Israel and Azerbaijan
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|Samara Greenberg||April 9th 2012|
Jewish Policy Center
Azerbaijan quickly denied the claims, and a senior official said that the allegations were â€œaimed at damaging relations between Azerbaijan and Iran.â€ Azeri-Iranian ties have been strained in recent months over the formerâ€™s relations with Israel. At the end of February, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi called a meeting with the Azerbaijani Ambassador to Tehran and warned him not to let Israel use Azerbaijan to stage an attack. In a later meeting, Azerbaijani Defense Minister Safar Abiyev confirmed that his country would not do so.
But, according to Foreign Policy, Baku could keep its word and still provide Israel with essential support, such as allowing search-and-rescue units inside Azerbaijan or permittig Israeli bombers to land there after a strike, eliminating Israelâ€™s problem of refueling its jets midflight to ensure a safe return home. According to the report, an intelligence officer noted that Washington is â€œnot happy aboutâ€ Israelâ€™s alleged colluding with Azerbaijan.
On March 29, former U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton accused the Obama administration of leaking the information to pressure Israel against attacking Iran. Bolton noted that he lacked proof that it was â€œan administration-orchestrated leak,â€ but said it would be â€œconsistentâ€ with a plan by the administration to deter the Israelis, as revealing â€œvery sensitive, very important informationâ€ could frustrate a planned attack. Yoel Guzansky at the Institute for National Security Studies agreed: while speaking to ABC News he said, â€œIt seems like a big campaign to prevent Israel from attacking.â€
On the other hand, such leaked information could perhaps work to deter Iran from its nuclear path out of a realization that a military strike is indeed on the horizon.
Azerbaijan and Israel have held close ties since the mid-1990s, somewhat due to both countriesâ€™ distrust of Iran. And Iranâ€™s outrage at Bakuâ€™s continuing relationship with Israel may be pushing the two nations closer together. â€œThe more pressure applied by Iran, the more they unveil plots to carry out terror attacks on Azerbaijani embassies, the more they [Azeris] are co-operating with us,â€ an Israeli official said of the matter.
Samara Greenberg writes for the Jewish Policy Center, from where this article is adapted.