For this reason, KHAMENEI.IR has examined current developments along the northwest borders of the country in an op-ed written by Mr. Mohsen Pak-Ayeen, former diplomat of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
To understand the significance of the Commander-in-Chief’s recent statements at the joint graduation ceremony of the cadets in the Armed Forces Academies and the reason for the “Conquerors of Khaybar” military maneuver, we must first take a brief look at the developments that have taken place in the Caucasus over the past year. After 44 days of war in Karabakh between the Republic of Azerbaijan and Armenia last year, an agreement was reached between the two countries, which was mediated by Russia. As a result of this agreement, seven cities belonging to the Republic of Azerbaijan that had been occupied by Armenia were liberated, and the issue of the sovereignty of Karabakh, with Khankendi as its capital, was to be resolved subsequently through negotiations and within the framework of legal regulations.
According to Article 9 of the agreement, Azerbaijan intended to build a corridor route to connect Nakhchivan to its territory. The construction of the "Zangezur Corridor" clearly meant a geopolitical shift close to the northwestern borders of Iran. The protracted Karabakh conflict, as well as the insistence of the Republic of Azerbaijan and some countries that would benefit from the construction of a transit route connecting Baku to Nakhchivan, which would pass through Iranian-Armenian borders, revealed a hidden plan to change the borders of the two countries. According to the ceasefire agreement, the Baku and Yerevan forces were to avoid continuing any advances. But in recent months, Azerbaijan has made advances and violated the agreement in the disputed areas. Following these same conflicts in early September this year, Azerbaijani forces blocked part of the road from southern to northern Armenia. This prevented trucks carrying goods from Iran from entering Armenia and disrupted the land trade route between the two countries.
In addition, the construction of such a corridor would directly open the transit route for some countries, who are interested in the Karabakh conflict, to the depths of Azerbaijan, the Caspian coast and then to Central Asian countries without them having to cross the territorial borders of Armenia or Iran. This action would result in the removal of Iran's land border with Armenia and the exclusion of Iran from this important route for international transportation in the northwest. With this explanation, one of the purposes of holding the Conquerors of Khaybar military maneuver on the northwestern borders was to send a clear, rational message to adventurers from inside and outside the region who were trying to diminish the geopolitical role of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has always supported the territorial integrity of neighboring countries by taking a rational stance and has been opposed to changing geographical borders that are directly related to the national sovereignty of countries. Iran believes that any change in international borders will lead to the formation of new conflicts between countries and pave the way for the illegal presence of foreign elements, individuals from outside the region and terrorist groups in the region. Last year, the Leader of the Revolution said the following about the conflicts between Azerbaijan and Armenia, "Both sides should not encroach on the international borders of other countries. International borders should be safe, and terrorists should not be allowed to be stationed near our borders." [Nov. 3, 2020] At the joint graduation ceremony, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution also mentioned the direct role security plays in the economic development of countries. He described "security" as the basic infrastructure needed for all economic, scientific, health, political and public activities in every country.
In a safe environment countries are able to achieve economic growth and become resistant today. Insecurity brings recession and causes the removal of capital from countries in the region. Therefore, different countries take different approaches to ensure economic security. An appropriate measure for maintaining regional security is paying attention to the strength of regional armies and not relying on foreign and trans-regional powers.
The Leader of the Revolution also touched upon another issue as follows, “The presence of foreign armies, including the US army, in our own region is a source of destruction and war. Everyone should try to keep countries and their armies independent by relying on their own nations and by cooperating with the armies of their neighboring countries and other armies in the region. This is in the best interest of the region. We and they should not allow foreign armies to travel thousands of miles - under the pretext of safeguarding their national interests while these issues have nothing to do with their nations - to interfere in the affairs of our countries and our armies, and to maintain a military presence here. The armies of regional nations can manage the region on their own. You should not allow others to enter. The events that are taking place to the northwest of our country in some of our neighboring countries are matters that must be resolved using this same logic. Of course, our country and our Armed Forces are acting wisely. Our approach in all matters is to act wisely, authority coupled with wisdom. It is good if other governments act wisely too and not permit the region to face serious problems.” [Oct. 3, 2021]
These words had a message for Iran's neighboring countries and a message for war-mongering countries who have been present in the region for years and brought nothing but destruction and increased insecurity. Iran's neighboring countries can ensure their own security and that of the region by relying on their own Armed Forces and by cooperating with other neighboring armies without a need for the presence of foreigners. The Armed Forces of our dear country always act with authority and rationality, and this rationality should be a model for other countries and a factor for solving the existing problems. The Leader of the Revolution also had a brotherly word of advice for some countries in the region, “Those who dig a hole for their brothers will be the first to fall into it.” [Speaking in Arabic]
Additionally, Imam Khamenei's statements contained a powerful message for interfering powers and adventurers in the region. According to what he said, Iran will never accept for powers from outside the region to interfere in the region and it will take measures in this area at the right time and place. He pointed to the devastating effects of the US’s long presence in Afghanistan and Europe's concern about the US’s approach. The Leader said, “An important point about security is that national security should not be in the hands of other countries. This is an important point. Today, our people and our country have become accustomed to the fact that the security of the country is in the hands of our own Armed Forces and our own people, but this is not the case everywhere in the world. You have witnessed in the recent tensions between the Europeans and the United States, in which the Europeans have declared that the Americans have stabbed them in the back… Those who think that their secuity will be ensured by relying on other countries should know that they will soon pay a hefty price [for entrusting their security to foreigners].”
The Islamic Republic of Iran opposes any move that seeks to change the geopolitics of the region or the geographical authority of countries. As a bridge between the north and the south, Iran continues to support the preservation of international borders and all current transportation routes being kept open. It also supports the idea that all countries in the region should be able to benefit from trade routes.
The message of the “Conquerors of Khaybar” military maneuver was to support the security of neighboring countries and oppose the presence of foreign powers in the region. As the Commander-in-Chief stated, the Islamic Republic will make decisions and take action with authority and rationality in the face of any events taking place on its northwestern border.