Azerbaijan arrests five people accused of spying for Iran

 According to Baku, the five Azerbaijani nationals were investigating military drone programs.

The tensions between the two suspicious neighbors have led to the arrest of five Azerbaijani citizens on charges of spying for Iran.

The arrests were reported on Monday, after both Baku and Tehran had accused the other of using aggressive language the week before.


The arrests were justified as "actions aimed at repelling intelligence-disruptive activities conducted out by Iranian secret services against Azerbaijan," according to Baku's security agencies.

It was reported that the five had been researching military matters, such as the purchase of drones from Israel and Turkey, as well as the status of the country's power grid.

Earlier this month, 17 individuals were arrested in Baku for allegedly belonging to a "illegal armed organisation formed up by Iran on Azerbaijani territory."

On Friday, Azerbaijan called Iran's ambassador to express concern over Tehran's "threatening statements."

The Iranian foreign ministry delivered a note of protest to Azerbaijan's envoy the day before, citing "anti-Iran" comments made by Baku authorities.

Millions of ethnic Azerbaijanis live in Iran, and the country has long blamed its smaller northern neighbor for fostering separatist ism in Iran.

Baku's plans to build a transportation corridor along the Armenian-Iranian border, which would connect the Azerbaijani mainland to the Nakhichevan enclave and Turkey, have also irked the Baku government.

To reduce its need on Iran to reach the Nakhichevan exclave, Baku seeks to restrict Armenian control over the so-called Zangezur land corridor.

The Armenian province of Zangezur separates the exclave from the rest of Azerbaijan.

Disputes over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, located to the east of Zangezur, have become the main source of tension between Azerbaijan and Armenia, prompting two wars between the two countries (one in the 1990s and another in 2020).

The Iranian Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, made clear in October that Iran will not tolerate any attempts to cut off the country's relationship to Armenia.

He claimed that in October, Iran held massive military drills on its border with Azerbaijan in order to "ensure that objective."

Turkic-speaking Azerbaijan is a staunch friend of Iran's enemy Turkey, hence relations between Baku and Tehran have historically been strained.

Iran also views Azerbaijan with suspicion due to its alleged military ties with Israel, a major arms supplier to Baku, and its claims that Tel Aviv may use Azerbaijani territory as a springboard to attack Iran.


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