Joint Turkish-Azerbaijani military drills held in the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan will conclude today.
The previously unplanned drills took place amid escalating tensions between Iran and Azerbaijan. At issue, Baku recently arrested Iranian truck drivers delivering supplies to the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh, leading to a massive buildup of Iranian forces on the Azeri-Iranian border.
Relations between Tehran and Baku have consistently deteriorated following Azerbaijan’s victory over Armenia in the Second Karabakh War, from which the Islamic Republic emerged as one of the largest geopolitical losers.
Tensions are likely to rise in the short-term, but armed conflict remains unlikely. Instead, expect domestic unrest in Iran’s northern provinces—where ethnic Azeri populations side more with Azerbaijan than the Iranian state. Azerbaijan will also likely move to reinforce its Israeli and Turkish alliances—possibly through more Turkish arms purchases and greenlighting Israeli intelligence operations from Azeri soil.
Long-term, Iranian engagement with the region will depend on the developing possibility of restoring Turkish-Armenian relations. Building on recent momentum for improving Turkish-Armenian ties, Yerevan also recently opened its airspace to Azerbaijani civilian flights for the first time in years. A historic breakthrough could further augment Moscow and Ankara’s regional influence at Iran’s expense.
Wake up smarter with an assessment of the stories that will make headlines in the next 24 hours. Download The Daily Brief.
Sinan is an analyst for the Current Developments Team and a regular contributor to the Daily Brief. A student of transatlantic affairs, he specialises in political, economic and energy affairs of Europe and the Middle East.