A History: Israel-Azerbaijan Relations

March 30, 2012 4:35 pm 2 comments

Baku, Azerbaijan. Photo: wiki commons.

Much has been made of Mark Perry’s recent piece in Foreign Policy Magazine, which claims that Israel has been given access to at least one Azerbaijan airfield for use during a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.  Azerbaijan borders Iran to the north, which would allow Israeli planes to refuel on the ground instead of in the air.

Israeli-Azeri relations have developed rapidly since Azerbaijan’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. This is mainly due to both countries recognizing “Iran as a major, even existential security threat”. According to Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, his country’s relationship with Israel is “nine-tenths … below the surface.”

Israel buys 30% of its oil from Azerbaijan and is the second largest customer for Azeri oil, which is shipped through the Baku-Tibilisi-Ceyhan pipeline.

There are estimated to be some 30,000 former Azeri Jews in Israel and 25,000 Jews still live in Azerbaijan. However, despite the close ties there is still no Azerbaijani embassy in Israel.

In the 90s, Israel started purchasing Azeri oil and “sent medical, technological, and agricultural experts” to Azerbaijan. In addition to unspecified weapons sales and intelligence operations, “Israeli firms built and guard the fence around Baku’s international airport, monitor and help protect Azerbaijan’s energy infrastructure, and even provide security for Azerbaijan’s president on his foreign visits.”

Azerbaijan wanted Israel to use its influence to improve US-Azeri relations and counteract Armenia’s strong ties to the United States. This became important for Azerbaijan after it not only lost a war and the Nagorno-Karabakh region to its archenemy Armenia, but also when the US imposed sanctions on them.

An Israeli firm, Bezeq, has been a major player in the Azeri telephone market since 1994 and many Israeli companies operate in Azerbaijan’s energy sector. In 1995, an Israeli journalist noted that Azerbaijan was flooded with “Strauss ice cream, cell phones produced by Motorola’s Israeli division, Maccabee beer, and other Israeli imports”.

In 2004, exports from Azerbaijan to Israel were worth $323 million and in 2005 Israel was Azerbaijan’s fifth largest trading partner.

In September 2008, Azerbaijan signed an agreement reportedly worth “hundreds of millions of dollars” with “three Israeli companies to buy mortars, ammunition, rocket artillery and radio equipment.”

Specific cases of publicized Israeli-Azeri military co-operation include upgrading  Soviet SU-25 Scorpion aircraft in 2001, building the TecSar reconnaissance satellite system and Azeri production of the Namer infantry fighting vehicle in 2009.

After its ties with Turkey started to deteriorate over the Gaza flotilla incident, Israel agreed to jointly manufacture 60 Israeli drones with Azerbaijan in 2011.

In February 2012, Israel signed a $1.6 billion weapons contract that will provide Azerbaijan with sophisticated drones, as well as anti-aircraft and missile defense systems.

According to four anonymous U.S. senior diplomats and military intelligence officers, Israel now has access to Azeri airfields. The Sitalcay airstrip is considered to be suitable for Israeli aircraft due to its distance from Azerbaijan’s capital and its existing facilities. Israel may also have “electronic listening stations” along the border with Iran.

Although Azerbaijan’s defense minister refused to allow any attack to be launched on Iran from Azerbaijan, he “did not explicitly bar Israeli bombers from landing in the country after a strike” or “…rule out the basing of Israeli search-and-rescue units in the country.”

2 Comments

  • Nicat Mikayilli

    Mister John Neither azeris nor turks participated in genocide against armenians.Vice verca armenians participated in genocide against turks and azerbaijanians(as you said the same nation) in 1992 26 February in Khojali city.It is called Khojali genocide.You can search informations about it on the internet.There are many informations about it.I want to mention that Iran and Armenia are in strong relations.Both of them are danger to Israil and Azerbaijan.Iran will be destroyed by Israil army forces InsaALLAH. Greetings,respects and love from Baku-Azerbaijan.Long live Israil and Azerbaijan.

  • Israel has chosen to help Azeris against Armenia. Can you imagine the reaction the Jews all over the world would have if the rolls were reversed and Armenia sold arms advanced and deadly arms to Palestinian authorities? Worse yet, Turks and Azeris (peoples of same nation) were in the past (Armenian genocide 1915) and are today bent (pogroms and mass killings of innocent Armenian civilians in Azerbaijan 1988, 1990) on destroying everything and anything Armenian.

    How would Jews react if Armenia supported neo-Nazis and Hamas?

