Azerbaijan between Israel and Iran

By Vestnik Kavkaza
Azerbaijan between Israel and Iran

Last week, Avigdor Lieberman arrived in Azerbaijan for a first official visit as the Minister of Defense of Israel. Very little information concerning the closed talks with the highest Azerbaijani leadership was provided, which is natural, because the topic of military-technical cooperation has always been considered one of the most delicate. Official reports say that the enhancement of relations in economic, military, cultural, and tourism fields was hailed at the meeting of Lieberman and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. It was noted that conditions of peace and tranquillity were created in Azerbaijan for representatives of the Jewish community, along with other communities, their active role in the public life of the country was emphasized.

The sides also expressed confidence that Avigdor Lieberman's visit to Azerbaijan "will contribute to the cause of cooperation." Which is the purchase of military equipment, most likely. Russia is Baku's main arms supplier, but Israel - is the second. It is likely that Azerbaijan intends to continue purchasing arms and begin joint production with Israel of some types. Modernization of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces is in full swing. The Republic's Ministry of Defense says that the advanced weapons at the Azerbaijani army's disposal are capable of destroying all important military facilities and strategic communications of the enemy in a short period of time. Azerbaijan's air defense and anti-missile systems fully ensure the security of the country's airspace, including the state and military facilities.

This summer, Azerbaijan's Deputy Defense Minister Yahya Musaev hosted a delegation in Baku led by chairman of the Board of Directors of the Israeli company Aeronautics Yedidia Yaari. They discussed the work of the joint venture AZAD Systems, which specializes in the production of various drones in Azerbaijan on the basis of a protocol of intent on the organization of joint project between the Ministry of Defense Industry and Aeronautics, as well as signed a protocol of intent for the joint production of next-generation UAVs. According to the Jewish information portal, Israeli military drones are considered one of the most effective weapons in the world. Israeli drones were successfully used against the Armenian army during the four-day war in 2016. In June 2017, Azerbaijan tested the ZƏRBƏ-5 drone (Heron-TP-XP). Its take-off weight is 5,300 kg, the length is 14 m, the height is 3 m, the wing span is 26 m, which is comparable with the civil aircraft Boeing 737. The drone is equipped with four homing missiles SVN-380 'air-ground' with laser sights weighing 180 kg each. The drone is produced under the license and technology of an Israeli company, which produce Heron-TP-XP UAVs.

Baku needs modern armament to repel Armenian aggression. However, the Israeli side is more concerned about Azerbaijan's another neighbor - Iran. There were a lot of rumors about the Azerbaijani-Israeli "friendship against Iran": for example, there were fakes about Baku, which was supposedly ready to provide the Americans and Israelis with five military airfields left from the former USSR for an air attack on Iran, there were fakes about deploying a secret "underground base" on the Iranian-Azerbaijani border by the US and Israeli military. All these claims were reasonably refuted.

It is interesting that after talks with Lieberman, Ilham Aliyev went to open the Alat-Astara highway - the state border with Iran. The contractors of the works, the customer of which was Azerbaijan Highway State Agency, were the consortium Evrascon-AzVirt, the Turkish companies Kolin Inşaat, Turizm Senaye ve Ticaret, Özgün Yapı Sənaye Ticarət and Polad Yol Yapı Sənaye və Ticarət, as well as other influential foreign companies. 31 kilometers of the Alat-Yenikend section of a new highway was built in 2006-2009. The construction of 23.4 kilometers of the Yenikend-Salyan road, as well as the 363 meter-long bridge over the Kura River and 1.2 kilometers of access roads was completed in 2016. The construction of 24.8 kilometers of Salyan-Shorsulu, 30.1 kilometers of Shorsulu-Jalilabad and 39.2 kilometers of Lankaran-Astara was completed this year. Thus, the construction of 204 kilometers of a new modern highway from Alyat to Astara is completely completed.

Twenty four bridges, 66 underground crossings, 25 overpasses and road junctions, four tunnels were constructed along the main road. As well as concrete curbs on the 51-kilometer side of the road, 5 recreation parks were constructed, a 166-kilometer separator was reinforced with concrete safety fences, while a 140-km long roadside - with metal protective fences, drainage pipes, road signs and placards. The road was also signposted.

The main-line highway, which is part of the international transport corridor North-South, will affect the development of agriculture and the volume of international cargo transportation. In short, Baku is in no way trying to spoil relations with Tehran.