Iran must stop releasing “false and defamatory information,” warned Azerbaijan.
On the heels of rising tension between Iran and its neighbor Azerbaijan, the Azeri government issued a strongly worded warning to the Islamic Republic, denying claims that Israelis are operating in Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan’s State Border Service released a statement Tuesday which appeared to hint that Iran’s allegations could have serious consequences.
“Any provocations directed at the state interests of the Republic of Azerbaijani in the state border will be resolutely prevented also from now [on],” the statement read.
It called on Iranian diplomats and security officials to “be more responsible, and avoid spreading false and defamatory information.”
During a recent meeting in Russia, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian was quoted by Al Jazeera as warning his Russian counterpart “to be sensitive about any potential changes in borders across the region, and be sensitive about the presence of terrorists and the movements of the Zionist regime that threatens regional peace and stability.”
Azeri Foreign Ministry press manager Leyla Abdullyeva responded to the allegations in a statement on Tuesday, calling the claims as part of a smear campaign pushed by Tehran.
“The Anti-Azerbaijan campaign will not bring benefit to Iran,” said Abdullyeva.
“It is clear that the reasons for the groundless claims are prevention of illegal entrance of Iranian trucks into Azerbaijani territory and liberation of Azerbaijani territories from [Iranian] occupation.”
In late September, Iran engaged in a full-scale military drill along the border, over the objections of the Azerbaijani government.
Citing the close cooperation between Azerbaijan and Israel, particularly in the military realm, Iran said the show of force was necessary to deter meddling by the Jewish State.
Senior Iranian military commander Kioumars Heidari added that “we respect good neighborly relations but we do not tolerate the presence of Zionist regime elements and Islamic State terrorists in the region.”
“Our sensitivity toward the border has increased and the Zionist regime’s activities here is under our surveillance completely,” he said during the drill.
Speaking to Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Mayadeen news network last week, one-time Iranian diplomat Amir Mousavi announced that there were 1,000 Israeli operatives and 1,800 ISIS agents in Azerbaijan.
Mousavi did not present any evidence to back up the claim.
“It is no secret that Azerbaijan has full access to Israeli defense industry products,” said Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, at a conference in May 2021.