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The Views of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran on the Karabakh war

The statements of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis and the positions of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran on the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and its negotiations indicate Iran's efforts to help resolve this conflict permanently and adhere to certain political axes.
November 2020
Alireza Bikdeli

The statements of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis and the positions of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran on the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and its negotiations indicate Iran's efforts to help resolve this conflict permanently and adhere to certain political axes. The positions of the country's military commanders and the actions of the armed forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran also express Iran's will to maintain the security of the border residents and eliminate any terrorist threat or conspiracy against Iran's national interests. The Islamic Republic of Iran has always called for the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on the basis based on of bilateral negotiations between the Republic of Azerbaijan and Armenia, without any foreign interference, and believes that if necessary, neighboring countries interested in establishing peace can help both sides.

 The Karabakh war has entered its second month. The escalation of the war, especially attacks on civilians, has rapidly increased the loss of life and property. Three cases of the humanitarian ceasefire have failed. Proof of the presence of terrorist forces in this war has posed serious and new threats to the region. The Islamic Republic of Iran has launched a large-scale effort to help find a final solution to this war within the framework of the rights of the parties involved, international law, and the interaction of the countries of the region. In these circumstances, Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, on November 4, in a speech, expressed clear positions on the war in Iran's neighborhood. The elements of these leadership positions that reflect the principles of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the Karabakh conflict are as follows:

  •  Inviolability of borders: The inviolability of borders is one of the principles related to the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of countries and one of the pillars of international law. This principle rejects the use of force or the threat of coercion to relocate internationally recognized borders. The continuation and prolongation of the conflict in Karabakh and the geographical entanglement of this region and the intervention of third parties pose the risk of developing conflicts and disturbances in the borders of the Caucasus countries. In this case, conflicts can quickly become uncontrollable. For this reason, in parallel with the internationally recognized principles, the Islamic Republic of Iran always emphasizes the principle of inviolability of borders, including in the Caucasus. In a recent statement, the Supreme Leader of the Revolution emphasized: "International borders must also be respected. "That is, conflicting parties should not encroach on the international borders of countries, and international borders must be protected."

  • Security of the Armenians of Karabakh: The issue of Karabakh in the Soviet period was formed based on the differences of the Armenian minority living in the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region with the Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan. Therefore, the roots of the conflict and the reason for its continuation are related to the demands of the Armenian of Karabakh. For this reason, in the statements of the leadership to fundamentally resolve this historical dilemma, this dimension of the conflict is also emphasized: "Of course, the security of the Armenians in these lands must be preserved." This is part of a fair and sustainable solution.

  • Elimination of occupation: The principled position of the Islamic Republic of Iran since the beginning of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has been the emphasis on the territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the need to end the occupation of its lands about which Iran has not hesitated for a moment. In his recent statements, the Supreme Leader of the Revolution clearly emphasized this principled policy as: "All the lands of Azerbaijan occupied by Armenia must be liberated. That is, all these lands must be returned to Azerbaijan itself, which is one of the conditions. The main thing is that it belongs to Azerbaijan and the Republic of Azerbaijan has the right to release them."

  •  The need to resolve the conflict: In the past thirty years, in addition to the two parties involved, the Islamic Republic of Iran has also suffered from the Karabakh conflict. The Karabakh war changed the region's transportation directions; It destroyed the transportation link in the North-South corridor and Iran's rail access to the Caucasus countries and the Black Sea ports. Thirty years of conflict have disrupted regional convergence and neighborhood policy, which are important pillars of the Islamic Republic of Iran's foreign policy. This conflict has paved the way for foreign intervention in the Caucasus, including the Israeli zionist regime's influence in the Republic of Azerbaijan. In addition, the enemies of the Islamic Republic of Iran have exploited this conflict to create religious, ethnic, and geopolitical divisions. Therefore, resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is in the interest of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the Supreme Leader of the Revolution explicitly emphasized in his statements: "It must end as soon as possible." This statement of the leadership also expresses the belief of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the possibility of access to a final solution to the Karabakh conflict.

  • Neighbor and Neighborhood: Neighborhood is a decisive element in shaping the foreign policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the face of developments around Iran, including in the Caucasus. Throughout history, Iran has tried to have a long-term view of coexistence with its neighbors, and on the other hand, to pave the way for integration and resolution of its neighbors' differences. Ayatollah Khamenei, tackling the Karabakh issue in his speeches, started with the interpretations of "this war in our neighborhood" and the war "between our two neighbors Azerbaijan and Armenia" and called it a "bitter incident". The Supreme Leader's views on neighboring countries are based on Iran's close ties with them and "neighbors' avoidance of bothering each other." In the Karabakh case, in addition to the fact of Iran's neighborly relations with the two sides of the conflict, the issue of Azerbaijan and Armenia's neighborhood with each other and the need to take measures to normalize relations and "eliminate threats from the region" and establish durable peace and stability considered.

  • Decisive confrontation with terrorism: Terrorism is a new element that continues to play a criminal role in Iraq and Syria, and now the Caucasus is in danger of escalating violence and conflict. Due to the nature of the mercenary terrorists who entered the Karabakh battlefield, the Islamic Republic of Iran has considered it as a threat and has taken clear positions and serious preventive measures. According to the expression of the Supreme Leader of the Revolution: "Terrorists should not be stationed near our borders. As it is now in the reports, of course, some deny it, but there are reliable reports that a number ofseveral terrorists got involved from here and there. If they get close to the border and feel threatened, they will be dealt with. They will definitely be dealt with decisively"

In addition to the statements of the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, the positions of the government expressed in the statements of the President, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the envoy of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Baku, Moscow, Yerevan, and Ankara to present Iran's Peace Plan to resolve the Karabakh conflict and negotiate. Iran is trying to help resolve this conflict permanently and adheres to the above axes. Also, the positions of the country's military commanders and the actions of the Armed Forces confirm Iran's will to maintain the security of the border residents and eliminate any terrorist threat or conspiracy against Iran's national interests. The Islamic Republic of Iran has always called for the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict within the framework of the above-mentioned axes, based on bilateral negotiations between the Republic of Azerbaijan and Armenia, without foreign interference, and believes that Iran and neighboring countries interested in establishing peace can help both sides.

 (The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the IPIS)

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