Afraid to Make New Enemies, Iran Wants to Stay Out of the Caucasus Conflict

Historically, Tehran has aligned with Christian Armenia over Shiite Muslim, but pro-Western, Azerbaijan. Yet the recent outbreak of fighting between the two former Soviet republics poses a dilemma for neighboring Iran, as members of its large population of ethnic Azeris have been vocally expressing their support for their brethren across the border. Alex Vatanka explains:

Azerbaijan, one of four Shiite Muslim-majority countries in the world (together with Iran, Iraq, and Bahrain), also happens to have close economic, military, and intelligence ties with Israel, Tehran’s regional archfoe. But the popular momentum behind fully siding with Baku has been so great that Tehran has not even allowed Azerbaijan’s close partnership with Israel to get in the way. . . . Simply put, Iran is not in a position to act in opposition to its own Azeri minority.

Also at play in Iran’s calculations will be Turkey, the third-party actor in this conflict that Tehran watches the most intently. Tehran has accused Ankara of fueling the conflict by urging Azerbaijan to . . . attempt to recapture as much of its occupied territory as possible before agreeing to a ceasefire and diplomatic talks. However, while Iran is still tangled up with Turkey in Syria—where Iran supports the regime of Bashar al-Assad while Turkey backs the opposition—Tehran won’t want to escalate tensions over Armenia and Azerbaijan too far.

[Moreover], despite the lingering suspicion between the two powers, Turkey is an important neighbor and trading partner for Iran. Thanks to its isolation, Tehran does not want to see Ankara join its (already long) list of open adversaries. No matter how carefully the Iranians play their cards in this latest conflict in the South Caucasus, the simple reality is that Tehran holds a much weaker hand in the region now than it did in the early 1990s.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Azerbaijan, Iran, Israeli Security, Turkey

Universities Are in Thrall to a Constituency That Sees Israel as an Affront to Its Identity

Commenting on the hearings of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday about anti-Semitism on college campuses, and the dismaying testimony of three university presidents, Jonah Goldberg writes:

If some retrograde poltroon called for lynching black people or, heck, if they simply used the wrong adjective to describe black people, the all-seeing panopticon would spot it and deploy whatever resources were required to deal with the problem. If the spark of intolerance flickered even for a moment and offended the transgendered, the Muslim, the neurodivergent, or whomever, the fire-suppression systems would rain down the retardant foams of justice and enlightenment. But calls for liquidating the Jews? Those reside outside the sensory spectrum of the system.

It’s ironic that the term colorblind is “problematic” for these institutions such that the monitoring systems will spot any hint of it, in or out of the classroom (or admissions!). But actual intolerance for Jews is lathered with a kind of stealth paint that renders the same systems Jew-blind.

I can understand the predicament. The receptors on the Islamophobia sensors have been set to 11 for so long, a constituency has built up around it. This constituency—which is multi-ethnic, non-denominational, and well entrenched among students, administrators, and faculty alike—sees Israel and the non-Israeli Jews who tolerate its existence as an affront to their worldview and Muslim “identity.” . . . Blaming the Jews for all manner of evils, including the shortcomings of the people who scapegoat Jews, is protected because, at minimum, it’s a “personal truth,” and for some just the plain truth. But taking offense at such things is evidence of a mulish inability to understand the “context.”

Shocking as all that is, Goldberg goes on to argue, the anti-Semitism is merely a “symptom” of the insidious ideology that has taken over much of the universities as well as an important segment of the hard left. And Jews make the easiest targets.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, University