Staunton, Sept. 26 – Baku and Ankara are conducting joint military exercises in Nakhichevan for several years; but this year’s maneuvers are the first after last fall’s war and after Baku, Yerevan and Moscow agreed among other things to restore a transportation corridor through Zengezur between Azerbaijan proper and Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan.
For that reason, as well as because concerns about Azerbaijan’s growing ties with Israel and its imposition of delays on Iranian truck traffic northward, Tehran views this year’s joint action as a threat to its interest and as a violation of the agreement of the Caspian littoral states on excluding the military presence of other countries.
The Iranian government has taken two steps to underscore its displeasure at what Azerbaijan and Turkey are doing. On the one hand, it has dispatched more weaponry to Iranian units along the border. And on the other, its mullahs are demanding further actions against what they describe as a Turkic threat to Iran.
In reporting these developments, Regnum commentator Stanislav Tarasov suggests that Iran could hardly do less given the loss in influence in the region it has suffered as a result of Azerbaijan’s victory last fall but that Iran has few options and all that it does have risk leaving it in a still weaker position (iarex.ru/articles/82690.html).
As a result, he suggests that Iran may back down once the exercises are over, possibly even taking part in talks with Turkey and Azerbaijan about future arrangements. But this week’s moves by Iran show just how dangerous the situation is and how easy it would be for troop movements to precipitate a serious conflict.