What is Azerbaijani life in Tehran

Tensions between Tehran and Baku

Observers in the region have been seeing a deterioration in the relationship between the neighboring countries Azerbaijan and Iran for months. Azerbaijanis are the largest minority group in Iran, with more speakers of this Turkic language than in Azerbaijan with its ten million inhabitants. The good relations of the ex-Soviet republic with Israel and the USA are a thorn in the side of the Islamic leadership in Tehran. As sanctions pressure on Iran over its nuclear program mounts, Israel is supplying Baku with state-of-the-art armaments.

In addition, there have recently been reports of Israel's plans to use air bases in Azerbaijan for a pre-emptive strike against Iran's nuclear facilities. The Azerbaijani authorities again arrested 22 citizens in March on charges of planning attacks on Israeli and American targets on behalf of Iran.

Outrage over ESC

More or less "spontaneous" demo in Iran against the ESC show in Baku

The emotions then boiled up in the run-up to the Eurovision Song Contest, which was held for the first time in Azerbaijan. All of Iran's state media criticized the allegedly un-Islamic and scandalous show in Baku. Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi was heard in the same vein, as did the influential Ayatollahs from Tehran and Tabriz, Hojatoleslam Sedighi Hatib and Mojtahad Shabestari, who warned that mischief would be wreaked on Islamic soil. According to the Iranian news agency IRNA, Tehran also called its ambassador back for deliberations "because of Baku's insult to Islam".

Iranian interference

It was not until a few days after the pop spectacle, but clearly, that Ali Hasanov, spokesman for President Ilham Aliyev, reacted: "We tell you Iranian clergy to be ashamed. You pray to Allah every day and lie. We need such clergy no. The people of Azerbaijan will under no circumstances cooperate with such clergymen. " The Azerbaijani parliamentarian Rasim Musabekov told Deutsche Welle that the Iranian attempts to meddle had been debated several times in the Azerbaijani parliament. "The mullah regime wants to shape our politics," said Musabekov.

A western piece of Azerbaijan (Nakhchivan) can only be reached by land via Iran.

This is confirmed by the Berlin-based Azerbaijan expert Ahmed Omid Yazdani: "Azerbaijan's good relations with Israel, the USA and other western countries worry Iran. Azerbaijan is oriented towards the western world and culture, and Iran does not tolerate that." Another source of conflict is the good relations between Iran and Armenia, said Yazdani. The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagornyi Karabakh area occupied by Armenia is still unresolved, one fifth of the Azerbaijani state territory is under Armenian control.

Signals to the west

Dr. Ahmad Omid Yazdani, Chairman of the German-Azerbaijani Academic Group in Berlin

According to the Caucasus expert Stefan Meister from the German Association for Foreign Policy (DGAP), Azerbaijan is trying to maintain its independence from its large neighbor in the south: "It is about Iran's influence on Azerbaijani politics and the existing fear of Islamization Azerbaijan feels threatened and is showing that it wants to work together with the West and is an important partner in the region for the West. "

Hojatoleslam Azimi Ghadim, a Qom cleric, believes the conflict between Iran and Azerbaijan will continue for a long time. "Azerbaijan is a secular state, whereas Iran is a god-state. Iran is offended by the fact that the media in Azerbaijan speak freely and openly against Iran. The Azerbaijani government is trying to normalize its relations with Tehran, but that will be difficult success." Azimi Ghadim suspects that this conflict will not be easy to resolve.

Cooperation is possible

Stefan Meister emphasizes: "The Americans have invested a lot against the Russians and also against Iran in this country, and that continues. Azerbaijan demands the support of the West." But the expert from the DGAP points out: "From the west you shouldn't encourage Azerbaijan. You should try to build trust on other levels. There are areas such as drug control or economic relations where you can do a lot. The question is whether the governments are ready. "