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Viewing cable 06BAKU1835, GOAJ INCREASINGLY CONCERNED ABOUT USG POLICY

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06BAKU1835 2006-12-20 08:08 2010-11-28 18:06 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baku
VZCZCXRO9720
PP RUEHBC RUEHDBU RUEHDE RUEHDIR RUEHKUK
DE RUEHKB #1835/01 3540807
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 200807Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY BAKU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2003
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHDIR/IRAN RPO DUBAI PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BAKU 001835 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 2/19/2016 
TAGS: PGOV PINR PBTS PREL MARR IRAJ
SUBJECT: GOAJ INCREASINGLY CONCERNED ABOUT USG POLICY 
TOWARD IRAN - ACTION REQUEST 
 
REF: A. BAKU 1761 
 
     B. BAKU 1819 
     C. BAKU 1700 
 
BAKU 00001835  001.2 OF 003 
 
 
Classified By: Charge Jason P. Hyland for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1.  (C) Summary:  President Aliyev stated to the Ambassador 
that the USG and international community's policy towards 
Iran has "failed," that Iran is "confident, comfortable, and 
unconstrained," that he "does not understand USG policy on 
Iran" and, consequently, Azerbaijan's policy must be to 
"minimize potential risks" to Azerbaijan.  Aliyev also said 
that Iranian President Ahmadinejad has affirmed that he has 
"burned his bridges" on the nuclear issue and warned Aliyev 
directly that Iran will "attack from where it is attacked." 
President Aliyev believes it is "always possible Iran will do 
something against us."  President Aliyev's foreign policy 
advisor and the Foreign Minister have voiced similar 
concerns; the Foreign Minister has again told the Ambassador 
that Iran is planning various scenarios in response to 
heightened tensions or military action, which the GOAJ 
believes will include a provocation against Azerbaijani 
interests on the Caspian, where the international legal 
framework remains unclear.  A recent anti-Azerbaijani 
editorial which appeared in the Iranian newspaper Jomhouri 
Eslami (reported incorrectly in the Azerbaijani press as 
having been written by Supreme Leader Khamenei) appears to be 
driving much of the GOAJ's concerns.  In sum, the GOAJ at the 
most senior levels has communicated to us in stark terms 
their concern about the implications for Azerbaijani security 
of the current situation in Iran, and their desire to better 
understand USG policy to address it - and its implications. 
This will impact our ability to work with the GOAJ on a range 
of issues; we need to address their concern.  End Summary. 
 
------------------------ 
President Aliyev on Iran 
------------------------ 
 
2.  (C) In a 23 November one-on-one meeting with the 
Ambassador, President Aliyev raised in stark terms his view 
that USG and the international community's policy on Iran has 
"failed" and that Iran is "confident, comfortable, and 
unconstrained."  Aliyev said that he "does not understand USG 
policy" in response to this situation, adding that 
Ahmadinejad has affirmed he has "burned his bridges" on the 
nuclear issue and warned Aliyev directly that Iran will 
"attack from where it is attacked."  Aliyev said he believes 
it is "always possible Iran will do something against us" 
(ref a) and Azerbaijan's policy must be to minimize potential 
risks to itself.  Also as reported earlier, Aliyev's Foreign 
Policy Advisor (ref b) and Foreign Minister Mammadyarov have 
voiced similar concerns.  In a December 14 one-on-one 
meeting, Foreign Minister told the Ambassador again that Iran 
is planning various scenarios to respond to heightened 
tensions or military action, which Azerbaijan believes will 
include a provocation against Azerbaijani interests on the 
Caspian, where the international legal framework remains 
unclear. 
 
------------------------------------ 
Foreign Minister Mammadyarov on Iran 
------------------------------------ 
 
3.  (C) In a December 14 one-on-one meeting with the 
Ambassador, Foreign Minister Mammadyarov said that recent 
Iranian activities (the fueling of demonstrations in Nardaran 
with respect to the anti-Islam article published in Sanat, 
recent demonstrations in front of the Azerbaijani Consulate 
General and Embassy - ref c) are intended to "send a message 
to us that they won't wait" while Azerbaijan moves towards 
NATO and the US, and on a possible resolution of the Nagorno 
Karabakh conflict.  He pointed to a recent statement by 
Supreme Leader Khamenei that "Azerbaijan should not feel 
comfortable with respect to NATO," saying Iran is "watching 
our policy in this area very carefully."  In addition, he 
said Iran "doesn't want us to make a move towards conflict 
resolution because they know the conflict is the only serious 
problem" facing Azerbaijan, and that if continued it keeps 
Azerbaijan off base and under pressure.  He also said that 
Russia's and Iran's positions on this are very close. 
 
