Despite Nagorno-Karabakh flareup, Azerbaijan-Iran set to pursue thaw

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi meets with his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan on Nov. 28, 2021. (Photo via Iranian presidency)

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.

Pursuit of rapprochement

Amir-Abdollahian, on July 5, visited Baku to attend a ministerial meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement. In a sign of a thaw in bilateral ties, the Iranian chief diplomat notably met Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on the sidelines of the summit. The meeting marked a surprise breakthrough between the two previously antagonistic states.

As Amwaj. media has reported a rift between Azerbaijan and Iran has been widening in recent years. This has particularly been true since Baku’s victory over Yerevan in the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war. Iran sought to avoid taking sides in the conflict but is notably a close ally of the defeated Armenia.

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