Amid High Tensions With Baku Tehran Builds Up Forces On Border

9/30/2021

As tensions between Tehran and Baku were visible in recent days, Iranian officials and government-controlled media try to portray the situation as normal, with politicians take occasional shots at the Republic of Azerbaijan.

However, Iranian military deployments to its northern border near Armenia and Azerbaijan, and statements on Iranian social media tell a different story.

As Iran's roads authority said transit routes to Armenia via the Republic of Azerbaijan are open, the Iranian armed forces have announced a major military exercise at the country's north-western borders with the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Tensions rose between Iran and Azerbaijan in recent weeks following Azerbaijan's arrest of Iranian truck drivers and its joint military drills with Turkey and Pakistan, which began September 12 in Baku, about 500km from the Iranian border.

While Iran's ambassador to Baku has been going around in the Azeri capital meeting with his European counterparts explaining Iran's position about the differences between the Republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia, according to the Iranian official news agency IRNA, Tehran's plenipotentiary ambassador to Yerevan on Wednesday met with Armenia's Deputy Prime Minister Suren Papikyan.

Iranians on social media have been reporting that the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan might be at the brink of a war although apparently all is well in Iran's northwestern front as far as Iranian newspapers and news agencies are concerned.

An IRGC Twitter account, @Sepah_FA, reported on September 29 that: "The Islamic Republic will not tolerate any geopolitical changes at its borders and will strongly resist against the enemies' hostile objectives." The IRGC account continued: "While warning those who wish to destabilize Iran'snorthern borders, we express our readiness to avert the enemies' plots."

Meanwhile, several Twitter accounts posted videos and photos of Large Iranian military convoys proceeding toward the borders. Sharq daily analyst Salar Seyf wrote on Twitter: "We are witnessing the biggest Iranian military expedition since the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. If the enemy wishes to attack and occupy an Armenian province, Iran will step forward to foil the plot."

Iranian Twitter user Hossein Mahmooudi Asl whose account is followed by some of Iran's most prominent journalist wrote: "Wait for a crackdown on Pan-Turk networks and infiltrators in Iran and Turkey's espionage network in this country."

The social media account Azariha, as well as several other channels posted a video of an Iranian military convoy and wrote: "This is a massive deployment of Iranian military equipment to the borders with the northern dictatorship just in case it makes the slightest mistake."

Hossein Dalirian, a military analyst and a former editor of IRGC-linked news agency Tasnim, wrote in Twitter post: "Just imagine that a war breaks out with the Republic of Azerbaijan. The Islamic Republic can fire 1,000 ballistic missiles and hit 1,000 key points. The war will end in one day. And there will be no time to use other equipment. Do not pay attention to bragging [by Azeri officials]."

Dalirian was referring to speeches by Azeri MPS who said Iran should be wiped off the map. Other social media users also said that Azeri leader Ilham Aliyev has spoken against Iran recently using strong words.

Meanwhile, Hamed Heidarpoor Kiasara, an Iranian Twitter users, posted pictures of Azeri military vehicles and wrote that simultaneous with the Iranian military build-up at the Azeri borders, the Republic of Azerbaijan also deployed military equipment to Iran's borders.

Another Iranian on social media asked what will the pro-Hezbollah Azeri Hussainiyoun militias' position be in a possible conflict between Tehran and Baku.

During the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan in 2020, Iran accused Turkey and Azerbaijan of deploying Syrian jihadist groups at the border with Iran to destabilize the region. During the past months, Iran on several occasions complained that Azerbaijan has closed the transit route to Armenia.

Although during the latest conflict in the Karabakh region Iran expressed support for Azerbaijan under pressure from its own local ethnic Azeries, Tehran has traditionally backed Yerevan against Baku since the 1990s.

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