Iran considers military exercises "sovereign" after criticism from Azerbaijan

Iran considered, on Tuesday, through a spokesman for its foreign ministry, that holding military exercises near its border with Azerbaijan is a "sovereign" decision, in response to criticism of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in this regard.

In an interview with the Turkish Anadolu Agency published on Monday, Aliyev considered these maneuvers a "very surprising event," adding, "This is their sovereign right. But why now, and why at our borders?”

The Iranian Foreign Ministry stated that, commenting on the "statements of the President of Azerbaijan", its spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said, "While there are good and respectful relations between the two countries and the usual channels of communication between the two sides are at the highest level, expressing it in this way is surprising."

The ministry's statement added that "about the military maneuvers that were conducted in border areas in the northwest of the country," the spokesman said, "This is a sovereign matter and for the sake of peace and stability in the entire region."

Khatibzadeh, the local media, or even the president of Azerbaijan, did not mention any details related to these maneuvers.

In an allusion to the relationship between Azerbaijan and Israel, the archenemy of the Islamic Republic, the Foreign Ministry stressed that Tehran “will not tolerate any form of the Zionist entity’s presence near its borders. In this regard, it will take whatever it finds appropriate for its national security,” he said, without further details.

Iran and its northwestern neighbor Azerbaijan share a border stretching nearly 700 km.

Iran has serious relations with its rival neighbors Azerbaijan and Armenia. In November 2020, it welcomed the two countries' agreement to stop the weeks-long fighting in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

A large group of Azeri nationalities live in Iran, especially in the northwestern provinces bordering Azerbaijan and Armenia, separated from Azerbaijan by the Aras River.

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