Category Archives: Azerbaijani Politics

How the Hamas-Israel war impacts the South Caucasus?

Israeli President Isaac Herzog meets with his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev in Baku, Azerbaijan on May 30, 2023. (Photo via Azerbaijani presidency)

The war between Hamas and Israel war has triggered strong anti-Israel sentiments in the region and heightened fears of a broader conflict engulfing actors such as Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. Worried that the conflict in Gaza could escalate into a regional confrontation, the US has dispatched two aircraft carrier strike groups within range, including additional troops and military advisors.

But alongside tough rhetoric, the violence in Gaza has renewed apparent pragmatism by important regional states such as Iran and Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has openly slammed Israel’s bombings of the Palestinian coastal enclave. On the other hand, Ankara has avoided issuing direct threats against Tel Aviv and, in an apparent unusual move, allegedly distanced itself from Hamas in the aftermath of the Palestinian movement’s surprise attack on Israel last month. Continue reading

The new Iran – Azerbaijan transit route reflects shifting geopolitical realities

Azerbaijan begins construction of corridor to Nakhchivan through Iran

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

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. Continue reading

Azerbaijan’s energy diplomacy pivots to the Balkans

OPINION: Azerbaijan’s energy diplomacy pivots to the Balkans

Azerbaijan has adjusted its foreign policy agenda to target the Balkan region, that is more vulnerable to the energy crisis than the states of Central and Western Europe.

Energy has long been the core element of Azerbaijan’s pragmatic foreign policy, and recently it gained more impetus as European nations sought additional energy suppliers to replace Russian fossil fuel exports. Although the EU’s leading member countries are able to compensate for energy shortages by using energy reserves, employing alternative energy sources and importing additional gas volumes from alternative suppliers, the less developed Balkan states are struggling to adapt to the energy deficit.

More gas for the Balkans

On April 26, a signing ceremony for the memorandum of understanding on encouraging cooperation among Bulgartransgaz (Bulgaria), Transgaz (Romania), FGSZ (Hungary), Eustream (Slovakia) and the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) was held in Sofia. The memorandum paves the way for additional Azeri gas volumes to flow to the Balkans amid the unprecedented energy crisis in Europe caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Moreover, the document highlighting Azerbaijan’s strategic partnership with the Balkan nations will ease the cooperation between the local authorities and the transmission and distribution system operators. Continue reading

Azerbaijani-Iranian Tensions Disrupt the South Caucasus

Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 20 Issue: 63

On March 30, Azerbaijan officially inaugurated its first embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel, after avoiding the move for three decades. Although the decision highlighted the importance of Azerbaijani-Israeli relations, it quickly became a catalyst behind the renewed war of words between Iran and Azerbaijan (Themedialine.org, March 30). Since 2021, diplomatic relations between Tehran and Baku have steadily become embittered. Iran is primarily concerned with the decline of its influence in the South Caucasus, which has suffered since the end of the Second Karabakh War in 2020. As such, in an attempt by Tehran to flex its muscles and intimidate Azerbaijan, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps conducted large-scale military drills on the border with Azerbaijan in October 2022 (Eurasianet, October 20, 2022). Unlike previous years, the exercises provoked an uneasy reaction within Azerbaijan and triggered anti-Iranian sentiments throughout the country. Continue reading

Is war between Iran and Azerbaijan out of the question?

bne IntelliNews - TEHRAN BLOG: Iran takes aim at 'gambler' and 'political  dwarf' Aliyev as Azerbaijan tensions simmer

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

Will Azerbaijan–Iran tensions reach point of no return?

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

What to Expect From the Azerbaijani–Armenian Peace Process in 2023

No photo description available.

Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 20 Issue: 14

The end of 2022 marked another round of confrontation between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the Karabakh region with the involvement of Russian peacekeeping forces. The standoff began in early December, when the Russian peacekeeping contingent in the separatist Karabakh region denied access to Azerbaijani officials from the Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources and the state-owned mining company AzerGold CJSC from carrying out on-site inspections of the Gizilbulag gold deposits and the Demirli copper-molybdenum deposits to evaluate potential risks to the environment (Mfa.gov.az, December 13, 2022; Fed.az, December 16, 2022). While Azerbaijani state officials were deprived of free movement inside the separatist portion of Karabakh by the peacekeeping mission, it fueled scepticism in Azerbaijani and Armenian societies regarding Russia’s role in the process (Eurasianet, December 15, 2022). Continue reading

Iran’s Drone Exports to Armenia Could Undermine Peace Process in Karabakh

Photo by Iranian Army/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 19 Issue: 188

The recent war of words between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and the developments of the last several weeks, have demonstrated that both sides are far from inking a peace deal, which was promised by the end of 2022. Although both states vowed to intensify joint efforts on the final peace treaty in October 2022 on the sidelines of the Prague summit, little has been done since. On the contrary, the failure to hold peace negotiations has been magnified by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s controversial statements regarding Moscow’s non-recognition of Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over Karabakh, which have immensely increased the risks of renewed hostilities between Baku and Yerevan (JAM-news, October 28). Although Russia maintains the role of “key mediator” on the Karabakh issue, Azerbaijan now openly demonstrates its discontent over Moscow’s role in the peace process, particularly after the merely symbolic meeting in Sochi on October 3 (Apa.az, November 28). Continue reading