Iranian-Azerbaijani ties: road to nowhere

Iranian-Azerbaijani ties: road to nowhere

Ilham Aliyev’s hope for U.S. support in case of inadequate moves towards neighbouring Armenia and Iran is quite illusive.

A number of Iranian opposition activists which have so far been unknown and will perhaps further remain undisclosed, addressed a letter to the U.S. Congress and Department of State saying that they, namely the Iranians, “have realized the great role of Azerbaijanis in the history of their country”. This information was provided by some political scientist, head of Crimean Azerbaijani community Ragim Gumbatov. “Azerbaijani culture is part of the Iranian identity,” the message says. Baku has made it a rule to cite some “political experts”, presenting their statements as the ultimate truth.

PanARMENIAN.Net - The claim of “Azerbaijani culture being part of the Iranian identity” is simply ridiculous and not worth even mentioning. During the past ten years, Azerbaijan has spared no effort in trying to claim ownership over several Iranian medieval writers, first of all Nizami, basing on the circumstance that Nizami lived and was later buried in Ganja. The Azerbaijanis, however, should have paid more attention to history, which says that Ganja khanate was part of the Persian Empire.Initiator of this story was Congressman Dana Rohrabacher who offered support to South Azerbaijanis in their fight for independence from Iran.

Obviously, the congressman is poorly aware of the region’s history, which is common for U.S. legislators. They promote the groups that can afford paying for a congressional speech. Baku knows about it perfectly well, spending huge funds to promote its interests in the U.S.; these attempts sometimes fail, though. The U.S. practice shows that smarter congressmen advocate these or those groups only in case they have enough information available. It’s not the case with Rohrabacher, who keeps “protecting the oppressed ones”, and seeks to split Iran by either the ethnic or the religious principle. Well, he'd better support Tehran, which faces absolutely unjustified sanctions due to mythical non-existent nuclear weapon threat.

As to “Iranians who publicly spoke about the leading role of Azerbaijanis in Iran’s history”, all countries have similar marginal people. In fact, Iranians of Azerbaijani origin do live in Southern Azerbaijan, and they comprise groups financed by Baku, which cause a mess and address the international community voicing violation of their rights. Also, Iran has another major community, namely the Armenian one. The number of ethnic Azerbaijanis is indeed larger than Armenians who account for about 100-200 thousands in Iran. Meanwhile, they have a far greater role in the country’s public and political life, and their contribution to the Persian culture cannot be compared to the Azerbaijanis. This was a small digression from the topic.

Armenians will hardly claim their “huge role in the establishment of the Iranian state”, while in fact they can: Armenians and Parthians, ancestors of the modern Persians, stem from one ethnos. If Baku is so concerned about the situation in Iran, it would be better to prove it in practice instead of empty words. Otherwise, it wouldn't provide military airdromes to the U.S. and Israel in case of hostilities, wouldn't acted like the “fifth column” in splitting Iran, and would stop attacking the Shiite clergy. Instead, Baku acts differently, actively assisting the Western and Israeli special services in settling in Southern Azerbaijan, among the Kurds.

While Ilham Aliyev’s hopes for U.S. support in case of inadequate moves towards its neighbours, Armenia as well as Iran, this hope is quite an illusive one. Nobody will allow Baku, and nor the whole Southern Caucasus, pursue independent policy. The region has more serious players who stake on Iranian oil as well - Iranian and not Baku one. The Caspian region holds 5% of the global oil stock, and most part of it is located in Iran and Turkmenistan. Besides, Azerbaijan's oil and gas stock is still unclear, since the latest assessments date back to 1970s in USSR epoch. But even this data is not sufficient to flaunt a position of a “major supplier of energy resources to West”, which Aliyev currently does.

So, summing up the above-said, one can say that the Western plans with regard to Azerbaijani fifth column in Iran are actually fantastic. Also, efforts of former vice-president of the United States Dick Cheney resulted in making Azerbaijan, among others, a major oil supplier to the West over the past years. U.S. and British companies, including ExxonMobil and BP invested a total of $35 bln in oil and gas development in Azerbaijan, and the latter gained much weight as a stable supplier, in view of the recent events in the Arab countries.

And one more thing: “Azeri people, currently divided between Azerbaijan and Iran, have the right to self-determination and to their own sovereign country, if they so choose,” says a House Concurrent Resolution the U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher introduced on September 12.

“The Azeri people have maintained a proud and distinctive national, cultural, and religious identity dating back to ancient times; in Iran, the provinces inhabited mainly by ethnic Azeris are called East and West Azerbaijan by the government in Tehran, thus giving credibility to the claim that the homeland of the Azeri is divided,” the document reads.

“The Azeri homeland was split between Russia and Persia by the Treaty of Turkmenchay in 1828, without the consent of the Azeris;

Azeri people, currently divided between Azerbaijan and Iran, have the right to self-determination and they should be afforded the opportunity to choose their own status among the community of nations, living in peace and harmony, without external coercion,” the resolution says.

The Azeri people have an innate right to choose their own political structure and to choose their country, Rohrabacher said on his official website. “It is not up to bureaucrats in Washington or the mullah dictatorship in Iran. The ethnic Azeris in Azerbaijan enjoy sovereignty and independence; there is no reason why the Azeri population in Iran should not be able to make that same choice. This principle holds true for all the people who live in Iran,” he claimed.

Iranian-Azerbaijani relations are deeply frozen. Nevertheless, one can surely state that attempts to split Iran like Iraq and Afghanistan will fail. Apparently, Azerbaijan is the only one who can really lose the game.

Karine Ter-Sahakian
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