Tehran, Iran – A number of phrases of a poem recited by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Azerbaijan has created a political firestorm with Iran and united Iranians behind a message of nationwide unity and territorial integrity.
However what did he say and why did it anger the Iranian folks and politicians a lot?
The Turkish chief was within the Azeri capital Baku on Thursday to take part in a navy parade marking Azerbaijan’s victory over Armenia in a 44-day battle over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave that left hundreds useless.
Ending the battle was a precedence for Iran – the one nation that has direct borders with each Azerbaijan and Armenia – particularly since hundreds of thousands of Azeris and a whole bunch of hundreds with Armenian origins stay throughout the nation.
The poem recited by Erdogan laments how the Aras River has separated Azeri-speaking folks in Azerbaijan and Iran and is a logo of the pan-Turkism doctrine that seeks the unification of all Turks, together with these residing in Iran.
“They separated the Aras River and stuffed it with rocks and rods. I cannot be separated from you. They’ve separated us forcibly,” mentioned the poem.
To higher perceive why the message infuriated Iranians a lot, one should take a look at a treaty signed virtually 200 years in the past that concluded the Russo-Persian Warfare and continues to be thought to be a supply of disgrace introduced on Iran by the Qajar dynasty that dominated till 1925.
The Treaty of Turkmenchay ceded management of huge swathes of land within the South Caucasus to Russia and set the Aras River because the boundary between the 2 nations. These lands now represent giant components of Azerbaijan and Armenia, and even components of Turkey.
Tens of millions of Azeri-descent Iranians nonetheless really feel a detailed kinship and have relations with Azeris on the opposite facet of the border.
Political forwards and backwards
So it got here as no shock that in his rebuke of Erdogan, Iranian Overseas Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif mentioned, “NO ONE can discuss OUR beloved Azerbaijan”.
“Didn’t he realise that he was undermining the sovereignty of the Republic of Azerbaijan?” he tweeted on Friday.
Pres. Erdogan was not knowledgeable that what he ill-recited in Baku refers back to the forcible separation of areas north of Aras from Iranian motherland
Did not he notice that he was undermining the sovereignty of the Republic of Azerbaijan?
NO ONE can discuss OUR beloved Azerbaijan
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) December 11, 2020
Iran’s international ministry additionally summoned the Turkish envoy to Tehran and demanded Turkey clarify Erdogan’s remarks.
“The Turkish ambassador was advised that basing international coverage on illusions will not be sensible,” international ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh tweeted, advising Turkish officers to learn historical past.
In response, Turkey additionally summoned Iran’s envoy to protest towards Iranian remarks.
This got here days after Zarif hosted his Azeri counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov in Tehran to debate furthering bilateral ties after the battle.
On Saturday, Zarif had a cellphone name along with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu who mentioned Erdogan was unaware of the sensitivities across the poem and thought it was about Lachin and Karabakh.
Turkey additionally rebuked Iran for “offensive language” geared toward Erdogan.
Presidential communications director Fahrettin Altun mentioned: “We condemn the usage of offensive language towards our president and our nation over the recitation of a poem, whose which means has been intentionally taken out of context.”
Altun mentioned the poem “passionately displays the emotional expertise of an aggrieved folks because of Armenia’s occupation of Azerbaijani lands”.
“It doesn’t embody any references to Iran. Neither is that nation implied in any approach, form or type,” he mentioned.
Cavusoglu mentioned “baseless and heavy statements made by Iran and geared toward our president are unacceptable”, a Turkish international ministry supply mentioned. He additionally gave an assurance that Erdogan absolutely respects Iran’s nationwide sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Many Iranian lawmakers, nonetheless, demanded that Turkey apologise following Erdogan’s remarks.
“Mr Erdogan, you’ve gotten both not learn historical past or want to distort it,” tweeted Ali Nikzad, the deputy speaker of parliament.
“Erdogan has overstepped his boundaries and has apparently forgotten the place he had turned to on the night time of the 2016 coup!” tweeted Mohammad Reza Mirtajodini, the Tabriz consultant in parliament.
On Sunday, 225 of the parliament’s 290 members signed a press release learn out loud throughout a televised session that “strongly condemned” the Turkish chief’s remarks, which Iranian parliamentarians discovered “shocking and unacceptable”.
“Azerbaijan won’t be separated from Ayatollah Khamenei, the revolution, and Iran,” they asserted in reference to the Iranian supreme chief, and referred to as for unity amongst all Muslim nations.
‘We’ll eat soil however not give away soil’
After a video of Erdogan’s speech in Baku circulated on-line, Farsi-language social media was awash with indignant posts that demanded Iran give a resolute response.
They have been united in saying Erdogan should consult with Iran’s historical past, which spans hundreds of years, earlier than supporting separation.
Many posted footage of a dishevelled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein after he was present in a gap in 2003 and in the end executed.
Hussein was introduced by customers on social media as the newest illustration of a pacesetter who sought to interrupt up Iran, however failed regardless of having multilateral assist.
The strongman led an invasion of Iran in 1980, one yr after Iran’s present ruling institution got here to energy following a revolution, that led to an eight-year lethal battle that noticed greater than half one million deaths on either side.
Dozens on Sunday protested in entrance of the Turkish consulate in Tabriz, one of many 4 largest Azeri-majority provinces in Iran, and defended Iran’s territorial integrity.
However maybe essentially the most highly effective message despatched from Iranians to Turkey on social media was one initially uttered greater than a century in the past throughout the Constitutional Revolution of Iran that came about between 1905 and 1911 and led to the institution of the parliament.
Many Iranians on social media cited a well-known quote by Sattar Khan, a pivotal determine within the revolution and a person of Azeri origin who remains to be thought to be a nationwide hero for at all times prioritising Iran’s territorial integrity above all else.
In his diaries, the commander writes about when he and his folks have been beneath siege for 9 months with little meals and clothes. He describes how he noticed a mom and her younger daughter and the lady resorted to consuming the dust beneath some bushes out of starvation.
“I assumed the mom of the kid would curse me and say rattling Sattar Khan for bringing us to this present day,” he wrote.
“However she mentioned ‘we are going to eat soil however not give away soil’ and that was after I wept.”