"The Tehran attack is the logical follow-up to a string of Iranian provocations"
    Tofig Zulfugarov's standpoint

    INTERVIEWS  31 January 2023 - 12:49

    Huseyn Safarov

    "The terrorist act in the Azerbaijani Embassy in Tehran is a badly orchestrated scenario, which is a logical follow-up to a string of similar provocations committed by a certain group in the Iranian leadership against Azerbaijan," former Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Tofig Zulfugarov told Caliber.Az, commenting on the suspension of the Azerbaijani diplomatic mission in Tehran.

    Deputy Foreign Minister Khalaf Khalafov gave comprehensive arguments on the reasons for the decision: "After the terrorist attack the Azerbaijani side has no confidence that the security for the operation of our embassy in Tehran will be adequately ensured."

    The former minister, in turn, recalled how the incident is presented by the Iranian side and what position is adhered to by official Baku.

    "Regarding the Iranian version of the incident, I have two principal questions since I do not accept the explanations of the Iranian side. First of all, the actions of the terrorist who attacked the embassy lasted long enough. Moreover, we should bear in mind that the Azerbaijani embassy is located in an area, on a street with several diplomatic representations. According to some information, in order to get into this quarter, one has to go through three checkpoints and three different security belts. In addition, despite signals from the embassy, the Iranian police and/or the Security Service (SB) did not show up for a long time. I would like to emphasize that, as a rule, not only the police, but also the security service is engaged in the protection of diplomatic missions abroad. There is usually a dedicated security officer who is in official contact with the respective security representative of the embassy. There is an exchange of information between them and so on. In this case, for nearly half an hour, while this terrorist managed to enter the Azerbaijani embassy twice, the police and the Security Service did not show up in any way. This can only happen if the above-mentioned bodies have received a certain order.

    The second point, which I find even more strange, is that immediately after being apprehended the terrorist is somehow given a microphone and the opportunity to make some kind of statement. To be honest, I can't recall any analogue of this. I have never seen anything like this in my practice. Note that for several months, while protests have been taking place in Iran, none of the detainees has been provided with a microphone. Moreover, given the internal situation in the country, the behaviour of Iranian police officers is very strange. Instead of first isolating a terrorist who fired an automatic weapon and killed an embassy employee, he is given a microphone to make political statements.

    Obviously, the terrorist attack on the Azerbaijani Embassy in Tehran was a poorly orchestrated scenario, which is the logical follow-up of similar provocations against Azerbaijan by a certain group in the Iranian leadership.

    The second reason for the evacuation of the embassy is that the next day after the attack on our embassy, military operations are practically unfolding on the territory of Iran. So, simultaneously with the Azerbaijani embassy, several other diplomatic missions were evacuated. And this process is likely to continue. Many embassies have so far partially evacuated their staff and their family members from Iran. In other words, the same thing that we saw at the beginning of the war in Ukraine is happening now in Iran. This is a common practice," the former minister said.

    Further actions of the Azerbaijani side, according to Zulfugarov, will be directly linked to what measures the Iranian side will now take. It is clear that Azerbaijan expects an investigation into the perpetrator and instigators of the bloody incident and appropriate punishment for all those responsible for it.

    "It is diplomatic practice," stresses the former foreign minister, "to make certain statements related to apologies in relation to such situations, if they have occurred through the fault of the host country. The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry made certain statements, and there was also a telephone conversation between the heads of state. But since this event caused a serious public outcry, it would have been better if the details of these conversations had been made public. I'd like to see not only the replication of the thesis of an alleged domestic crime based on family problems in Iranian media but also the issues I mentioned above. In general, the development of the situation cannot satisfy the Azerbaijani side, so the evacuation of the diplomatic mission was initiated," our interlocutor said.

    The Azerbaijani diplomat also stressed that military operations between Israel and Iran are in fact already in progress.

    "Very serious processes are taking place now, and a broad western coalition is forming in support of Israel. This is inevitable. We know the difference between the approach of the previous White House administration on Iran and the current US leadership, and we know the problems in the negotiation process in Vienna on the nuclear agreement. We are aware of all these issues. In other words, a Western coalition is now in fact being formed against the IRI, and this is unquestionable to anyone. Meanwhile, an Arab coalition has already been formed and is making relevant statements. And all this is happening against the backdrop of certain provocative actions by Tehran against Baku. Azerbaijan is a military ally of Türkiye, and therefore possible anti-Iranian actions of the Azerbaijani-Turkish tandem directly depend on the path chosen by the current leadership of IRI towards our country. For this reason, current events are very important in the context of further Azerbaijani-Iranian relations.

    Iran is currently ruled by a radical group backed by the IRGC. Therefore, the confrontation between moderates and radicals in the country is a serious process, which, in fact, is the main reason for the protests in the IRI. According to the media, these protests have no leader, although in fact there are leaders - they are inside and they are not visible.

    But the protests do not stop and they are seen to be quite well organised. Relations with the West and Israel are deteriorating, terrorist attacks on diplomatic missions take place amid these protests, and so on. The situation is very complicated, and we must monitor and analyse it carefully," Zulfugarov concluded.


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