What’s Behind Fresh Tensions On The Iran-Azerbaijan Border? (Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE RL)

Tensions have increased recently between Tehran and Baku over three issues: a joint military drill that Azerbaijani troops conducted alongside their Turkish and Pakistani counterparts some 500 kilometers from the Iranian border; Azerbaijani restrictions on Iranian truck drivers’ access to Armenia and the detention of two drivers; and Azerbaijani ties to Iran’s archenemy Israel.

On October 1, Tehran added to those tensions by launching its own military drills near its northwestern border, days after the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) deployed military equipment to the region.

The move was met with expressions of concern from Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, who earlier this week said he was surprised by the planned drill.

“Every country can carry out any military drill on its own territory. It’s their sovereign right. But why now, and why on our border?” Aliyev said. He noted that it was the first time since the fall of the Soviet Union 20 years ago that Iran had planned such a show of force so close to its border.

Explainer: What’s Behind Fresh Tensions On The Iran-Azerbaijan Border? (