Azerbaijan, Turkey Hold Military Drills Near Iran Border

Tensions are rising as Iran accuses Azeris of hosting Israel

Relations between Azerbaijan and Iran are never great, but are worsening again, with the Azeris hosting Turkey for joint military drills this week smack on the Iranian border.

Iran is angry over a road tax imposed by Azerbaijan on trucks headed to Nagorno Karabakh. Iran has also accused Azerbaijan of hosting Israeli troops, with media showing photos of vehicles meant to participate in the drills.

The vehicles are likely Israeli in origin, but in reality Israel sells a lot of such arms to Azerbaijan, so that doesn’t mean there would be Israeli troops involved. This is almost certainly a misunderstanding.

The whole Iran-Azeri split is less a misunderstanding, as the two haven’t had the best of relations for a long time. Azerbaijan hosted a drill in September, and Iran responded with one over the last week on their border. Now the Azeris are responding to that with another drill this week. This is textbook tit-for-tat tensions, with neither side having any obvious goal, but not wanting to give in to the other side.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.