    Turks and Azeris buy the help of Jewish organizations whenever they need help in anti-Armenian propaganda in the US or Europe, and these Jewish organizations comply.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Middle East Hamas Commander Reportedly Urges Hezbollah to Join Forces Against Israel

    Hamas Commander Reportedly Urges Hezbollah to Join Forces Against Israel

    JNS.org – Five months after Israeli forces tried to assassinate Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif in Gaza, Deif appears to have signed a letter that the terrorist group claims he wrote in hiding. The letter, addressed to Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, expressed Deif’s condolences for the death of Hezbollah terrorists during Sunday’s reported Israeli airstrike in Syria. Deif is said to have survived multiple assassination attempts, but he has not been seen in public for years. According to the Hezbollah-linked Al-Manar [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Shlomo Carlebach Musical Has the Soul to Heal Frayed Race Relations

    Shlomo Carlebach Musical Has the Soul to Heal Frayed Race Relations

    JNS.org – The cracks that had been simply painted over for so long began to show in Ferguson, Mo., in November 2014, but in truth they had begun to open wide much earlier—on Saturday, July 13, 2013. That is when a jury in Sanford, Fla., acquitted George Zimmerman of culpability for the death of a 17-year-old black man, Trayvon Martin. The cracks receded from view over time, as other news obscured them. Then came the evening of Aug. 9, 2014, [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada ‘Homeland’ Season Finale Stirs Controversy After Comparing Menachem Begin to Taliban Leader

    ‘Homeland’ Season Finale Stirs Controversy After Comparing Menachem Begin to Taliban Leader

    A controversial scene in the season finale of Homeland sparked outrage by comparing former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to a fictional Taliban leader, the UK’s Daily Mail reported. In the season 4 finale episode, which aired on Dec. 21, CIA black ops director Dar Adal, played by F. Murray Abraham, justifies a deal he made with a Taliban leader by referencing Begin. He makes the remarks in a conversation with former CIA director Saul Berenson, a Jewish character played by Mandy [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Spirituality/Tradition Placing Matisyahu Back Within a Life of Observance

    Placing Matisyahu Back Within a Life of Observance

    Shining Light on Fiction During the North Korea-Sony saga, we learned two important lessons. The first is that there are two sides to this story, and neither of them are correct because ultimately we should have neither inappropriate movies nor dictators. The second is that we cannot remain entirely fixed on the religious world, but we also must see beyond the external, secular view of reality. It’s important to ground our Torah-based thoughts into real-life activism. To view our act [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Nine Decades of Moses at the Movies

    Nine Decades of Moses at the Movies

    JNS.org – Hollywood has had its share of big-budget biblical flops, but until now, the Exodus narrative has not been among them. Studios have brought Moses to the big screen sparingly, but in ways that defined the image and character of Moses for each generation of audiences. The first biblical epic In 1923, director Cecil B. DeMille left it to the American public to decide the subject of his next movie for Paramount. DeMille received a letter from a mechanic [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Exodus on Screen (REVIEW)

    Exodus on Screen (REVIEW)

    JNS.org – The story of the Exodus from Egypt is a tale as old as time itself, to borrow a turn of phrase. It’s retold every Passover, both at the seder table and whenever “The Ten Commandments” is aired on television. But the latest adaptation—Ridley Scott’s epic film, “Exodus: Gods and Kings”—fails to meet expectations. Scott’s “Exodus” alters the source material to service the story and ground the tale, but the attempt to reinvent the biblical narrative becomes laughable. Moses [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Lifestyle ‘Jewish Food Movement’ Comes of Age

    ‘Jewish Food Movement’ Comes of Age

    JNS.org - In December 2007, leaders of the Hazon nonprofit drafted seven-year goals for what they coined as the “Jewish Food Movement,” which has since been characterized by the increased prioritization of healthy eating, sustainable agriculture, and food-related activism in the Jewish community. What do the next seven years hold in store? “One thing I would like to see happen in the next seven years is [regarding] the issue of sugar, soda, and obesity, [seeing] what would it be like to rally the [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Education Seeds of ‘Start-Up Nation’ Cultivated by Israel Sci-Tech Schools

    Seeds of ‘Start-Up Nation’ Cultivated by Israel Sci-Tech Schools

    JNS.org – Forget the dioramas. How about working on an Israeli Air Force drone? That’s exactly the kind of beyond-their-years access enjoyed by students at the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) industrial vocational high school run by Israel Sci-Tech Schools, the largest education network in the Jewish state. More than 300 students (250 on the high school level and 68 at a two-year vocational academy) get hands-on training in the disciplines of aviation mechanics, electricity and energy control, and unmanned air [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.