Iran ramps up war games with military exercises on border with Azerbaijan

Iran: Ebrahim Raisi criticises US sanctions in UN address

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Adding to the military equipment on the ground, the Army is being supported by helicopter gunships in a drill code-named: Fatehan-e Khaybar (Conquerors of Khaybar). While some Iranian officials claim the war games are purely operational routine, others have hinted at the notion of worsening ties between Tehran and its northern neighbour, Azerbaijan.

On Wednesday, Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps ground forces, told reporters in Iran that it will not tolerate its neighbours becoming “a safe haven and a base for the presence and anti-security activities of the fake Zionist regime”.

Adding to the security priorities of the Islamic Republic, Brigadier General Kiomars Haydari stated regional violent non-state actors were also in the area.

“The overt and covert presence of the Zionist regime’s proxies and the possibility of a significant number of Daesh (ISIS) terrorists in regional countries add to the importance of this exercise,” said General Haydari.

He went on to state: “Since we are not sure whether they have departed the area, the drill conveys a message to them. They and the Zionists must know that they have no place in the region, and that the armed forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran are fairly sensitive to them, and will deal with them wherever they see them.”

The rhetoric of ‘Zionist Regime’ comes from the fact that Israeli drones have been provided to Azerbaijan, and were used in the recent conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region against Armenian targets.

Israel has in recent times been strengthening its ties with Azerbaijan, giving Tel-Aviv a strategically important geopolitical ally against the Islamic Republic.

Tel-Aviv has also recently normalised ties with various Arab nations, including Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco, with just this week seeing the first commercial flight between Tel-Aviv and Manama.

Wary of the vacuum left behind following the collapse of the Afghanistan government, and the apparent pockets of ISIS Takfiri terrorists left behind in Nagoro-Karabakh, Iran’s defence preparations have intensified.

With Iran under heavy US-imposed sanctions following the withdrawal of the JCPOA by former US President Donald Trump, the regime has had to rely on homegrown defence strategies and hardware.

Brigadier Haydari highlighted that four new indigenous military achievements had taken place during the drills, including a long-endurance drone flight that can hit its targets with pinpoint accuracy, electronic warfare systems that can be used in defensive or offensive measures, as well as the introduction of new anti-tank ballistics.

“We will also evaluate the calibre of indigenous smart artillery shells during the exercise,” the General added.

Iran has ramped up its defensive security throughout the country in recent times following a spate of incidents widely liked to Israeli intelligence operations.

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The assassination of top Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, as well as several suspicious explosions within Iran’s nuclear sites and naval assets have bared the marks of the Israelis, something that the former head of Mossad, Yossi Cohen recently confirmed was possible in a post-retirement interview.

Iran has recently seen the election of its eighth President in the form of conservative cleric, Ibrahim Raisi.

With the economic sanctions placed on Iran being a priority for the new President, diplomatic measures are being taken to re-start the JCPOA talks allowing the USA to rejoin.

Should an agreement be made, and sanctions be lifted, the country would see some relief to its economy.

However, Tel-Aviv has been lobbying hard to derail the talks, making repetitive and unsubstantiated claims that Iran is nearer than ever to making a nuclear weapon.

Iran has vehemently denied pursuing a nuclear weapons programme, and is a signatory member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, or NPT, unlike Israel, which is alleged to have over 300 nuclear warheads, and is not a member of the NPT.

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