October 18, 2021
Ali Shamkhani, Iran’s top security official, warned Azerbaijan to avoid “costly traps set by devils” after President Ilham Aliyev accused Iran and Armenia of colluding in drug trafficking.
“Accusation against a country that the world recognizes as a hero in the fight against drugs has no effect other than invalidating the speaker’s words,” Shamkhani tweeted Friday.
Mahmoud Abbaszadeh-Meshkini, spokesman for the parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy, told Tasnim news agency Saturday that said Iran’s efforts against drug trafficking were “unparalleled in the world” and that without Iranian efforts, in which thousands of security officers had died, Europe and the Caucasus would have been flooded with drugs. He said that Azerbaijan was acting again good neighborliness, with ill-wishers trying to harm relations between the two Muslim countries.
Addressing Friday a videoconference of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) heads of state, Aliyev alleged that Iran and Armenia had used Nagorno-Karabakh, which was under Armenian control from 1994 until last year’s Azerbaijan-Armenia 44-day war, to transport drugs to Europe. Armenia and Azerbaijan remain technically at war after an uncertain ceasefire.
Aliyev said Azerbaijan had shut down this drug-trafficking route, through Jabrayil region bordering Iran, after taking over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh last year and “restoring the [Azeri] 130-km border with Iran.” He also claimed that the volume of heroin his country had seized in other areas of the Azerbaijani-Iranian border had doubled since Baku took over Nagorno-Karabakh.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan told the CIS that law enforcement bodies of Armenia and Iran were in close cooperation against drug trafficking. “I can also present numbers which demonstrate that the volume of seized drugs and the number of arrests in illegal drug trafficking cases have grown by three, four and even more times,” he said.
Tensions between Iran and Azerbaijan in recent weeks have seen Azerbaijan arrest Iranian truck drivers travelling to Armenia in a segment of territory under its control, and military drills on both sides of the border.Tehran is wary of potential geopolitical changes, the reported presence of Sunni fighters brought by Turkey from Syria to fight alongside Azerbaijani forces, and Baku allegedly opening its airspace to Israeli military flights.Baku freed the truck drivers Wednesday.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime describes the trafficking of illicit Afghan opiates as “one of the world’s greatest transnational drug and crime threats.”