Key fingerprint 9EF0 C41A FBA5 64AA 650A 0259 9C6D CD17 283E 454C

-----BEGIN PGP PUBLIC KEY BLOCK-----
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=5a6T
-----END PGP PUBLIC KEY BLOCK-----

		

Contact

If you need help using Tor you can contact WikiLeaks for assistance in setting it up using our simple webchat available at: https://wikileaks.org/talk

If you can use Tor, but need to contact WikiLeaks for other reasons use our secured webchat available at http://wlchatc3pjwpli5r.onion

We recommend contacting us over Tor if you can.

Tor

Tor is an encrypted anonymising network that makes it harder to intercept internet communications, or see where communications are coming from or going to.

In order to use the WikiLeaks public submission system as detailed above you can download the Tor Browser Bundle, which is a Firefox-like browser available for Windows, Mac OS X and GNU/Linux and pre-configured to connect using the anonymising system Tor.

Tails

If you are at high risk and you have the capacity to do so, you can also access the submission system through a secure operating system called Tails. Tails is an operating system launched from a USB stick or a DVD that aim to leaves no traces when the computer is shut down after use and automatically routes your internet traffic through Tor. Tails will require you to have either a USB stick or a DVD at least 4GB big and a laptop or desktop computer.

Tips

Our submission system works hard to preserve your anonymity, but we recommend you also take some of your own precautions. Please review these basic guidelines.

1. Contact us if you have specific problems

If you have a very large submission, or a submission with a complex format, or are a high-risk source, please contact us. In our experience it is always possible to find a custom solution for even the most seemingly difficult situations.

2. What computer to use

If the computer you are uploading from could subsequently be audited in an investigation, consider using a computer that is not easily tied to you. Technical users can also use Tails to help ensure you do not leave any records of your submission on the computer.

3. Do not talk about your submission to others

If you have any issues talk to WikiLeaks. We are the global experts in source protection – it is a complex field. Even those who mean well often do not have the experience or expertise to advise properly. This includes other media organisations.

After

1. Do not talk about your submission to others

If you have any issues talk to WikiLeaks. We are the global experts in source protection – it is a complex field. Even those who mean well often do not have the experience or expertise to advise properly. This includes other media organisations.

2. Act normal

If you are a high-risk source, avoid saying anything or doing anything after submitting which might promote suspicion. In particular, you should try to stick to your normal routine and behaviour.

3. Remove traces of your submission

If you are a high-risk source and the computer you prepared your submission on, or uploaded it from, could subsequently be audited in an investigation, we recommend that you format and dispose of the computer hard drive and any other storage media you used.

In particular, hard drives retain data after formatting which may be visible to a digital forensics team and flash media (USB sticks, memory cards and SSD drives) retain data even after a secure erasure. If you used flash media to store sensitive data, it is important to destroy the media.

If you do this and are a high-risk source you should make sure there are no traces of the clean-up, since such traces themselves may draw suspicion.

4. If you face legal action

If a legal action is brought against you as a result of your submission, there are organisations that may help you. The Courage Foundation is an international organisation dedicated to the protection of journalistic sources. You can find more details at https://www.couragefound.org.

WikiLeaks publishes documents of political or historical importance that are censored or otherwise suppressed. We specialise in strategic global publishing and large archives.

The following is the address of our secure site where you can anonymously upload your documents to WikiLeaks editors. You can only access this submissions system through Tor. (See our Tor tab for more information.) We also advise you to read our tips for sources before submitting.

http://rpzgejae7cxxst5vysqsijblti4duzn3kjsmn43ddi2l3jblhk4a44id.onion (Verify)

If you cannot use Tor, or your submission is very large, or you have specific requirements, WikiLeaks provides several alternative methods. Contact us to discuss how to proceed.

