Meanwhile, in Iran . . .

“We shall export our revolution to the whole world,” said the late Ayatollah Khomeini, whose Iranian revolution has been officially celebrating its 44th anniversary this week. With the world’s attention focused primarily on Ukraine, most people missed the current Iranian president’s recent speech and the anti-regime hacker attack  during his live internet broadcast of the address.

But as fragile as Irans cybersecurity appears to be, the nation’s neighbors were tuning in nervously, given the mounting evidence that Iranian efforts to exert control over their region are now underway.

On January 27—Holocaust Memorial Day—Israels ally in the Caucasus and one of those neighbors, Azerbaijan, felt Irans intent when its embassy in Tehran was stormed by a radicalized gunman. A terror attack,” declared Azerbaijans foreign ministry. Iran remained silent for days.

Only weeks before, Iranian missile systems and the same “suicide” drones sold to Russia in Ukraine were transferred to Azerbaijans enemy and Irans other northern neighbor, Armenia. In addition to those military moves, a new Iranian consulate in Armenia was opened just two miles from Azerbaijans border.

Why now? Iran has failed for decades to export the revolution into the Caucasus because of the continuing regional influence of Russia. But as fear of Moscow recedes, and Ukraine’s military deficiencies become clearly evident, Iran sees a chance to fill the vacuum.

Such Iranian adventurism would create more problems for Azerbaijan—which would find itself surrounded geopolitically. Internally, it would serve as a catalyst for the longtime source of civil opposition to the Azerbaijani government—the majority Azeri ethnic group.

Iranian efforts will begin with Armenia because that nation offers an “open door.” State Department cables disclosed by Wikileaks exposed the military and sanction-busting links with Iran going back to the beginning of the century and even the Armenian sale of weapons used to kill U.S. troops in Iraq.

Now, with Armenia part of Russias six-nation military alliance, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), and with Moscows active military engagement on Armenias side in their successful war of conflict against Azerbaijan in the early 1990s, there has been no reason to turn from this partner of choice.

Armenias political classes are experiencing repeated abandonment by Moscow in their hour of need. Russia failed in 2020 to intervene militarily at Armenias request during a rerun of the early 1990s war with Azerbaijan. Smaller, cross-border skirmishes over the last two years have led to further attempts to trigger CSTOs equivalent of NATOs Article 5 mutual defense doctrine. All have been met with Russian rebuffs. Moscows disintegrating power forces Armenia to seek Iran as a new security guarantor.

Armenias history with Iran and Russia is little known—especially among members of Congress—who primarily hear of an ancient Christian nation with a forever-threatened culture located in a majority Muslim neighborhood. While that snapshot characterization is largely true, it is far from the complete story.

Fact is Azerbaijan—which has increased gas supplies to Europe to reduce that continents energy dependence on Russia, cut financial ties to Moscow by banning trade in rubles, and continues to distribute free petroleum to Ukraines emergency services—acts more like a U.S. ally than Armenia ever has.

Yet the United States offers little in return for Azerbaijani support for Ukraine against Putin’s illegal war. America is diplomatically, economically, and militarily absent from the Caucasus. The United States played no significant role in the ceasefire agreement that ended the 2020 war, allowing that role to be filled by Russia. A two-year search for a peace deal has been deferred to the European Union. And successive presidentsclaims to be countering Iran remain simply untrue while America holds next to no presence of any kind in either Armenia or Azerbaijan—the two countries that stretch Irans northern border.

While serving in Congress, as far back as 2006, I questioned Americas strategy regarding Iranian containment and the Democratshorrible record of appeasement. President Clinton’s “out of sight, out of mind” approach, followed by Obamas unworldly Iran deal a decade later, set a dangerous precedent.

Unless America awakens, Irans malignant influence over its neighbors will grow, as Khomeinis successors are being handed the chance to export his revolution into the Caucasus—a goal that has eluded the Iranians for 44 years. The Europeans, despite trying, are as incapable of influence over their southern flank in the Caucasus as they are over their eastern flank with Ukraine. 

Armenia is too enfeebled and complicit, while Azerbaijan is not strong enough to fend off either Iran or Russia on its own. Until the United States puts aside its reticence, Russian weakness will enable Iran to reach within the countries of a region that should be resolutely full of American allies.

Get the news corporate media won't tell you.

Get caught up on today's must read stores!

By submitting your information, you agree to receive exclusive AG+ content, including special promotions, and agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms. By providing your phone number and checking the box to opt in, you are consenting to receive recurring SMS/MMS messages, including automated texts, to that number from my short code. Msg & data rates may apply. Reply HELP for help, STOP to end. SMS opt-in will not be sold, rented, or shared.

About J. D. Hayworth

J.D. Hayworth was elected at age 36 to the first Republican congressional majority in 40 years and represented Arizona for six terms in the United States House of Representatives. He was the first Arizonan in history named to the powerful Ways and Means Committee, where he served for a decade. In 2010, Hayworth mounted an unsuccessful challenge against Senator John McCain in the Arizona Senate Republican primary. His significant differences with the incumbent over illegal immigration prompted the challenge.

Photo: iStock/Getty Images