4.  (C) Mammadyarov repeated what he had told the Ambassador 
some months ago, that the Iranians are developing different 
"scenarios" for how they will react if the US or Israel 
 
BAKU 00001835  002.2 OF 003 
 
 
increase the pressure on Iran over the nuclear issue. 
Mammadyarov feels that Azerbaijan is a "target" for Iran if 
there is the possibility of military action against Iran, 
which Iran "definitely" sees as being on the table.  The GOAJ 
thinks that a provocation of some kind on the Caspian will be 
Iran's likely approach because whatever overt step Iran 
takes, it will want to be within the framework of 
international law, Mammadyarov said.  There is no agreement 
on Caspian delimitation, the international legal framework is 
murky and "that is where Azerbaijan is vulnerable."  However, 
Mammadyarov also said that Azerbaijan believes Iran is 
preparing scenarios for responses with respect to Lebanon, 
Iraq and "even in Syria."  Iran is "afraid of the Taliban" 
and hence slow to consider any steps in Afghanistan.  Iran 
may also create difficulties with respect to its land border 
with Nakhchivan (stopping buses, for example), with the aim 
of turning the population against the GOAJ and provoking 
"social problems" in Nakhchivan like those in Georgia. 
According to Mammadyarov, Azerbaijan is planning to build a 
railroad from Nakhchivan through Igdir, Turkey, as the next 
stage of the Kars-Alkhakhalaki-Tbilisi railroad in order to 
keep Nakhchivan from being cut off by Iran this way. 
 
5.  (C) Mammadyarov feels that Iran does not want Azerbaijan 
to make a move on N-K resolution because the withdrawal of 
Armenian troops from Azerbaijani territory will make 
Azerbaijan stronger in the region.  Mammadyarov believes that 
Iran does not want Azerbaijan, as a secular Muslim country, 
to succeed as a model.  Poverty in the ethnic Azeri provinces 
in the north of Iran is "like the middle ages" and as people 
travel back and forth from Azerbaijan to Iran the contrast is 
evident.  Mammadyarov argued that it is in Iran's national 
interest to see the conflict continue, and, hence, the 
Iranian government is exerting increased pressure at any sign 
of steps towards a resolution. 
 
6.  (C)  Speaking to the role of religion, Mammadyarov 
asserted that Islam in Azerbaijan is more a matter of 
"tradition" than ideology. Iran started playing with religion 
with the Sanat article and in Nardaran, hoping for a 
"uprising" from the people.  When this did not succeed, 
Mammadyarov said that Iran's next step was the demonstrations 
at the Azerbaijani Embassy and Consulate General (ref b).  He 
argued that Iran's aim is to portray the Government of 
Azerbaijan as bad Muslims, poor followers of Islam. 
Azerbaijan is going to continue its westward orientation, 
cooperation with NATO and the US but "without rhetoric to the 
public," Mammadyarov said.  In Brussels, President Aliyev 
made clear that Azerbaijan will "continue and deepen our 
cooperation with NATO," moving to the second phase of its 
Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP).  Mammadyarov said 
that President Aliyev believes greater cooperation with NATO 
and a greater NATO presence and involvement in the region 
will bring predictability and stability.  He said Aliyev was 
"very happy" with paragraph 43 of the Riga Summit statement; 
its language on regional conflicts was a "clear message to 
everyone north, south, east and west of Azerbaijan;" and, it 
helps him push back on those of his advisors who question 
what Azerbaijan gains from cooperation with NATO. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ------------- 
Supreme Leader Khamenei's Alleged Anti-Azerbaijan Comments 
--------------------------------------------- ------------- 
 
7.  (C) A recent anti-Azerbaijani article which appeared in 
Jomhouri Eslami, a conservative Tehran daily, appears to have 
played a key role in raising concerns about Iran within 
senior GOAJ circles.  The Azerbaijani press (to include the 
opposition newspaper Azadliq) quoted Supreme Leader Khamenei 
as having made numerous threats against Azerbaijan, even 
claiming Azerbaijan to be part of Iran, characterizing it as 
"Northern Iran" (a pointed dig at Azerbaijanis who refer to 
Azeri-populated areas of Azerbaijan as "Southern 
Azerbaijan").  In fact, the Jomhouri Eslami article widely 
disseminated in the Azerbaijani press was an editorial piece, 
not an article either written by or quoting the Supreme 
Leader.  While critical of the Azerbaijani government 
(focusing on issues such as the Sanat article and closer ties 
with the US), the original editorial did not threaten 
Azerbaijan in as dire terms as suggested by the Azerbaijani 
media with reported quotes such as "we would like to remind 
politicians in Azerbaijan that the IRI has adequate power to 
realize the historic will of the people." 
 
------- 
 
BAKU 00001835  003.2 OF 003 
 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
8.  (C) Given the complex relations between Azerbaijan and 
Iran, heated accusations in the press - and even overt 
threats by Iran - are not uncommon.  The most recent 
bilateral spat occurred in March 2006, when Iran accused the 
GOAJ of supporting regime change by hosting in Baku a world 
congress of Azerbaijanis (including "Southern Azerbaijanis" 
who roundly criticized the IRI during the conference). 
However, President Aliyev's and Foreign Minister 
Mammadyarov's recent statements to the Ambassador reveal 
increasing levels of GOAJ concern about Iranian intentions 
and USG policy toward Iran.  Embassy contacts have also noted 
that the level of Iranian rhetoric is sharper than in the 
past (although their views likely are based on the somewhat 
erroneous Azerbaijani press coverage of Iranian editorials). 
The GOAJ at the most senior levels has communicated to us its 
in stark terms concern about implications for Azerbaijani 
security of the current situation in Iran, and their desire 
to better understand USG policy to address it - and its 
implications.  This will impact our ability to work with the 
GOAJ on a range of issues; we need to address their concern. 
We also note that the GOAJ has regular and broad contacts 
with Iranian officials and Aliyev and his key advisors, if 
engaged in regular dialogue, can provide us useful insights 
on Iranian officials and intentions as seen from Baku.  The 
Department's guidance on how to respond to Aliyev's concerns 
is requested. 
HYLAND