Argentine intelligence concluded that it had been organized by the IRGC and Iran. Iran blew up tourist buses with Jewish tourists all over the world. Iran blows up Saudi Arabia through the Houthis (a Zaidi Shia paramilitary group operating in Yemen). Iran carries out acts of terrorism through its lapdog Hezbollah all over the world, attacking the UAE, the Gulf states, committing terrorism in Africa, Asia. Anywhere. We know what Iran is like. So the answer to the question, “Was it a terrorist attack?” is: “99%, yes.” We are dealing with an odious terrorist regime. Not long ago a Ukrainian jetliner was blown up in Iran. Iran admitted responsibility under the weight of colossal evidence, but a civilized country would have apologized and compensated. What has Iran done? It won’t apologize and it won’t pay compensation. What is there to talk about here?
The terrorist attack was the handiwork of certain forces, you say? But the authorities always bear full responsibility for what happens under their jurisdiction, on their side. If Iran is unable to provide security for diplomatic missions on its soil, then it is a savage country, on a par with the most underdeveloped countries in Africa. I guess this is what one should make of it. But this is still the best-case scenario, criminal negligence. And I am not sure it was criminal negligence, because we saw how Iran acted during the Patriotic War for Karabakh. It helped Armenia, it opposes Azerbaijan completely. It discriminates against ethnic Azerbaijanis in South Azerbaijan, depriving them of their right to speak their own language, not allowing Azerbaijani music to be played at weddings, denying them the fundamental right to study their own culture, and so on. Therefore, it is clear that the attitude towards Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis in Iran is extremely bad and contemptuous. And this is despite the fact that almost half of the population of Iran are ethnic Azerbaijanis, and they have no less right to this territory and to this country than Persians do.
What do you think was the goal of those who orchestrated this act of terrorism and were they able to achieve it?
Their goal was very simple: to intimidate Azerbaijan, to try to drive a wedge between Azerbaijan and Israel. They have not achieved any of their goals, because Azerbaijan is a very strong country, you are very lucky to have a president, a Supreme Commander-in-Chief, who does not give in to terrorists. And I believe that nothing will change, they will not achieve anything.
Immediately afterwards there were strikes on Iranian territory. It is still unknown who was behind them. Tehran, too, is silent.
We see that immediately after the terrorist attack on your embassy in Tehran, there was a terrorist attack in Jerusalem, even two attacks. Seven people were shot by a Palestinian terrorist. And Iran is behind all the Palestinian terrorist organizations; it finances Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and many other Palestinian groups. There was a response, an Iranian defense ministry facility was blown up by drones, completely unhindered. The whole world was shown that the Iranian army is nothing, it is a backward army. The bombing of the missile and drone plant in Isfahan is a response. Of course, no one has claimed responsibility for it, but we can draw a conclusion. America has said through the Pentagon spokesman today that it was not the US, and if it was not the US, then we must assume that the hot climate of the Middle East is to blame, with the heat causing everything to go up in flames. Intelligent people will understand what is what…
The internet is now actively recalling Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s prophecy that the new war will be in Iran, and it will be World War III. On the other hand, statements have been made in Europe that World War III will happen only if Russia confronts NATO. Where would World War III start? What do you think?
There is a classic saying, “It takes two to tango.” For a third world war to happen, there must be two parties willing to fight and kill each other. There are no such two parties. NATO is absolutely not prepared to go to war with Russia, and has said so many times. Neither is Russia prepared to go to war with NATO, this is not an option. That is not going to happen. As for Iran, Israel will definitely destroy Iran’s nuclear program, just like we destroyed Saddam Hussein’s nuclear program and Bashar al-Assad’s nuclear program in Syria that the North Koreans developed for him in 2006.
We will destroy it before the reactors are connected together, and without radiation release, as it was in Iraq and Syria. But this is not a cause for war, this is not World War III, but a surgical strike on the nuclear reactors and the heavy water plant in Iran. No one will stand up for Iran, not even Russia. Its teeth will simply be knocked out with its nuclear ambitions destroyed. But there will be no war here. Yes, it could be followed by a medium-range missile strike on Israel. But most of those missiles will be shot down while still in the air. Yes, a war between Iran and Israel is possible, with some neighbors involved: Lebanon may join through Hezbollah, Syria and the Palestinian groups, Hamas. But we will scatter them so that everyone will get what they deserve, no one will be spared. We are the strongest country in the region. But I do not expect any war to happen.
What kind of follow-up action do you think Iran might take?
We should know that Iran is a country that does not have decent airplanes. Their newest planes were made in 1979, these are the planes bought by Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi before he was overthrown. Iran’s hope now is to purchase Russian SU planes; a contract is being negotiated, and it is about to be signed. But these are backward planes. In Israel, we have the F-35 Raptor and the F-16, and even that is an outdated model. Our pilots are the best in the world, so is our intelligence, we have excellent weapons, and everybody who knows this understands it. Iran has a flying trough, their air defense is weak, their Iskander system is inferior: we can suppress it electronically.
What can they counter with? They only have a tremendous number of short- and medium-range missiles, they have an army of many millions, but they are cannon fodder. Besides, Israel and Iran do not share borders, so the Iranian army cannot reach anywhere: it is completely irrelevant. And when it comes to technology, Israel and Iran are a lion and a house cat. We are not afraid of Iran at all, we are just waiting for the United States to give the go-ahead at the right moment.
Translated from Minval.az