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Iran Starts and …

By Gegham BAGHDASARYAN
Editor-in-Chief of Analyticon journal
Stepanakert

On May 14, 2011, the Iranian Embassy in Armenia made an unprecedented statement, having two very important moments in it. The statement says that the official position of Iran on all foreign political issues is expressed exclusively by the President, Foreign Minister and the Spokesman of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, so all other approaches should be considered as private opinions.

The Embassy also insists that in the case with the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia Iran has always been of the opinion that the establishment of the long-lasting peace requires that the conflict be solved on the basis of a dialog, non-use of force and respect of the right to self-determination. And as far as Iran is the only country, neighboring to the conflict zone, then, in connection with the provoсations and escalation in the region, Tehran each time expresses its concern and does not allow that such provocations would serve as a pretext for interefernce of foreign forces.

A little later we will speak about the reason why Iran needs to remind the list of those persons authorized to express the official opinion, but now it is necessary to note an unprecedented point in the statement:  it stressed the right to self-determination exactly and unequivocally.

A day before, on May 13, President of Armenia Serj Sargsyan received the special negotiator of the Iranian President Rauf Sheibani. They discussed the issues of the mutual concern. The special negotiator was also received by the Armenian Foreign Minister. The agenda of was the same.

How was it covered by the Armenian mass media? The visit of the special envoy of the Iranian President to Armenia and the statement of the Iranian Embassy in Armenia were considered mainly in the light of the internal political processes in Armenia and their connection with a probable “breakthrough” in the Karabakh settlement and deployment of peace-keepers on the Karabakh-Iranian border.

This diplomatic polemics, according to Lragir electronic newspaper, is going on against the backdrop of two most important events. There is an internal conflict in Iran between Ayatollah Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad.

But there is another circumstance. The 170 km long Iranian border with Karabakh from Meghri to Horadiz is of vital importance for Iran. Tehran is satisfied with the status quo and the absence of other forces on the border.

But, according to Armenian experts, Iran has a reason to worry. The point is that the internal political developments in Armenia may lead to sharing power by the Armenian National Congress and the ruling Republic Party, which have similar positions on the Karabakh problem. They think that the liberated territories, including 4 regions, neighboring Iran, should be handed over to Azerbaijan.

”In case of such settlement, the issue of deployment of peace-keeprs in the conflict zone will come out, – Lragir newspaper says. – The composition of such forces will be crucial: whether they will be Russian, western or joint forces. Iran is against all such options, considering the presence of any peace-keeping forces as a threat to its security, in particular, in relation to the separatism in the northern provinces of Iran.”

Iran needs partners in Armenia, who would share its geopolitical notions. Armenian experts point out quite an interesting situation: Iran is trying to convince Armenians not to give up the territories.

Now let us get back to the first part of the statement, made by the Embassy, noting that the Iranian official position is expressed exclusively by the President and Ministry of Foreign Affaiars of the country, so all other opinions are private.

These words were spoken as an explanation of the incident happened some days ago. Representative of the spiritual leader of Iran Ayatollah Khamenei in Ardebil, Imam-Juma Ayatollah Seyid Hasan Ameli declared that Iran helped Azerbaijan during the Karabakh war.

“Iranian politicians have not spoken about their help, and probably, out of diplomatic considerations, they will never touch upon these issues in the future. But not me. I am Imam-Juma, and speaking here, I have to answer to the questions and suspicions of the Muslim brothers. We supplied the fighters, taking part in the fights for Shushi and having difficulties with arms; we provided them with arms by trucks convoys. With the consent of the Government and by the request of Rahim Gaziyev (Azerbaijani Minister of Defense in 1992-1993) joint Azerbaijani-Iranian headquarters were created, within which the Tebriz and Ardebil Generals helped their Azerbaijani brothers, daily and nightly doing their best to prevent the Armenian aggression,” – declared Ayatollah Ameli.

According to him, Iran also provided organization support in bringing thousands of fighters from Afghanistan, when it was necessary to the front-line. “We brought up arms and ammunition to Azerbaijani brothers, not Armenians. Our military training bases were in Azerbaijan, not in Armenia,” – said Ayatollah Seyid Hasan Ameli, according to SalamNews, referring to Arannews agency.

The Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan confirmed from the rostrum of the Armenian parliament that Afghan fighters fought on the Azerbaijani side during the Karabakh war, but he did not state that Iran had something to do with that.

The relations between Iran and Armenia are so close and developing so positively that such information even does not require any comment. The sources, close to the Iran Embassy in Yerevan, declared about it.

The Armenian press also note that Iran is the only neighbor of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict zone, and it is Iran that provided the food security of Armenia.

At the same time there was not refuted information that in autumn of 2010 former Iranian Foreign Minister Manucher Mottaki visited Nagorno Karabakh and Karabakh regions, neighboring to Iran.

According to some experts, the President of Iran is now the only partner in the region, i.e. Armenia So the statements by the Ayatollah’s representative that Iran helped Azerbaijan, not Armenia that time, is just an attempt to make Ahmadinejad lose the only partner.

There were attempts in Azerbaijan to refute this sensational news, but Yeni Musavat newspaper asked Sardar Hamidov, commander of the Azerbaijani battalion, which took part in the offensive in the Aghdam direction during the Karabakh war. In particular, he told about Afghans and mercenaries of other ethnic origins, who were brought to Azerbaijan from Iran.

Former speaker of the Azerbaijani parliament Yagub Mamedov in his interview to local mass media confirmed the statement of Ayatollah Khamenei’s representative.

This information was also confirmed by former Azerbaijani Defense Minister Rahim Gaziyev and former leader of the Islamic Party of Azerbaijan Haji Nuriyev.

In particular, Nuriyev said the following to the Azerbaijani mass media: “Time has already come to open the facts about Iran’s help to Azerbaijan. We remember Iran’s help, which was provided in the battle field; we would have been in a more difficult situation without it.”

In accordance with its traditional policy, Iran is manoeuvring between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Rauf Mirkadyrov, political observer of the Azerbaijani newspaper Zerkalo, expressed the following opinion. “Iranians say in Armenia that they support some principles, and in Azerbaijan they say they support other principles.”

When the discussions of the Iranian issues were in progress, another official statement was made in Tehran: the official representative of the Foreign Ministry Ramin Mehmanparast informed that the official Iranian position on the Nagornio Karabakh conflict has not been changed. “As before, Iran supports the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict in accordance with the inetrnational law,” – he said.

It seems this much-talked-of story has come to an end. But only time will show, whether it is the end or not.

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