Assertions by Mohsen Rezaee, ex-commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, in an interview with Sahar, the Iranian Azeri- language TV channel, with regard to direct involvement of Iran in the Nagomo-Karabakh war and the wide military assistance provided to the Azerbaijan Republic caused different reactions in the Azerbaijani media.
The Nagomo-Karabakh war, which took place from February 1988 to March 1994 between Republic of Azerbaijan and Armenia in the Karabakh region in western Azerbaijan, left an overall death toll of more than 22000 people.
“Many Iranians took part in the Karabakh war and in addition to the large number of the wounded who have been transferred to Iran, many Iranian martyrs of the Karabakh war are buried in Baku”, said Mohsen Rezaee who officially announced his candidacy for 2013 presidential election.
Secretary of the Expediency Discernment Council, who was commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps at the time, had “personally issued the order to equip and train military forces of the Azerbaijan Republic”.
Many newspapers and news media in Azerbaijan like “News Meeting”, “Faktxeber”, and “Haq Yolu” have quoted Mohsen Rezaee’s words. Some Azeri newspapers such as “Mosavat” have called his assertions “unreal” and have reiterated that Iran did not provide any kind of assistance to Baku during the Karabakh war.
“Dozens of Iranians fought along Azerbaijanis during the Karabakh war and were martyred,” Roshan Norouz Oglu, head of the non-governmental Center for International Combat against Terrorism in the Republic of Azerbaijan said.
“Iranian warriors entered Azerbaijan in troops and fought in different fronts of Karabakh, aiming to help Azerbaijan Republic and defend an Islamic country. Dozens of Iranian citizens, who had taken part in the war between Iran and Iraq, also participated in the Karabakh war. They were from all different Iranian ethnicities, including Persians, Azeris, and Kurds”, he added.
Due to the two wars between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the past century – one from 1918–1921 and another from 1988-1994 – their relations, or the lack thereof, have been shaped due to the conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. There are no diplomatic relations between the two countries and they are still technically at war because of the ongoing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and dispute. In 2008, Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev declared that “Nagorno Karabakh will never be independent.