People seen outside the Azerbaijani embassy in Tehran on January 27, 2023

People seen outside the Azerbaijani embassy in Tehran on January 27, 2023

Azerbaijan Claims It Arrested 20 Iranian Agents, Amid Tensions

Wednesday, 04/19/2023

“Twenty local agents” of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence have been arrested in Azerbaijan according to local media.

The suspects were spreading superstitions to undermine the Baku government under the guise of religious activities, Azerbaijani Ministry of Interior sources told the APA news agency.

The alleged agents are also accused of promoting drug trafficking.

This is the latest in a series of arrests in Azerbaijan of groups affiliated with Iran's Intelligence Ministry in recent weeks.

Relations between Azerbaijan and Iran have been strained in recent months after Baku announced plans to open formal diplomatic ties with Israel.

Azerbaijan closed its embassy in Tehran after an armed attack on it in January.

Earlier this month Azerbaijan expelled four Iranian diplomats over what it called “provocative actions”, possibly referring to several military exercises carried out by Iran's armed forces on the border over the past year.

Tehran accuses Baku of harboring Israeli intelligence and military elements that plan to use its territory in a possible attack against Iran’s nuclear installations.

Around a quarter of Iran’s population is Azari, with analysts and activists disagreeing over the closeness of their cultural and linguistic links to their neighbors to the north.

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