Last developments in Azerbaijan could lead to an escalation between Israel and Iran
Azerbaijan– The escalation between Iran and Azerbaijan had spiked since last September when Azerbaijani security forces arrested two Iranian truck drivers accused of illegally entering Armenia. Others followed this episode, such as the Iranian military exercises near the border with Azerbaijan, where drones, helicopters, and armored artillery units were used.
While the arrest of the truckers officially sparked the tension, it is clear that the underlying issues are based on Azerbaijan’s deep ties with Israel, in particular their military cooperation, which Iran views as a threat to its national security. The Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, highlighted this situation when he stated that countries in the region must not allow foreign forces to intrude or even be present.
The reference was aimed at Azerbaijan, which banned its planes to Iranian military airspace, which led to Ojag Nejat, representative of the Supreme Leader in Baku. These developments are worthy of further observation, as they could lead to a new phase of escalation between Israel and Iran. This indirect confrontation could be the following approach in the struggle between the two countries.
The global sanctions on Iran have created a problematic internal socio-economic situation, but politically they have given the “hawks” the upper hand within the system. However, this type of conflict with Azerbaijan will be significantly different as it is the type of crisis that has an internal impact on the Iranian social structure. Furthermore, the pressure will increase as conflicts with neighbors significantly impact Iran’s political identity, as the composition of its population is very heterogeneous. Iran is already facing internal tensions with ethnic groups such as the Ahvaz Arabs, the Baloch people in the southeast, the Kurds in the northwest, and potentially the Iranian Azeris.
That adds to the security challenges now emanating from Afghanistan and even Iraq after the elections, as Iran deals with fighting Iranian-Kurdish opposition groups in Iraq and managing the recent takeover of the Taliban. in Afghanistan. This new conflict also comes when Iran’s presence in the region is also subject to significant challenges in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. Balancing internal economic difficulties, political frustration, and the substantial negative impacts of sanctions with a new geopolitical struggle that makes Iran’s borders fragile and transforms them into a source of ongoing crisis could significantly affect its internal stability.
While the conflict is unlikely to degenerate into a direct military confrontation, it also impacts Azerbaijan, a Shiite Muslim majority population. In addition, an armed confrontation with Iran could trigger an internal backlash, increasing internal tensions and potentially leading to civil unrest. Indeed, Israel uses the same tactics that Iran has employed through support for Gaza, Syria, and Lebanon to bring instability to Israel’s borders. So, the tensions will likely continue at the diplomatic level, and Iran will try to do the impossible to contain an Israeli presence on its border or anywhere in Central Asia to avoid any confrontation on its soil.