WikiLeaks
Press release About PlusD
 
Content
Raw content
Metadata
Print
Share
Show Headers
Classified By: Acting DCM Robert Garverick 1. (C) SUMMARY: Cross-border activity between Azerbaijan and Iran at the pedestrian and truck crossing in Astara seems fairly limited but has increased over the past few years. Continued expansion is projected at both locations as Iranians seek more opportunities in Azerbaijan and as trade expands among countries between Dubai through Russia. Those familiar with the pedestrian crossing reported an increasing number of Iranians coming to Azerbaijan on a daily basis to buy Chinese-manufactured goods and to a lesser extent to experience freedom, on long weekends and holidays. The number of Azerbaijanis crossing into Iran is much lower due to strict Government of Azerbaijan import rules, lack of interest in Iranian goods, and negative attitudes toward Iran and its people. The commercial truck volume at the border is about equal on both sides with the highest transiting levels in winter months. The continued rise in truck crossings from Iran into Azerbaijan is attributed to the ever growing consumer demand from Russia to southern Azerbaijan for goods exported from Dubai. Iranian goods exported north are mainly agricultural goods and meat products. Iran imports via Azerbaijan a significant amount of Russian agricultural and commercial equipment, heavy metal, and construction material. Iran also uses this route to ship similar items from other Commonwealth Independent States. Illicit drugs, black market Iranian gasoline/diesel and cigarette smuggling were reported as problems along both borders. END SUMMARY. First visit to Astara --------------------- 2. (C) Polecon officer spent three days in mid-August in southern Azerbaijan including one day observing activity at the pedestrian and commercial border crossings at Astara. Polecon officer also visited several indoor and outdoor markets in a number of southern towns to review the variety of goods being sold from Iran. The overall purpose of the trip was to gain insight into cross-border engagement and Iranian influence on Azerbaijan in general. Information for this report was based primarily on two lengthy interviews with two long-term observers of border activities: Ali a businessman whose store has been operating ten-feet from the pedestrian crossing for twelve years, and Murad, chief of operations for five years at the Astara commercial truck crossing. Volume at Foot Border Crossing ------------------------------ 3. (C) According to Ali approximately 200 Iranians cross the pedestrian border into Astara, Azerbaijan, every day and during weekends and holidays the number can reach 800-1000. Two years ago, approximately 100 crossed during the week and maybe 500 made the trek on weekends. The number of Azerbaijanis crossing into Iran is much less, ranging from 60 during the week and a maximum of 300 during the weekends. Ali said his information was based on recent data released by the local customs office. Other area venders interviewed reported similar numbers. (NOTE: Polecon officer could not verify these statistics or other data with customs officials as they declined our request for an interview on grounds that they had no authority to talk to USG officials.) Volume and the Commercial Truck Crossing ---------------------------------------- 4. (C) At the commercial truck-only entrance in Astara, Murad reported an average of 50 trucks cross into and another 50 cross out of Azerbaijan per day during the summer season. From September to May, the volume increases to approximately 100 on each side daily. Over his three years as chief of operations, he has seen a steady increase in truck volume on both sides. He expects numbers to continue to rise from Iran into Azerbaijan because of the large volume of goods going from Dubai to Azerbaijan and through to Russia. Activity at the Foot Border --------------------------- 5. (C) At the pedestrian-border, Ali and other venders interviewed believe Iranians come primarily to Azerbaijan for the vast array of Chinese manufactured goods and, to a lesser extent, for tourism and family visits. Ali said Iranians just "cannot get enough Chinese"--buying everything from Chinese clothing, household goods, to pirated DVDs and music. To back up his statement, Ali pointed out his window where six separate Iranian families were busily stuffing their purchases of pans, toys, and clothing into big bags before heading home. Another vender outside the custom gate, specializing in faux-designer perfumes and makeup from China, BAKU 00000774 002 OF 003 said he makes about thirty sales a day. As evidence of his brisk business, he showed off a wad of Iranian rials. No one could explain the Chinese-buying phenomenon. Specifically, they did not know whether Chinese goods were not available in Iran or if they were available there but cheaper in Azerbaijan. According to the venders, the Iranians take full advantage their government policy which allows them to bring back a maximum of 30 kilos of goods. 6. (C) Venders also cited tourism as a reason for Iranians crossing into Azerbaijan. Those questioned offered a number of reasons Iranians spend holidays in Azerbaijan, all were related to "freedom." Reponses ranged from: Iranian women can dress as they please; drinking alcohol is legal; and Baku offers dance clubs and bars. 7. (C) Ali suggested that coming to Azerbaijan for family visits was infrequent. Ali said Iran and Azerbaijan do not have a high rate of family members straddling the borders that are in close contact. According to Ali, the division of Azerbaijan between Iran and Russia in the nineteenth century followed by the Soviet "take over and enforcement of strict border controls" in the twentieth century, has contributed to the estrangement between families living along both borders. Ali added that he may be Azeri, but if he had "a hundred daughters," he still would not allow "even one of them to marry an Iranian-Azeri...they are just too religious." 