By Sajad Abedi*
The most stable element in Iran’s national security in the past ages has been the geography of this border, which, on the one hand, places Iran on its periphery, and on the other hand, virtually none of the peripheral areas geographically are attached to it. Like many other African and Asian countries, Iran has not been defeated by the colonial heritage. Looking at the geographic map of Iran and its surrounding countries, the depth of the issue will be clear to us. The ethnic groups of Iran, including Azeri’s, Kurds, Baluchis, Arabs and Turkmens, have been the result of such a historical experience for ethnic groups with their transnational traces in Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. Therefore, the security of the international borders of Iran and the border area is severely affected by peripheral territories. The protection of land territory today is a valuable value across the globe and for all countries, and the guarantee of this is to manage borders and to have complete security boundaries. Hence, borders are an integral and sensitive part of the two countries, which see security in the border regions as a precondition for national security.
Several political security agents have changed the relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan, and have faced it with ups and downs. One can mention the following:
Nagorno-Karabakh crisis: Nagorno-Karabakh crisis began in 1988 and led to military conflicts in 1991-1992. The menace of this conflict for Iran, beyond the flood of warlords and provoking ethnic sentiment, was the danger of the intervention of other powers in the crisis. The continuation of the controversy resulted in the presence of US and NATO forces along the borders of Iran under the pretext of creating peace and stability. From this point of view, Qarabagh could have been considered a threat to Iran, which, on the one hand, was not isolated from the issue (Greater Armenia) and, on the other, stirred up Azeri feelings in favor of the Azerbaijani Republic, and strengthened the sense of belonging and closeness between the Azeri’s on both sides of the Aras.
The charge of espionage to Iran: The cynicism of the Azerbaijani authorities towards Iran has led to some charges that Tehran has been engaging in espionage against Baku. Azerbaijan has accused Iran of shaping unrest in the Shiite community of the country and supporting radical Islamic elements in the Nepalan village. Even a group of young people (Saeed group) were arrested without any documents on charges of espionage for Iran on June 5, 1995. The Azerbaijani authorities and the press accused Iran of trying to overthrow the Azerbaijani government. Baku has also accused Iran of sheltering Gaddafi’s fisherman. According to the Baku-Jadev authorities, the Azerbaijani government was wanted by the armed forces in Iran for the liberation of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Nagorno-Karabakh.
Pan Azarism: The issue of Azerbaijan divided into South and North is one of the important factors affecting the Baku relations. Azerbaijan, the Azeri population includes a language that is the largest part of it in Iran. This is the focus of the perception of the two countries. Perhaps, if this republic had another name, relations between the two countries would improve. The presence of Azerbaijan on the two sides of the Aras has been the motivation for the idea of the (Azerbaijani unit), the Azeri language, by some Baku officials. This idea, beyond its anti-Iran intentions, was an instrument for the identification and nation-building of Iran, because the Azerbaijani statesmen could not be converted to their historical past for identification. Documents such as Golestan and Turkmenchay contracts represent the ownership of this land to Iran. Hence, they were forced to distort history to divert the people of Iran from the Azeri people of Iran. In this regard, plans for a single Azerbaijani party (the Party of Azerbaijan) of the Aliof party were published in 2002.
Baku-Tel Aviv Military and Security Cooperation: Baku-Tel Aviv relations have expanded since the early 1990s, including economic, security and cultural cooperation. In December 1991, Israel recognized the independence of Azerbaijan and established diplomatic relations with the country in April 1992. This relationship widened after the meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu in 1997. The Zionist regime also trained the Azerbaijani security and intelligence services and began installing eavesdropping devices along the common border between Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan. In addition, the Israeli military industry is the main supplier of Azerbaijani war weapons. Both Israel and Turkey supported Baku during the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. The Baku-Tel Aviv relations with the opening of the Israeli embassy in Azerbaijan as well as in Kazakhstan, from the perspective of Iran, provide the ground for Israel’s continued presence and influence in the region of Central Asia and the Caucasus. The presence of Israel in the Republic of Azerbaijan, according to officials of the country, was for regional equilibrium. Vafa Gholizadeh, consultant for the time of the president of the Azerbaijani state, said Azerbaijan should organize the triangle of Baku, Ankara Tel Aviv, against the Tehran Triangle with Yerevan and Moscow. The main motive for Baku to approach Israel was political support and US support for the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
According to the agreements signed between the Zionist regime and the Ministry of Defense -Azerbaijan, in early 2010, the production of pilotless aircraft began in the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan, it said that the required parts of the aircraft arrived from Israel, at the aircraft plant and at the Research Center of the Academic University of the Ministry of Defense Industries of the Republic of Azerbaijan where they are assembled. At the first stage, 90% of the equipment and parts of the aircraft will be imported from Israel, and some of its components will be manufactured and constructed in the Republic of Azerbaijan. In this regard, the AEROS RAJE Company of the Zionist regime, which is an airline company, is an intermediary and will remain the Republic of Azerbaijan for a long time.
