Iran using contraband to enter Azerbaijan's Karabakh – FACTS
In August of 2021, reports, which became available to Trend, said that a lot of Iranian trucks are illegally entering the zone in Azerbaijan's Karabakh, where Russian peacekeepers are temporarily stationed.
From July 11 to August 8, 35 Iranian vehicles (4 trucks and 31 fuel trucks) 70 times entered and exited through the Lachin corridor. The dates are also available: July 11, 14, 16, 17, 20, 21, 27, 28, 29, 31, and also August 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.
After this, on August 11 of 2021, Azerbaijan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the Ambassador of Iran in Azerbaijan Seyyed Abbas Mousavi.
The ambassador was handed a note and the MFA expressed serious concern about the illegal steps taken by the Iranian side in relation to Azerbaijan. The reason was weighty - the illegal transportation of goods by Iranian trucks to Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. The ambassador was unambiguously told that Azerbaijan is seriously concerned about such facts, and this undoubtedly cast a shadow on the Azerbaijani-Iranian relations.
"The note expresses our dissatisfaction with the constant entry of various vehicles belonging to the friendly Islamic Republic of Iran into the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan without the permission of Baku. Our discontent, which some time ago was verbally conveyed to the Iranian side, was again raised before the ambassador during the meeting," the press service of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said.
At the time, Baku stated that it counts on practical steps from Iran, which should've put an end to such illegal activities. One month has passed by. Has the Iranian side took the necessary actions to solve the issue? On the contrary!
It became known for certain that in the period from August 11 to September 10, 58 trucks, for various purposes, entered Khankendi, in particular, with fuels and lubricants. Fifty five trucks later left.
Also, according to the information we received, Iranians and Armenians resort to various tricks. For example, when approaching the zone of temporary responsibility of the Russian peacekeepers, they put Armenian plates on Iranian trucks in order to hide the exact number of Iranian trucks heading to Khankendi. The plan wasn't without flaws though - the Iranians were using the same, repeated plates, slapping them on different trucks.
So, what does Iran have to say about this? Will it again cry about friendship, while behaving totally different? It is also worth noting that illegal transfer of goods from Iran to Karabakh is carried out despite the fact that Baku has repeatedly stated that it has modern video surveillance systems.
And if this happens in peaceful times, before our eyes, it is scary to even imagine what the Iranians did during the second Karabakh War and during almost 30 years of occupation of our lands! Indeed, even influential world media, in particular, The Economist, once wrote that the Iranians during the years of the occupation of Karabakh actively bought everything that was destroyed and dismantled by Armenian vandals - stones, bricks, roofs from the houses of Azerbaijanis and buildings, pipes. They didn't even skip the household utensils of the Azerbaijanis expelled from their homes.
If the Iranians are bringing fuel and lubricants to Karabakh even today, when the Lachin corridor is under Azerbaijan's control... so, does this mean than Armenian tanks were being fueled by Iran during hostilities?
It should also be reminded about the recent visit of Iranian Ambassador to Armenia, Abbas Badakhshan Zokhuri, to the border area. Then the ambassador, expressed concern about the continuation of border disputes between the two countries. We also remember how he saw Azerbaijani positions through binoculars. As we can see, the unfriendly behavior of our southern neighbor has not changed.
It is also appropriate to remind that back in August Iranians actively recruited their citizens to work in Karabakh, in the zone where Russian peacekeepers are temporarily stationed.
And no, we didn't forget about a webinar organized by Iran's state agency - IRNA, where Iranian experts were greatly concerned about the forced step of the Azerbaijani side, which restricted traffic on the Gorus-Gafan highway. However, they forgot to remind their audience that the restriction of movement was due to the actions to restore order and the checking of the area after the attack on an Azerbaijani border guard.
During the webinar, the participants agreed that "Iran, as a regional power, must maintain a balance of power". Basically, they openly called to support Armenia as opposed to Azerbaijan, since the current balance of power is obvious.
Obviously, Iranian rhetoric and provocations leave no doubt that Iran, guided by its internal fears and irrepressible ambitions, is throwing a certain challenge to Azerbaijan. A choice that does not bring anything good for itself in the first place.
In this contect we can overlook the somewhat strange behavior of Russian peacekeepers, operating under a non-existent mandate. The Iranians and Armenians are doing all this right before their eyes. What does this mean? It means the Russians either don't control the situation with the Lachin corridor as they should (which is hard to believe), or they're just turning a blind eye. It can even be assumed someone is earning something from all this. Otherwise, how to explain the fact that the peacekeepers aren't checking those who enter Karabakh, but create obstacles for those who want to leave? It's enough to recall the recent case with Izaura Balasanyan, whom the peacekeepers surrendered to the separatists because of an attempt to go to Shusha.
We clearly understand that such obstacles, just as the seizing of "passports" of Armenians currently living in Karabakh, or the ban on sale of apartments, aim to stop the outflow of Armenians from the region.
As recorded by means of visual control, during the period from July 11 to August 8, about 20,000 people left Khankendi towards Armenia, and only 15, entered Khankendi. The peacekeepers also see and understand this - if their temporary zone of responsibility is empty, the question of the expediency of the presence of the peacekeepers in Karabakh will arise.
Azerbaijan sees everything, documents it, and makes relevant conclusions. We've presented the Iranian side with specific facts that cannot be refuted. Gone are the days when Iranian companies were illegally rebuilt the upper Govhar Agha mosque in Shusha, “transforming” it from Azerbaijani to Persian, and Tehran was cynically denying this. Today we see everything. How will Iran now answer to the Azerbaijani people?