Iran warning to Israel and Azerbaijan
Iranian officials, military commanders and media from across the political spectrum have ramped up an unprecedented war of words against Iran’s northwestern neighbour Azerbaijan, warning against Israel’s increasing presence in the South Caucasus country.
On Friday, Iranian ground forces launched one of their largest military drills in recent years in a region bordering Azerbaijan. Beyond the wargame, Iran’s rhetoric towards Azerbaijan has been threatening.
During the drill, which was widely covered by Persian media, high-ranking military commanders openly stressed that the wargame was conducted in response to Israel’s military aid to Azerbaijan.
Brigadier General Kiumars Heydari, commander of the army’s ground forces, told local media that Iran had become more alert about its northwestern borders due to the increasing military collaboration between Israel and Azerbaijan.
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“An uninvited and disruptive security element has come to this region, and that’s the illegitimate Zionist regime,” he was quoted as saying.
“Since this regime entered the region, our concerns over our borders [with Azerbaijan] have increased. Therefore, at the moment, they are under our full observation,” he added.
On Sunday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei condemned Azerbaijan’s military collaborations with Israel. Under the constitution, Khamenei is the commander-in-chief of all military forces in Iran.
“Those who have the illusion that they can provide security [to themselves] by being dependent on others would soon be slapped,” Khamenei was quoted as saying without directly mentioning Azerbaijan.
“In any country, a direct or indirect meddling of foreign forces on the pretext of providing security, [helping with] war and peace would have a disastrous outcome,” Khamenei added.
Iranians ‘saved Turkey’ from economic crisis
Ultra-conservative Iranian lawmaker Mojtaba Yousefi has claimed that Iranians who purchased property in Turkey over the last three years “have saved Turkey from bankruptcy”.
“Between 2018 and 2020, $7bn was spent from Iran to buy property in Turkey,” Yousefi wrote on Twitter, adding that this investment helped Turkey improve its financial situation amid a currency crisis that began in 2019.
Yousefi’s tweet prompted many reactions among Iranians, with some accusing him of neglecting the reasons that forced ordinary people to invest their money in another country.
“The outflow of money from Iran’s inflated economy to Turkey’s inflated economy has a bitter message,” wrote the Aftab daily’s analyst Reza Bardestani.
“The message is, Iranian investors are sure that Turkey would eventually find a solution for its troubled economy, saving itself from bankruptcy. But, based on signals received from [halted] nuclear negotiations and Iran’s new foreign policy, Iranian investors are sure that Iran’s bad economic situation would definitely turn to something worse,” he concluded.
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The MP’s remarks came a month after Persian media reported that several Iranian real estate agencies have moved to the Turkish cities of Istanbul, Antalya and Izmir. This summer, the housing market in many parts of Tehran came to a standstill because of high prices.
According to the report, even wealthy Iranians could no longer buy an apartment in Tehran’s affluent neighbourhoods due to skyrocketing prices caused by growing inflation. At the same time, the price of the identical luxury apartments in Istanbul’s wealthiest neighbourhoods was reported to be between four to five times less than in Tehran.
TRT World: Military drills message to Tehran
“It could be indeed that Turkey’s and Azerbaijan’s current military drills in Nakhchivan (an Azerbaijani territory neighbouring Turkey) are ratcheting up that tension with Tehran,” says Matthew Bryza, the former US ambassador to Azerbaijan and a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.
“The situation is very emotional in both countries toward the other. There are protests in front of the Iranian embassy in Baku after the Iranian foreign ministry spokesman made some derogatory statements about Azerbaijan and its military, claiming Azerbaijan’s military is only one one hundredth the size of Iran,” Bryza tells TRT World.
While Turkey-Azerbaijan military maneuvers escalate tensions, it might also mean to send a political message to Yerevan, according to the former diplomat. “Turkey and Azerbaijan might also be sending a signal to Yerevan that it’s time to have serious discussions about defining or demarcating the international border between Azerbaijan and Armenia,” he says.
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