"The Zangezour corridor 'would be a geopolitical catastrophe for Iran'"
Azerbaijani President Aliyev's ambition to build a land and rail corridor that would link Azerbaijan to its largest exclave, Nakhichevan, via Armenia's southernmost province of Syunik and onward to Turkey has caused deep concern in Iran, Al Monitor reported on Tuesday in an article by Amberin Zaman reporting from the region.
The corridor, known as Zangezour, would separate Iran from Armenia, its only Christian neighbor and a key stepping stone to Western markets. Armenia, in turn, would be effectively deprived of potential military support from its friendliest neighbor, Iran, according to Al Monitor.
Aliyev has made no secret of his plans for the "Zangezour Corridor," calling it a "historical necessity" and repeatedly stating that it "will be opened in any case, whether Armenia wants it or not". Iran has called any attempt to change its borders a "red line".
GEOPOLITICAL DISASTER FOR IRAN
Hamidreza Azizi, a visiting Iranian scholar at the Berlin-based think tank SWP, said the Zangezour Corridor "would be a geopolitical disaster for Iran"
According to Vahan Kostanyan, Armenia's deputy foreign minister, Azerbaijan is pursuing three goals: ethnic cleansing of Nagorno-Karabakh, provoking major military tensions in the region, and finally pushing the Armenian side to grant an extraterritorial corridor.
"Iran is an important partner. The border with Iran is of utmost importance for us. We have two closed borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan, so Iran and Georgia are our only gates to the outside world," Kostanyan said.
On Jan. 23, the EU announced that it was establishing a so-called Common Security and Defense Policy mission in Armenia. Up to 100 civilian observers are to ensure that cease-fire lines along the Azerbaijani border are respected.
Iran has always resisted deploying more foreign actors in its backyard. The presence of Europeans could provide balance to Azerbaijan, and that is in Iran's interests," Azizi said, even though relations between the Islamic Republic and the EU are at an all-time low.