8. (C) Ali and other venders reported the number of Azerbaijanis crossing into Iran is lower because of GOAJ,s strict import rules and the lack of interest in visiting such a conservative state. GOAJ only permits an Azerbaijani to return from Iran with eight kilos of goods. Ali explained, up until about eight months ago, Azerbaijanis were permitted to bring in thirty kilos and many would cross into Iran to buy food and drink-- particularly produce, meat, and water. These items are much cheaper in Iran and most produce is available year round. But the GOAJ, grew increasingly concerned that local producers would suffer and thus restricted the rate to eight kilos. GOI immediately reciprocated by restricting Azerbaijanis from entering Iran with more than eight kilos of goods. This affected Azerbaijanis who were used to bringing 30 kilos of Chinese goods into Iran to sell to eager buyers. (NOTE: Iranians, at this time, are still able to return to Iran with 30 kilos of goods from Azerbaijan.) 9. (C) Ali and others said crossing into Iran was also undesirable because there is "nothing to do" in Iran and the people are "unfriendly." One vender said it,s "too religious for me" while another described Iranians as "sneaky" and "untrustworthy." Others commented Iranians were just "too different" from Azerbaijanis. (NOTE: This sentiment matches the results reached in a 2007 survey conducted in Azerbaijan. Of 59 Azerbaijanis polled, only six percent responded that Iran was a "friendly nation" to Azerbaijan. When asked to identify an "enemy state," Iran ranked number two after Armenia and preceeding Russia.) Activity at the Commercial Truck -------------------------------- 10. (C) Murad said trucks from Iran are hauling a variety of goods with the main destinations as Azerbaijan, Russia, and other Commonwealth Independent states (CIS). Iran exports a large quantity of produce, particularly in the winter months when it is about the only regional country still growing most fruits and vegetables. Murad also mentioned construction material as a major export from Iran. Murad prescribed the increase in commercial activity at the border to a growing demand for goods coming from Dubai, particularly in terms of automobiles and associated parts. Overall, he reported Iran produces little that is competitive in the international market. He said in the nineties, Iran was flooding Azerbaijan with household goods, furniture and other finished products. By the 2000, Turkey and China had overtaken the market as they both provided similar items but of better quality and price. (NOTE: This opinion was expressed several times by sellers interviewed in area markets in the south and in Baku. In visits to six shopping districts and two outside markets in bordering towns, polecon officer saw few Iranian products for sale. The vast majority of goods were from China, Turkey, and Russia. The few common Iranian-made products found were bottled water (Vata brand), dried apricots, spice, and plastic containers for food stuffs.) 11. (C) Murad said Azerbaijani trucks primarily export scrap metal to Iran and produce and meat through Iran to Gulf countries. Russian trucks frequently use the border to ship goods to Iran. They send a lot of processed food as well as machinery and industrial equipment for commercial and BAKU 00000774 003 OF 003 agriculture businesses. Illicit goods a problem at both border crossings --------------------------------------------- ---- 12. (C) Ali, Murad and others reported a significant level of illicit drug trade along the borders. They blamed Iran and Afghanistan for the supply problem and Russia and Europe for the demand side of the issue. They, however, stressed illicit drugs is not a new problem, but both agreed it has increased over the past five years. Ali said just the day before an Iranian woman crossing into Azerbaijan was detained by Azerbaijan,s custom guards for attempting to smuggle 35 kilos of hashish into Astara. (NOTE: Many Azerbaijanis in Baku and in the south have told polecon officer their country has a serious drug problem and blame Iran. Interestingly, in three separate conversations on this topic, the interviewee argued the GOI is flooding Azerbaijan with drugs to addict young Azerbaijan in an effort ruin the country,s future.) 13.(C) Murad, Ali and other area venders said Iranians are frequently caught trying to smuggle alcohol and pornography into Iran from Azerbaijan. There is a problem with black market gasoline and diesal entering Azerbaijan as Iranian fuel has historically been cheaper. (NOTE: Several Azerbaijanis have told polecon officer that fuel smuggling has declined along the border because of the crackdown by both governments on the activity and GOI's reduction in gasoline/diesel subsidies and more stringent rationing programs.) Both sides have groups active in cigarette smuggling. According to all interviewed, illicit activity continues largely unabated because of demand and corrupt border guards. 14. (C) All interviewed with the exception of Murad, argued custom guards on both sides are unfriendly and corrupt. Murad,s only comment about the border guards was that cooperation between the two states, custom services was minimal. 15. (C) COMMENT: Post recognizes the report's conclusions are limited due to brevity of the visit. Post via its Iran-watcher intends to continue such fact-finding trips to the south and throughout the country to improve our understanding of the depth of Azerbaijan-Iranian engagement and Iranian influence on Azerbaijan in general. LU

