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Turkey and Azerbaijan are presenting a united front against a potential enemy in the face of Iran.
Ankara and Baku announced that they would hold a joint military exercise near the border with the Islamic Republic between October 5th and October 8th.
Titled “Unshakable Brotherhood,” the drills are organized to “develop friendship, cooperation and coordination between the Turkish and Azerbaijani Land Forces.”
Prior to these exercises in Nakhichevan, joint military exercises with Georgian, Azerbaijani and Turkish servicemen “Eternity-2021” were launched in Georgia on October 4th.
These are all an attempt to show force before Iran, as it held large-scale military exercises along the border with Azerbaijan in the previous days.
Tehran meanwhile released a series of hype videos, mostly from its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) showcasing the capabilities it was deploying along the border.
Two days earlier, the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Defense Force (IRIADF) unveiled a new tactical radar and an air-defense simulator.
These improvements are significant, as Azerbaijan, as well as Turkey employ a large number of UAVs in their military operations. In the event of hostilities, they need to be countered in order to avoid a repeat of the Armenia-Azerbaijani war for Nagorno Karabakh. Tehran is deeply concerned of the strengthening of the Baku’s military cooperation with Tel Aviv, fearing the deployment of Israeli Harop UAVs in the border regions.
One of the videos demonstrates about 4,000 IRGC speed boats that were deployed in the port of Astara on the Caspian Sea that could quickly reach the Azerbaijani oil facilities in the Caspian Sea. Such a reinforcement could play a strategic role in case of a direct confrontation.
Tehran will likely not openly oppose Turkey and Azerbaijan’s attempt at “two states – one nation”, but it will evidently also not support it. This is an issue for Iran, as up to 30 million ethnic Azerbaijanis live in its north-western region, so-called Iranian Azerbaijan, compared to the entire population of its neighbor that sits at 10 million. A realization of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s plan of a unified Turkic world directly threatens Iran’s livelihood.
Geographically, a big part of Ankara and Baku’s effort is to organize a direct transport corridor to the Caspian Sea and further to Central Asia.
Armenia’s Syunik region separates Azerbaijan’s mainland from the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic. In a recent visit of Armenia’s Foreign Minister to Tehran, it was underlined that Iran is against the removal of Armenian servicemen from the Syunik region and would be ready for a direct confrontation if it happens.
Iran is fortunate in this regard that it doesn’t need to fight, but simply show its forces and mark the red lines, as both Russia and China do not seem willing to allow “Great Turan” to turn into reality.
The developments are still in their early stages, but it is very apparent that both Ankara and Baku are making significant movements and are unwilling to stop their attempts. There are sure to be pushes towards shifts in a geopolitical landscape in the coming months and years.