Things, apparently, are so dire for Iran’s and Russia’s favorite country in the Caucasus — Armenia — that the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting’s official radio felt obliged to publish a report defending Armenia. Concerned with Azerbaijan’s diplomatic activity in U.S., Iran’s official propagandists appear rather insulted by Azerbaijani statements that Armenia is suffering from the effects of its own policy of protracted occupation of Azerbaijani territories and continuous animosity with Turkey.
To add “depth” to their rather bizarre report the authors decided to attack Azerbaijan’s Ambassador in Washington. So, the Iranian radio reported, “Azerbaijan’s Jewish politician and promoter of the Zionist regime in Ilham Aliyev’s government Elin Suleymanov.”
They further reported, “this Azerbaijani official criticized Armenia and, without providing any prove (sic) or evidence, tried to leave impression on listeners that Armenia suffers because of its policy.” The report went on to attack the diplomat for not doing anything and alternately, “Jewish politician does his best to work for the benefit of American and Zionist regime, not for Azerbaijani state and its people.“
Ironically, by publishing the report on their official site and by following the Azerbaijani diplomatic efforts so closely, Iranians actually disproved their own criticism about Azerbaijani diplomacy having no impact or results.
It seems that Iran has quite a bit of bandwidth in terms of its foreign policy. Iran, apparently, can simultaneously deal with the Obama administration, allegedly to give up their nuclear weapons program, while blowing up a life-sized mockup of a U.S. aircraft carrier with their new and shiny advanced missiles, while sending combat troops fighting in Iraq and Syria. All this while regularly calling for the destruction of Israel and all Jews, working toward the establishing their own caliphate.
And we can’t forget serving as the world’s chief exporter of terror, supporting rogue states like North Korea and Syria … and they still have time to attack a fellow Muslim ambassador. That is quite a feat and quite a favor to Armenia! Perhaps, Tehran is still upset by Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman’s public mourning of the victims of the Khojaly massacre, a war crime committed by Armenian military in its war against Azerbaijan. Alternatively, it could be rather pleased by the cold shoulder Armenia’s Foreign Minister received on his recent visit to Israel.
Most of all, Iran seems upset about Azerbaijan’s close friendship with the Jewish community in the United States and, more specifically, Ambassador Suleymanov’s regular appearances at the AIPAC annual conferences and other Jewish events. Iran’s fury about Azerbaijan may be somewhat understandable, after all, a Muslim, secular and rather prosperous nation casting its lot with the West is unlikely to be the favorite of the ideologically-driven Mullahs. Add to this to that tens of millions of ethnic Azeris living in Iran and this becomes even more predictable. Equally understandable should be the Iranian endorsement of Armenia’s current status quo, which only deepens the latter’s total dependency on Iran and Russia.
The facts are pretty clear, Nagorno Karabakh, is the region of Azerbaijan that Armenia has illegally occupied for more than 20 years — a fact recognized by the U.S., EU, OSCE, UN, pretty much every international organization and body. In fact, just in last several days, the U.S. State Department once again reiterated clearly that “the United States does not recognize Nagorno-Karabakh.” And, contrary to the Iranian radio’s assertions, the fact that Armenia has become a vassal state of the Russian Federation, complete with Russian control of Armenia’s airspace, borders and economy is not the fault of the Azerbaijani diplomats. Neither is the fact that Armenia is literally a shrinking nation (as demographics prove).
However, Azerbaijanis do regularly remind Armenians and the rest of the world that because Armenia occupies roughly 24 percent of Azerbaijan and Armenia’s incalcitrance with regard to giving it back has left Armenia economically isolated from the rest of the world, cut off from Euro-Atlantic integration and perhaps most importantly the wealth generated from the many oil and natural gas projects of the region in partnership with Europe and the rest of the West.
Case in point? The Armenian media recently proudly reported that “tourism” to Nagorno Karabakh – an illegal entry with subsequent blacklisting by Azerbaijan according to officials in Baku, has generated some 6 million U.S. dollars last year. This ridiculously low number wouldn’t normally cover operations of a decent resort elsewhere, nor does it compare to millions the Armenian the regime-related oligarchs are taking out of the country to Russia and, yes, to California. Most importantly, the numbers speak about missed benefits of lasting peace both for Armenia’s own development and that of the occupied Nagorno Karabakh region of Azerbaijan.
Finally, going personal by Tehran’s official broadcasters echos’ the line of constant criticism against Azerbaijan used by their U.S counterparts, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Still, let’s just hope that the practice of calling a diplomat from a neighboring and a proudly Muslim nation a Zionist and a Jew remains an Iranian specialty in this ever-changing world.
Alexander Murinson, PhD of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Bar-Ilan University also serves on the International Advisory Board of Outre-Terre. He is the author of many articles and books including, the European Journal of Geopolitics’s, Turkey’s Entente with Israel and Azerbaijan: State Identity and Security in the Middle East and Caucasus.