Iranian authorities have denied any involvement in a coup attempt in the neighboring country of Azerbaijan. Fars News, a hardline Iranian news site, quoted the Iranian embassy in Baku that meetings between its diplomats and an Azerbaijani political party “was in no way in conflict with friendly cooperation between Iran and Azerbaijan.” The Iranian embassy in Baku was quoted to express its anger at “those in the media in Azerbaijan that engage in Iranophobia,” and maintained that Tehran has no nefarious objectives in Azerbaijan.

The statement from the Iranian embassy in Azerbaijan follows the recent arrest of 18 men by Azerbaijani authorities who have been charged with plotting a coup attempt on behalf of Iran. This is the latest incident involving Iran and the Azerbaijani opposition. Since Azerbaijan gained its independence in 1991, Tehran has on a number of occasions interfered in the domestic affairs of its smaller northern neighbor that is also a Shiite-majority country. While the Azerbaijani state is staunchly secular, the theocratic system in Tehran has repeatedly sought to export its fusion of religion and politics to Azerbaijan.