Iran expels four Azerbaijani diplomats

The Cradle, May 5, 2023 —

The moves comes after Baku expelled Iranian diplomats last month and continues to build closer ties to Israel.

Iran expelled four Azerbaijani diplomats on 5 May, naming them “persona non grata.” The move was a response to Baku’s decision to expel Iranian diplomats from its territory in early April, Al-Mayadeen reported.

At the time, the Azerbaijani foreign ministry “expressed its strong dissatisfaction with the Iranian ambassador to Baku Abbas Mousavi for his country’s recent provocative actions towards Azerbaijan.”

Recent weeks have seen tensions between Baku and Tehran escalate, with Iran accusing its northern neighbor of fueling a hostile media campaign against it, and asking Azerbaijani officials for clarification on their country’s hostile cooperation with Israel.

Last month, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian discussed with his Azerbaijani counterpart, Gihon Bayramov, the development of bilateral relations between Tehran and Baku, as well as other regional issues.

Amir-Abdollahian told his Azerbaijani counterpart that “enemies are the only beneficiaries of the differences of regional countries,” referring to “the conspiracy of the Zionist entity against the unity, security and progress of the countries of the region.”

Though Israel and Azerbaijan have had relations for 30 years, cooperation between the two countries in the economic and security spheres has intensified recently.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen visited Baku last month, following the opening of the Azerbaijani Embassy in Israel for the first time earlier this year.

Israel views such cooperation as crucial, as it hopes to use Azerbaijan as a base for destabilizing the country’s fellow Shia neighbor, Iran.

During the ceremonies to open the embassy, which were attended in person by Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov, Israeli Foreign Minister Cohen stated: “Bayramov and I agreed to form a united front against Iran.”

As Anis Raiss reported for The Cradle, “Tel Aviv and Baku have developed a pragmatic and discreet relationship, with Azerbaijan serving as a crucial market worth billions of dollars for Israel’s defense industry.”

Since 2005, and although under an arms embargo, almost 70 percent of Azerbaijan’s weapons arsenal has been supplied by Israel. Specifically, Israeli weapons were transported to the Azerbaijani military during the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war, which left thousands of civilians dead, wounded, and displaced.

For its part, Azerbaijan supplies Israel with oil and, crucially, access to Iran’s borders, which has allowed Israel’s Mossad to install listening and tracking devices in Azerbaijan to monitor Iran’s activities. In addition, Baku has reportedly prepared an airfield to assist Israel in the event it decides to attack Iranian nuclear sites.

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