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Irredentist "South Azerbaijan" Dispute Continues in Azerbaijan

[Credit: Caucasus Watch]

Events Overview

After the Second Karabakh War, diplomatic relations between Azerbaijan and Iran became quite strained and remain difficult even today. After Iran conducted large-scale military drills on the Iranian-Azerbaijani border, opened an Iranian consulate in Kapan, Armenia, and Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan announced an Armenian consulate in Azerbaijani-habited Tabriz, Azerbaijan’s rhetoric against Iran became more aggressive, both in the media and at the official level.

Beginning in November, deputies of the Azerbaijani Parliament, other officials, state TV channels, and public or state agencies began to bring the issue of "South Azerbaijan" [Azerbaijanis call northern provinces of Iran inhabited by ethnic Azerbaijanis with this term] into the political arena. There were also some unverified reports by Azerbaijani news outlets that leaflets with pictures of the President of Azerbaijan have been spread in Tabriz, Ardabil, and other cities of Iran.

Continuation of Azerbaijan's South Azerbaijan Campaign

On November 10, Lale Azertash, the host of one of the programs of the private Azerbaijani TV channel Khazar TV, sent a message to Iranian Azerbaijanis: "Your path is the path of justice. In this path, we stand by your side. We are with you until the end." Images of the Khudafarin Bridge connecting the Azerbaijan border with Iran through the Araz River were visible in the background.

After several days, on the Azerbaijani internet-TV channel "Missiya TV," Leyla Aliyeva presented a weather forecast for the cities of "South Azerbaijan" such as Tabriz, Ardabil, Urmia, and Khoy. She concluded her speech with the sentence: "The day will come when the sun of freedom and happiness will rise over the cities of South Azerbaijan."

During the same period, the State Border Service released a new video about the liberation of the Khudafarin bridge. The video depicts Iranian Azerbaijanis coming to the border and showing support for Azerbaijan when Azerbaijan liberated the border areas with Iran from occupation, Azerbaijani soldiers waving the Azerbaijani flag towards them, and both sides together chanting slogans such as "Azerbaijan unite."

Wall writings from activists of the National Movement of Azerbaijan appeared in Ardabil, Iran: "Freedom, Justice, National Government" and "Azerbaijan does not trust Tehran." Moreover, pictures of the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev were painted on the streets of the Azerbaijani Province of Iran.

On November 16, an anchor of the weather forecast on the Azerbaijani channel Baku TV said: "Despite variable cloudiness, we believe the weather in Tabriz will be sunny. Stay healthy, dear South Azerbaijanis." Afterward, she expressed support for Iranian Azerbaijanis in the current Iran protests in a symbolic way taking off her hijab during the broadcast.

On November 17, many Qashqai national activists were arrested by Iranian security forces. Among them was Avazullah Safari, the Qashqai national poet. According to some sources, he was arrested because he had an Azerbaijani flag in his house.

On November 18, Khazar TV Anchor said: "As in these wonderful verses, Tabriz's sky will be cloudless, faint, sunny. The temperature will show 5 degrees in the daytime, in the afternoon, 5 degrees in the day, and in the afternoon. In short, the sunny tomorrow for Southern Azerbaijan is very close."

On November 20, the flag of "South Azerbaijan" was hung on one of the administrative buildings in the central square of Tabriz.

On November 21, according to unofficial channels, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps gathered military forces and equipment in Ardabil and other cities where ethnic Azerbaijanis are more densely populated.

On the same day, Azerbaijani state-owned Ictimai TV aired a political program named " World powers are deciding the fate of Iran." The divided map of Iran was displayed on the TV, and "South Azerbaijan" was connected to the Azerbaijani Republic.

On November 21, Mike Doran, a member of the US National Security Committee, shared from Khudafarin Bridge and tweeted, "I enjoyed afternoon tea at one of the Khudafarin Bridges today."

On November 27, Iranian state media recently released a video threatening Azerbaijan. In the video, Iranian troops invaded Baku and raised the Iranian flag there.

On November 28, young women in Azerbaijan staged a flash mob in support of Iranian protesters, chanting, "You have news, we are with you!" The action was primarily dedicated to young people fighting for their rights in Iran-Azerbaijan, especially Hadis Najafi, Asra Panahi, Aylar Hagqi, and other women killed by the regime police. A girl with her back to the camera and her hair tied is featured in action. This flash mob, as well as the song "Women's March," composed by ethnomusician Ariya Turkanburlu and played in the video, have become symbols of the movement in "South Azerbaijan."

On the same day, Members of the Organization Committee of the de-facto South Azerbaijan Provisional Parliament came to Baku and held talks. On the first day of the meeting, the graves of Heydar Aliyev, Zarifa Aliyeva, Jafar Pishevari, and the Martyrs' Monument were visited. Then a 2-day visit of "South Azerbaijanis" to Azerbaijani liberated cities.

On November 29, the "Organization for the Protection of the Rights of South Azerbaijanis" was established in Switzerland. This organization will submit documents and information to international organizations, including the UN, regarding the rights of people in the Azerbaijani Province of Iran.

On December 2, the representative of "South Azerbaijan" at the UN, Araz Yurdseven, defended the idea of the independence of "South Azerbaijan". He brought to the world community the Azerbaijani girls murdered by the "agents of the Iranian regime" during the protests in Iran.


(c) 2022, Caucasus Watch



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