Iran Khamenei-linked mosque, office closed by Azerbaijan

© Al-Araby Al-Jadeed

Two sites in Azerbaijan with ties to Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's paramount spiritual and political authority, were shut on Tuesday.

The Husseiniyya Mosque and Khamenei representative Ali Akbar Ojaghnejad's office in Baku were shut down by Azeri authorities, according to Iran's Tasnim news agency.

The Azeri internal affairs ministry cited a spike in Covid-19 cases as being behind its decision on Tuesday, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

"Husseiniyya Mosque is one of the places where the coronavirus has been spreading in recent days. Appropriate measures are being taken by the epidemiological service," the department said.

The shut-down office's site says Ojaghnejad has held his post in Baku for 25 years. The office is contained on the mosque's property.

The Islamic Republic has raised the situation with Baku, Tehran's Azerbaijan embassy explained on Tuesday, claiming Iran was not told of the closures ahead of time.

The move comes amid a recent decline in Iran-Azerbaijan ties, which has seen Iran's armed forces conduct a training operation close to the two countries' border.

Tehran has additionally alleged Israeli forces had been in Azerbaijan, though Baku has rejected this assertion.

Despite the recent flare-up, Iran's support for Armenia in the armed dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh area, which began in its current form in 1988 and flared up last year, has served as a prolonged source of contention.