Diplomatic relations between Baku and Teheran deteriorated even further
Beginning in November, deputies of the Azerbaijani parliament, other officials, state TV channels, and public or state agencies began to bring the issue of “South Azerbaijan” [Azerbaijanis call northern provinces of Iran inhabited by ethnic Azerbaijanis with this term] into the political arena, writes Caucasus Watch.
On November 8, people in Baku celebrated Azerbaijan’s Victory Day with the flags of Azerbaijan, “South Azerbaijan,” Turkey, and the Organization of Turkic States. For the first time ever, the Azerbaijani police did not intervene and allowed the public to use flags of so-called South Azerbaijan. Furthermore, activists from the city of Goshachay in the Azerbaijani Province of Iran placed the flag of Azerbaijan in front of the monument to Qasem Soleimani, an Iranian military officer who served in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
On November 7, the news anchor on the Azerbaijani channel Khazar [Caspian] greeted the Azerbaijanis on both sides of the Araz River, referring to the Azerbaijani ethnic population living in the north of Iran. “Good evening Azerbaijan from both sides [of the Aras river]. “From now on, we also welcome South Azerbaijan. Previously, we did not use the words’ South Azerbaijan’ or ‘South Azerbaijanis’ to avoid offending Iran. We said, ‘Azerbaijani Turks living in Iran.’ But the mullocrat regime has made so many provocations against us that we now have to call everything by its proper name,” she said.
In its reaction, Iranian Sahar [morning] TV prepared a special report on the recent controversies between Azerbaijan and Iran, in which it interviewed an Iranian MP of Turkic origin. One of them, Ruhollah Muteffakirazad, said, “The Turks in our country are one of the people who love the country. The role of the people of Tabriz and Azerbaijan [Azerbaijan province of Iran] is huge in the Iranian revolution.” Another MP, Seyid Ali Mousavi, said, “We are Iranians, and we are proud of our country. Some raise their voices against us, and we cannot remain silent.”
On November 10, Iran summoned Azerbaijan’s ambassador over what it described as “anti-Iranian propaganda” by Azerbaijani officials and media, state news agency IRNA reported. An Iranian foreign ministry official informed the Azerbaijani ambassador of Iran’s “dissatisfaction with the unfriendly statements of senior Azerbaijani officials,” IRNA reported.
Later, on November 15, the Musavat Party, the Azerbaijani oppositional force, tried to hold a protest in front of the Iranian Embassy. Police officers did not allow protesters to approach the embassy building. The action was held as a sign of protest against the prevention of peaceful protests in Iran, the violation of the national and cultural rights of ethnic Azerbaijanis in this country, as well as the recent increase in threats to Azerbaijan by Iran.
Around 3:00 PM, the police started detaining activists near the Mirza Fatali Akhundov garden. Protesters shouted, “Freedom, justice, national government!”, “Down with the mullah regime,” and so on. According to the organisers, about 50 protesters, including Arif Hajili, the head of the Musavat Party, Mustafa Hajibeyli, the press secretary of the party, and others, were detained.
On the same day, a phone conversation was held between Jeyhun Bayramov, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and Huseyn Amir Abdollahian, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Press Office of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry reported. The ministers discussed current issues of the bilateral agenda, as well as the regional situation. The parties stated that it is necessary to resolve the current relations between the two countries, concerns about public rhetoric, and other existing problems within the framework of mutual dialogue and understanding.