THE ISRAEL-TURKEY-AZERBAIJAN TRIANGLE: PRESENT AND FUTURE
Anar Veliev, employee of the TURAN Analytical Information Agency (Azerbaijan).
The local and foreign press has recently been talking about the creation of a new Azerbaijan-Israel-Turkey bloc. As we all know, any geopolitical union formed against only one opponent, or pursuing some short-term goal, is rarely long-lived. Every full-blown union needs an economic, geopolitical, and military component. In this article, we will take a look at the political, economic, and military aspects of this union, as well as the pluses and minuses of Azerbaijan’s involvement in it.
Throughout the cold war, the U.S. created geopolitical and military blocs in various regions for carrying out short-term assignments (the Baghdad Pact, SEATO), and entered bilateral agreements on military and political cooperation with states in unstable regions, making that state a conductor of its policy in that particular area (Israel, Argentina, and Japan). And in this case, Washington’s shadow can clearly be seen behind the idea of creating the Israel-Turkey-Azerbaijan triangle. Central Asia is the main battle ground where the interests of the U.S. and its western allies clash with those of Russia, Iran, and China. The creation of such a union will allow the U.S. to defend its national interests in that region, since it is clear that NATO cannot expect to include the Central Asian states in any new expansion plans.
Azerbaijan occupies a particular place in the U.S.’s plans in this region. According to Zbigniew Brzezinski, Azerbaijan can be described as the vitally important ‘cork’ controlling access to the ‘bottle’ that contains the riches of the Caspian Sea basin and Central Asia. An independent, Turkic-speaking Azerbaijan, with pipelines running from it to the ethnically related and politically supportive Turkey, would prevent Russia from exercising a monopoly on access to the region and would thus also deprive Russia of decisive political leverage over the policies of the new Central Asian states.
What is currently happening in the Northern Caucasus is a direct threat to the independence and sovereignty of Azerbaijan. For example, the missile strike on Azerbaijan’s Zagataly District on 1 October of last year had a far-reaching effect throughout the world. The fact that Putin, who personifies the military-industrial complex, has come to power makes it impossible to make advances to Russia. Whereas, beginning in 1995, it was possible to place stakes on a particular group in the battle-torn Kremlin, Azerbaijan will now have to conduct a rather different policy. Assurances of good-neighborly relations and the signing of decorative declarations may not be enough. Russia will demand a more impressive show of loyalty. At the same time, several triangles are developing in the Southern Caucasus, Iran-Armenia-Russia, and Iran-Armenia-Greece, the main goal of which is to prevent the U.S. and Turkey from gaining a stronger foothold in the region. It should be noted that the second union, Iran-Armenia-Greece, has little chance of becoming a reality, since there has been a recent warming trend in the relations between Greece and Turkey, and it is unlikely that a NATO member-state will form a military-political union with Iran. As for the first union, however, recent events show that it will most likely be formed. If this happens, Azerbaijan will find itself in a blockade of unfriendly states. So a military-political union with Turkey, and consequently also with Israel, will help Azerbaijan dampen the threat from neighboring states.
The Political Aspect
After Azerbaijan gained its independence, its relations with Israel have been rather undetermined. From 1992 to 1995, both countries were in a so-called diplomatic vacuum. At that time, good relations with Iran and the great influence of this state on the domestic political situation in Azerbaijan made it impossible to begin building bridges. But beginning in 1995, Israel and Azerbaijan began to establish closer ties. Both sides have always sympathized with each other. The Azerbaijani leadership has always and continues to severely criticize any manifestation of anti-Semitism in the post-Soviet space. In turn, the Jewish Diaspora (which is closely tied with Israel) in the U.S. is lobbying Azerbaijan’s interests.
The foundation of extensive economic and political cooperation was lain in 1998 when Benyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister at that time, came to Baku for a short visit. Then at the beginning of 1999, a delegation from the Israeli Foreign Ministry headed by deputy general director of this department for the CIS states, Central and Eastern Europe, Shimon Stein, came to Baku. During his meeting with the president, he discussed the possibility of the head of the Azerbaijan Foreign Ministry, Tofik Zulfugarov, visiting Israel, which, as we know, did not take place. As we have already noted, the reason for not advertising its relations with Israel was that close ties with Israel irritate Azerbaijan’s southern neighbor, Iran. The Iranian leadership repeatedly told Azerbaijan that building relations with a Zionist regime, an enemy of the Islamic world, would be fraught with great problems for Azerbaijan. But the republic’s Foreign Ministry stated, also in bold terms, that building relations with other states is the prerogative of………………………………..