Alwaght- Reports from Baku suggest that the Azerbaijani government this year too treated violently rallies marking the World Quds Day.
Eyewitnesses reported that in an effort to mark the Quds Day, many Azerbaijanis planned to gather outside the Israeli embassy in the capital Baku to blast Tel Aviv’s inhuman crimes against the Palestinians but faced violent actions of the police and security forces.
Reports suggest that a majority of the participants in the anti-Israeli gathering were arrested by police.
The Azerbaijani Shiites a couple of days before had arranged the annual event online. Azerbaijani clerics held “Quds Week” on social media as part of activism against the Israeli occupation.
World Quds Day was set by the Islamic Republic of Iran’s founder Imam Khomeini and is marked every year on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan.
Record of anti-Shiite violence in Azerbaijan
For years, the anti-Israeli gatherings of Azerbaijani people were met by the tough response of the security forces. That is while the people in the neighboring countries like Turkey and Russia mark the day with peace and security.
Last year too, since the morning of the last Friday of Ramadan, the streets leading to the Israeli embassy in Baku were closed down and covered by the security forces. The organizers chose another part of the capital, Martyrs Street, to mark the day instead. But the police forces were also sent to that street, preventing people from chanting slogans and only allowing people to visit the graves, as a Muslim ritual, in the adjacent graveyard.
These two years were not the only years the government of President Ilham Aliyev has blocked the Quds Day ceremony in the capital and other cities. Despite a strong will by the Azerbaijanis to demonstrate their anti-Israeli sentiments, the government every year has prevented people from arranging rallies against the Israeli occupation.
Earlier, some Azerbaijani politicians pointed to the reasons why the Baku government prevents marking the World Quds Day and holding other anti-Israeli protests. For example, Fazel Mustafa Qezenferoglu, a member of parliament who holds close bonds with the government, commented on Aliyev’s stances on the Israeli regime, saying that “the massive crimes in Gaza Strip indicate that the US and Israel encourage violence and barbarism in the world. But due to friendly relations with the racist regime of Israel, the government of Ilham Aliyev cannot make clear stances on this and has some considerations.”
In other words, blocking anti-Israeli events in Azerbaijan by the government does not mean that the Muslim people of Azerbaijan consider legitimate the Israeli regime. Rather, they are strongly against the child-killing and women-killing policies of the Israeli regime in the occupied Palestinian territories and have no consideration when it comes to blasting them.
Why does Baku disrupt Quds Day rallies?
The main reason the Baku government blocks the Quds Day protests is the anti-Israeli aspect of the demonstrations. Baku government holds official ties with Tel Aviv and over the past few years, the two sides expanded their relations.
A considerable part of the Baku-Tel Aviv relations relies on the pro-Western approach of the government of Aliyev and the dependence of the government on the West. This status of the government even grew bigger under Ilham Aliyev’s presidency. Actually, the Azerbaijani government seeks security and existence in the Western, and mainly American, support and protection. So, it blocks any event in the country unfavorable to the West. As the Israeli regime demands for a ban on the Quds Day, the government of Aliyev responds affirmatively.
This behavior of the government does not have the support of the Muslims of the country, especially the Shiites, and certainly will deepen the government-people division. As the division deepens, the government finds itself in a bigger need for foreign help. Here Baku counts on the support from the West as the main protector of Tel Aviv. That is why it opposes the demonstrations marking Quds Day.
On the other side, the Israeli regime in the past years doubled its efforts to intensify its presence and influence in Azerbaijan. To get rid of the regional isolation, Tel Aviv has always tried to establish a partnership with more countries. In fact, aware of the structural limitations to their regime, the Israelis try hard to gain influence and establish dealings with countries that can bring for them huge benefits.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the South Caucasus region with its three countries of Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia was the region Tel Aviv sought to deepen its influence there. Meanwhile, Muslim-majority Azerbaijan for a couple of reasons has been more attractive to the Israelis than the other two countries. The predominantly Shiite population, closeness to Iran, and rich oil and gas reserves are the main drives for Israeli push for sway in Azerbaijan. Baku government seeks to broaden the relations with Tel Aviv as it sets eyes on the Western support amid widening gaps with the society. With this policy of the government considered, violent actions against the demonstrators at Quds Day rallies are not a surprise.