“Karabakh belongs to the Republic of Azerbaijan and is part of Islam”, “Karabakh belongs to the Republic of Azerbaijan and must be returned there”; These are just some of the comments made over the past year by Iranian Shiite clergymen close to government institutions in the Iranian political system. They expressed these views at the height of the Karabakh War between Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Such an approach was put forward by the Iranian Shiite clergy at the center of the Karabakh War, when Iran’s national interests asked Iran either to maintain neutrality or to help Armenia, as Armenia never posed a security threat to Iran and was at the center of the strategic one Cooperation between Iran and Russia and is a market for the export of Iranian products and has made it easier for Iran to access Europe.
The result of Iran’s verbal support for Baku in the Karabakh War and the abandonment of Armenia is now having serious consequences for Iran’s geopolitics and national security. The Armed Forces of the Republic of Azerbaijan have taken control of part of the road that leads Iranian motorists to Armenia and are receiving money from US $ 100 and more under the “Foreign Traveler Toll” heading. In order to humiliate Iranian passengers and drivers, Azerbaijani armed forces also force them to get out of cars, remove their passports and take photos of them.
Interestingly, the Islamic Republic of Iran supported the Republic of Azerbaijan in the Karabakh War, while despite a predominantly Shiite population it has a secular and anti-Islamist government under the leadership of “Ilham Aliyev” and maintains deep ties to the Islamist-conservative government of Erdogan. Justice and Development in Turkey. This shows that the general politics of the Republic of Azerbaijan is based on cultural similarities and ethnic affiliations and that the two countries Turkey and the Republic of Azerbaijan speak of the “Turkish world” and call for the unification of the Turks of the world. especially in Iran and the Caucasus and Central Asia. Despite the influence of Turkish nationalism and Pan-Turkism on the politics and decisions of Ankara and Baku, the Iranian government has placed the ideology of revolutionary Shiite Islamism at the center of its foreign policy and marginalized Iranian nationalism since the victory of the 1979 revolution. Ruling clergy who dominate Iranian politics believe that religious beliefs and traditions should be the basis of foreign policy, as evidenced by their quotes on the Karabakh issue. This approach has marginalized the role of the Iranian Foreign Ministry in policy-making and decision-making in the field of foreign affairs.
Also, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s focus on the Middle East to form Shiite militias that are parallel to the government and official armies of other countries, including Lebanon and Iraq, makes Iran neglect the Caucasus and that country’s influence in this regard decrease area. It is for this reason that Turkey, as a major player in recent developments, has increased its influence in this region. Iran is also unable to use its shared cultural and linguistic capacities with Central Asian countries, including Tajikistan, because of its focus on Islamism. Central Asian countries often have secular governments and are reluctant to approach Iran while it tries to export its revolutionary Islamic model.
Meanwhile, the Islamic Republic’s opposition to Israel has brought Israel closer to Iran’s neighbors, including Iraq’s Kurdistan Region and the Republic of Azerbaijan. When Iran is stationed in Syria on the border with Israel and sends troops there, Israel also seeks to exert influence by investing in Iran’s neighboring countries to gather information and identify ethnic differences between Iranian ethnic groups (including Kurds and Azerbaijan ) and provoke the central government in Tehran. Iran was put under pressure. For this reason, Israel, together with Turkey, helped Baku in the war with Yerevan by providing drones and military weapons, while Iran pursued a passive policy and Armenia did not provide any significant assistance.
Iran should be aware that pan-Turkism and its manifestation in the current foreign policy of Baku and Ankara pose a serious threat to the national interests and security of Iran in the long term. “If we want to liberate Karabakh, we have to liberate Tabriz,” said Abulfaz Elchibey, the former president of Azerbaijan. He spoke about the unification of Azerbaijan with the “Azeris of Iran”. Erdogan is already reciting a poem about the Aras River, which threatens the borders of Iran. Political decision-makers in Iran should not forget that Baku and Ankara have never been and never are friends of Iran. The two countries are Iran’s rivals at best, and the pan-Turkish ideology they propagate could pose a serious long-term threat to Iran’s national security, given Iran’s significant Azerbaijani population. The singing of pan-Turkish slogans at football matches of the Tabriz Tractor Sazi team in Iranian stadiums should be a warning to senior Iranian politicians. A return to Iranian nationalism and the consideration of national interests is necessary for politics in Iran to strengthen convergence between the ethnic groups living in Iran and to prevent them from diverging and straying from the center.
*Nozhan Etezadosaltaneh is a writer and political analyst. He has written a book entitled “Islamic Parties and Turkey’s Secular Perspective,” as well as several articles on the Middle East and Iran in Iranian newspapers, including Shargh, Etemaad, Roozegar and Bahar. He is a graduate of Political Philosophy (PhD) at the Institute of Social and Cultural Studies of the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology of Iran.