"I wouldn’t be surprised if Gantz came to Baku to negotiate a new military deal”
    Caliber.Az interview with Israeli expert Yigal Levin

    INTERVIEWS  05 October 2022 - 17:58

    Huseyn Safarov

    Azerbaijan and Israel enjoy very strong ties. Yigal Levin, an Israeli officer and military analyst is convinced of that. Caliber.Az interviewed him in light of the October 3 visit of Israeli Defence Minister Benjamin Gantz to Baku.

    President Ilham Aliyev met with Gantz and discussed the long-lasting relationship their countries enjoy in the sphere of military technology and talked about new ventures for the future.

    The head of the Israeli Defence also met his Azerbaijani counterpart, Zakir Hasanov. They elaborately reviewed ways to strengthen the military cooperation including prospects of new weapon deliveries, the arrangement of meetings between different units and branches of their respective countries' armed forces and other matters where Azerbaijan and Israel share common interests.

    Levin believes that the relationship between the two countries as extraordinary, which cannot be said about Israel’s ties with some European governments.

    "Israel's relations with many countries are not always cheerful. Even when talking about working visits - regarding the exchange of technologies including trade, military and others - not everything goes always warm and friendly, even when leaders hold a meeting. When it comes to Baku, though, Tel Aviv has as good a relationship as possible with it – that is, as good of a relationship as Israel is capable of having. I am sure that our ties will only grow stronger, seeing as Azerbaijan, as well as Israel, understand that there are many challenges in the world today.

    Besides the obvious mutually beneficial nature of this relationship – Israel receives Azerbaijani oil in exchange for providing exceptional military equipment which has demonstrated their efficiency on the stage of the Second Karabakh War in 2020- one has to also consider what these two countries have in common. Russia is located to the North of Azerbaijan, while Iran is its southern neighbour. Azerbaijan has to understand that its existence relies heavily on a strong army, one that can stand its ground against Russia and Iran. Israel is often described as being surrounded by hostile and aggressive countries, for which it is not being envied. However, people often fail to realize that Azerbaijan, from a strategic stance point, is not located in favourable surrounding either – a small nation bordering two mighty empires that have an unfriendly approach towards it”, our interviewee noted.

    As a result of the above-mentioned, Levin highlighted that Israel and Azerbaijan need each other when it comes to Iran.

    “The Islamic Republic of Iran, on various levels, even reaching governmental ones, makes no attempt of hiding that they wish to destroy Israel. The two countries have been in a state of almost-war for many years now. These were the tanker war [protracted series of armed skirmishes between Iran and Iraq against merchant vessels in the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz from 1984 to 1988.], and other wars involving special forces, intelligence units, cyber warfare and many other. This is why Israel needs and wants a strong Azerbaijan. It is not necessary to further comment on why Azerbaijan wants to be powerful, it is clear to Azerbaijanis. In other words, Not only shared interests bring Azerbaijan and Israel closer, but also their common threats", the Israeli expert added.

    The military analyst also talked about Israel currently working on the development of new exploration and detection systems.

    “When it comes to Israeli warfare technology used by Azerbaijan, people tend to only mention unmanned aircraft systems, kamikaze drones, mortar systems, rockets such as “Lora” and some others. However, most people are unaware that several Azerbaijani tanks, such as the T-72 are also equipped with Israeli systems. There is a wider range of armouries in Azerbaijan’s possession that carry Israeli technologies.

    Israel is now working on developing new exploration and detection systems. Those systems allow for the rapid detection of the enemy, providing military commanders with the necessary tools for the effective elimination of the opponent. This will always be of great interest to the Azerbaijani army. Systems for objective control are required on drones. For example, the Heron UAV is capable of carrying out surveillance of a broad zone of the battlefield, but this technology can also be installed on tanks and other equipment. Furthermore, Israel is currently developing a novel type of combat system, currently only referred to as “the battlefield in your pocket”. It is a robust and secure mobile infantry system the size of a smartphone. It works on the Android operating system and enables the planning of missions, navigation, positioning and improved situational awareness through the use of GIS databases and possibilities of augmented reality (AR). Small mobile devices can facilitate the exchange of information from one commander to the other within the network-centric war. I think that such technologies will be of particular interest to Azerbaijan. I wouldn’t be surprised if Benjamin Gantz came to Baku with the goal of negotiating the supply of new [defence] systems”, Levin suggested.

    When it comes to the establishment of a trilateral union, Israel-Azerbaijan-Türkiye, the military expert expressed his doubts.

    “I doubt that such a union could be formed because of the difficult relations between Turkey and Israel. Generally speaking, the ties are functional but tense. It is not rare for the government of Israel to disagree with the Turkish leader, who often takes on the role of the protector of the Palestinians and the Gaza Strip. Both Turkey and Israel strive to become the dominant powers in their region, therefore confrontation is unavoidable. It is difficult to imagine in light of what such a union would be formed. Against an expansion of the Persian Empire? I think that the forming of such a trilateral union seems unlikely in the foreseeable future," Levin concluded.


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