Azerbaijani-Israeli military cooperation: away from prying eyes
Expert Yury Bocharov talks to Caliber.Az
ANALYTICS 02 February 2023 - 13:55
The special strategic relationship between Baku and Tel Aviv is clearly visible in the system of international relations. It is clear that there are few countries on the Eurasian continent that have as close and deep relations with Israel as Azerbaijan. The main and decisive factor in this cooperation is that Azerbaijan and Israel have clearly demonstrated that mutual understanding and peaceful coexistence of the Jewish state and the country with a Muslim majority, which is a very rare phenomenon in politics, especially against the background of unstable geopolitical realities.
At the same time, in addition to dynamic trade, economic and political interaction, a special place in bilateral relations is given to military-technical cooperation, which has been particularly active over the past decade, despite the discontent and claims of some countries in the region that have long been antagonistic to Israel and now to Azerbaijan.
Whatever the case may be, the factor of military-technical cooperation has firmly entered the foreign policy agenda of our countries, as evidenced by the telephone conversation on February 1 between the Minister of Defence of Azerbaijan, Colonel General Zakir Hasanov, and the Minister of Defence of Israel, Yoav Galant, held at the initiative of the Israeli side. During the conversation the two sides strongly condemned the recent terrorist attacks in Israel and Iran, and discussed regional security issues and prospects for military-technical cooperation. A telephone conversation between Colonel General Elchin Guliyev, the head of Azerbaijan's State Border Service, and Galant was devoted to roughly the same topic of security cooperation and interaction. Of course, this time special attention was paid to border protection issues.
All this undoubtedly demonstrates that Baku and Tel Aviv put regional security at the forefront, as a priority and archival direction for the state policy of the two countries.
And in this regard strengthening military-technical cooperation is seen by both countries as crucial to withstand external threats. Israel is currently one of the key arms suppliers to Azerbaijan and provides Baku with access to advanced military technologies, and the opening of an Azerbaijani embassy in Israel, according to both countries, will contribute to improving bilateral relations.
In this context, it is worth noting that the historic visit of the head of the Israeli government to Baku in December 2016 (Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's only official visit to the South Caucasus) clearly confirmed the high standard set by Israel in choosing a strategic partner in this difficult region. For Baku the position of Tel-Aviv in the conflict with Armenia is especially important, as the country was among the first to support Azerbaijan's territorial integrity and the inviolability of its borders, and in the current post-conflict period it continues to support Baku's peace initiatives to normalize relations with the neighboring country. At the same time, a number of Israeli companies are involved in the restoration of the liberated Azerbaijani territories. It is also known that the Israeli side has submitted proposals to the Azerbaijani government for the construction of kibbutzim in Karabakh, and a plan for the project is currently being developed.
Meanwhile, the close cooperation between Baku and Tel Aviv, especially in the military-technical sphere, is a source of irritation for Armenia and Iran, which is far from being friendly to Azerbaijan. And it angered Armenians so much that Yerevan recalled its ambassador from Israel just then during 44-day liberation war in Karabakh. However, Tel-Aviv set clear strategic priorities by refusing to supply arms to Armenia last October, and demonstratively preferred military and strategic cooperation with Baku. It should be recalled that during the meeting between representatives of Israel and Andranik Kocharyan, the head of Armenia's parliamentary defence and security committee, the Armenian side was refused a request to sell offensive Israeli-made weapons to Yerevan. Following the collapse of illusions over Israeli armaments, Armenia rushed in search of Indian and Iranian military supplies to somehow replenish its visibly depleted military potential in connection with the cessation of Russian arms deliveries to Yerevan.
Well-known Israeli expert and editor of Aziznews.com Yuri Bocharov, commenting on the Azerbaijan-Israeli military-technical cooperation factor for Caliber.Az, first of all, drew attention to the fact that exactly a month ago Israel had a new government, and virtually the entire subsequent period was devoted to discussions with American counterparts on threats by Iran.
"Last Friday saw the end of a major military exercise between Israel and the US, where they practiced attacking Iranian targets. And just a day later, unknown forces attacked Iranian military facilities. All this, as well as Russia`s growing military alliance with Iran, which openly calls for Israel`s destruction, worry our government. In this problematic environment, Israel also takes into account the interests of its partners in the Middle East and the South Caucasus, which are also threatened by Iran. Therefore, it is not unusual that the Israeli defense minister is discussing these issues with his Azerbaijani counterparts. It is precisely the increased level of threats in the South Caucasus, and facts of terrorism against Israel's strategic partner in the region - Azerbaijan - that make Israel increase the level of our military and technical cooperation. Israel and Azerbaijan have long and fruitful cooperation in the military-technical field. Azerbaijan not only receives the latest defence and attack equipment but is also producing various kinds of armaments under Israeli license and with our support on its territory. However, the recent military conflicts have demonstrated an almost complete change in the concepts of warfare, where control systems, including those using detection satellites and the remote destruction of enemy forces by robots, drones, and missiles, play a special role. Judging by the fact that the Azerbaijani Defence Minister and the Head of the State Border Service also took part in the discussions, the matter most probably concerns the consolidation of borders with aggressive neighbours, which today include Iran along with Armenia. However, as always, this issue is a state secret, which we will learn about only at the moment of a real threat and a response from the Azerbaijani army," summarised Yuri Bocharov.
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