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BAKU 000774 SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/14/18 TAGS: AJ, PREL, PGOV SUBJECT: SNAPSHOT: AZERBAIJAN-IRAN BORDER ACTIVITY REF: NONE Classified By: Acting DCM Robert Garverick 1. (C) SUMMARY: Cross-border activity between Azerbaijan and Iran at the pedestrian and truck crossing in Astara seems fairly limited but has increased over the past few years. Continued expansion is projected at both locations as Iranians seek more opportunities in Azerbaijan and as trade expands among countries between Dubai through Russia. Those familiar with the pedestrian crossing reported an increasing number of Iranians coming to Azerbaijan on a daily basis to buy Chinese-manufactured goods and to a lesser extent to experience freedom, on long weekends and holidays. The number of Azerbaijanis crossing into Iran is much lower due to strict Government of Azerbaijan import rules, lack of interest in Iranian goods, and negative attitudes toward Iran and its people. The commercial truck volume at the border is about equal on both sides with the highest transiting levels in winter months. The continued rise in truck crossings from Iran into Azerbaijan is attributed to the ever growing consumer demand from Russia to southern Azerbaijan for goods exported from Dubai. Iranian goods exported north are mainly agricultural goods and meat products. Iran imports via Azerbaijan a significant amount of Russian agricultural and commercial equipment, heavy metal, and construction material. Iran also uses this route to ship similar items from other Commonwealth Independent States. Illicit drugs, black market Iranian gasoline/diesel and cigarette smuggling were reported as problems along both borders. END SUMMARY. First visit to Astara --------------------- 2. (C) Polecon officer spent three days in mid-August in southern Azerbaijan including one day observing activity at the pedestrian and commercial border crossings at Astara. Polecon officer also visited several indoor and outdoor markets in a number of southern towns to review the variety of goods being sold from Iran. The overall purpose of the trip was to gain insight into cross-border engagement and Iranian influence on Azerbaijan in general. Information for this report was based primarily on two lengthy interviews with two long-term observers of border activities: Ali a businessman whose store has been operating ten-feet from the pedestrian crossing for twelve years, and Murad, chief of operations for five years at the Astara commercial truck crossing. Volume at Foot Border Crossing ------------------------------ 3. (C) According to Ali approximately 200 Iranians cross the pedestrian border into Astara, Azerbaijan, every day and during weekends and holidays the number can reach 800-1000. Two years ago, approximately 100 crossed during the week and maybe 500 made the trek on weekends. The number of Azerbaijanis crossing into Iran is much less, ranging from 60 during the week and a maximum of 300 during the weekends. Ali said his information was based on recent data released by the local customs office. Other area venders interviewed reported similar numbers. (NOTE: Polecon officer could not verify these statistics or other data with customs officials as they declined our request for an interview on grounds that they had no authority to talk to USG officials.) Volume and the Commercial Truck Crossing ---------------------------------------- 4. (C) At the commercial truck-only entrance in Astara, Murad reported an average of 50 trucks cross into and another 50 cross out of Azerbaijan per day during the summer season. From September to May, the volume increases to approximately 100 on each side daily. Over his three years as chief of operations, he has seen a steady increase in truck volume on both sides. He expects numbers to continue to rise from Iran into Azerbaijan because of the large volume of goods going from Dubai to Azerbaijan and through to Russia. Activity at the Foot Border --------------------------- 5. (C) At the pedestrian-border, Ali and other venders interviewed believe Iranians come primarily to Azerbaijan for the vast array of Chinese manufactured goods and, to a lesser extent, for