Azerbaijan Iran relations

Four Iranian diplomats expelled by Azerbaijan amid escalating tensions

Azerbaijan has expelled four Iranian diplomats over alleged “provocative actions,” marking the latest downturn in relations between the two neighbours.

The move came after Baku said it had arrested six Azerbaijani nationals who were “recruited by Iranian secret services to destabilise the situation in the country.” Tensions have long existed between the two countries, with Azerbaijan becoming a close ally of Iran’s historical rival, Turkey.

Furthermore, Baku has deepened its relations with Israel, Iran’s regional foe, in recent years. The two countries share a border near the Caspian Sea, and Iran has long accused Azerbaijan of fomenting separatist sentiment within its territory. The move also comes as Iran is normalising ties with Saudi Arabia, which began with a surprise China-brokered deal last month to restore diplomatic relations that were severed seven years ago.

Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry has declared the four employees of the Iranian embassy persona non grata and given them 48 hours to leave the country. Although no specifics were provided, Baku said they were carrying out activities “incompatible with diplomatic status.” It also “summoned” Iran’s ambassador to inform him of the decision.

Azerbaijan closed its embassy in Tehran in January after an attack on its head of security. In contrast, it opened an embassy in Israel last week, drawing ire from Iran, which denounced the developing relationship as “anti-Iranian.”

Iran has also accused Azerbaijan of backing Armenia in the decades-long conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway region. Iran is home to millions of Turkic-speaking ethnic Azerbaijanis.

The dispute underscores the complex regional tensions between Iran, Azerbaijan, and their respective allies. With the US continuing to negotiate with Iran over its nuclear programme, the diplomatic landscape is sure to remain unpredictable.

Gulf News Portal editorial team focuses on breaking news that help shape the region.