Amid the escalating Gaza war, a striking absence marks the regional conflict landscape: the non-involvement of the ‘Axis of Resistance,’ including Iran and its proxies. Nearly six weeks into the war, these forces have consistently communicated their decision to remain on the sidelines. This inaction comes into sharp focus against the backdrop of Iran’s strategy to leverage non-state actors like Hezbollah and Hamas in its proxy warfare. While Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, clarified their stance in a much-anticipated speech a month into the conflict, the impact of this abstention is profound. Israel, grappling with internal divisions and security vulnerabilities heightened by Hamas’s attacks, finds itself in a precarious position not seen in decades. This situation stems from both the far-right Israeli policies and Iran’s concerted efforts to fortify groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, aiming to undermine its adversaries. Despite Hamas’s inability to secure territory in southern Israel, their assaults have instilled widespread panic, exposing deep fissures in the Israeli society and igniting debates over the nation’s security resilience. Continue reading
Azerbaijan and Iran laid the foundation on October 6 for a transit route connecting western Azerbaijan to its exclave of Nakhchivan through Iran. The road bridge is being built in line with the memorandum of mutual understanding between the governments of Azerbaijan and Iran on developing new transport links. According to the Azerbaijani media, the bridge will span the Araz River to connect to the Iranian province of Eastern Azerbaijan.
The new transit project announcement came amid the ongoing normalisation of ties between Azerbaijan and Iran after months of harsh diplomatic confrontation. From the Iranian perspective, there are several reasons behind the shift in diplomatic relations, but the most important is the changed regional balance of power in the South Caucasus following the war in 2020 between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Among the broader impacts of the war were the declining influence of Iran and the strengthening axis of Baku-Ankara and Baku-Tel Aviv in the region. Continue reading
In a region of the world marked by dramatic, high-profile rivalries and conflicts—Israel and Palestine, Saudi Arabia and Iran, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, and the struggles for power within Syria and Yemen—the age-old rivalry between Iran and Turkey has largely gone unnoticed, even as it has sharply escalated in recent months. While the precise nature of the rivalry has changed as the two nations’ regimes have experienced some changes, and the degree to which Tehran and Ankara opposed one another in regional matters has waxed and waned, the two countries’ policies toward each other have displayed a remarkable degree of consistency—making the oldest rivalry in the Middle East one of the most relevant in the current era. Continue reading
After years of rising tensions, the July visit to Baku by Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has signaled increased diplomacy between Azerbaijan and Iran. The apparent new détente brings positives for both sides.
For Iran, reconciliation with its northwestern neighbor will allow it to play a bigger role in the South Caucasus. Meanwhile, with improved relations with Tehran, Baku can focus its resources and attention elsewhere. Such efforts have also reduced the chances of a regional crisis breaking out, even as the flareup of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh may add complexities. Continue reading
In this podcast series, we will talk to academics who will share their insights on pressing events concerning European politics. In this podcast, we will discuss the recent Iran-Azerbaijan diplomatic tensions with our guest Fuad Shahbazov. Continue reading
Tensions between Azerbaijan and Iran have grown rather raw recently in the wake of Baku’s inauguration of its first-ever embassy in Israel. Of course, diplomatic relations between the neighbours have steadily become more and more inflamed and embittered for several years now, with Iran concerned at the declining influence in the South Caucasus it has suffered since the second Karabakh war between Azerbaijan, urged on by Turkey, and Armenia in late 2020. And with the normalisation of diplomatic ties between Tehran and Baku unlikely in the near future, the big question remains unanswered: Is it possible that the tensions could escalate into a large-scale regional conflict? Continue reading
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, launched in early 2022, has fundamentally changed the international security architecture that had existed for many years, but it has also caused global political and economic cataclysms. Although Russian forces made significant gains thanks to heavy artillery fire, including missile strikes on cities all over Ukraine in the first weeks of combat, Ukrainian defenders quickly rebuffed attempts by consolidating its military power, exercising diplomatic connections, and launching counterattacks at Russian positions.
The failures of continuous artillery and missile strikes in the following months prompted Russia to make some changes in its military tactics. As a result, Russia was forced to seek help from its traditional allies, China and Iran, through unofficial channels. Although China has refrained from overtly providing military support to Russia in order not to further complicate relations with Western countries, particularly with the United States, Iran began supplying locally produced long-range attack (suicide) drones to Russia. The effective use of Iranian-made Shahed and Mohajer drones by the Russian army to conduct attacks against Ukraine’s critical civilian infrastructure in the first days has revived interest in the Iranian drone industry internationally and has brought to light the real threat of Iran’s long-standing national drone program to security across the Middle East region. Continue reading
Over the past 18 months, tensions have gradually continued to escalate between Azerbaijan and Iran. Ties have been strained by a combination of diplomatic spats and military drills along their border. Azerbaijan perceives Iran as posturing dangerously towards its southern regions, while Tehran is threatened by Baku drawing closer to the Islamic Republic’s regional rivals—particularly Israel. Absent a change in these dynamics, relations could further deteriorate, with tensions boiling over. Continue reading