Alwaght- Having failed to realize its ambitious policies in Karabakh disputed region due to Iranian and Russian opposition, Azerbaijan is now seizing any opportunity to make anti-Iranian allegations. In recent days, the attempted assassination of a member of parliament has given Azerbaijan excuses to repeat the anti-Iranian rhetoric. Ayhan Hanizadeh, the head of the Azerbaijani foreign ministry’s press service, claimed that in the probe about the assassination attempt targeting Fazil Mustafa, the head of the Great Order Party, footprints of Iran could be found. In justification of his claims, the Baku diplomat said that Iran’s military exercises on the border with Azerbaijan, the recent flight of an Iranian fighter over the border, the verbal threats of senior officials of Iran and the Revolutionary Guards against Azerbaijan, the recent terrorist attack on the Baku embassy in Tehran, and finally the assassination attempt showed that Iran has stepped up its threats against its northern neighbor.
In continuation of Baku propaganda against Iran, Azerbaijani intelligence service reported arrest of several elements linked to the armed attack on the MP, claiming that they were affiliated with Tehran and visited Iran several times.
Fazil Mustafa was attacked by unknown gunmen in front of his house on March 28, and since the beginning, some Azerbaijani media, referring to the anti-Iranian positions of this MP, claimed that Iran was involved in the attack. Azerbaijan even summoned the Iranian ambassador in Baku on Monday and expressed its concern over the escalation of tensions between the two sides. The Azerbaijani foreign ministry told the ambassador that “contemptuous, false, and biased information about Azerbaijan, its government and officials, as well as untrue statements of socially and politically prominent figures in Iran harm the relations between the two countries and deepen misunderstandings.”
Azerbaijani officials’ allegations against Iran have intensified in recent months, and after an attack on Azerbaijan’s embassy in Tehran in February, they claimed that it was pre-planned by the Iranian government and that they will follow the case on international organizations. Iran rejected any involvement in the attack and described Baku accusations a kind of “emotional and non-professional approach.”
Resorting to desperate Israelis
The outcomes of the developments in the past few months show that Azerbaijan’s anti-Iranian allegations are a plan dictated to them by the Israeli leaders. Azerbaijan and the Israeli regime established their economic and political relations three decades ago, and these relations expanded over time, and recently Baku has put everything at the service of Tel Aviv and is implementing its plans.
Until last year, Azerbaijan had many reservations about opening its embassy in the occupied territories, but with escalation of tensions with the Islamic Republic, it abandoned all reservations and made its diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv public. Last week, it opened its embassy in Tel Aviv for further boost to bilateral relations.
But as it was predicted, this destabilizing move did not remain limited to bilateral relations and Israel’s evil scheme was soon revealed. In a meeting with his Azerbaijani counterpart, the Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen emphasized the importance of strengthening cooperation with the Baku government against Iran. Cohen also announced the formation of a “united front” against Tehran at the opening ceremony of the embassy. Later, Iran’s foreign ministry condemned the agreement and said that the strategic agreement between Tel Aviv and Baku was another evidence of the sinister intentions of the Israeli regime to turn Azerbaijan territories into a source of threat to the Iranian national security. Its spokesperson asked Baku officials to explain about this agreement, but Baku avoids any explanation and accuses Tehran of sowing division in its territory.
The major cooperation between Baku and Tel Aviv is in the oil and military sectors, and these relations are expanding every year. Their military partnership has been greatly strengthened in the last two years, and senior government officials in Baku have confirmed that Israeli weapons played a significant role in their country’s superiority in the latest war against Armenia. Azerbaijan is now the largest buyer of Israeli weapons and has spent billions of dollars on their purchase in recent years. According to the Haaretz newspaper, cargo planes of Azerbaijan have landed more than 92 times at Ovda military airport in the south of occupied Palestine in the past seven years to transport arms and ammunition from the occupied territories. The Israeli regime which needs crude oil buys it from Baku in exchange for weapons, and according to statistics, it provides 50 percent of its oil needs from Azerbaijan.
Turkey as the biggest backer of Azerbaijan has been busy with internal crisis caused by the devastating earthquake that jolted the country on February 6 and also preparing for presidential and parliamentary elections and so does not care much about President Ilhan Aliyev’s ambitions. Also, Ankara is seeking to mend ties to Armenia, with which Azerbaijan is at a dispute, and this is making Baku unhappy. These factors motivate Azerbaijan’s new backers search to advance its plans in Caucasus, and the Israeli regime is picked for the job.
Baku is consolidating its security and political relations with the Israeli regime and is tying its security to its supports. But it should be said with certainty that Aliyev is milking the ram. Currently, Israeli cabinet is ravaged by heavy waves of internal crises caused by protests. At the international level, Tel Aviv’s Western allies are snubbing the Israeli leaders. Even Arab normalizers with Tel Aviv are now avoiding meetings with Israeli officials. Thus, Netanyahu, along with his friends, are devoid of legitimacy at home and of an image abroad.
Israeli schemes in Caucasus
The internally and externally embattled Israeli PM struggles to get a toehold in other regions to get out of self-made swamp and create a room for breath. The far-right cabinet is trying to expand its influence in Central Asia and Caucasus via Azerbaijan, something about whose consequences for the region and dangers for peace the experts warn.
The Israeli regime has initiated the project of infiltrating the Caucasus years ago, and thousands of Israelis have settled in Azerbaijan, and Jewish missionaries have been promoting the Judaism among the citizens of Azerbaijan in order to acquaint the Azeris with Jewish culture and customs. Given the imposition of religious restrictions by the Azerbaijani government on the country’s Shiite majority in recent years, it seems that Tel Aviv’s plans are working well and the Azerbaijani authorities are taking orders from Israeli command room.
By establishing a strong presence in Azerbaijan, the Israelis are taking advantage of the strained relations between Baku and Tehran to closely monitor the movements of the Islamic Republic and destabilize Iranian borders. Tel Aviv had previously focused on the Persian Gulf Arab monarchies— whose relations with Tehran were frayed in the past decade— in order to tighten the noose on Iran, but the chill that struck its relations with the Arab world after recent Iran-Saudi Arabia détente agreement made the Israelis lose their hope in alliance with the Arabs and this is why they seek a replacement, the opportunity of which Baku has given to them.
In 2012, the Israeli regime planned to use the territory of Azerbaijan to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities but refrained after US opposition. Also, reports two years ago indicated that Mossad agents who stole Iran’s nuclear archive smuggled it to Israel through Azerbaijan. Therefore, the hard-line Israeli authorities, who are under political and security siege from all sides, may take a foolish action. Currently, the occupied territories are going through a disastrous situation, and to get rid of this situation, Netanyahu is trying to pump the crisis out of the occupied territories, and Karabagh is seen the best place for military adventure. By creating tensions between Tehran and Baku, Netanyahu can divert the attention of domestic public opinion from political issues and focus on the external tensions with Tehran to unite the internal ranks against Iran.
Baku has sacrificed policy of good neighborliness with Tehran for friendship with Tel Aviv, but Azerbaijan should know that Israeli presence in Caucasus not only does not bring security, but also causes regional conflict the victim of which will be Baku officials who have unintentionally stepped into the Israeli trap.