Azerbaijan has rejected claims published in Foreign Policy magazine that it has surrendered a number of military airports to Israel for a possible attack on Iran.
The Azerbaijani government announced that its country will never be used as a platform for an attack on Iran.
Ali Hassanov, a spokesman for the Azerbaijani president, announced that such reports are only aimed at disrupting relations between Iran and Azerbaijan.
The Foreign Policy report was also rejected by Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defence.
Yesterday, Foreign Policy published a report saying: “Four senior diplomats and military intelligence officers say that the United States has concluded that Israel has recently been granted access to airbases on Iran’s northern border.”
The Foreign Policy report acknowledges that Azerbaijani authorities have ruled out the use of their country for a strike on Iran; however, it goes on to recognize that other kinds of support could still be given to Israel by Azerbaijan to ease a possible Israeli attack on Iran, such as providing landing rights after a strike and basing search-and-rescue units in their country.
The deepening of Azerbaijan’s relationship with Israel was marked by the confirmation of a $1.6-billion deals to sell Israeli drones and missile-defense systems to Azerbaijan. The deal, according to a retired U.S. diplomat cited in Foreign Policy, left Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan “sputtering in rage” because an earlier arms deal with Turkey had been cancelled. The two countries had a falling out in 2010 after the Israeli military killed Turkish activists who were part of an aid flotilla sent to Gaza.
The report indicates that since 1994, Israel has been building close relations with Azerbaijan, and Washington is closely observing how it could influence Israel’s actions in the region.
Meanwhile, tensions have grown between Iran and Azerbaijan in recent months. Azerbaijani security forces have arrested 22 suspects accused of planning attacks on U.S. and Israeli embassies. Azerbaijani authorities claim Iran’s Revolutionary Guards are behind the plots, which the Iranian government denies.
Iran also presented a note to the Azerbaijani ambassador last month, accusing the government of supporting Israeli-trained assassination squads targeting Iranian scientists. The Azerbaijani government has adamantly denied the charges.
Foreign Policy cites a U.S. intelligence officer engaged in assessing the outcome of a possible Israeli attack on Iran, saying: “We’re watching what Iran does closely but we’re now watching what Israel is doing in Azerbaijan. And we’re not happy about it.”