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Iran Sees 'Creeping Zionist Influence' In South Caucasus

An Israeli Heron TP surveillance drone
An Israeli Heron TP surveillance drone
Iran's Foreign Ministry summoned Azerbaijani Ambassador Javanshir Akhundov to explain Baku's purchase of some $1.6 billion in weapons from Israel, Iran's state media reported.

The summons came in response to recent reports that Israel is selling drones, antiaircraft missiles, and missile-defense systems to Azerbaijan.

Akhundov confirmed the purchase but said Azerbaijan needed the weapons to "liberate occupied Azerbaijani land," a clear reference to Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave currently occupied by pro-Armenian political authorities.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi also warned Akhundov not to allow Israel to use Azerbaijani territory as a safe haven to launch "terrorist acts" against Iran.

Earlier this month, Iran accused Azerbaijan of allowing Israeli spies to use Azerbaijani territory, a charge Baku rejected as "slander."

Azerbaijan last week arrested an unspecified number of people that Baku said were linked to Iran and who were planning attacks in Azerbaijan. Those arrests came about the same time there were reported attempts to kill Israeli diplomats in India, Thailand, and Georgia.

Also February 28, Iranian Ambassador to Armenia Seyid Ali Saqqaiyan was quoted by Iran's Fars news agency as saying in a speech that there is a "creeping influence of Zionists and foreigners in the South Caucasus region."

In a ceremony at Yerevan State University commemorating 20 years of diplomatic relations between Iran and Armenia, Saqqaiyan spoke of the "activities of the enemy in Azerbaijan over the recent period."

Based on AFP, Fars, and Press TV reports

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