Amidst the declared silence of Israel and its hidden presence in the battles between the Azerbaijani and Armenian forces in the conflict over the Nagorno Karabakh region, the Israeli decision-making authorities seemed to be confused between the hammer of Armenia and the anvil of Azerbaijan.
This comes as news spread about the Baku forces using Israeli weapons against the Armenian forces.
Armenia summoned its ambassador to Tel Aviv for consultations, in protest against Israel’s supplying Azerbaijan with explosive weapons and drones.
This also comes after Azeri cargo planes arrived in Israel in recent days, landed at the Ovda air force base in the Negev, and then returned to Azerbaijan loaded with weapons and military equipment, according to the website of the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.
On the other hand, Hikmat Hajayev, the political advisor to the Azerbaijani President, admitted – during an interview with the Israeli website “Walla” – that the Azerbaijani army is using drones and explosive devices made by Israel, in the ongoing battles with the Armenian forces in the Karabakh region.
According to the military censorship regulations, Israel is silent on the extent of security and military cooperation and arms deals with Azerbaijan, after news that in 2017 the Israeli company, “Aeronautics” for the manufacture of drones, conducted a bomb test of a “Harrop 2 ″” plane against a military site of the Armenian army , At the request of Baku.
Interests and Threats
Israel and Azerbaijan have sought to develop close relations since the official announcement of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Baku and Tel Aviv in April 1992, so that these relations have been strengthened and strengthened in recent years in the military and security sphere, against the backdrop of allegations of the threat posed by Iran to these two countries.
Israeli interests in relations with Baku are based on the fact that Azerbaijan is located on the border of Iran, which makes it an ideal place to gather intelligence about what is happening in Iran.
In the early years of the development of relations between the two countries, and according to IDF data, it was officially recognized that Israeli military and security industries companies were among the main suppliers of drones, guns, tanks and weapons to Azerbaijan.
It is estimated that as of 2009, $ 4 billion worth of arms deals were signed between the two countries.
Relations between Baku and Tel Aviv were not limited to arms deals, as the Israeli military and security presence has become entrenched on the ground. In 2009, when Israeli President Shimon Peres visited Azerbaijan, he announced that the Israeli Aeronautics Company will establish a factory in Baku, and there is talk about a company specializing in the manufacture of drone systems, and the company’s products have been sold to more than 20 customers for defense, army and internal security in 15 countries.
Deals and stops
Immediately after the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries, monitoring and information gathering stations were established in cooperation with Israel, to collect electronic intelligence information along the border between Azerbaijan and Iran.
In 2011, Israel began supplying drones to Azerbaijan to monitor the borders.
In 2012, Israel and Azerbaijan signed a public arms deal, under which drones, anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems were sold to Azerbaijan, worth $ 1.6 billion.
Intelligence relations between the two countries developed and went out of secrecy to the public, so that it was revealed that Baku had allowed Israel to use military bases scattered in Azerbaijan. Meanwhile, in February 2012, Iran rebuked Azerbaijan for being suspected of supporting and abetting the Israeli Mossad’s anti-Iranian activities.
This Iranian reprimand came amid the Israeli military presence in Baku, and after Azerbaijan in February 2012 arrested a cell that it described as a “terrorist” and claimed that it was linked to Iran and Hezbollah.
In early March of the same year, Baku arrested 22 persons suspected of being linked to an Iranian program against targets in Azerbaijan, including the Israeli and American embassies.
In light of these events and the military and security rapprochement between Tel Aviv and Baku, US intelligence and diplomats expressed concern over Israel granting permission to use a number of military bases in Azerbaijan to carry out air strikes that would be used to stop Iran’s nuclear program.
Collaboration and alliance
In order to consolidate the alliance between Tel Aviv and Baku, on December 13, 2016, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled a series of visits to the Caucasus region, and arrived in Azerbaijan on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, noting that Netanyahu made a secret visit to Azerbaijan in 1997 in His first term as prime minister.
During the visits, Netanyahu spoke with the Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, and discussed with him the strengthening of Israeli security and military cooperation with Azerbaijan, the status of the Jewish community there, and security deals, as well as trade cooperation agreements worth tens of billions of countries, and a treaty to prevent double taxation.
After Netanyahu’s visit to Baku, President Aliyev announced that his country had signed long-term contracts to purchase weapons and security equipment from Israel worth 5 billion dollars.
This comes against the backdrop of his country’s hostility with its southern neighbor, Iran, whose leaders have repeatedly condemned Azerbaijan’s relations with Israel.
Energy and Communications
Among the other important interests of Israel: importing oil from Azerbaijan, as relations between the two countries have strengthened in the field of energy and the partnership between companies of the two countries in the exploration for gas and oil off the coast of Ashdod.
Israel imports about 50% of its total oil consumption from Azerbaijan, which is estimated at 80 million barrels per year (about 11 million tons).
This means that Israel pays at least $ 2.3 billion annually to import crude oil, and more than 1.5 billion of that is paid to Azerbaijan.
With the normalization of relations between the two countries, Israeli companies began directly to penetrate the markets of Azerbaijan, an example is the Israeli telecommunications company “Bezeq”, through the signing of a trade agreement in 1994, according to which the Israeli company bought a large part of the telephone and telecommunications operating system in Azerbaijan. “It installs telephone lines and operates regional communication networks across the country.
Israel expanded its penetration into the cellular telecommunications market in Azerbaijan, as Beckel started in early 1994 as a joint venture between the Azerbaijani Ministry of Communications and the Israeli company, GTIB, as the first cellular operator in Azerbaijan, with an annual profit estimated at more From 100 million dollars.
Dozens of Israeli companies operate in the energy sector in Azerbaijan. For example, Modcon Systems – a high-tech supplier to the oil and gas industries that originated in Israel – has opened a branch in Azerbaijan.
Export and Import
Between 2000 and 2005, Israel rose from the tenth place in the trade partnership with Azerbaijan to the fifth place.
According to United Nations data, annual exports from Azerbaijan to Israel increased between 1997 and 2004 from about $ 2 million to $ 323 million, which is the source of the increase in oil prices.
As of 2015, the trade balance between Israel and Azerbaijan amounted to 266 million dollars, of which 260 million dollars are Israeli exports to Azerbaijan, and 6.2 million dollars are imports.
According to official data from the Israeli Ministry of Economy, the official trade balance between Israel and Azerbaijan is about 130 million dollars annually, but in practice – as President Aliyev revealed – it reaches billions, and most of it comes from two industries: oil and weapons.