tourism and family visits. Ali said Iranians just "cannot get enough Chinese"--buying everything from Chinese clothing, household goods, to pirated DVDs and music. To back up his statement, Ali pointed out his window where six separate Iranian families were busily stuffing their purchases of pans, toys, and clothing into big bags before heading home. Another vender outside the custom gate, specializing in faux-designer perfumes and makeup from China, BAKU 00000774 002 OF 003 said he makes about thirty sales a day. As evidence of his brisk business, he showed off a wad of Iranian rials. No one could explain the Chinese-buying phenomenon. Specifically, they did not know whether Chinese goods were not available in Iran or if they were available there but cheaper in Azerbaijan. According to the venders, the Iranians take full advantage their government policy which allows them to bring back a maximum of 30 kilos of goods. 6. (C) Venders also cited tourism as a reason for Iranians crossing into Azerbaijan. Those questioned offered a number of reasons Iranians spend holidays in Azerbaijan, all were related to "freedom." Reponses ranged from: Iranian women can dress as they please; drinking alcohol is legal; and Baku offers dance clubs and bars. 7. (C) Ali suggested that coming to Azerbaijan for family visits was infrequent. Ali said Iran and Azerbaijan do not have a high rate of family members straddling the borders that are in close contact. According to Ali, the division of Azerbaijan between Iran and Russia in the nineteenth century followed by the Soviet "take over and enforcement of strict border controls" in the twentieth century, has contributed to the estrangement between families living along both borders. Ali added that he may be Azeri, but if he had "a hundred daughters," he still would not allow "even one of them to marry an Iranian-Azeri...they are just too religious." 8. (C) Ali and other venders reported the number of Azerbaijanis crossing into Iran is lower because of GOAJ,s strict import rules and the lack of interest in visiting such a conservative state. GOAJ only permits an Azerbaijani to return from Iran with eight kilos of goods. Ali explained, up until about eight months ago, Azerbaijanis were permitted to bring in thirty kilos and many would cross into Iran to buy food and drink-- particularly produce, meat, and water. These items are much cheaper in Iran and most produce is available year round. But the GOAJ, grew increasingly concerned that local producers would suffer and thus restricted the rate to eight kilos. GOI immediately reciprocated by restricting Azerbaijanis from entering Iran with more than eight kilos of goods. This affected Azerbaijanis who were used to bringing 30 kilos of Chinese goods into Iran to sell to eager buyers. (NOTE: Iranians, at this time, are still able to return to Iran with 30 kilos of goods from Azerbaijan.) 9. (C) Ali and others said crossing into Iran was also undesirable because there is "nothing to do" in Iran and the people are "unfriendly." One vender said it,s "too religious for me" while another described Iranians as "sneaky" and "untrustworthy." Others commented Iranians were just "too different" from Azerbaijanis. (NOTE: This sentiment matches the results reached in a 2007 survey conducted in Azerbaijan. Of 59 Azerbaijanis polled, only six percent responded that Iran was a "friendly nation" to Azerbaijan. When asked to identify an "enemy state," Iran ranked number two after Armenia and preceeding Russia.) Activity at the Commercial Truck -------------------------------- 10. (C) Murad said trucks from Iran are hauling a variety of goods with the main destinations as Azerbaijan, Russia, and other Commonwealth Independent states (CIS). Iran exports a large quantity of produce, particularly in the winter months when it is about the only regional country still growing most fruits and vegetables. Murad also mentioned construction material as a major export from Iran. Murad prescribed the increase in commercial activity at the border to a growing demand for goods coming from Dubai, particularly in terms of automobiles and associated parts. Overall, he reported Iran produces little that is competitive in the international market. He said in