Construction in the Azerbaijan capital of Baku / Reuters
Amid growing tensions over Iran's nuclear research program, Azerbaijan claims that it has foiled an alleged Iranian assassination plot against the Israeli ambassador to Baku, Michael Lotem. Iran has denied complicity, calling it a US and Israel-staged show, and reprimanded Baku for being part of it.
Israeli President Shimon Peres thanked Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev on January 26 for foiling the alleged plot.
An earlier report by Azerbaijani media that a Jewish religious school was also targeted has been denied by a spokesperson, The Jerusalem Post reported.
The alleged assassination plot follows on the heels of the recent killing of an Iranian nuclear scientist in Tehran, an attack Tehran blames on Israel.Behind a veneer of good relations, Azerbaijan and Iran, which has a large ethnic Azeri minority, have a long history of mutual distrust and recriminations. Recently, those suspicions have started to kick back into high gear, helped along by a series of cyber-attacks Baku links to Iran.
Obviously feeling the pressure, the Iranian embassy in Baku hinted on January 26 that Tehran may reconsider its commitment to the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan (meaning recognizing breakaway Nagorno Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan) if Azerbaijani officials let outside forces sow discord between the neighbors.
"We believe that the glorious people of Azerbaijan understand that this part of this script of Iranophobia and Islamophobia is organized by the Zionists and the United States," the embassy said, News.az reported.
This article originally appeared at EurasiaNet.org, an Atlantic partner site.