Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent visit to Azerbaijan Republic, a northern neighbour of Iran, and the signing of a military deal between Tel Aviv and Baku, has turned to a source of concern for Tehran.
According to a Farsi report by Asr-e Iran, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israeli regime, had a 7-hour stay in Baku, Azerbaijan, to meet Ilham Aliyev, the Azeri president, and to participate in a Jewish ceremony on Tuesday, December 14.
The Israeli newspaper Jerusalem Post wrote before Netanyahu’s departure that the trip had been planned as part of his one-day visit to Kazakhstan.
During this meeting, Netanyahu and Aliyev signed several memorandums of understanding. Their previous encounter was in January, during the annual meeting of World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland.
Tip of the Iceberg: We Can Only See 10% of the Relationship
Azerbaijan and Israel have developed close relations in the past years, cooperating in military-security and strategic areas, as well as commercial and economic fields. Israel is a main purchaser of Azerbaijan’s oil, buying about one-quarter of oil exported by the latter; and a major supplier of weapons and technologies to Azerbaijan’s military.
In 2009, WikiLeaks described the relationship between Baku and Tel Aviv as an “iceberg” of which only 10% is visible. Their ties were actually much more developed than it seemed.
Iran’s Concerns about Closeness of Israel and Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan is one of the two Shiite countries neighbouring Iran, even though it is not ruled by a religious government. Baku has founded its policies upon secularism. This difference is a source of conflict between the two governments: Azerbaijani officials once claimed that Iran supported Islamist groups in this country.
Furthermore, Iran has been warning Baku of its progressive relationship with Tel Aviv. There were reports and speculations about Israel’s use of Azerbaijan military bases for spying on Iran, even attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Netanyahu’s recent visit to Azerbaijan was one of his rare diplomatic trips to neighbouring countries of Iran.
On Saturday, Azerbaijani Defence Industry Minister Yavar Jamalov announced that the country has signed an agreement on procurement of the Israeli Iron Dome air defence system.
The Iron Dome, developed by the Rafael Advanced Defense Systems LTD, is an air defence system made to intercept short-range rockets and artillery shells fired from distances up to 70 km (43 miles).