Washington-Baku Relations: Washington faced a considerable degree of complexity due to the existence of a strong Armenian lobby in the US Congress, but these ties to the United States are important because it enables Washington to influence the region as a zone for exerting pressure on Iran, and Russia in turn. In this connection, the US in 1997 described the Caspian region as a vital area of its own interests. Washington, in the late 1990s, negotiated with the Republic of Azerbaijan on the deployment of its military bases in the country. The plan (the Caspian Guard) was also presented at the Pentagon in 2002 and implemented by the ambassador to Baku.
The United States contributes to the training of military forces in the framework of the Caspian Guardian Plan. In this regard, Washington raised $135 million to strengthen the military of the Republic of Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.
The presence of the hypocrites in Azerbaijan: after the beginning of the withdrawal of the hypocrites from Iraq and the adoption of a specific framework in this regard, based on the good relations between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Zionist regime and during consultations with the authorities of Tel Aviv, the representation of the group in the Azerbaijani Republic was settled. The presence of the representative of the terrorist group, the MKO in Azerbaijan, like the intelligence and intelligence officials of Tel Aviv, was, in fact, the first step to turning the Republic of Azerbaijan into a new safe haven for terrorists, which opened up a big plan. Later the representative of this group gave an interview with the network ANS TV (AIS), the television of Azerbaijan in 2010. He attributed the history of the group’s presence in the Republic of Azerbaijan to 9 years earlier.
Given the foregoing, the goal should be to create boundaries, to exercise the sovereignty of the state over the areas under their control and the people living in these areas. Now a new era has emerged from the role played by political boundaries in human relations, and borders can become a factor in the stability of societies as a tool for regional and global convergence. Hence, the issues surrounding the borders of countries have always been the source of conflict and warfare, and these issues have always been of special importance for governments in terms of security. Therefore, establishing security in the political borders of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan is always necessary. With the knowledge that most of the conflict in the border areas is closely related to the geographical and natural (natural and human) backgrounds at the regional and national levels, the Iranian-Azerbaijani border is based on the strategy of the threat of border areas. Based on this, threats in the border regions of Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan are more than opportunistic, and hence the border management and border management division of this region comes out in the form of a severe security defeat, and the borders of the military and security zones are at the disposal of the military and security forces. Based on a threat-centric strategy for border management, military and law enforcement are dictated. And the two countries would have to look at all the security barriers and factors.
Today, security and defense issues form the basis of the social, political and economic development of the two countries. The internal security of both countries and the establishment of internal foundations, largely depend on: security on the borders; historical and cultural factors; ethnic and linguistic ethnic and demographic factors; demographic issues; participation in the interests of the Caspian Sea; membership in the ECO and Islamic countries due to US prohibition. The Zionist regime and Turkey have not been able to overcome the barriers to constructive relations between these two Shiite countries and the borders that secure the two countries. Due to the overthrow of trans-regional powers such as the US and the Zionist regime and the imposition of divisive policies and the follow-up of the Azerbaijani rulers of these policies, and the pursuit of such matters as Azerbaijan, the border regions of the two countries of Iran and Azerbaijan are subject unrest all the time. Due to its territorial confinement, geographic discontinuity, Russia’s threat, the threat of territorial integrity and national security, and the occupation of 20% of its territory by Armenia, due to geopolitical isolation for preserving its territorial integrity, the Republic of Azerbaijan has been interfering with the trans-national powers of America’s presence and the Zionist regime. As long as this strategy continues with the Republic of Azerbaijan, the borders of the Islamic Republic of Iran are threatened with insecurity and external interference. Current trends in the social, economic and cultural development of Iran’s border with Azerbaijan and the existence of economic, social and political constraints and inefficiencies in the border regions of this province with domestic and foreign sources have increased the trend of increasing insecurity in the form of problems such as the smuggling of goods and the entry terrorists, as well as trade in arms and ammunition. The covert protection of the Republic of Azerbaijan from the entry of terrorism into the borders of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the insecurities created by the country with the support of the Zionist regime continue to hamper the optimal management of Iran over its borders.
The rulers of the Republic of Azerbaijan began a broad movement under the name Pan-Turkism and Pan-Azarism to create an illusion in the minds of the authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran, claiming the formation of the Great Azerbaijan Republic to the center of Tabriz, and Azeri-speaking provinces of Iran as South Azerbaijan (in contrast to North Azarbaijan, which is referred to the Republic of Azerbaijan). Of course, these events were not due to the weakness of planning and policy making in the Islamic Republic of Iran, but mainly due to the investment of the United States and the Zionist regime and Turkey, and even Russia, which in turn transformed this opportunity into a serious threat to the Islamic Republic of Iran. And these conditions are more or less continuing, and these have become factors that have increased the insecurity of our country in the region.
Currently, the activities of the Azerbaijani government on the Islamic Republic of Iran and its national security interests, as well as the establishment of US military bases and its espionage bases and Zionist regime and the presence of the collaborators in the Republic of Azerbaijan are among the serious concerns of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which has made the border management of the Islamic Republic of Iran difficult.
*Sajad Abedi is a Resident Research Fellow at the National Security and Defense Think Tank. He obtained his Ph. D. degree in National Security from the National Defense University, Islamic Republic of Iran. His research interests pertain to Arab-Israeli studies, Cyber Security studies and National Security.