Report: Azerbaijan Considering Helping Israel in Iran

September 30, 2012  

Azerbaijan has looked into the possibility of assisting Israel with a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, a report Sunday by Reuters reveals.

The report, published by correspondent Thomas Grove, is based on “local officials with extensive knowledge of Azerbaijan’s military policy.” According to these sources, Azeri authorities have, along with Israel, looked into how Azeri air force bases and the drones at its disposal could help the IAF to carry out attacks in Iran.

“That is a far cry from the massive firepower and diplomatic cover that Netanyahu wants from Washington. But, by addressing key weaknesses in any Israeli war plan — notably on refueling, reconnaissance and rescuing crews — such an alliance might tilt Israeli thinking on the feasibility of acting without U.S. help,” says the report.

However, noted the report, Israel will along the way have to overcome many Azeri concerns, as it is uncertain whether the president of Azerbaijan would risk harming his country’s oil industry. In addition, support by Azerbaijan for an Israeli strike may trigger a revolt in the Arab and Muslim world, noted the report.

At the same time, two Azeri former military officers with links to serving personnel and two Russian intelligence sources told Reuters that Azerbaijan and Israel have been looking at how Azeri bases and intelligence could serve in a possible strike on Iran.

“Where planes would fly from — from here, from there, to where? – that’s what’s being planned now,” a security consultant with contacts at Azeri defense headquarters in Baku said. “The Israelis … would like to gain access to bases in Azerbaijan.”

Rasim Musabayov, an Azeri lawmaker and a member of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, told Reuters that he understood that Azerbaijan would probably feature in any Israeli plans against Iran, at least as a contingency for refueling its attack force.

Several months ago, the Iranian Foreign Ministry called in the Azerbaijani ambassador to protest Baku’s alleged cooperation with Israel’s Mossad.

The meeting was apparently inspired by a report in the London Times that Mossad agents were using Azerbaijan as a “hub” from which to conduct operations and spy on Iran. The report quoted an anonymous alleged agent who called himself “Shimon,” who said that Azerbaijan was “ground zero for Israeli intelligence work. Our presence here is quiet, but substantial. We have increased our presence in the past year, and it gets us very close to Iran. This is a wonderfully porous country.” 

Foreign Policy magazine reported in March that Israel has purchased an Azeri airfield on Iran’s northern border, prompting the United States to watch very closely, believing Israel may use the site as a springboard for an attack on Iran’s nuclear plants, or as a landing and refueling spot following one. 

Azeri president Ilham Aliyev later dismissed speculation that Israel would use four abandoned bases in his country to launch strikes on Iran’s nuclear program.

“Azerbaijan’s territory will never be used to launch an attack against its neighbor, Iran,” Aliyev’s office said in a statement.

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