Iran seems to be quietly backing Armenia in the conflict, TRT World.
Renewed clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia in occupied Nagorno-Karabakh are already a geopolitical flashpoint between Russia, which supports Yerevan, and Turkey, which supports Baku.
But what role does Iran, a Shia-Muslim majority country like Azerbaijan, which neighbours both countries, have? Experts with a close eye on the conflict think Iran is secretly backing Armenia, a Christian-majority country.
Iran has officially called on both sides to cease clashes, offering mediation between the two countries.
“Generally-speaking, Iran appears to be closer to Armenia in its relations with both countries,” says Bulent Aras, professor of international relations at Istanbul Policy Center-Sabanci University.
Aras recounts several factors for Iran’s implicit support of Armenia, ranging from Iran’s political alliance with Russia, to Tehran’s trade ties with Yerevan.
But among other reasons, the changing political nature of Iran’s Azeri Turkish population (how the population with Azerbaijani heritage is referred to inside Iran) plays an important role in Tehran’s close connections to Yerevan, says Aras.
“Increasing Turkish nationalism [among the Azeri Turks] in Iran has been seen as a serious political problem by Iran. Connections and relations between the country’s north [where a sizable Azeri Turkish population lives] and Azerbaijan have been an important factor in Tehran’s political problems with Azerbaijan,” Aras tells TRT World.