Haydar Aliyev and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani in early 1990s. (Supplied)

October 11, 2021

Former Azerbaijani President Haydar Aliyev had suggested to Iran’s president Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani in 1993 to join his country to Iran, Rafsanjani’s son says.

Haydar Aliyev was father of Azerbaijan’s current president Ilham Aliyev who lately has a tense relationship with Tehran.

Mohsen Hashemi-Rafsanajani who oversees the publication of his late father’s memoires, in a note in Shargh newspaper Sunday said that during a Central Asia visit by the two presidents in 1993 and at the height of the first Nagorno-Karabakh War, Aliyev urged Iran to support his country in the war against Armenia and even suggested the administration of his country by Iran.

The Iranian president doubted Aliyev’s sincerity and insisted that Iran would remain neutral in the war, his son said. Aliyev’s suggestion was later put to discussion at the Supreme National Security Council where the president’s decision to avoid direct Iranian involvement in the war was approved.

Mohsen Hashemi-Rafsanjani has cited several entries from his father’s memoires, including an entry from 23 October in which the late president said in a phone call with Aliyev he pleaded for help. “They openly say they will put the entire Azerbaijan at our disposal and are ready for the establishment of the Islamic Republic in Azerbaijan,” the memoire entry says, adding: “[They say] without Iran’s assistance we cannot defend [our country] and there is a possibility of Armenians reaching Baku.”

Meanwhile, Azerbaijani media are also making accusations against Iran. In a commentary by Azerbaijani journalist Bahram Batyev Saturday accused Iran of violating Azerbaijani territory and helping the Armenian side with intelligence on Azerbaijani troop movements during last year’s war.

This is the first time such a claim is made, although Iran showed concern last year during the Armenia-Azerbaijan war, caught between its desire not to see any geopolitical change but feeling pressed to support Azerbaijan’s effort to regain lost territories.

Calling Iran a neighbor that was smiling in Azerbaijan’s face while holding a knife behind its back, Batyev claimed that on October 18, 2020 when Azerbaijani forces took over the village of Khudaferin (Khoda Afarin in Persian) and were advancing towards Zangilan, the Iranian military “shamelessly invaded” the territory of Azerbaijan and erected concrete barriers in their way, claiming that they meant to protect the Khudaferin Dam.

Baku protested to Tehran through diplomatic channels and threatened to publicly announce what Batyev called “Iran’s betrayal”.

The standoff between the two militaries ended a day later after the Iranian military attaché’s urgent visit to the region and withdrawal of the Iranian troops “after a day of tense negotiations”. Batyev said and alleged that Iran also relayed the movements of Azerbaijani forces, which they could easily see from across the border, to the Armenians.

Iran and its Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei welcomed the liberation of Azerbaijani territory in a televised speech but concerns over “geopolitical changes” in the region which could block Iran’s direct transit path to Armenia were raised subtly by the media. Last week Khamenei warned about Israel’s interference or military presence in Azerbaijan in another televised speech and warned Azerbaijan amid tensions over military drills in the region.

Iran International

About Track Persia

Track Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.