New triangular axis in Greater Middle East: Turkey, Israel and Azerbaijan

Turkey is a sister country of Azerbaijan and Israel is our strategic partner. We want our friends to be friends with each other. If the sides agree to such an initiative, then Azerbaijan will always welcome them.”


Trend News Agency of Azerbaijan today features a 22-minute interview in English with the Israeli ambassador to the nation, George Dick. The video version includes comments like, from the Azeri interviewer, “We all know how Israel supported Azerbaijan during the second Karabakh war,” and “In Israel we saw demonstrations and people carrying the Azerbaijani flag in our country” from the ambassador.

Israel will reap the benefits of assisting Azerbaijan in last year’s war against Nagorno-Karabakh, including supplying the nation with combat drones and by some estimates providing it with over 60% of all its weaponry, with more than just oil deals; Israel is estimated to receive 40% of all its oil from the Caspian Sea nation. Baku is now offering Tel Aviv contracts in conquered Nagorno-Karabakh as well.

The Israeli envoy stated: “The main areas where we can cooperate are demining, reconstruction, agriculture, water supply. However, we see opportunities for interaction and exchange of know-how in other areas, for example, in healthcare.”

He also spoke of an impending visit by an Azerbaijani delegation to Israel to discuss prospective agricultural and other deals. The ambassador again: “Israel can cooperate with Azerbaijan to promote the development of agriculture using its technologies in the field of drip irrigation, greenhouse farms and the use of fertilizers.”

The Israeli also mentioned that in 2016 10,000 Israeli tourists visited Azerbaijan and only three years later the number had grown to 50,000. With COVID restrictions being relaxed, he added, “we will see a surge in tourism, and maybe even up to 100 thousand people.”

Not only has Israel provided the lion’s share of the Azerbaijani armed forces’ weaponry, but its military personnel were directly involved in operating them in combat operations against Armenian forces. In April the chief of the Air Defense Forces of the Armenian Army, Major General Armen Vardanyan, confirmed, “In many cases, not only did they [Israel and Turkey] co-produce and develop those weapons, but they also provided direct assistance through their operators and personnel during hostilities and, indeed, fought against our Armed Forces.”

It was reported last year that Israel had stepped up delivery of arms to Azerbaijan in the days preceding the latter’s invasion of Nagorno-Karabakh. During the war a case was brought by Israeli citizens to the High Court of Justice of Israel to ban the continued sales of weapons to the aggressor, but the petition was rejected.

An appeal by several Israeli academics at the time demanding the cessation of arms deliveries to Azerbaijan contains the following paragraphs:

“We the undersigned write to express our deep concern with the fighting that has flared up in the region of Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh). From a reading of independent accounts and analysis we have concluded that this outbreak of violence in the last few days is due solely to aggression of the Republic of Azerbaijan, supported by Turkey and backed up by fighters from elsewhere in the region. This belligerence has been directed towards military and civilian targets in the region of Artsakh and its mainly Armenian population, and deserves to be condemned in no uncertain terms.”

“It is with dismay that we address the matter of Israeli arms sales to Azerbaijan in recent years, this being one component in the massive armament process in that country. We call upon the Israeli government to cease immediately the sales of arms to Azerbaijan, pending a review of the issue by the government and Knesset. Matters of would-be Realpolitik, as reflected here in arm sales, are not the only basis for foreign policy. Certainly, one needs to question Israel’s role in an armament effort aimed mainly against a people that like the Jewish people suffered genocidal attacks in the twentieth century. We call upon other Israelis to raise their voice on this important issue.”

During the fighting the president of the Republic of Artsakh, Arayik Harutyunyan, accused Israeli authorities of not only being aware that weapons they provided to Azerbaijan were being used for offensive purposes, and against civilian targets, but that during the earlier Azerbaijan attack on Nagorno-Karabakh in 2016 “these weapons were being used by specialists who had arrived from Israel.”

And while last year’s war was occurring, Harutyunyan said of Israeli government denials of the use their arms were being put to, which denials he denounced as being a mockery, that:

“Of course they know, and they are continuing to deliver the weapons. And the authorities of Israel, which itself has survived a genocide, are also responsible for this genocide [in Nagorno-Karabakh].”

A few weeks ago the Turkish newspaper Hürriyet Daily News ran an opinion piece entitled Time to recognize Azerbaijan as a new regional power by the Canadian-based British scholar Taras Kuzio, in which he argues for the resumption and expansion of Azerbaijani-Israeli-Turkish strategic cooperation.

He began his feature with this assessment: “The victory of Azerbaijan in the 2020 Second Karabakh War revealed a new triangular axis in the Greater Middle East. Turkey, Israel and Azerbaijan have developed strategic partnerships over the last two decades.” He mentioned the estrangement between Israel and Turkey starting with the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla incident when ten Turkish citizens were killed by the Israeli military, but basically sloughs off that incident and subsequent strained relations in deference to common geostrategic designs aimed against Iran and Russia in the first instance.

The scholar stated Azerbaijan is offering to mediate between Israel and Turkey, than whom it has no closer partners (along with Russia and, increasingly, Pakistan). He quoted Azerbaijani presidential aide Hikmet Hajiyev: “Turkey is a sister country of Azerbaijan and Israel is our strategic partner. We want our friends to be friends with each other. If the sides agree to such an initiative, then Azerbaijan will always welcome them.”

The writer celebrated the fact that Azerbaijan is the first country to successfully employ both Israeli and Turkish combat drones “on a large scale in a war”: namely against Nagorno-Karabakh last year.

He didn’t mention the fact but the three nations are united under the NATO flag as well. Turkey is a member, Azerbaijan is a member of NATO’s Partnership for Peace and Israel of the Mediterranean Dialogue military partnerships. Israel and Turkey are simultaneously committing acts of military aggression against Syria, too. Though he did mention that Turkey has NATO’s second-largest army and that Israel was recently transferred from the Pentagon’s European Command to its Central Command which he refers to as “a kind of Middle Eastern NATO.”

The author reminds his readers that Azerbaijan, an energy superpower, has spent $24 billion in the past decade (six times the amount Armenia has) to upgrade its armed forces. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said during a visit to his nation by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu five years ago that his country had purchased $5 billion worth of military equipment from Israel, including combat drones and radar systems. Israel also “handles the collection of intelligence against Iran from Azerbaijan.

The academic also noted that Turkey has trained the Azerbaijan army to the level of NATO standards, the two nations engaging in thirteen joint exercises in 2019 alone, the year before their attack on Nagorno-Karabakh. In his words, “This training and successful military experience have transformed Azerbaijan’s armed forces into a NATO-level standards army.”

He estimates that until 2019 a full two-thirds of Azerbaijan’s military equipment was supplied by Israel. With Azerbaijan providing Israel with 40% of its oil it’s a classic case of war for oil that the world has ignored.

In discussing the fact that members of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization are also arming Azerbaijan, the author adds: “Russia and Belarus backstabbed Armenia under its very nose. This was coupled with the CSTO not intervening in last year’s Second Karabakh War, as Armenia hoped, to rescue it from military defeat. Both of these translate into making membership of the CSTO worthless.”

He ends his analysis by stating the U.S. and NATO “should recognize the emergence of this axis” (Azerbaijan-Israel-Turkey) by granting Azerbaijan the status of Major non-NATO Ally as the first has done with Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Korea, Thailand and Tunisia.

A NATO-backed Ankara-Baku-Tel Aviv axis united with the emerging Ankara-Baku-Islamabad axis would include two nuclear powers and could threaten numerous nations in the Middle East, the Caucasus, Europe, North Africa and Central and South Asia.