ARCHIVE – Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev in December 2016. (Photo Credit: Israeli Prime Minister Office)
Azerbaijan officially announced its intentions to establish a diplomatic office in Israel, commemorating the 30th anniversary of the economic-military relationship between both states, that was celebrated earlier this month.
In an interview with news site Pravda, Arzu Naghiyev, member of the Azerbaijan-Israel parliamentary friendship group, announced Baku’s intentions to finally open an embassy.
Naghiyev claimed that neighboring states will no longer influence Baku’s foreign policy.
“If Iran opens a consulate in Kapan and says ‘Armenia is our partner,’ there is no reason for us to shy away from any country. It never was the case and never will be,” Naghiyev added in a clear rebuke to Iran.
On 22 October, Tehran opened its first consulate in Kapan, a contested province between Armenia and Azerbaijan, becoming the first country to establish diplomatic representation in this territory.
Happy Restoration of Independence Day, Azerbaijan!
As our countries celebrate 30 years of close friendship & deepening cooperation, we stand with our Azerbaijani friends in their quest for a peaceful, prosperous & hopeful future for the region 🇮🇱🇦🇿
(This message is not a drill) pic.twitter.com/DEvqK5izEA
— George Deek (@GeorgeDeek) October 18, 2022
In a statement issued by the State Security Service in Azerbaijan on 1 November, security forces announced the arrest of a group of locals who formed a religious organization that was ideologically affiliated with Iran.
The statement alleges that Iran’s intelligence service has financed the ‘Muslim Unity Movement’ and has abetted it to carry acts of aggression against Azerbaijan’s national security.
Additionally, they accused the arrested of undergoing military training in Iran and Syria, and being in position of “radical, religious-extremist attitudes against the ideas of modern development and a secular state.”
The Times of Israel reports that a member of the group was arrested while “attempting a terrorist act” in a different country.
The tensions between Iran and Azerbaijan stem from Baku’s long-standing alliance with Tel Aviv, and the military cooperation that Iran views as major security challenge.
Earlier in 2021, Azerbaijan restricted Iran’s access to transit routes connecting it to Armenia, trapping hundreds of cargo shipments on the border area.
Baku has also made significant territorial gains in Artsakh, mostly thanks to the use of advanced Israeli weaponry, such as the Harop/Harpy loitering suicide drones.
“Israeli technology helps Azerbaijan provide security and safety to its nationals,” said Hikmet Hajiyev, a top foreign policy adviser to President Ilham Aliyev.
Observers report that between 2016 and 2020, about 69 percent of all the arms imports to Azerbaijan originated from Israel.