On the morning of 27 January, the Embassy of Azerbaijan in Tehran was attacked by a gunman. The attacker rushed to the embassy building in a car with two children on board, crashed into a car parked near the Embassy, stormed inside, and shot at the embassy security post with a Kalashnikov assault rifle. As a result of the attack, the head of security at the diplomatic mission was killed. Two other guards were wounded.
According to a source close to the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the attacker on the Azerbaijani Embassy in Tehran was 50 year old Yassin Hussainzadeh, who had “personal issues”. He is married to an Azerbaijani citizen and arrived in Tehran from the Iranian province of Eastern Azerbaijan.
No country in the world is safe from terrorist attacks on foreign embassies. But numerous attacks on diplomatic missions in Iran’s history (from the massacre at the Russian Embassy in 1829 to the hijacking of the US Embassy in 1979 and the Saudi consulates in 2016) have always taken place with the knowledge and by order of the Iranian authorities.
Centuries later, Iranian public opinion still sanctions the killing of diplomats. For example, on Diplomat’s Day last year the head of the Russian mission in Tehran Levan Dzhagaryan laid flowers to commemorate the poet and ambassador Alexander Griboyedov, murdered by Tehran fanatics—and it triggered a wave of indignation in Iranian social media, filling them with curses and threats to subject the current Russian Ambassador to the same treatment as Wazir-Mukhtar Griboyedov, whose mutilated body could only be identified among hundreds of other corpses thanks to a distinct physical feature, namely a finger that had been shot in a duel. Iran considers it absolutely unnecessary to be ashamed, to admit guilt, or to seek forgiveness for the lynching of diplomats on the 6th Shaaban of 1244 AH. Even Iranian diplomats, commenting on the incident in their Telegram feeds, wrote that the ambassador himself was at fault.
And outside of Iran, in different countries, on different continents, agents of that country’s secret services and terrorist structures supported by the Ayatollah regime—and more specifically by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps—have been accused of plotting attacks on U.S. and Israeli embassies.
Of course, it can be assumed that Iranian authorities did not give a direct order to open fire on the Azerbaijani Embassy, it can be assumed that Iranian special services were not directly behind this terrorist act, but still many questions arise. Iranian authorities, who fully control circulation of weapons and constantly report on the seizure of weapons from the opponents of the regime—mostly old hunting rifles—somehow overlooked a Kalashnikov assault rifle and cartridges owned by “a man with personal issues”?
The attacker arrived in Tehran from one of the provinces where anti-government riots take place on a daily basis. The closest city of this province to Tehran is 425 kilometres away – almost twice the distance to the closest Azerbaijani city. So a man with “personal issues” grabs a Kalashnikov rifle and drives all the way to the capital to assault the Embassy?
In addition, the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Iran is guarded not only by Azerbaijanis from the inside, but by Iranian security forces from the outside. And it is guarded more intensely than, for example, the US Embassy in Moscow, since it is not the Azerbaijani Embassy that is being guarded from the Iranians, but Iran is being guarded from the representative office of Azerbaijan. Tehran has long hinted that Israel, NATO, the US and the UK are “inciting” the population to protest against the regime from the territory of its northern neighbour.
And one cannot deny the guilt of the Tehran mullocracy for an unprecedented campaign of lies, slander and incitement of hatred against the Azerbaijani people, the state of Azerbaijan, and the leadership of the country. The regime of the ayatollahs created an atmosphere of hatred around Azerbaijan in which the shots fired became inevitable.
“We do not think that the attack on the Azerbaijani Embassy in Iran was for personal reasons,” said the head of the press service of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry in an interview with the Turkish TRT Haber (https://www.trthaber.com/haber/dunya/azerbaycan -disisleri-sozcusu-trt-habere-aciklama-yapti-741413.html). “In recent months, large-scale anti-Azerbaijani propaganda flooded the Iranian media, and served as an impetus for the attack. Azerbaijan has always been a supporter of good neighbourliness with Iran, but such provocations have a negative impact.”
It should be emphasised that 6 hours before the terrorist act in the Azerbaijani Embassy in Tehran, a rocket attack on Israel was carried out by a group fully financed and controlled by Iran.
Against the backdrop of the recent exchange of letters between the parliaments of Israel and Azerbaijan, which were largely devoted to the common Iranian threat to both countries, such synchronization in time looks at least symbolic, if not suspicious. It should also be noted that Iran’s incitement campaign against Azerbaijan has a clear anti-Semitic connotation.
In December 2022 an anti-Semitic cartoon depicting Azerbaijani President Aliyev as a Jew wearing a yarmulke with a huge nose and sidelocks started circulating on Iranian social media. The cartoon is signed “Rabbi Ilham Alef”. This is an allusion to Aliyev’s supposedly Jewish name (as Iranian anti-Semites understand it), Jewish origin and spiritual qualifications in Judaism. The author of the cartoon is Ehsan Movahedian, an employee of the Tehran Institute of International Relations of the University Tabatabai. He is cooperating with the Institute of National Security Studies at the National Defense University (a structure subordinate to the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces).
The same month joint Turkish-Azeri military exercises officially codenamed “Fraternal Fist” were openly called by Iranian state media as “arranged by Zionists”. “The Zionist regime probably played a major role in organizing Turkish-Azerbaijani exercises,” said Afifeh Abedi —Iranian expert on international politics—in an interview with Mardom Salari website associated with the “progressive wing of the Iranian regime.”
ISNA state agency reported that Baku has “turned into an enemy of Tehran, due to being corrupted by influence from Israel, Turkey and NATO,” to the point where Azerbaijan is referred to as a puppet in the “Zionist sphere of influence.” In fact, they claim that it is NATO itself, which lobbies the creation of the “Turan” corridor, linking Ankara and Baku, and in turn other Central Asian Turkic states. Seeing as Azerbaijan has become an enemy of the Ayatollahs, “it was only natural to accept its regional adversary, Armenia, as a close ally of Iran”, it was emphasized.
The process of demonisation of Azerbaijan continued in January 2023, when, for example, a number of Iranian high ranking clerics in the regions, populated by ethnic Azerbanians claimed that “Zionist Jews want to take over the world” and all the true Muslims, have to oppose them, and that “Zionism is the major threat to Azerbaijanis” and Jews, infiltrating Azerbaijan are a shameful misdeed by the authorities of this country.
It is hard to predict how the situation will develop further, but it is obvious that Iran constitutes a menace to all of its neighbours and the stability of the region. It has to be dealt with.