the nineties, Iran was flooding Azerbaijan with household goods, furniture and other finished products. By the 2000, Turkey and China had overtaken the market as they both provided similar items but of better quality and price. (NOTE: This opinion was expressed several times by sellers interviewed in area markets in the south and in Baku. In visits to six shopping districts and two outside markets in bordering towns, polecon officer saw few Iranian products for sale. The vast majority of goods were from China, Turkey, and Russia. The few common Iranian-made products found were bottled water (Vata brand), dried apricots, spice, and plastic containers for food stuffs.) 11. (C) Murad said Azerbaijani trucks primarily export scrap metal to Iran and produce and meat through Iran to Gulf countries. Russian trucks frequently use the border to ship goods to Iran. They send a lot of processed food as well as machinery and industrial equipment for commercial and BAKU 00000774 003 OF 003 agriculture businesses. Illicit goods a problem at both border crossings --------------------------------------------- ---- 12. (C) Ali, Murad and others reported a significant level of illicit drug trade along the borders. They blamed Iran and Afghanistan for the supply problem and Russia and Europe for the demand side of the issue. They, however, stressed illicit drugs is not a new problem, but both agreed it has increased over the past five years. Ali said just the day before an Iranian woman crossing into Azerbaijan was detained by Azerbaijan,s custom guards for attempting to smuggle 35 kilos of hashish into Astara. (NOTE: Many Azerbaijanis in Baku and in the south have told polecon officer their country has a serious drug problem and blame Iran. Interestingly, in three separate conversations on this topic, the interviewee argued the GOI is flooding Azerbaijan with drugs to addict young Azerbaijan in an effort ruin the country,s future.) 13.(C) Murad, Ali and other area venders said Iranians are frequently caught trying to smuggle alcohol and pornography into Iran from Azerbaijan. There is a problem with black market gasoline and diesal entering Azerbaijan as Iranian fuel has historically been cheaper. (NOTE: Several Azerbaijanis have told polecon officer that fuel smuggling has declined along the border because of the crackdown by both governments on the activity and GOI's reduction in gasoline/diesel subsidies and more stringent rationing programs.) Both sides have groups active in cigarette smuggling. According to all interviewed, illicit activity continues largely unabated because of demand and corrupt border guards. 14. (C) All interviewed with the exception of Murad, argued custom guards on both sides are unfriendly and corrupt. Murad,s only comment about the border guards was that cooperation between the two states, custom services was minimal. 15. (C) COMMENT: Post recognizes the report's conclusions are limited due to brevity of the visit. Post via its Iran-watcher intends to continue such fact-finding trips to the south and throughout the country to improve our understanding of the depth of Azerbaijan-Iranian engagement and Iranian influence on Azerbaijan in general. LU
VZCZCXRO1510 PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDIR RUEHKUK DE RUEHKB #0774/01 2280910 ZNY CCCCC ZZH P 150910Z AUG 08 FM AMEMBASSY BAKU TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5840 INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE

You can use this tool to generate a print-friendly PDF of the document 08BAKU774_a.





The formal reference of this document is 08BAKU774_a, please use it for anything written about this document. This will permit you and others to search for it.


Submit this story


Help Expand The Public Library of US Diplomacy

Your role is important:
WikiLeaks maintains its robust independence through your contributions.

Please see
https://shop.wikileaks.org/donate to learn about all ways to donate.


e-Highlighter

Un-highlight selectionu Highlight selectionh

XHelp Expand The Public
Library of US Diplomacy

Your role is important:
WikiLeaks maintains its robust independence through your contributions.

Please see
https://shop.wikileaks.org/donate to learn about all ways to donate.