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Crossfire at Iran-Azerbaijan Border: Experts’ Comments

Following Azerbaijani foreign minister Elmar Mammadyarov’s recent visit to Tehran an incident took place near Iran-Azerbaijan border.

As reported by the Azeri mass media the crossfire spot in Iran-Azerbaijan border section neighbors Artsakh’s Horadiz city. According to the same source the armed group fired back to the Azeri border guards. Two Azeri border guards got heart and arm injuries. The first one did not make his way to hospital, the second one survived and was awarded a medal by the Azerbaijani border watch service chief.

Ashot Movsisyan, expert on Azeri issues does not find a political subtext in the incident. As he told “Armedia” IAA, “I think that the incident in the Iran-Azerbaijan border does not carry a political subtext. It should be viewed in the light of smuggling, illegal drug trade. I think these are the same smugglers who a few days ago tried to cross the Iran-Azerbaijan state border near Artsakh. Most probably they tried to find the weak points in the Iranian-Azerbaijani state border to sneak illegal drugs into Azerbaijan.”

According to him the Azeri report of the incident testifies that one of the shot trespasser had a big amount of heroine and other drugs.

“The incident comes to prove that Iran-Azerbaijan border and Azeri state border guard troops on the whole have faults and the propaganda as if Azerbaijani state border guard forces are highly professional and are the second after the army does not stand its ground even during such minor collisions with small groups. The Azeri side, in fact has casualties,” he emphasized.

According to Movsisyan Azerbaijan in this context has problems not only in organizing their border guard service in the state border with Iran but on the whole needs to review the organization of those services. “It should be reiterated that I don’t see any political subtext regarding the incident,” the expert summed up.

Armen Israyelyan, Iranian expert, points to the absence of coverage of the incident in the Iranian media. As he told ”Armedia” IAA,  “It has been a few days but the Iranian media has not dealt with the incident. This raises concerns as the Iranian and Azeri comments on such incidents usually differ. Another such incident took place about a month ago which was commented on differently by the Iranian and Azeri sides. The recent incident was reacted to solely by the Azeri side which makes comprehensive analysis difficult.”

To Israyelyan’s mind it’s worrisome that Iran-Artsakh border is being manipulated, the Artsakh territory and the border with Iran is brought into discussion incomprehensively.

“As to Iran-Azerbaijan border incidents it is obvious that in the recent decade such incidents take place when lack of confidence mounts between the two countries and their border guard service operations reflect the reality,” the expert noted.

Iran has always had concerns regarding possible threats from Azerbaijan. “Iran largely focuses on the border issues with their neighbors. In the recent years Iran has equipped the border check-points with modern technologies which could account for Israel-Azerbaijan tight ties, Saudi Arabia Wahhabi group free operations in Azerbaijan and other things. That’s why Iran has voiced their concerns at different levels,” Israyelyan stressed.

According to the expert in the recent year with Saudi Arabia, Israel as well the US making efforts to diminish Iran’s position in the Middle East, Azerbaijan is viewed in Iran as a possible platform to pose problems for Iran.

“It is noteworthy that Iran’s border guard service chief made two-three visits to Iran-Azerbaijan border in the recent months and one visit to Azerbaijan and met with president Aliyev. All this testifies that Iran may have doubts that some fermentations are underway and the visits aim to be preventive,” Armen Israyelyan noted.

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