As tensions over Iran’s nuclear program rise, assertions that Israel’s increasing closeness to Azerbaijan, a predominantly Muslim state on Iran’s northern border, represents the emergence of an anti-Iran “tag team” are gaining currency. But despite undoubtedly warming ties between the two countries, there is no indication that Baku is in any hurry to sacrifice its national interests by participating in a conflict that could possibly drag it into a regional conflagration.
Though a recently signed $1.6 billion arms deal has put the Israel-Azerbaijan relationship in the spotlight of late, an article on the Foreign Policy website, vaulted the South Caucasus from ancillary consideration to top billing in the latest Iran-related geopolitical intrigue. The article, “Israel’s Secret Staging Ground,” which casts Azerbaijan as Israel’s willing accomplice in an impending strike on Iran, is long on supposition and rumor, and fails to assemble a cohesive narrative, while running up against a raft of logical inconsistencies.
Mark Perry, the author of the March 28 piece, draws on a host of unnamed informants and oblique quotes from WikiLeaks documents to portray a grand theory of Israeli-Azerbaijani strategic collusion against Iran, with the central component being some abandoned Azerbaijani air bases that Baku has allegedly loaned to Israel for use in a strike against Iran’s nuclear program. And yet, besides the assertions of anonymous officials, the article supplies no evidence that the putative loan of the airfields is anything but creative speculation.