World, Middle East

Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei's office in Azerbaijani capital closed due to pandemic

Office, Huseyniye Mosque closed as part of 'coronavirus measures,' says Azerbaijan's Interior Ministry spokesperson

Ruslan Rehimov   | 06.10.2021
Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei's office in Azerbaijani capital closed due to pandemic

BAKU, Azerbaijan

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's office has been shut down in the Azerbaijani capital, the Azerbaijani officials announced on Tuesday. 

The office of Ali Akber Ocaqnejat, the representative of Khamenei, and the Huseyniye Mosque were closed in Baku, said Ehsan Zahidov, a spokesperson of Azerbaijan's Interior Ministry.

The office and mosque were closed as part of measures to battle the coronavirus pandemic, he said.

Zahidov noted that there were also other venues closed due to increasing COVID-19 cases in the country.

"One of the places where the coronavirus infection has spread recently is the Huseyniye Mosque. Like other places, Huseyniye Mosque was also closed. At the moment, the epidemiological service is taking appropriate measures there," he added.

Tensions recently increased between Baku and Tehran following the liberation of Karabakh -- illegally occupied by the Armenian forces for nearly three decades -- by the Azerbaijani forces.  

Tense relations

Last month, in an interview with Anadolu Agency, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev had criticized the "illegal entrance and presence" of Iranian trailer trucks in Karabakh, a development termed as "surprising" by Tehran.

Noting that Iran continues such "illegal" actions despite warnings, Aliyev described the situation as "a disrespect" to the Azerbaijani government.

Around 60 Iranian trucks entered Azerbaijan’s Karabakh region without permission between Aug. 11 and Sept. 11 this year after Azerbaijan called on Iran to put an end to the practice, he said.

Aliyev also questioned the recent military exercises launched by Iran near the Azerbaijani border.

"This is a very surprising event. Every country can carry out any military drill on its own territory. It's their sovereign right. But why now, and why on our border?" he questioned.

"Why weren't the drills held when the Armenians were in the Jabrayil, Fizuli, and Zangilan regions? Why is this being done after we liberated these lands, after 30 years of occupation?"  

Liberation of Karabakh

Relations between the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Upper Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.

When new clashes erupted on Sept. 27 last year, the Armenian army launched attacks on civilians and Azerbaijani forces and violated several humanitarian cease-fire agreements.

During the 44-day conflict, Azerbaijan liberated several cities and nearly 300 settlements and villages from the nearly three-decade occupation.

On Nov. 10, 2020, the two countries signed a Russian-brokered agreement to end the fighting and work toward a comprehensive resolution.

On Jan. 11, the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia signed a pact to develop economic ties and infrastructure to benefit the entire region. It included the establishment of a trilateral working group on Karabakh.

The cease-fire is seen as a victory for Azerbaijan and a defeat for Armenia, whose armed forces withdrew in line with the agreement.

Prior to this victory, about 20% of Azerbaijan’s territory had been under illegal occupation for nearly 30 years.  

* Writing and contributions by Jeyhun Aliyev from Ankara

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