The plot may seriously go wrong as the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan escalates and the conflict is heading towards what may be called a ‘dooms-day’.
The war has set a scramble amongst the world powers as well as neighbours. Iran is at the crucial middle of the conflagration and surely needs to ‘pull-up-the-socks’ and don’t let the situation aggravate and spill out of control.
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Iran’s role as yet has been that of a being a ‘neutral’ between a Christian Armenia and a Muslim Azerbaijan, for the sake because Russia is supporting Armenia as it sells its weapons to it, but then Russia sells weapons to Iran, Azerbaijan as well as to Turkey, and Turkey is supportive of Azerbaijan.
Iran’s stand is to sit over a mediation but the situation in Iran itself is going-out-of-control as there is a very sizeable ethnic Turkish Azerbaijani population in Iran, which conservatively speaking is about 20 million and have gone into protest-mode against Iran to announce support for Azerbaijan in the war over Nagorno-Karabagh conflict.
More than 100 people are said to have been killed since the war started on September 27, 2020. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan were once under the Soviet Union which broke in 1991 and both had gone over a war in 1994 too.
Iran, which had already been beleaguered by the Arab-states sponsored war by Iraq (1980-89) and facing US onslaughts from the past seven decades, in quite well into its problems i.e. its open support of Palestine, towards Assad regime in Syria ( with Russian support) with its very shaky economy in the background, has now recently seen a wave of protests by Azerbaijanis in several of its cities including the capital Tehran and its northwestern city of Tabraiz, with Azerbaijanis rallying ‘Karabagh is ours.
It will remain ours’ reported RadioFreeEuropeRadioLiberty on October 2, 2020 ‘On October 1, four representatives of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in four of the country’s provinces with a large ethnic Azeri population released a joint statement in support of Azerbaijan.
The statement by Khamenei’s representatives in the provinces of West and East Azerbaijan, Ardebil, and Zanjan said that “there is no doubt” that the breakaway region belongs to Azerbaijan’.
Iran, which shares a border with both Azerbaijan and Armenia, has called for an immediate end to hostilities. Tehran has expressed its readiness to mediate the dispute. Iran president Rouhani called upon Armenia PM Nikol Pashinian that his country had to work toward ending the conflict. Iran foreign minister Javed Zarif had already expressed that ‘our region needs peace now’.
It is high time that wisdom prevails and Iran takes initiative to intervene as a direct fallout of the scenario is going to affect Iran’s polity. Iran needs to take Azerbaijanis to make them know hard that Iran supports Azerbaijan and not dilly-dally over it, as the external forces might engineer to make Azerbaijanis seek a separate land within Iran, considering the weight of about 20 million people who are all out in support of Azerbaijan inside Iran.
Owing to Iran’s economy in tatters, despite the 400 billion USD trade and military deal of 25 years with China, it is Tehran which is supposed to handle the situation with the utmost care.
The problem is that Iran finds itself sandwiched between Turkey’s full support to Azerbaijan and Russian support to Armenia, and also that, Iran finds itself too much under the Russian weight for its unstinted support to the Syrian regime in the last eight years, while also when Russia has given a ‘positive signal’ to sell S-400 missile system to Iran.
Interestingly, Russia has already supplied S-400 to Turkey much to the dislike of Israel and US and has also lent support to Turkey which is in conflict with Greece in the Mediterranean sea, while France, UAE and other European nations have supported Greece. But, in Armenia Russia and Turkey are on the road to collision! Russia has its 102nd military base in Armenia.
Armenia has raised the alarm that Turkey is using US-made F-16 jets against it as Nikol Pashinyan apprised US President Donald Trump on it, hence if the US jumps into this conflict, which is right now watching it from the margins, it will naturally engulf Turkey, Russia and obviously Iran as well.
Iran’s involvement will invite China and Pakistan too as both are entwined in CPEC project and while China is maintaining a silence on it as yet, Pakistan is in open support of Azerbaijan.
Armenia is accusing Turkey of reviving its old Turkish empire and therefore is in support of Azerbaijan, which is an anathema to Britain, France and other powers as it were these colonial powers which had dismembered the Turkish/Ottoman empire after World War-I and carved Israel out of the Turkish Palestine and numerous other smaller Arab states.
Turkey also has to start to carve a new niche as Russia did not accuse Turkey even when its ambassador was killed in Istanbul in 2016, and despite it, the Russian and Turkish relations did not wither, as Russia engaged in deft-diplomacy and we all remember that Russian President Vladimir Putin had then called the incident as a ‘provocation aimed at spoiling the normalization of Russo-Turkish relations.
Instead, Turkey and Russia bolstered solidarity and strengthen cooperation and despite when Turkey had brought down a Russian aircraft in 2015. For now, Turkey needs to slow down the sentiment of the Ottoman /Turkish Empire or Caliphate as all the Arab states are deadly against Turkey, with the only exception of Qatar.
Israel is now with UAE and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and is a sworn enemy of Turkey, more so over the Turkish affiliation towards the Al Aqsa mosque, which is the third holiest site of Muslims and which the Jewish state Israel wants to demolish to make a third-temple on it.
The situation is getting all heated up around Armenia-Azerbaijan and it is here when Russia, Turkey, Iran with both Armenia and Azerbaijan need to iron-out a middle path, as if it would warrant the US to jump into it after the November 2020 elections it would be a catastrophe, which might be just-waiting-to-happen.
Penned By Haider Abbas. The writer is a former State Information Commissioner, India. He is a media analyst and writes on international politics.