Tension between Iran and Azerbaijan is on the rise, and policymakers in Baku need to be nimble as they manage the diplomatic challenge posed by Tehran.
Bilateral relations have been prickly for most of 2011. But they took a confrontational turn in early August, when Azerbaijani authorities put Movsum Samedov, the leader of the openly pro-Iranian Islamic Party of Azerbaijan (IPA), on trial for anti-government activity. Shortly thereafter, Gen. Hassan Firuzabadi, the chief of staff of the Iranian army, made some menacing remarks about President Ilham Aliyev’s administration in Baku. "If such a [anti-Iranian] policy continues, Aliyev will face a grim future. It will be impossible to suppress a revolt of the Aran (Azerbaijani) people," the Mehr news agency quoted Firuzabadi as saying.
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Eldar Mamedov is a political adviser to the Socialists & Democrats Group in the European Parliament, who writes in his personal capacity.