Baku urges Iran, US to abstain from violence in region
While many Iranians gather in the streets of Tehran and across the country to mourn the assassination of military commander Qassem Soleimani, Baku is concerned about the expected regional instability, and has urged all sides involved to abstain from any kind of tension.
“Azerbaijan calls on all parties to abstain from violence and to remain committed to strengthening regional security”, Azerbaijan's Foreign Ministry stated.
A day after the US assassinated the commander responsible for Iran’s foreign military strategy, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov had a call with his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif to discuss the latest regional developments and the tension between the US and Iran.
Mammadyarov expressed his deep condolences to the leadership and people of the Islamic Republic of Iran on the death of General Qassem Soleimani, the ministry statement reads.
As part of four-day funeral which started in Iraq on Saturday, Soleimani’s body was taken to five holiest sites for Shia Muslims, a move that Western media report as an indication of Iranian show of strength. Tehran has promised retaliation of the commander’s death. It comes after US President Donald Trump ordered an air strike killing Iran’s most powerful military commander and triggering a dramatic escalation in the Middle East.
After the Iranian commander was killed by the US air operation, social media in Azerbaijan divided into two groups, with one calling Soleimani a hero, and the another labeling him a terrorist.
“Law and politics have taken a sideline to nationalism [on social media]", journalist Shamshad Aga wrote on his Facebook.
Ilkin Rustamzade, an activist of the Nida youth movement, mentions in his Facebook status about the influence of Iranian propaganda in Azerbaijan.
“There are many supporters of Iran who dream under the guise of democracy to bring medieval darkness to our country. Watch carefully.”
In Baku, political commentator Shahin Jafarli told the RFE/RL Azerbaijani Service that since the tension is between Iran and the United States, it wouldn’t have a direct impact on Azerbaijan. But if the conflict grows, it might have some consequences for Azerbaijan as part of the region. He added that, as in the entire region, US diplomatic missions in Azerbaijan will also up its security.
“If there is a war between the US and Iran, it will influence Azerbaijan. But I personally do not expect this incident to turn into a big battle.,” Jafarli was quoted as saying.
According to Jafarli, local mourning ceremonies may also be held in Azerbaijan to honor the architect of Iran’s drive to extend its influence across the Middle East. However, he says does not believe that there will be big mass events.
“The Azerbaijani government will also not allow this.”
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